Toronto restaurateurs’ favourite after-work hangouts

Toronto restaurateurs’ favourite after-work hangouts

The Harbord Room’s Cory Vitiello
Cory Vitiello. Photograph by Dave Gillespie

“Sometimes after a long shift, a bunch of us will head over to BMB Karaoke at Bloor and Palmerston. They do late night private rooms—$5 per person per hour. You can’t have much more fun than that after 2 a.m. I don’t have a signature number, but I butchered “La Bamba” recently. For a lower-key night, I’ll head over to a bar on Bloor West called Three Speed. It’s chill, nothing too flashy, just a good, relaxed place to hang out. I get a tequila and soda. If we’re feeling up to it, we might go across the street to Duffy’s and shoot a game of pool.”

Raca Cafe and Bar’s Ivana Raca
Ivana Raca. Courtesy of Ivana Raca

“When I was training under Mark McEwan at One, he would always tease me because I never wanted to join everyone for a drink after work. Now that I run my own kitchen, there are definitely nights when I want to go somewhere for a good drink. I like Chantecler because it has a super-relaxed neighbourhood scene. I’m a fan of classic cocktails, so I’ll generally order the Last Word, with gin, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime ($14). They’ve also got a really great late night menu. It’s small and simple, but everything I’ve tried is excellent. I love the French onion soup, the steak tartare and the kale salad—it’s second only to mine.”

Fring’s Kai Bent-Lee
Kai Bent-Lee. Photograph by Dave Gillespie

My brother, Levi, and I rarely take nights off, so when we’re done it’s usually pretty late. For food, there is a great Korean place called Owl of Minerva that’s open 24 hours. Their specialty is pork bone soup, but I usually get an omelette: ham and processed cheese fried with glass noodles and a bunch of vegetables. It’s junky and delicious. Other nights after work, we play Ping-Pong at Spin. They close at 2, but sometimes the manager will keep it open later for us. My friends and I get pretty competitive. We’ll make bets and go double or nothing. There’s a lot of trash talk.”

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