(52) week 33. busy. by shutterbugamar
Toronto is a city that never sleeps. Its also a city that celebrates good food at all hours of the day and night. For night owls with discerning palates, we've put together this guide to the city's best late night and 24 hour restaurants.
Best Late Night Options
Though 24 hour restaurants are somewhat few and far between in Toronto, late night restaurants are becoming increasingly more common. Ending a night out at dawn is common for the 20 something set and sustenance is not only necessary, but part of the experience. Many Toronto restaurants and bars are more than happy to accommodate the growing need for excellent late night eats. Here are our favorite places to visit in the wee hours.
1. Owl of Minerva
If steaming bowls of Korean stews and sizzling rice pots are what you crave at 1am, you will love Owl of Minerva in Koreatown. This unassuming restaurant offers excellent renditions of Korean staples like bibimbap, congee, kimchi fried rice, jap chae and more. The price is right with most mains coming in under $10.
"We have become very famous over the past ten years for our pork bone soup. We have a huge menu with many other delicious options as well. We are definitely worth a visit,"
says Kim, owner of Owl of Minerva on Bloor Street West. The restaurant recently underwent renovations making it a much nicer looking place to visit at 2 am. Owl of Minerva is actually a franchise but it was this location that started it all.
The Owl of Minerva by David Allan Barker
"We are the original Owl of Minerva. We hear that we are the best of all the locations from our customers."
If Owl of Minerva is going on your list of late night eats to discover, be sure to order some KamJaTang (pork bone and potato soup).
2. Odd Seoul
Odd Seoul by Jennifer Yin
Nestled in the bustling Ossington strip, Odd Seoul is a must stop on a late night. The funky snack bar serves Korean food with a Philadelphia twist. Think Bulgogi Cheesesteak ($7), The Loosey which is brisket sliders with kimchi hollandaise on toasted challah buns ($7), and Acorn Squash Poutine with Curry Gravy ($5)! Both food and drink are served until 2am. The space is pretty eclectic with neon signs and industrial-chic decor. Reservations are pretty much impossible since this quirky gastro dive bar doesn't publically share a phone number or have a website. Expect a crowd and delicious fusion comfort food.
Nothing prevents a hangover quite like poutine, making this hearty Canadian classic a great late night meal. The classic French Canadian dish is the main focus of Poutini's House of Poutine. They do it up in many ways, catering to many tastes and dietary restrictions. Traditional ($6.99/$4.99), with bacon($8.59/$5.99), with pulled pork ($9.99/$6.99), vegan($7.30/$5.30), gluten free, etc...there's a poutine for everyone here.
The Holy Trifecta by Poutini's House of Poutine
The team at Poutini's even keeps the environment in mind, offering eco-friendly containers and biodegradable cutlery at this West Queen West establishment. The space is open concept with high ceilings making it feel huge, though it gets packed with late night eaters on the weekends. Standing only space and large communal tables make this a spot where you may rendez vous with, or even make a new friend during your visit. One thing is for sure, you will leave satisfied for $10 or less!
"We make everything from scratch which makes our's some of the most authentic style poutine in the city. We work really hard to add our own character to our poutine. Fridays and Saturday nights are a lot of fun to visit -- lots of music and dancing going on"
says Caleb Robin M., manager.
Website: Ghazale at Yelp
Located adjacent to the Bloor Cinema in the Annex on Bloor West, Ghazale is an extremely popular late night dining option. This tiny takeaway serves up middle eastern classics for takeout and dine in until 3:30am or 4:30am depending on the night. Known to some as that great smell from down the street, Ghazale is also known for their fried to order falafel wraps ($4.49), fresh rotisserie shawarma wraps ($6.49), and somewhat large offering of stews and salads ($2.99-$7.99). The tiny Middle Eastern restaurant is very reasonably priced and service always comes with a smile. The place nearly always has a line up but most customers come for takeout so it moves quickly. Compared to other falafel joints in town, Ghazale dishes up overstuffed pitas and fare with a healthy twist.
"We offer healthy fast food and a wide variety of dishes. Our customers can come in night after night and always find something new to enjoy,"
says Mona, Bloor Ghazale manager. They wrap their shawarma and falafel in thin whole wheat pitas to the bursting point and offer buckwheat, rice and lentil pilafs as sides, and sell several vegan bean and vegetable based stews. Check their menu online for a colour coded guide to what is vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and vegan at Ghazale. In addition to healthy food, Ghazale at Bloor has an impressive juice bar adjacent to the restaurant, pumping out a large volume of freshly made vegetable and fruit juices, smoothies and milkshakes.The heavenly smell of their chicken and lamb shawarma on the spit will lure you in. Expect to pay $10 or less for a substantial meal.
Messini is a Danforth area institution. Serving up affordable and delicious Greek food into the wee hours of the night (as late as 4am on Saturday nights) Messini features a constant line out the door. Note, seating is limited so think takeout. Known for their outstanding gyro pita sandwiches (pork($4.87), lamb ($5.31), chicken ($4.87), or mixed ($4.87), Messini cranks out a staggering amount of food all day long. Their kitchen is open concept and right beside the entrance so you can drool watching their meat rotate on spits while you wait.
Substantial succulent chicken gyros sandwiches are a steal at $5.25 including tax, served in thick Greek pitas with garlicky tzatziki sauce, freshly sliced and grilled gyro meat, sliced tomato, chopped onion and freshly made fries. If gyros aren't your thing, you can enjoy grilled or fried calamari ($10.00) or octopus ($9.45), Greek fries (round thick cut chips topped with slightly melted feta cheese) ($4.20), classic savoury greek phyllo pies (spanikopita ($3.95), tyropita ($3.95) etc), Greek salad ($5.50-$8.50) and more! If you are in the East end during your next late night out, stop by Messini.
Best 24 Hour Options
When you're looking for a good meal at 5:00am, your choices are more limited. But rest assured you can still find great food at unconventional hours. Here are our favorite 24 hour restaurants in Toronto.
1. The Lakeview Restaurant
If you enjoy upscale diner style food, don't miss The Lakeview. This beautiful fully restored 1930s diner in the West end is a great place to grab a gourmet burger and a frothy egg cream 24/7. The food is a mix of new and old classics. You'll find fancy grilled cheese sandwiches alongside traditional soda fountain drinks, shakes and floats. The restaurant also offers a 24 hour brunch menu with both standard options like the aptly named "The Standard" which features bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and toast ($9.50), alongside fancier menu items like the "The Turbo" which boasts smoked salmon, eggs, peameal bacon, hashbrowns, fried eggs, melted cheese and an English muffin ($8.50). Located on Dundas near Ossington, The Lakeview is incredibly convenient for West enders. Its 24 hour service and large seating capacity make it an ideal meeting spot for the late night crowd. I've seen 10 people squeeze into a single booth. As one of the only 24 hour options in the area, despite its large size, waiting in line for a table late at night can be expected as it is extremely popular with the local crowd.
The Morgan Baskin Burger by The Lakeview Restaurant
"Any trip to Toronto would not be complete without a visit to the Lakeview Restaurant.The restaurant was recently featured on Guy Fiore's Diners, Drive-ins & Dives highlighting popular menu items like Freedom Toast and the Apple Pie Milkshake($7.75),"
says James Kennedy, Administrator. If a slick diner with decadent food sounds great to you at 5am, make the trip to The Lakeview.
2. 7 West
A truly unique late night venue, 7 West is part club, part lounge, part bar and part cafe. This Yonge and Charles 24 hour hot spot consists of three uniquely decorated floors in a brownstone. Each floor has its own style and vibe making it an appealing place for many demographics. 7 West is a great place to grab a late night meal, drink, coffee or dessert. The food is better than most 24 hour places in the city, but more in line with a cafe than a restaurant.
7 West Cafe by Sasha O.
Their mainstays include menu items like pita pizzas ($11.95-$12.95) such as the Sicilian which features plum tomatoes, goat cheese, garlic, kalamata olives and mozzarella, and pastas like Jalapeno Mac N Cheese ($10.95-$12.95), large sandwiches like the triple decker 7 West Chicken Club ($14.95) which are served with fries and salad, big slices of pie and cake like their decadent Chocolate Banana Cake ($7.50) served with whipped cream, and to sip be prepared for standard issue cappuccinos ($3.50) and fancier alcohol spiked coffees and lattes like the Irish Whiskey ($9.00 coffee-$10.00 latte). 7 West has a cosy but cool ambiance and is a great place to wind down from a nice date or night out with friends. With its close proximity to UofT, its no wonder this venue attracts an endless number of students and alumni.
"We offer a laid back, mellow vibe and serve comfort food. We have very friendly staff. We've been here for 25 years and hope to continue to offer great food and service for many more to come",
says Caitlyn, manager. The restaurant is as popular as ever and knowing its open 24/7 for the foreseeable future is very comforting.
3. Mars Food
Located on College Street near Bathurst, Mars Food is a popular 24 hour restaurant. Complete with a retro counter and booth seating, Mars is a classic diner where you can always go and grab a burger and milkshake at 5am after an epic night out. On major holidays like Halloween, forget about getting a table, the place will be packed with a line out the door.
Mars by b-real
Mars Food is another restaurant on this list more well known for its hours, ambiance, and its status as a Toronto institution than for outstanding food quality. For years Mars has been a well loved 'greasy spoon', but by no means a great dining destination. Its menu has recently been pared down and edited to include some fancy new options like lobster rolls and gourmet French toast, but most people come for classic late night bacon and egg breakfasts and omelettes ($8.50).
"We now offer delicious wraps, soups and salads. Every weekend we offer great all day breakfasts (available 24 hours, 7 days a week) like crab cake eggs benedict and stuffed french toast, not to mention our classic bacon and egg meals,"
says Barshan, manager. You can always count on Mars to offer sky high diner pies like lemon meringue. The next time you find yourself starving and a little nostalgic near Kensington Market or Little Italy at 4 am, head to Mars.
4. Pho Pasteur
Though late night dining is pretty standard in Toronto's Chinatown, Pho Pasteur wins a spot on this list for offering 24 hour service. If steaming hot bowls of fragrant Vietnamese Pho ($8.00-$9.00) and spring rolls are what you crave at 5am, this is the place to go. You can sip on sweet Vietnamese Coffee while you slurp your steamy soup on a cold winter night.Though the decor is minimal, the restaurant's staff is courteous, the food is flavorful, fresh and abundant and available 24 hours a day.
5. The Thompson Diner
Perhaps the most luxurious spot on our list, the Thompson Diner is a restaurant near Bathurst and King serving gourmet diner fare 24 hours a day. The diner is actually the restaurant for the chic Thompson Hotel. The menu features decadent burgers like the Grilled Cheese Burger ($16.00) which uses two grilled cheese sandwiches as buns for a sirloin burger patty topped with bacon, fried onions and chipotle sauce. Substantial sandwiches like the Threesome Cheese Melt ($9.50) come with crispy or sweet potato fries or onion rings. Mains include modern classics like the truffled Double Mac and Cheese ($12.75). Prices are reasonable, portions are substantial, the food is decadent and the staff are friendly. The decor takes classic diner to new heights with comfortable yet elegant velvet banquets and high ceilings. With its 24 hour service, you can always stop in for a late night snack and even stay for brunch!
"Our late-night menu features classic diner bites with a refined twist, along with artisanal beers and signature cocktails,"
says Tory Nash of the Thompson. The Thompson Diner's most popular late night options include "The Fat American" ($15.00), sausage and bacon stuffed pancakes topped with battered onions and a fried egg, and Spiked Milkshakes, especially shakes like the Guinness Shake ($8.50) with Guinness and vanilla ice cream, and the Niagara Shake ($11.00) with Niagara ice wine, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. If you're hungry for some serious comfort food in the King and Bathurst area, head to The Thompson Diner.
Thompson Diner Bagel and Lox
These are just a few of the best options for late night and 24 hour eats that we know of in this city that never sleeps. Where will your next late night take you?