Toronto’s Best Heated Patios

A little cool weather isn’t going to tarnish Toronto’s taste for fresh party air. Grab a seat at one of these cool and cozy heated patios.

Nothing says “hardy Canadian” like beering around the propane heaters on a warm winter patio in the middle of town on a Thursday night. And everyone knows that food just tastes better outside! From year-round best-bets to shoulder-season icons, these fun winter-proof outdoor spaces heat up when the temperatures drop. Bundle up!
El Catrin Heated Patio in Toronto Distillery District
Cozy meets Mexican at El Catrin in the Distillery District

QUEEN WEST

The Drake Hotel Sky Yard

The rooftop patio of this arts-oriented boutique hotel is still Queen Street West’s hip cultural hub. For winter, walls are erected around the covered portion of the patio, making it super cozy, big enough to handle up to 100 people. Saucy industrial décor fits right in with the business-creative crowd vibe. Throw in a tiki bar-like tongue-in-cheek charm and you’ve got a good night out.

Cuisine: The best burger in town is supplemented by small plates, a full raw bar and other artisanal-bistro goodies.

Kicker: Pecorino-truffle French fries!

Open: Year-round

$$
People sitting on the heated Drake Sky Yard patio
The Ever-trendy rooftop at Drake Sky Yard

LITTLE ITALY

Bar Raval

The Barcelona taverna vibe of this beautiful sculpted-wood bôite on College Street carries on right out to the side patio, but with a more pared-down look. Essentially, this is a heated, covered, stand-up kind of space, with guests casually gathered around big barrels that have been turned into tables. Perfect for smart cocktails and a little something to nibble on. Cuisine: Spanish pinxtos (snacks on little breads held together with toothpicks) plus tapas like octopus, sausage, smoked mackerel, fried eggplant and mushroom skewers.

Kicker: $5 Cava between midnight and closing every night.

Open: Late—and year-round.

$$

Bar Raval appetizers on heated patio
Delicious tapas at Bar Raval | Photo by AJ Fernando

KING WEST

Gusto 101

Located in a repurposed garage just off buzzing-after-6PM King Street West, this constantly busy Italian restaurant lures locals up to its industrial-style rooftop space, complete with retractable glass roof. It is essentially a red-ringed little glass cube. Work on your winter tan seated on white metal chairs under big banks of heaters or around the pyramid-shaped glass skylights of the room below.

Cuisine: Southern Italian with a slight global underpinning.

Kicker: Wine on tap at $1/ounce, including a sparkling rosé!

Open: Year-round.

$$

DISTILLERY

El Catrin Destileria

The glow of a giant open-fire pit beckons tourists and townies off Tank House Lane to come sit a spell on the 5,000-square-foot patio of this trendy destination Distillery restaurant, where oversized lamp shades fight for “ceiling” space with an absolute ton of infrared heaters. The yellow glow is intoxicating, the vibe casual, the serapes warm, and the décor cool. Cuisine: Upscale traditional and modern Mexican tapas from small bites to a six-course tasting menu let you eat a little or a lot—usually a lot.

Kicker: Canada’s largest selection of mezcal and tequila—more than 120 labels.

Open: Nearly year-round, with a Winter Brunch Challenge on Jan-Feb-Mar weekends.

$$$

Sipping on a cocktail at El Catrin in the Distillery District

YORKVILLE

The Pilot Flight Deck

A Toronto institution, the aviation-themed Pilot has been around for 75 years, named after the RCAF flyers of World War II. Best known for live music and sports on the TVs, this Cumberland Street watering hole is also a hit with locals in the know for its giant rooftop bar. Simple décor, great atmosphere, large capacity (holding 185) — this place is definitely worth all the stairs.

Cuisine:An eclectic, mostly Asian-style starter menu is pubbed out by classics like wings, nachos, flatbreads and quesadillas.

Kicker: Live jazz on the second floor lets you enjoy two different atmospheres in one go.

Open: March to December.

$$

DUPONT & DAVENPORT

Rose and Sons Back Patio (formerly Big Crow)

This ground-floor restaurant spinoff behind Rose and Sons diner feels like you’re eating outside—mostly because you are. Since the success of the barbecue perfection that was Big Crow, the owners have decided to renovate the space, changing the décor, updating the essentials and making the restaurant even more winterized. As Big Crow, laid-back guests chowed down at communal picnic tables, with the spirit of comradery lasting all evening.

Cuisine: Chef Anthony Rose likes to keep his cards close to his chest, so details on the new menu will have to wait for the reopening December 1.

Kicker: If we could keep one thing from the old menu? S’mores!

Open: Year-round.

$$$

About the Author

Fun at parties, light on loafers, veteran international travel writer and photographer Doug Wallace can be found beside buffet tables, on massage tables and table-hopping around the world. Visit TravelRight.Today to make every holiday minute count.

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