Say goodbye to mundane mozzarella sticks and hello to saltfish fritters, Jamon croquetas and poke wonton tacos the next time you pull up a barstool in the city. With one of the most diverse culinary scenes on the planet, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Toronto has a long list of bars and restaurants that proudly serve up bites with an international spin. So, the next time you head out for a night on the town, why not take a virtual jaunt around the globe via your taste buds? To inspire your journey, I’ve rounded up five local spots that will whisk you away with their ambience and surprise your palate with tantalizing bar bites.
Enter this tropical escape and head straight upstairs for one of the most vibrant bars in Toronto. Order the spicy jerk chips, saltfish fritters and pepper shrimp and put out the “fiyah” in your mouth with a bottle of Red Stripe. If beer isn’t your drink of choice, the signature cocktails are impressive — My Blossom, Calabash Bay and Island Thyme are crowd favourites. If you’re craving wings, the slow-baked jerk wings are some of the best the city has to offer. Did I mention that Chubby’s also serves 10 of the world’s best rums? One thing is for sure: their “likkle bites” and drinks will have you feeling alright in no time. (104 Portland St, 416-792-8105.)
Grab a seat on their intimate patio or perch next to the open kitchen at this buzzworthy Italian neighbourhood bar and café. Only walk-ins are accepted at this popular spot so there may be a wait before you get seated. You’ll want to head here during aperitivi (between 4-7 pm daily) for the ultimate local experience. Regardless of when you visit, make sure to try the nodini (chef Gentile’s signature bread knots), speidini (skewers) and a few spuntini (hot plates). (75 Portland St, 416-599-2822.)
There’s truly nowhere else like it in the city — it’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous and a great place to mingle with old and new friends over Spanish bites. Wander inside this Gaudí-esque bar on College and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Barcelona. The pintxos and tapas that line the bar are so appetizing that you’ll likely have a hard time deciding what to order. My picks? The stracciatella & boquerones, mushroom tower and the Galician octopus. Don’t shy away from the conservas (tinned seafood) – the razor clams and smoked mackerel are exceptional here. (505 College St, 647-344-8001.)
If tacos and mezcal bring a smile to your face, this popular Mexican bar in Kensington Market is the watering hole for you. Although their menu is limited, the tacos and snacks will hit the spot as you sip on refreshing margaritas. The shishitos and tacos al pastor are musts. El Rey is also one of the few spots in the city where you can try chapulines (a.k.a. grasshoppers) – a popular bar snack in Mexico! It’s the kind of place you’ll want to visit with friends for drinks and a few bites (preferably in the summer when their patio is open). (2A Kensington Ave, no phone.)
This Hawaiian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar will have you saying aloha in no time. Expect over-the-top and highly instagrammable drinks dreamt up by head barman Robin Wynne and contemporary Hawaiian and Asian fare from Chef Michael Sutherland. Order the Total Eclipse Of The Shark cocktail and nibble on small plates like the pineapple jicama salad and poke wonton tacos. If you’ve never tried Hawaiian beer, these guys serve Kona Big Wave so grab a pint, sit at the bar and enjoy lively conversations and fun bar bites. (1279 Queen St. W, (416-516-8677)
See it. Snap it. Share it. Around every corner, down every street, and in every neighbourhood,
there’s something that begs to be shared in Toronto.
See it. Snap it. Share it. Around every corner, down every street, and in every neighbourhood, there’s something that begs to be shared in Toronto.#SeeTorontoNow
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