Toronto’s best new LGBTQ bars and queer hangouts

By Alena Papayanis

The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns hit the nightlife industry hard, and some of the the city’s best-loved LGBTQ spaces were forced to close down, including west-end watering hole the Beaver. Fortunately, queer refuges are making a comeback in 2022. Here are five incredible and inclusive new venues.

Toronto’s best new LGBTQ bars and queer hangouts
Toronto’s best new LGBTQ bars and queer hangouts
The cozy cocktail bar

Named after a group of lesbians who fought for recognition in the ‘70s feminist movement, Lavender Menace isn’t the typical Village gay bar. The relaxed cocktail bar features a cozy retro vibe and uniquely crafted themed cocktails, such as the Votes for Women, with butterfly pea–infused gin, rose liqueur and thyme honey syrup. Owners Vivian Lynch and Agnes Lee (of Gerrard Street’s Yard Sale Bar) also put on special events, including DJ patio sessions, drag nights, Chatty Thursdays inspired by Fleabag and a monthly dance night for queer women.


The alfresco wine club

In 2021, Nice Nice wine bar’s monthly Queer Wine Night migrated north to the patio of Paradise Grapevine, instantly transforming the homey Ossington wine bar into a west-end queer hub. The event, hosted by Paradise server Maria Lykouris, aims to bring niche and organic wines to queer and BIPOC communities. It regularly has lineups down the block, so arrive early.


The east-end brewery

Avling, the sleek open-concept taproom in Leslieville, hosts a monthly Queer Beer Night with $6 pints and dumplings (veggie and meat options available)—and each edition supports a different charity. The brewery sources ingredients for its beers and dishes, including lamb dumplings with a celery-and-chive vinaigrette, from its sustainable 4,000-square-foot rooftop garden.


Toronto’s best new LGBTQ bars and queer hangouts
Toronto’s best new LGBTQ bars and queer hangouts
Photography by Dusty Loops
The Parkdale haunt

Tommy’s Wine Bar in Roncesvalles now has a laid-back sister location, Tammy’s Wine Bar, in Parkdale. The minimalist bar and café opened in December 2021 and has since become a community hub thanks to its staff—women, nonbinary and queer folks—and its lively events lineup booked by radio host Joey D’Angelo and Kathleen Barrett. On Sundays, Everybody Flirts queer karaoke attracts a huge, rowdy crowd late into the night. Tammy’s also offers an approachable natural wine program curated by Lexi Wolkowski, who brings more than 10 years of wine experience from Bar Raval.


The punk hideout

Houndstooth is an eclectic, unpretentious spot in Bickford Park that attracts goths, punks and artists with affordable drinks and rentable rehearsal spaces. It’s a neighbourhood coffee shop by day and bar at night, booked with a wide range of entertainment—DJs, bands, movie nights—that reflects its diverse staff and clientele. DJ Sofia Fly spins house and trap music monthly while the recent roster of musicians has included DJs Eytan Tobin and Geezr, indie band Westelaken and bluesy singer Curt James.


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