Toronto Pride: Ultimate Restaurant, Bar & Nightlife Guide
Toronto Pride means days of food, fun and fab. The heart of the celebration is in Toronto’s gay village but opportunities for entertainment can be found in LGBTQ-friendly bars, restaurants and nightlife spots across the entire city.
All that celebrating can work up an appetite (and a thirst). Check out our ultimate guide for where to eat, drink and party during Toronto Pride 2017.
In the Gay Village
During the final weekend of Pride, Church Street in Toronto’s Gay Village shuts down to become a pedestrian-only party zone.
Where to eat: Grab a bite to eat at any of the numerous street food vendors lining the street. For pub grub, get a seat and a plate of nachos on the patio at O’Grady’s (518 Church Street) or The Churchmouse & Firkin (475 Church Street). More upscale dining can be found at Church Bistro (555 Church Street), Lola’s Kitchen (634 Church Street), or Sambucas on Church (489 Church Street).
Where to drink: There’s no shortage of places to drink in The Village, and even more so during Pride when beverage gardens spring up all along Church Street. Head to The Green Space on Church beside The 519 Community Centre, where the beer tents and outdoor dance floor always draw a big crowd. Drop in at Crews & Tangos (508 Church Street) to enjoy live drag entertainment, or chill out with a pint on the patio. Across the street, Woody’s (467 Church Street) is a local institution with hot bartenders serving up cold drinks.
Where to party: The parties during Toronto Pride are legendary. At The Green Space on Church, there’s a different party happening every day from July 1 to the July 3, including Lipstick Jungle after the Dyke March and Disco, Disco after the parade. If you feel like a change of scenery, simply walk down Church Street where you can always find live music and DJ’s stirring up fun. And make sure to check out Fly 2.0 nightclub (6 Gloucester Street), whose go-go dancers, strobe lights and fist-pumping music have earned it a legendary reputation and numerous Best Dance Club in Toronto awards.
In the West End
West Queen West (a.k.a Queer West) is the Village’s younger, trendier, hipster cousin.
Where to eat: You won’t have a problem finding good food on restaurant-lined Queen Street West. Grab a table at Terroni (720 Queen Street West) for authentic Italian cuisine including their famous wood-fired pizza. Thai Elephant (813 Queen Street West) has some of the best Thai food in the west end. If you’re feeling classy and have money to burn, head to La Palette (492 Queen Street West) for escargot, duck confit and a wine list to die for.
Where to drink: The west end’s watering holes attract varied crowds of all ages, genders and orientations. The Beaver (1192 Queen Street West) is a former gallery turned bar/restaurant with a great patio and an artsy laid-back vibe. Not far away, The Steady (1051 Bloor Street West) is an unpretentious Miami-inspired bar for anyone who likes good cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, cocktails are elevated to art form at BarChef (472 Queen Street West), which boasts over 5,000 housemade bitters and the famous Vanilla & Hickory Smoked Manhattan.
Where to party: If you’re looking to expand beyond the scene in the Village, the scene in Queen West is every bit as bumpin’. The Drake (1150 Queen Street West) is famous for its raucous themed parties during Pride. Continue the fun with live music and DJs at Velvet Underground (510 Queen Street West) or Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen Street West), where you can dance the night away.
In the East End
The east end offers a quieter atmosphere than The Village or Queen West, with plenty of eye candy in The Beaches.
Where to eat: Between Leslieville’s cafés, The Danforth’s Greek food, and The Beach’s pubs, the east end is a haven for foodies. Enjoy a locally-sourced meal from Chef Lynn Crawford’s Canadian-themed seasonal menu at Ruby Watchco (730 Queen Street East). Grab a taste of Greece at Messini Authentic Gyros (445 Danforth Avenue) or Pan on the Danforth (516 Danforth Avenue). Or savour the famous pulled pork poutine at Hogtown Smoke (1959 Queen Street East) in The Beach.
Where to drink: When the sun is out during Pride (which is usually), many people head east to The Beach, where the patios provide a perfect vantage point for people-watching. Jump on the streetcar and go patio-hopping on Queen Street East. The Stone Lion (1958 Queen Street East) features two patios and a great selection of imported beers, while The Salty Dog’s (1980 Queen Street East) west-facing patio ensures plenty of sun in the afternoon. Afterwards, take a walk along the boardwalk to admire the shirtless guys and bikini-clad gals hanging out on Ashbridge’s Bay Beach.
Where to party: WAYLA Bar (996 Queen Street East) has a funky vibe inspired by the nightlife in France and underground clubs in New York City. During Pride, it plays host to many special LGBTQ-themed events. Also check out The Duke (1225 Queen Street East) for live music and karaoke and The Roy (894 Queen Street East) for Irish-style drinking and dancing.
By the Harbourfront
Picturesque views of the lake make the Harbourfront the perfect place to wander during Pride, with the allure of the Toronto Islands only a short ferry or water taxi ride away.
Where to eat: Toronto’s waterfront restaurants combine great food with beautiful views of Lake Ontario. Munch on baked stone flatbreads, maple chipotle baked wings and pulled pork on Against the Grain’s killer lakeside patio (245 Queens Quay West) or chow down on pub food and craft beer at Amsterdam (245 Queens Quay West) which boasts a 14,000 square-foot space including multiple patios. Or take a short ferry ride over to quaint Ward’s Island to dine in the dappled shade of the Rectory Cafe’s spacious garden patio.
Where to drink:Good spots to grab a brew include The Miller Tavern (31 Bay Street) and Firkin on Harbour (10 Yonge Street), while the lobby bar in Westin Harbour Castle (1 Harbour Square) has a cocktail list to please the most discriminating of imbibers.
Toronto Pride 2017: What to Do and Where to Go
If You’re Looking for Live Music
Toronto Pride always boasts an impressive roster of musical artists and this year is no exception.
Continue your Pride Month celebrations amongst mummies and marble at the Royal Ontario Museum’s official Toronto Pride dance party, Friday Night Live: Colour ROM Proud, featuring top DJs and live indie artists. (100 Queen’s Park, June 23, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.).
Boundary-pushing and in your face, the Alternaqueer dance party is a chance to let your hair down and rock out, with live performances by the fiercely sexy and defiantly glamorous burlesque troupe Dainty Smith and Les femmes Fatales, the gritty and glamorous electronic band, Persons and the genre-defying musical duo, Partner. (TD Village Stage, 77 Wellesley Street East, June 23, 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.).
With live video by Roxanne Luchak, back-to-back DJs Denise Benson and Cozmic Cat, performances by Spin Starlets and much more, CHERRY BOMB is the official Dyke Day After Party. This year, celebrate 10 Years of Queer Love as Toronto’s biggest party for queer women and friends turns 10. (Mod Club, 722 College Street, June 24 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.).
End your Pride celebration the right way and head on over to Yonge-Dundas Square for the star-studded lineup of The Final Play, featuring breakthrough UK band Years & Years, dream pop trio KING, and Toronto darling party rocker DJ Lissa Monet. (Yonge-Dundas Stage – Yonge-Dundas Square, June 25, 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.).
If You’re Looking to Party
The parties at Toronto Pride are fun, frenzied and fab.
Kick off Pride early and soak up the sun at Toronto Pride’s massive annual waterfront event at Sugar Beach. All the way from Brazil, Renato Cecin will be laying the beat down at the hot and happening Sugar Beach Party (22 Dockside Drive, June 18, 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.).
Relax on a private cabana and enjoy the sunset over Lake Ontario at Cabana Pool Party. Soak up Toronto’s waterfront skyline with the stylish sounds of L.A. DJ Hector Fonseca and Toronto’s own energetic fireball DJ/producer Ticky Ty. (Cabana Pool Bar – 11 Polson Street, June 21, 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.).
Immerse yourself in a world of glitter, glitz and glamour at Starry Night. With a lineup featuring Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 9 stars Peppermint and Sasha Velour, Toronto-grown Tynomi Banks and the flawless mixing skills of DJ Andy Warburton, this FREE soirée is one you won’t want to miss (Barbara Hall Park – 519 Church Street Community Centre, June 22, 5:00 p.m. to midnight).
If You’re Looking for Multicultural Flare
Toronto Pride is all about celebrating diversity.
Savour the sweet lineup of Pan Dulce, this year’s Latinx focused event, featuring taboo-breaking São Paulo rapper Rico Dalasam, Grammy award-winning musical phenomenon La Santa Cecilia, drumming sensation BAOBA, the sweet beats of DJ FOSFORITA! and more. (Wellesley Stage, 15 Wellesley Street East, June 24, 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.).
Yalla Barra is back celebrating Middle Eastern culture, headlined by popular Iranian duo Abjeez – dubbed the first Persian language Reggae/Ska band – and joined by the traditional-yet-futuristic sounds of Shiva, the mesmerizing techno beats of Wake Island, and a special performance by Arabesque Dance Company. (Wellesley Stage, 15 Wellesley Street East, June 23, 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.).
This year’s 2Spirit Stage event – Ninjichaag: The Spirit Within – promises a drum-beating celebration of indigenous music and culture, all while promoting an inclusive atmosphere for everyone. With an opening ceremony by Ojibwa-Cree lesbian author Ma-Nee Chacaby, performances by Eagle Woman Singerz on Big Drum and the unique electronica sound of Classic Roots, this spirited lineup promises to bring to life the heartbeat of the boreal north. (Alexander Parkette, 16 Alexander Street, June 25, 12:00 p.m – 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.).
If You’re Looking for Activism and Dialogue
The Pride movement was born out of a spirit of political activism and Toronto Pride continues that tradition with critical dialogue and events tackling issues that affect the LGBTTIQQ2SA community.
Listen to a power human rights panel at Until We Are Free: The Global Struggle for LGBTQ Human Rights, a discussion illuminating worldwide grassroots efforts in the context of global struggles, and shedding light on the ways that activists around the world are confronting oppression and seeking solutions for international LGBT communities. (The 519 Ballroom, 519 Church Street, June 15, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.).
The Trans Pride Community Fair is a place to find more information on, make connections in or get support from the Toronto trans community, any time before, during and after the 2017 Trans March. (Allan Gardens, Carlton and Sherbourne Streets, June 23, 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.).
Commemorate those lives lost and affected by HIV/AIDS at the AIDS Candlelight Vigil (Barbara Hall Park – 519 Church Street, June 20, 9:00 p.m.).
If You’re Looking to March (or Spectate)
Toronto Pride Weekend features three major parades and marches that celebrate gender and sexual diversity in all its forms.
Founded in 2009, the Trans Pride March has evolved into one of the largest annual events put on by Canada’s trans community and all trans and non-binary individuals, friends and allies are encouraged to rally in solidarity. (Starts at Church Street and Hayden Street, June 23, 6:30 p.m. Rally, 7:00 p.m. March)
Toronto’s Dyke March is a grassroots event and political demonstration celebrating the power, strength and diversity of women and trans people in the LGBTTIQQ2SA community. (Begins at Church and Hayden Streets, June 24, 1:00 p.m.)
Close off Pride at the one and only Toronto Pride Parade, the festival weekend’s premier event, featuring over 150 participating groups. This year, the parade will feature its first ever emcee, bubbly Drag performer Miss Conception. Let loose and have fun amidst the elaborate floats, colourful costumes and rousing music. (Begins at Bloor and Church Streets, June 25, 2:00 p.m.)
If You’re Looking for Divine Drag Divas
From the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race to homegrown talent from Toronto and Montréal, there’s more drag entertainment at Toronto Pride than you can shake a boa at.
Fan favourites from the new season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Miss Peppermint and Trinity Taylor will be putting on a one-of-a-kind drag extravaganza at Fly 2.0 nightclub for an outrageous soirée sure to defy the wildest imaginations. (6 Gloucester Street, June 21, 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.).
This year, Drag On has been renamed DRAG BALL, and it promises a beautiful mix of new and returning acts. Featuring DJ Kitty Glitter serving up sexy sets and igniting the dance floor, a local drag queen show featuring Toronto’s top queens and ending with a special surprise guest performance, this event will be as fierce and flamboyant as they come (Yonge-Dundas Stage – Yonge-Dundas Square, June 24, 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.).
Toronto Pride 2017
Bold, fearless and unique: Meet Toronto Pride’s headliners! #PrideTO