Toronto has a host of gay and gay-friendly outdoor spots, reaching west to Roncesvalles, east to Leslieville and high up off the streets to the 18th floor of the Park Hyatt hotel. Whether you’re heading out alone, for after-work drinks or on a blind date, drinking on a sunny patio is a pastime that will never go out of vogue.
This adorable new Kensington Market venue is one of the most innovative locales Toronto has to offer. Located in a shopping concourse on Augusta Ave, the city’s worst-kept secret boasts a spacious and sunny patio, enclosed by chain-link fences, that resembles a prison yard in the best way imaginable. Delicious and well-dressed men populate the space — there’s room for 50 of them — enjoying tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon and bottles of 50 with their dim sum. Co-owner and resident hottie Oliver explains that live DJs spin on the terrace for special party nights, like the hip-hop themed 88 Days party and the gay disco bash Mighty Real.
60 Kensington Ave
This seminal daddy bar is home to one of the most sun-drenched patios in the city. With a capacity of 120, black walls adorned with Tom of Finland–esque art and some of the best music on Church St, it’s the perfect venue to show up alone and leave with a hirsute stud on your arm. An added incentive to visit the patio is for the genuine, zero-attitude service, like from the impossibly sweet and striking Mike Barry.
The Black Eagle
457 Church St
The chic Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt has some of the most coveted seats in the city. Located 18 floors above Bloor St, it has a breathtaking view of downtown and is a hotspot for star-spotting, particularly during the film festival. It’s a favourite of Yorkville queens, who flaunt their pink Holt’s shopping bags and knock back one cocktail after another. Old-school standards like Manhattans or gin martinis are made with expert precision.
The Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt
4 Avenue Rd
A relatively new addition to Cabbagetown, this ridiculously cute patio is awash in sun and excellent service. With a capacity of 25 it’s always accessible, even when the cabaret show features a local legend like Carole Pope or Scott Thompson. The menu is standard pub fare: mussels, deep-fried pickles and beaver sticks — hand-cut fries with garlic aioli. Funny woman/entertainment director Maggie Cassella explains that the green painted walls enhance the outdoor-drinking experience, as do the Christmas lights hung above the tables.
The Flying Beaver Pubaret
488 Parliament St
This Queen West staple has one of the warmest, most inclusive patios downtown. With a capacity of 38, it’s shady, alluring and just a stone’s throw from Trinity Bellwoods Park. Well-chosen beers on tap — Saint Andre, Mill St Cobblestone Stout and Wellington Dark Ale — and a friendly team of people with excellent taste in music explain why local queers have been making good use of this patio for years.
The Done Right Inn
861 Queen St W
Located next to the Revue Cinema, on the burgeoning and increasingly gay Roncesvalles strip, this space lives up to its name: there are 15 locally sourced beers on tap, including Conductor’s Craft Ale, brewed just up the street at Junction Craft Brewing. The charming, semi-shaded deck seats just 20 and is an ideal spot for a date. The menu features both hearty (Roncy poutine) and healthy (beet salad) pub fare. Service from the gorgeous Lauren is fast and friendly. Dinner and a movie?
The Local Pub & Restaurant
396 Roncesvalles Ave
Smith’s pop-up patio is probably the freshest new space in the Village this summer. Transforming what used to be an empty laneway used for garbage bins — and late-night make-out mishaps — into a cozy, 36-person nook, the romantic gated hideaway is an adorable alternative to The Vic’s expanse across the street. Screenings of old movies, a massive barbecue and an all-new summer cocktail menu make this hidden oasis a perfect summer spot on Church. We recommend the Smith lemonade.
553 Church St
A west-end institution, this temple of cool has myriad gay parties and a rear patio more raucous than hell on a Saturday night. It’s shaded, has a capacity of 25 and offers an assortment of draft beers, including Wellington Special Pale Ale and Duggan’s #9 IPA. Veteran servers David and Patrick are easy on the eyes and make a mean cocktail. Once dinner service (delicious and affordable) finishes at 10pm, the restaurant transforms into a bar. The patio fills up quickly, but there’s plenty of room to stand, dance and drink. Also, the view of the Parkdale Price Chopper is exquisite.
1192 Queen St W
The patio at What Are You Looking At Bar and Lounge is so cute it almost hurts. Located in Leslieville, this stylish bar throws frequent gay parties: two favourites are B.East, with the unreasonably handsome Chris Munro, and Pop Machine, with DJs Shane Percy and Alessandro. Open seven days a week, it’s a great place to kick back on the sunny 25-seat patio and enjoy a mojito or share a pitcher of sangria.
996 Queen St E
More fab faves!
61 Bellevue Ave
Churchmouse & Firkin
475 Church St
Hair of the Dog
425 Church St
The Blake House
449 Jarvis St
640 Queen St W
1130 Queen St E
1163 Bloor Street West
Ryan English revisits some old favourites and discovers some new classics.