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Best Bars in Toronto

I love traveling and I love food (or trying new fun restaurants). Every year I take a trip with my friends and one task I lovingly take on is: restaurant selection. Researching can take a long time. A REALLY long time. I’ve found it’s quite hard to figure out what to trust (newspaper articles, websites, travel blogs), who the target market actually is, and whether the selections are even reasonable (restaurants that require 3 month in advance reservations etc)

Here’s an example:  if you look at Trip Advisor, the top 3 restaurants listed for Toronto are not what I would consider to be the top 3 restaurants (based on some of my extensive dining). I suspect most of the reviews are from people who research “Top Restaurants in Toronto”, look only (mostly) at Trip Advisor and then go where everyone else has gone. And then the cycle continues…

Last year Conde Nast (an international travel magazine) wrote an article on “Top Toronto Bars”. Bars, similar to restaurants in Toronto, change frequently so I thought it would be very interesting to see whether I agreed with their findings. And if I did, I would feel comfortable using them as a resource for my future travel plans. If I found their selections to be totally cheezy and touristy:  bye bye Conde Nast.

Plus: How often do you get to play tourist in your own city?

To get to the good stuff click here.

To learn more about how the day played out…keep reading:

Mahjong BarBirreria VoloSky Yard at the Drake HotelCraft Beer MarketEl Rey Mezcal BarParis ParisThe Rooftop at the BroadviewPoor RomeoBar IsabelHer Father’s Cider Bar & KitchenBar ChefdBarBovine Sex ClubCold TeaBurdock

Here are the ones we went to in order (some of these were from the Top Rooftop Guide).

1.    The Rooftop at the Broadview8. Baro (rooftop)2.    The Chase (rooftop)9. Bar Chef3.    Jump (new Patio)10. Mahjong Bar4.    The Walrus (patio)11. Apres Wine Bar5.    Rooftop & SOCO6.    Carlotta (Beverly Hotel)7.    The Gaarden

The Chase

Goal:  Determine if I agreed with Conde Nasts’ Toronto Bar selection

Process:  Visit as many as I reasonably could to determine if they were a reliable source

Note 1:  It’s summer.  (I did this experiment at the beginning of July: PRIME FUN SUMMER MONTH)

Note 2:  Because I’m someone that really likes to make the MOST of an activity (some might call that “overachiever-ing), I decided to marry Toronto’s Best Bars with Toronto’s Best Patios.  (again: IT’S SUMMER!)

Note 3:  Many bars were likely better visited ‘late at night’ to get the full vibe.  If I had done that this blog would have taken over a year to write.  And who’s kidding who?  I can’t stay up ‘til when the ‘cool kids’ are going out.

The Gaarden

The Gaarden

This was not a task I took lightly.  I mean if I’m going to spend the afternoon “bar-ing” and then publish my findings on “the world wide web” I better take it seriously.

  1. I found a partner in crime (bar crawling is way more fun with one of your besties.

  2. We created a master list of bars & patios and selected ones we had not been to or felt needed a 2nd visit to come up with a fair evaluation

  3. Timing: This was clutch for our day to be successful. For a few reasons:

-Friday afternoon traffic is a nightmare and it had the potential to seriously impede the quantity of bars we could hit.

-many rooftops don’t open until 4pm.  (we had a VERY aggressive 4-5pm schedule LOL)

-After 5pm – lines start to form at the more popular locations

Map of Bar Locations


What I enjoyed most about this whole experiment was going to many places that I had never heard of and likely wouldn’t have gone to (can you say “comfort zone”?)

This truly was a super fun day.  I also learned that when you involve other people in your adventures they’re more than willing to help:

  1. I confessed to every server what our plans were (especially the locations where we only had 10 mins!) They LOVED the idea. They worked extra hard to make sure we could keep our timelines & made sure our water cups were never empty.

  2. Taxi’s. We had one driver that was ready to move mountains to make sure we hit Carlotta at our 4:35pm timeslot.  He yelled, he honked, he 150% had our backs.

Final Verdict:  Conde Nast gets a big thumbs up.  While I don’t love all their suggestions, I do love that they were not common ones, that they were still in good parts of the city and they were NOT the typical tourist trap bars.  The rooftop guide was pretty on point as well.

Top Winners:

  1. Espresso Martini and Oysters at The Chase

  2. Rooftop at Baro: felt like I was in a European city (but pick your day and time wisely)

  3. Mahjong Bar – really tasty cocktail

Rooftop at Baro

To see more photos of the day check out my IG account: jendumitrescu.

Thanks for reading.  There could be more of these in my future.


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