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Food & Drink

15 of our favourite restaurants and bars perfect for last-minute Valentine’s Day dates

This one goes out to all the lovers who have left everything very last-minute, yet again. You know who you are. Here, 15 of our favourite restaurants and bars that take walk-ins—perfect for people who didn’t plan ahead.

Alobar Yorkville

57A-162 Cumberland St., 416-961-1222, alobaryorkville.com

What: Alo’s more casual (but still fancy AF) standalone lounge in Yorkville. Seating situation: Bar seats are saved for walk-ins. Perfect for: People who would like to be dining at Alo but couldn’t get a reservation there. Join the club.    

Apres Wine Bar

1166 Queen St W., 647-292-3317, apreswinebar.ca

What: Canis Restaurant’s sister spot devoted to low-intervention wines from small-lot producers. Seating situation: Divided between four-tops and more communal tables. Perfect for: Oenophile couples to nerd out over esoteric bottles of skin-contact wine while making sly innuendoes.    

Bar Buca

#5-101 Eglinton Ave. E., 416-599-2822, buca.ca/bareglinton

What: Rob Gentile’s second location of the all-day café and bar at Yonge and Eg. Seating situation: A mix of four-tops and bar seating. Perfect for: Early (love)birds to take advantage of Bar Buca’s after-work aperitivo program. From 4 to 6 p.m. guests enjoy complimentary cicchetti and antipasti, with the purchase of a cocktail.    

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Bar Raval

505 College St., no phone, thisisbarraval.com

What: Grant van Gameren and Robin Goodfellow’s sexy tapas bar on College. Seating situation: Standing, actually. Perfect for: Plates of pinchos and boozy cocktails. (Or non-alcoholic ones that are just as tasty as the real thing.)    

Birreria Volo

612 College St., no phone, birreriavolo.com

What: Bar Volo’s (RIP) reincarnation in Little Italy. Seating situation: Mostly communal, but a few barrel tables for-two. Perfect for: Sour beers to complement the Hallmark holiday’s sappiness. And fried chicken from neighbouring P.G. Clucks, of course.    

Bodega Henriette

1801 Gerrard St. E., 416-546-6261, bodegahenriette.com

What: A cute-as-a-button bar and restaurant on a quiet residential stretch of Upper Gerrard. Seating situation: It’s mostly two- and four-tops. Perfect for: A Valentine’s Day dinner with the whole fam—and for picking up all the essentials (milk, freshly baked bread, house-made doughnut holes, coffee) for breakfast in bed in the next day.    

Cote de Boeuf

130 Ossington Ave., 416-532-2333, cotedeboeuf.ca

What: Union’s sister wine bar and butcher shop. Seating situation: Wine-barrel tables and a few two-tops. Perfect for: Pretending you’re in Paris.    

Donna’s

827 Lansdowne Ave., 416-536-1414, donnas.ca

What: An adorable new all-day-into-the-night spot from a couple of Momofuku alumni. Seating situation: Two- and four-tops. Perfect for: Two words: ham plate. Get the ham plate.    

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Grey Gardens

199 Augusta Ave., 647-351-1552, greygardens.ca

What: Jen Agg’s wine bar in Kensington Market. Seating situation: Bar seats and one communal table are saved for walk-ins. Perfect for: Shared bottles of wine and small plates (and taking selfies in the stylishly wallpapered washrooms).    

Imanishi

1330 Dundas St. W., 416-706-4225, imanishi.ca

What: An izakaya that’s not like the other izakayas. Seating situation: Lots of two tops and bar seats. Perfect for: Sushi and sake.    

Lake Inez

1471 Gerrard St. E., 416-792-1590, lakeinezto.com

What: The Wren’s sister restaurant on Gerrard East. Seating situation: Bar seats are saved for walk-ins. Perfect for: Chef Jay Moore’s Asian-influenced menu of street- and comfort-food snacks, alongside a great selection of wine and craft beer.    

Mattachioni

1617 Dupont St., 416-519-1010, mattachioni.com

What: Terroni alum David Mattachioni’s Junction Triangle kitchen. Seating situation: Two-tops and some bar seating. Perfect for: Pizza (and for picking up some excellent house-made sourdough to-go).    

Paradise Grapevine

841 Bloor St. W., 416-536-7178, paradisegrapevine.com

What: Bloorcourt’s newest and coolest wine bar. Seating situation: Two-tops, four-tops, communal—you name it. Perfect for: Glasses of wine (or local craft beer) and jamon-flavoured chips on the heated backyard patio.    

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Pinkerton Snack Bar

1026 Gerrard St. E., 416-855-1460, @pinkertonsnackbar/em>

What: The eldest of the east-end trinity that also includes Poor Romeo and The Vatican Gift Shop. Seating situation: Two-tops and bar seating. Perfect for: Cocktails, craft beer and Asian-influenced small plates.    

Sugo

1281 Bloor St. W., 416-535-1717, sugotoronto.com

What: The Emerson’s red-sauce joint next door. Seating situation: Four-tops decked out in checkered tablecloths, and a few bar stools. Perfect for: Pulling off that spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp.

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