Toronto’s best winter-proof patios

Toronto’s best winter-proof patios

However unpleasant the reason may be, patio season is back. It may feel like a chilling case of déjà vu, but with indoor dining temporarily on hold, many restaurants and their intrepid staffs have set their tables frigidly al fresco and fired up as many heaters as space will allow. You know the drill, or maybe you don’t since dining outdoors in January isn’t really a thing we’re accustomed to around here: dress warmly (layers, people), bring blankets and hand warmers, and tip generously.

F’Amelia

The plates at this Cabbagetown favourite pull from a canon of northern Italian classics—house-made pappardelle swaddled with braised rabbit and black kale, saffron risotto and hearty lasagna—perfect for wintry weeks like this one. They’ve constructed a covered patio in the front, complete with circulating heat and plenty of fresh air. Pro tip: take home a pizza kit or two to ride out the rest of the polar vortex.
 

Yuugi Izakaya

Over in Baldwin Village, this streetside izakaya offers big flavour in a small footprint. Battered karaage, torched wagyu sushi and steaming bowls of creamy udon are all on order at this teeny, heater-fuelled storefront patio, as are boozy, Japanese-accented cocktails (which are warming in their own way).
 

Paradise Grapevine

There’s one surefire way to soften the blow of the snow: wine! Paradise Grapevine offers plenty of it in a covered and partly walled-in back patio, complete with mood lighting, copious conviviality and heaters.
 

 

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Union

This Ossington brunch essential is now an apres-ski outfit. Regardless of the lack of proximity to any slopes, the cozy back space is outfitted with wooden picnic tables and bench seating flanked by heaps of firewood and an army of heaters. Beef bourguignon is on deck for those in need of warming up, while towers of Nordic shrimp and Atlantic snow crab are served to folks okay with things on ice (other than themselves, that is).
 

Chotto Matte

If your dreams of warm-weather vacationing have been dashed until the summer, Nikkei hotspot Chotto Matte offers a well-insulated and enviably verdant patio, plush with tropical plants and other sun-soaked décor.
 

 

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Atomic 10

The tiny Latin patio on St. Clair West has been winterized with heaters and tarps for the brave of heart and the cold of blood. Regardless of the temperature, Atomic 10 still serves sunny plates of crispy cassava fries, tostones and tacos galore (including pad Thai and Korean BBQ ones), plus all kinds of mojitos to aid in the illusion.
 

 

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Bar Neon

Continuing their command of a tiny patio off a Bloordale alley, Bar Neon has added a wooden canopy and filled the space with picnic tables and heaters. They’re serving wood-fired pizzas, plus mulled wines, hot toddies and other hot drinks to ease any icy feelings.
 

 

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Bar Piquette

This Queen West mainstay has always had a particularly pleasant heated solarium, and it makes all the difference in the frostier of months. Wines by the glass, a full arsenal of bottles, ooey-gooey-good raclette and piles of blankets are offered for all your glacial galavanting.
 

 

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Burdock Brewery

Over in Bloordale, Burdock is serving those weary of their home bar with fresh cans and bottles on a winter-proofed patio. On the food menu: steak frites, spicy fries and seasonal garden greens.
 

 

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Fonda Lola

New restrictions may take away many things, but Taco Tuesday persists. Fonda Lola’s tented backyard is equipped with several fire pits and heaters for those looking to dig into enchiladas, tacos, tequila or mezcal tipples, and other south-of-the-border snacks and sips.
 

Breakwall BBQ

Grab your warmest winter wear and park yourself on a heated picnic table outside Breakwall BBQ in the Beaches for some halal brisket, hickory smoked wings, burgers and other smoked and grilled goods.
 

 

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Leela Indian Food Bar

The Little India location of Leela offers heaping plates of flaming chicken, charcoal-grilled fish and chicken tikka, and high-spice vindaloos on a surprisingly spacious covered and propane heater-fuelled patio.
 

 

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Miga Korean BBQ

Not only has Miga Korean BBQ winterized its patio, but it has introduced some seasonal menu specials. Right now can you order things like pumpkin soup, galbi meatball noodles, fluffy gingerbread egg nogs, and red velvet cake cocktails with candy cane garnishes. Dig into all of the above under a canopy of Christmas garlands and between a forest of poinsettias and holiday trees.

 

Big Crow

Anthony Rose’s Algonquin-inspired backyard barbecue spot has long set the standard for sub-zero dining. The space is optimized for coziness, with blankets, fur throws, overhead heaters and spreads of hearty comfort food—think whole chickens with salsa verde, saucy Carolina-style ribs and all the fixins.

 

Her Father’s

Harbord Village’s cider spot is home to a patio filled with as many heaters as space will allow. And while a crisp refreshing cider might not ordinarily be your drink of choice on a chilly day, the menu is stocked with seasonally appropriate offerings like a lush ruby cider matured on cabernet sauvignon skins, bottles from Heartwood Cider steeped with ghost peppers and sweetened with honey, or hot mulled cider.

 

 

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Aura

In a season filled with kitschy winter wonderlands and patios disguised as cabins, this bar is the opposite: it’s a tiny strip of tropical, transportive paradise behind a Riverside cocktail bar. The heated patio is bedecked with flora and fauna, fairy lights and trees aplenty. Come for the atmosphere, stay for top-notch tipples like a smoked, Tabasco-spiked single-malt cocktail.

 

Harriet’s Toronto

This sky-high spot on the top of the 1Hotel (née The Thompson) defines a good hotel bar. Tourist-approved views of the city? Check. A bar filled with well-heeled downtowners? Yup. A menu of better-than-average craft cocktails and sea-to-plate finger foods? Check, check, check. Plus, the outdoor patio is malleable to the forecast—the roof can be retracted to suit the season.

 

 

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Vela

While Vela’s swirling, modern interiors command the attention of every phone camera that enters the joint, the King West cocktail spot’s winterized, heated pergola is equally as excellent a place to nosh on the kitchen’s $100 caviar sandwiches.

 

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Le Phénix

Brave the elements and set up camp at Le Phenix’s backyard patio for oysters, roast duck and crispy terrine (plus liquid accompaniments). While it was well-heated through fall, the team is fully enclosing the space in December for all your cold-weather cocktail-drinking needs.

 

 

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La Paella

Just in time for the temperature drop, this east-end paella place has turned its patio into somewhat of a chic European chalet. Expect an all-wood interior, cozy cabin decor and heaters galore. The paella is also perfectly suited for winter weather: steaming plates of crispy rice come with rabbit, wild boar, chorizo or a full tomahawk steak.

 

 

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Superfly

This winterized Parkdale perch, wrapped inside a see-through covering—offers everything you want from a great sidewalk patio (read: excellent people watching) without the snow and slush. A collaborative food program from Kaboom Kitchen means hot and spicy fried chicken is always on order. If that isn’t enough to entice you to get off the couch, half-price wine nights are frequent and always festive.

 

 

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Wish

Atmospheric pine cones, twinkle lights and other winter paraphernalia make Wish’s insulated outdoor patio an excellent destination for spending this chilly season.

 

Shenanigans Pub and Patio

This midtown pub, the newest member of O&B’s restaurant family, has an all-season rooftop patio as its third floor. It’s in winter mode right now, which means it’s covered and fully heated. One corner, with a couch and a gas fireplace, is an extra-cozy place to watch the game.

 

 

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Jules Bistro

Don’t mourn the loss of the Spadina Jules too long—the west-end location is open and a heated back patio is ready serving up al fresco magret de canard, steak frites, and other bistro dishes that warm the stomach and soul.

 

 

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The Caledonian

Trust the Scots to build a year-round patio that is blatantly defiant of the blustery weather. Throw on your best tartan sweater, snag a seat and sip a flight of highland drams that will certainly keep you warm regardless of the numerous heaters on the covered patio.

 

 

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El Catrin Destileria

This Distillery District cantina is deeply committed to patio season. The sprawling, seven-days-a-week spot constantly has fires roaring and heaters blasting, music playing and a full menu of generous margaritas, tacos and churros.

Did we miss your favourite winterized patio? Email food@torontolife.com and let us know