Toronto comes to life during patio season, and a long dreary winter of lockdowns makes its arrival this year feel particularly celebratory. From glamorous rooftops with bar bites to tranquil backyard settings with Asian-influenced fare, there’s an al fresco restaurant for every mood and craving.
Read on to discover some of the top spots for outdoor dining in Toronto.
For guides to the best outdoor dining in cities around the United States, head here.
Bar Reyna (Yorkville)
Set in a Victorian townhouse in Yorkville, Bar Reyna’s patio oozes charm.Foliage and string lights line the ceiling, while brick and wood walls add warmth. The Mediterranean menu includes creative modern fare such as lamb baklava, Lebanese “tacos” served on flatbread, and halloumi souvlaki.
BlueBlood Steakhouse (Midtown/Uptown)
Majestic castle-style Casa Loma, a landmarked home and gardens, form the backdrop at BlueBlood Steakhouse, where dining outside means being surrounded by stunning landscaping and historic architecture. The Terrace, surrounded by vistas of the estate’s verdant gardens, is now open for reservations, where diners can enjoy Blueblood’s swanky steakhouse fare, from seafood towers and fish entrees to dry-aged beef and plenty of sides.
El Catrin (Distillery District)
The sprawling, industrial, colorful patio at El Catrin in the Distillery District makes this Mexican restaurant one of the city’s most fun for outdoor dining. Beyond Mexican favourites such as tacos, table guacamole, and a huge tequila and mezcal selection, find fire pits, tons of plants, and funky mixed furniture for a patio experience that’s one of a kind.
Cabana Waterfront Patio (Distillery District)
Fifty-thousand square feet overlook Lake Ontario and Toronto’s skyline at Cabana Waterfront Patio, a restaurant with a something-for-everyone menu curated by Oliver & Bonacini, the restaurant group behind top restaurants such as Canoe and Maison Selby. The raucous atmosphere runs from Sunday brunch to Friday night pool parties.
Amal Restaurant (Yorkville)
The spacious second floor terrace — complete with greenery and white wrought-iron chairs — makes a charming outdoor backdrop to Amal’s stunningly composed Lebanese plates. Start with standbys such as hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush before digging in to entrees like the Ontario lamb chops and skewer platters with pita, grilled vegetables, shug, and home fries.
Lapinou (King West)
No alleyway has exuded more charm than the one at Lapinou, with its string lights, lanterns, and padded wrought-iron seats. The French néo-bistro — a term for trendy Parisian wine bars — has reached Toronto here; the menu pulls in global influences in dishes such as beef tartare with Dijon, shallot, celery, egg yolk, and grilled sourdough, or lamb garganelli with preserved lemon, nicoise olive, and jalapeno.
Lee (King West)
Celebrity chef Susur Lee leads the kitchen at Lee, a renowned Chinese-French restaurant on King Street West. This is Lee’s flagship, with a menu that showcases Chinese flavors with French technique in dishes such as wild Alaskan caramelized black cod with miso mustard, Asian slow-braised beef with horseradish sour cream, and crispy tofu with a mushroom and pepper compote. Lush foliage, an awning, and wrought iron fence lend the sidewalk seating a serene botanical vibe.
Steam Whistle Biergarten (Downtown/Entertainment District)
If it weren’t for the up-close sight of a Toronto landmark, you’d think you were in Munich at Steam Whistle Biergärten. The German-style beer hall at the base of the CN Tower serves up traditional German fare — think pretzels and schnitzel — alongside its own beer. Outdoor seating has an expansive view of the skyline beyond the string lights and umbrellas for shade.
Té blends traditional Korean fare with Canadian comfort foods in modern dishes hardly seen anywhere else. Pizza tteokbokki (Korean rice dough balls with sweet chile tomato sauce and oven-baked mozzarella), toasted kimchi ravioli with honey wasabi pesto, and soy-braised braised brisket poutine are just some of the creative offerings. The petite backyard patio is surrounded by trees and lit by string lights for a homey feel.
Terroni Price (Rosedale/Summerhill)
See and be seen at Terroni’s Miami-like Summerhill patio. All-white furniture with blue accents, string lights, and skyline views make for a chic place to dine on Italian classics such as ravioli with spinach and ricotta, folded pizza, and grilled calamari.
JaBistro (Downtown/Entertainment District)
JaBistro specializes in pristine fish, from pressed and torched blocks of sushi, or oshizushi, to omakase with nigiri and sashimi. On the rooftop, a wood-paneled patio with string lights offers a tranquil setting. Don’t skip the famed lobster platter, replete with sweet lobster sashimi.
Rooftop Bar at the Broadview Hotel (Leslieville/Riverdale)
This hotel standout offers a seldomly seen perspective of the Toronto skyline and the Don River from its south-facing patio. Perched on the highest floor of a beautifully-restored 19th-century building, the Rooftop’s glass-enclosed indoor dining area, backing the L-shaped patio, makes an eye-catching contrast to the building’s original brick exterior. The urban tableau, pretty cocktails, and shareable menu, featuring plates such as cheesesteak and barbacoa baos, attract a buzzy crowd.