FOOD AND DRINK
Toronto's Of-The-Moment It Spots
Whether you call them “it spots” or “bars with buzz,” certain places just seem to have some magical gravitational pull. Whether it’s popular for its perfect décor, killer drinks, or spot-on music, these places have hit it perfectly. Here’s where the in-crowd is hanging right now.
Get your drink on at the Lobby Bar in the chic Thompson Hotel, a room buzzing with good energy and some of the city’s best-curated tunes. Mingle with the crowd at the packed bar or relax with a smart cocktail while taking in the scene from one of the comfy lounge couches.
550 Wellington Street West, 416-640-7778
Just a few steps out of the fray of the Entertainment District, Rush Lane has the feel of a club, despite the fact that it’s housed in a fairly intimate space. Great tunes, playful, modernist food, and a stunning back-bar packed full of great bottles that get a lot of manhandling from bartenders who are only too willing to show off their considerable skills. Wins the most likely place to serve up a surprisingly tasty beet cocktail award. Hands down.
563 Queen Street West, 416-551-7540
416 Snack Bar
416 Snack Bar isn’t new. Nor is it a club. But this tiny space at Queen and Bathurst has managed to master an impossible feat – it remains a perennial it-spot. Maybe it’s the super-cool interior space, perhaps it’s the perfect small selection of great booze, could be the fact that it has some of the city’s best bar snacks. Maybe it’s all three. Whatever it is, it works.
181 Bathurst Street, 416-364-9320
Even when the stunning rooftop patio isn’t open, Valdez easily has one of the most rad interiors in Toronto. It boasts tacos and other “Latin street food” snacks, tequila cocktails and no shortage of blaring hip hop, all of which can also be enjoyed in Escobar, the secret back bar space accessed by venturing through a refrigerator door.
606 King Street West, 416-363-8388
If you’re stuck in the sea of bad restaurants on College Street and looking to find all the cool kids, duck up Dai Lo’s stairs to Lo Pan, a bar decked out in over-the-top “Chinese gangster” décor. Asian snacks will soak up the booze in the tall, juicy drinks that an urban crowd drinks up, all the while listening to hip hop.
503 College Street, 647-341-8882
There’s no shortage of clubs on King West, but when you hit upon EFS, you’ll know you came to the right one. EFS (Everything’s For Sale) hits that perfect middle ground between dance club and lounge, with a gorgeous bar and no shortage of delicious drinks for the discerning club-goer. It’s twice as awesome in the summer when its world-class rooftop patio, replete with cabanas, is open.
647 King Street West, 416-477-5460
Right in the financial district, the Drake Hotel’s new property, Drake 150 is one of the hottest après-work scenes. With smart cocktails, a round bar with a great view of the room and highly-acclaimed food, this “Canadian brasserie” has it all.
150 York Street, 416-363-6150
If tequila’s your game, don’t miss El Caballito, the tequila dungeon hidden beneath King West’s Los Colibris, one of the city’s most-acclaimed Mexican restaurants. The dark bar below has a great selection (by the glass and by the bottle) and some skillful folks behind the bar spinning agave into inventive cocktails. Check out the tempting daily specials, including Taco Tuesdays and $6 Margarita Mondays.
220 King Street West, 416-979-7717