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Top 10 rooftop bars and patios in Toronto
With such a breathtaking skyline which seems to be ever-evolving, Toronto has got to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So what better way to spend a lazy summer afternoon or a relaxing early-autumn evening than by having a couple of drinks on a rooftop bar or open-air patio with an incredible unobstructed view of the cityscape?
So you can treat yourself to one of life's simplest and yet most rewarding pleasures, we've put together a list of the top 10 rooftop bars and patios in Toronto, each of which has an amazing outdoor space where you can drink, dine and laugh with friends and family long after the sun has gone down.
Where: 627 King Street West Rooftop
The scene: Soaring 16 storeys above the commotion of the city's streets, Lavelle is a luxury rooftop bar with a colossal 1,500m2 terrace. By day, the stylish hotspot has a beach club vibe, with visitors basking in the sunlight on comfy loungers by the pool before retiring with a cocktail to the shade of their private cabanas. But by night, the sun worshippers transform into well-dressed foodies who flock to the modern restaurant for standout eats and chic groups of beautiful people who hit the lounge bar for pre-club drinks.
What: Romain Avril, the executive chef, has worked in one and two Michelin star restaurants in his native France and now creates decadent prix-fixe and a la carte menus, as well as gourmet snacks and heavenly desserts for Lavelle. The cuisine is contemporary French and covers a huge range of dishes, from raw nibbles, classic salads and seafood sharing platters to juicy burgers, XL steaks and delicate pasta. There's also a delightful brunch menu, with options like duck hash and pork belly benedict definitely worth the splurge. Although small, the drinks menu features some of the finest cocktails you'll find in Toronto, as well as a selection of coffees, teas and fresh juices.
Signature dish: Tuna tartare served with a soy dressing, daikon, sesame cracker, pickled ginger and fresh coriander.
Rooftop Lounge at the Thompson Hotel
Where: Inside the Thompson Hotel, 550 Wellington Street West
The scene: Boasting outstanding 360° views of Lake Ontario and the Toronto skyline, the Rooftop Lounge provides an exclusive retreat in the middle of the bustling city. The inside bar is cool and chic with glossy black floor and surfaces, modern spotlights and floor-to-ceiling windows which invite in the impressive cityscape. Outside, the Rooftop Lounge has a more park-like feel with large planters full of lush green grass separating comfy loungers and low tables. So guests can make the most of the prestigious rooftop location, there's also a handful of plush sun loungers for catching the sun's rays and a small infinity pool for cooling off whilst admiring the city views.
What: The drinks menu is extensive and covers everything from delicate hand-crafted cocktails unlike anything else you'll find in the city and amazing wines imported from all over the world to vintage single malts and spirit bottle service with complimentary mixers. The food menu is surprisingly small by comparison, made up of the small and sophisticated international dishes you'd expect from an upmarket lounge in the city.
Signature dish: The charcuterie sharing board is a must-try, with the chef's daily selection of quality meats, imported and local cheeses and tasty accompaniments.
Flight Deck at The Pilot
Where: The Pilot, 22 Cumberland Street
The scene: Rated Canada's favourite patio by the Globe and Mail newspaper, the Flight Deck is a lot more casual and relaxed than many other patios in the city, making it a great meeting spot for friends who just want to chat over reasonably priced drinks and eats. Stainless steel and silver detail runs throughout, with everything from the bar top and lights to tables and chairs sporting a shiny silver finish. This unusual décor combined with the lack of incredible views (the Flight Deck is only a few floors above ground level) puts some people off. But this simply means more space and faster service for everyone who finds it charming!
What: The drinks menu is absolutely huge and covers everything from local, imported and premium draft and bottled beers to cider, alcopops and international wines available by the glass, half carafe and bottle. The cuisine is largely a mix of Canadian and American favourites, with a few international specialities, like stuffed Yorkshire pudding, chicken curry and fried calamari, thrown in to please everyone.
Signature dish: Thai noodles served with carrot, zucchini and bell peppers. You can have it tailored to your preferences and served hot, medium or mild.
Where: 75 Yorkville Avenue
The scene: Set in the heart of the Yorkville neighbourhood, Trattoria Nervosa is the perfect place to enjoy authentic Italian comfort food all-year-round. This restaurant is set inside a homely two-storey yellow house on the street, creating a comforting, inviting feel as soon as you see it. In the winter, diners snuggle up in the cosy second-floor dining room complete with roaring fireplace, low romantic lighting and Mediterranean-inspired wooden furniture. But come the summer months, everyone heads outside to enjoy light antipasti bites on the outside ground-level terrace. The patio's street location makes it perfect for people watching and immersing yourself in the busy city life of Toronto as the sun warms your back and the light breeze keeps you cool.
What: The delicious Italian menu features daily-changing specials, a host of gourmet antipasti, traditional European salads, hand-kneaded pizzas, fresh house-made pastas, grilled fish and meats and handful of wonderful desserts. The drinks menu is equally varied and includes a limited choice of beers, alongside a huge selection of Italian wines, must-try cocktails and popular spirits.
Signature dish: Risotto Nervosa, risotto served with Barolo-braised beef short ribs, porcini and field mushrooms and a balsamic reduction.
Where: 10 Temperance Street
The scene: One of the most prestigious and sophisticated rooftop restaurants on this list, The Chase is located at the top of the Dineen Building and proudly flaunts a 75-seat patio with unparalleled views which sweep across the Financial District. The atmosphere here oozes a casual elegance, with crystal chandeliers hanging alongside beautiful furniture with fabrics designed by Ralph Lauren inside the main dining room. Step outside onto the rooftop patio and astoundingly tall sky scrapers will pull your gaze upward while the background murmurs of the city streets below will drag your gaze down. The well-spaced-out bar-style seating and glass balcony partitions mean you're guaranteed of amazing views wherever you sit, both up to the sky and down to the street.
What: Just like the restaurant's design, the contemporary Canadian cuisine at the Chase is there to impress, with a small selection of healthy, satisfying and adventurous choices. From raw dishes and sharing platters to seasonal seafood and local cheeses, although the offerings are limited, there's enough variety to please every palate. The drinks menu is outstanding and features a 300-long international wine list thoughtfully put together by famous sommelier Anton Potvin.
Signature dish: Whole roasted chicken stuffed with foie gras, pistachios and apricots presented in a polished-steel dish with rosemary, thyme flowers and onion sprigs jutting out.
Bovine Sex Club & Tiki Bar
Where: 542 Queen Street West
The scene: World's away from the hard rock gigs and mangled junkyard memorabilia the Bovine Sex Club is known for, the separate Tiki Bar will instantly transport you to a peaceful tropical island as soon as you step outside. A true engineering marvel, the patio is constructed on a solid steel frame suspended over the main building and features a fabulous tiki-style bar, complete with bamboo poles, rope ties and a thatched roof. There are even random tiki knick-knacks, Hawaiian masks and brightly coloured holiday inflatables scattered all over the place to add to the fun. Instead of the AC/DC and Motorhead that's played downstairs, the music which floats out of the speakers at the Tiki Bar is the kind you'd expect to hear while lying on the beach and working on your tan in Hawaii.
What: There's limited seating at the bar and a few four-seater tables for small groups, but the majority of the seating takes the form of large communal tables and benches which encourage mingling. There's no food on the menu, but there are plenty of draft beers, bottled beers and cocktails to keep you going all night.
Signature drink: Jungle Bird, a giant cocktail with fresh fruit decorations meant for sharing.
The Roof Lounge, Park Hyatt
Where: Inside Park Hyatt, 4 Avenue Road
The scene: Towering 18 floors above Yorkville, the Roof Lounge at Park Hyatt provides the ideal environment for savouring delicious cocktails, sharing sophisticated light bites and mingling with other visitors from all over the world. The design is simple and stylish, with ornate black metal tables and matching chairs dotted all around the terrace. So whether you want a romantic evening for two or a fun-filled night for a group of six, the Roof Lounge will be able to cater for you. The terrace is perfectly positioned for watching the sunset, so try to arrive late evening and hang around until the city turns on its lights for an unbeatable ever-changing view.
What: The Roof Lounge's evening menu is contemporary Canadian, with a great selection of hot and cold sharing platters, pizzas, burgers and desserts. Visit on a weekend and you'll also have the chance to savour one of their amazing brunch dishes. The drinks menu is much more extensive bar hop bar toand features one-of-a-kind artisan cocktails and martinis, speciality coffees, top quality spirits and international wines by the bottle.
Signature dish: The seafood charcuterie board is unmissable, with wild salmon gravlax, tuna carpaccio, lemon poached jumbo prawns, smoked salmon grissini, pan-seared scallops and all kinds of fantastic complimentary dips.
Where: 137 Peter Street
The scene: Bar Hop focuses on two things: providing visitors with the finest quality local craft beers available and creating a relaxed, casual atmosphere to enjoy them in. The huge rooftop terrace means the bar never feels crowded, even on busy weekends, and the abundance of seating means you'll never be left standing. Rustic wooden floors and table tops contrast with the bright yellow and moody grey metal chairs, giving the bar a cool and modern atmosphere.
What: While most rooftop bars focus on artisan cocktails or imported wines, Bar Hop keeps things a bit closer to home and offers an excellent selection of 36 craft beers on draught, plus many one-off brews, collaborations and seasonal picks you won't find anywhere else. If you prefer your beer bottled, you're spoilt for choice with more than 100 varieties on offer, plus local craft ciders, a wide assortment of spirits, several signature cocktails and speciality consignment wines to keep everyone happy. The menu offers a little something from all corners of the globe and is divided into snacks, salads, sandwiches and larger dishes, making the bar more suitable for a quick light bite at lunch, instead of an evening-long meal at night.
Signature dish: The scotch olives are a must-try. A play on scotch eggs, this dish is made of green olives wrapped in Italian sausage and pimento beer cheese nestled into a bed of sweet preserved tomatoes.
Sky Yard at The Drake Hotel
Where: Inside the Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West
The scene: One of the trendiest rooftop bars in Toronto, the Sky Yard at the Drake Hotel revamps its look so often, you could visit ten times and swear you were at a different bar each time. With previous themes covering everything from bohemian beach chic to a 1920's speakeasy and a 1950's American diner, you really never know what to expect. However, what you can rely on every visit are large comfy loungers perfect for soaking up the summer sun during the day or snuggling up and star gazing at night.
What: The drinks menu is made up of a staggeringly long selection of red, white, rose and sparkling wines available by the bottle and the glass, plus sake, premium spirits, cocktails and beers. The food menu is equally as impressive, starting with all kinds of baked goods and classic dishes for breakfast and brunch up to a plethora of exotic international salads, sandwiches, burgers and main courses for lunch and dinner inspired by cuisine from around the world.
Signature dish: Drake dry-aged burger, served inside a milk bun with bacon, cheddar cheese, Russian dressing, pickles and chips.
Cabana Pool Bar
Where: 11 Polson Street
The scene: By far the largest patio on this list, the Cabana Pool Bar is found at Polson Pier and transforms Toronto's waterfront into a never-ending party hotspot with Balinese beds, private cabanas and room for 2,500+ sun worshippers. This five-star venue has more to offer than most holiday resorts, with 11 beach volleyball courts, two indoor football pitches, inflatable human table football, driving range, mini golf course, ping pong tables, pool tables, swimming pools and, of course, a gorgeous al fresco dining area. Every inch of the contemporary bar and pool area is stunning, from the bleached wooden tables and loungers buried under soft white cushions to the contrasting green plant decorations and unbeatable views which stretch across the water.
What: The onsite restaurant offers a huge choice of light poolside nibbles, sharing platters, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, burgers and desserts. Dishes are mostly contemporary Canadian with a few international favourites tossed in to keep things interesting. The drinks menu includes a remarkably comprehensive bottle service with 50+ bottles of spirits and champagnes on offer, while the standard drinks menu is made up of a slightly smaller choice of spirits, with the addition of domestic and imported beers, alcopops, wine and speciality cocktails.
Signature dish: Cabana three cheese nachos made for sharing and served with jalapeños, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
More things to explore in Toronto