Cold Comfort: 11 winter patios for Toronto’s class of dedicated outdoor diners
Toronto’s love of patios is a curious, twisted thing. Even when the day’s high is minus-something-awful and snow blankets the streets, Toronotonians will do seemingly anything for a snatch of sky with their meal. It’s a point of great northern pride, a desperate attempt to pretend winter isn’t, well, winter and, really, just plain weird. To the city’s most stubborn patio-philes, we both salute you and question your grip on reality. We also offer 11 restaurants and bars with a fully fuctional winter patio—so you can tackle the year’s toughest months with drink in hand and toque on head.
Drake Sky Yard
A rooftop patio during the winter may seem like an invitation for hypothermia, but hear us out: the Drake transforms their Sky Yard each year into “Shack Chaud,” complete with patio heaters and a fire pit to warm your hands. For the under-dressed, the bar is area is covered, providing a bit of shelter from the elements. 1150 Queen St. W.
How cold? Wear a light fur coat (it’s on trend, after all).
Bundle up—this patio is open air. The only way to really warm your core is with a stiff sake-based drink, since food isn’t served outside. 398 Church St.
How cold? You’ll be drinking with your mitts.
The back patio’s heaters pair surprisingly well with the sprawling list of tequilas and mescals. 136 Ossington Ave.
How cold? After double shots of Tromba, does it really matter?
An outdoor space for only the truly dedicated. There’s no service and no heaters, but you can bring out a pint and sit around the fire. 1163 Bloor St. W.
How cold? Very. Wear your heaviest thrifted parka, mittens and scarf (and wools sock too—just no vintage, please. That’s icky.).
Christie Pits Indian restaurant Banjara is regularly packed during the summer, a problem exacerbated every winter with the loss of its patio. But a new heated enclosure should be up and running now. 796 Bloor St. W.
How cold? Not at all. Still, get something spicy to inure you for the walk home.
The heated, covered back area means you can ditch your jacket (and toque, mittens and scarf) and chow down on this Little Italy restaurant’s generously portioned, no-fuss comfort food like it’s August. 586 College St.
How cold? It’s not.
Most years, Ceili Cottage turns its patio into a small skating rink. This year, owner Patrick McMurray built a yurt, which should have room for a few dozen patrons. Sure, it’s heated and not exactly outside. But it’s a yurt! 1301 Queen St. E.
How cold? Nothing a pint of Guinness can’t handle.
Auberge du Pommier
A purportedly all-weather awning was recently installed at this Oliver and Bonacini staple, and weather permitting, Auberge might open the patio. Call ahead, though; they’re still unsure about the whole thing. 4150 Yonge St.
How cold? Cashmere sweaters and dinner jackets required.
Every winter the owners of this Yorkville after-work mainstay bring out the gas heaters and enclose the third-story patio. 142 Cumberland St.
How cold? Nice and convivially toasty.
Fifth Grill and Terrace
The patio is fully equipped with heaters to keep out the cold, providing a warm, clubby rooftop bubble and a view of a frozen downtown. 225 Richmond St. W.
How cold? Bring your Canada Goose (for the lineup).
The Pilot Tavern
This partially covered rooftop patio (“The Flight Deck”) is open throughout the winter, but typically only from Thursday to Saturday, and only if weather permits (the taps and lines have a tendency to freeze).Luckily, the Pilot posts the the Deck’s status daily. 22 Cumberland St.
How cold? Dust off that WWII-era flight jacket.