6 Cozy Winter Hangouts in Toronto

Some like to hibernate during the winter months. We prefer to indulge in cool-weather cocktails and decadent treats by a fireplace. Food & travel blogger, Solmaz, tells us where to warm up this season.

Winter can be an exceptionally magical time in Toronto. The Distillery District looks like a postcard with its snow-covered cobblestone streets, Nathan Phillips Square pulses with energy as skaters glide by the illuminated Toronto sign and our parks turn into urban winter wonderlands filled with rosy-cheeked kids, both big and small.

The nights also become longer – which I’m convinced is nature’s way of giving us more time to enjoy food and drink at cozy restaurants and bars around the city. Ah yes, a great excuse to warm up by a fire, check out a winterized patio or indulge in a decadent treat. Each neighbourhood has its own gems, but here are six spots that top my list.

Photo: The Drake Sky Yard. Photo Credit: Louisa Nicolaou.

The Drake Sky Yard

This popular rooftop patio transforms into one of the coziest spots in town during the winter months. Lined with heaters and blankets, the winterized space is beautifully decorated and is always filled with buzz. Art, music and food lovers flock here for the unpretentious vibe and memorable nights. (1150 Queen Street W / 647-748-3287.)

Photo: Famous Last Words.

Famous Last Words

Certainly one of the city’s most unique watering holes, this literary-themed cocktail bar in the Junction neighbourhood is a bibliophile’s dream come true. Cozy up by the fireplace with a book and order yourself a clever, well-crafted cocktail — there are over 50 to choose from. These guys are serious about their books: they host book launches, book clubs and even lend out a Kobo to those who wish to read at the bar (which is meticulously made from Scrabble pieces). (392 Pacific Avenue / 416-792-5200.)

Photo: El Catrin.

El Catrin

A massive fire pit and dozens of heaters turn this sprawling patio in the Distillery District into a cozy spot during the winter months. Bundle up in their colourful blankets, order a round of margaritas (or my personal favourite: the Pepino Diablo cocktail) and nibble on Mexican cuisine with friends. The warm glow of the fire and unique ambience also make for a memorable date night experience. (18 Tank House Lane / 416-203-2121.)

Photo: Big Crow.

Big Crow

Inspired by Algonquin Park, this hidden gem in the Annex is rustic, cozy and serves up some stellar BBQ. The winterized patio is lined with communal picnic tables, banquettes wrapped in cowhide and benches cushioned with warm blankets. Head here for a lively ambience, good eats and a virtual escape to camp! (176 Dupont Street/ 647-748-3287)

Bar Reyna

As if Yorkville wasn’t charming enough during the winter months, Bar Reyna has stepped it up a notch with a secret garden. Yup, tucked behind the popular snack and cocktail bar you’ll find an enchanting winterized patio where you can escape the cold and share some Mediterranean nibbles with friends while sipping on specialty cocktails. The entire space has a warm glow that will brighten up any long winter’s night. (158 Cumberland Street / 647-748-4464)

Photo: Cactus Club Cafe.

Cactus Club Cafe

One of Toronto’s hottest winterized patios, The Deck pulses with energy throughout the chilly months. Their fully retractable snow-melting roof will protect you from the elements while the attentive staff will make sure you have all the food and libations needed for a fun night out. Located in the Financial District at First Canadian Place, Cactus Club Cafe is one of the largest restaurants downtown and a great spot for a power lunch or after-work drinks. (77 Adelaide Street W / 647-748-2025)

About the Author

Solmaz, also known as The Curious Creature, is a full-time food and travel blogger based in Toronto. She has travelled to more than 35 countries and is a firm believer that food plays an essential role in exploring a new destination.

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