Summer is in full swing. If you are a Toronto city-dweller and condo owner, you are probably looking for a reason to stay outside and soak up the sun as much as you can. With so many restaurants in Toronto adding patios, you can do exactly that! And if you are not much of a patio hopper, but you're looking for the right one for your needs, we picked five different, but equally stunning patios for our all-summery photo essay. Which one do you like the best?
Jamie's tip: Passion Fruit Margarita and any appetizer with nacho chips
Barrio is a playfully decorated Mexican restaurant in the heart of the city. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere and some spicy flavours, you will fall in love with this place.
If you had to choose just one patio to sit at this summer, go with Barrio. This Mexico inspired restaurant has an east-facing patio, that is situated away from busy traffic. Colourful Mexican-themed mural makes the patio a nice private part of the restaurant and a bar on the other side just calls you to order one of their famous margaritas or a shot of tequila, if you are feeling adventurous.
The menu consists mostly of dishes you would expect in a Mexican eatery. Their Antojitos - appetizers range from the cult favourite Guac and chips ($10) to Chimichangas ($12), Taquitos ($8) or an assortment of soups or salad.
We opted for the grilled corn ($7) during our visit.
As the main course, they serve various tacos, tortas (sandwiches), burritos and bowls. If you are not a fan of carb-overeating you can opt for Diablo Shrimp ($22), served with rice and diablo sauce and chips, Pescado Asado ($26) - which is a whole fried sea bass, or Arrechara ($23), steak with salsa ranchera and Mexican rice.
Although Barrio's drink menu includes many delicious treats, including favourite Spanish Sangria, what Barrio does best are their Margaritas. Dressed in various colours and with various flavours, served in very instagramable mason jars, it's exactly the summer treat you can't miss.
Address: 245 Queens Quay West
Jamie's tip: Lighter beer flights
Amsterdam Brewhouse is a craft beer restaurant serving Canada-made beer paired with the best pub-styled food. Their location right on the waterfront provides the best views with your meal you could have asked for.
Their patio (or patios, since Amsterdam has a two story patio) is overlooking Lake Ontario, so there's basically no bad seat in the house. Beware that they don't take reservations for the outside seating, so with patio tables, it's first- come, first-served. In summer and especially during weekend rushes, the waiting times are more than 45 minutes for the table, but once you are seated, it's really worth it.
They have non-pasteurized local beers on tap, of which Boneshaker seems to be a cult favourite by now. They also serve seasonal brews, so make sure to ask your server about them.
If you can't decide which beer to try, perfectly combined beer flights with a selection of 4x 5oz beer servings might be for you. You can choose between lighter beers, more hoppier beers, stronger beers or go for a selection of various strengths and flavours.
When it comes to food, what you could expect from a brewery, you get here. They serve mostly popular bar food like Amsterdam pretzel ($7), Chicken wings ($14.5-$27), Tacos ($14) or Poutine ($8).
For mains, you can opt for salads, burgers, sandwiches, smoked meat specialities or even pizza. Their menu is long and full of surprises.
Address: 1150 Queen Street West
Jamie's tip: The Maharajah cocktail ($14)
Sky Yard is a very trendy roof patio in Drake Hotel. Drake hotel is established like one of the places to go for club-like vibe even if you just want some lunch and a sip of a delicious drink.
Their Sky Yard patio is the it place to go on Saturday night. The patio itself is privately covered from people from the street, without losing its views of the city, but is also often very crowded with drink-slurping groups.
The decor alone is a reason to visit. White comfy booth-like benches and subtle but colourful touches here and there make this patio one of the most photo-worthy in the city.
As for the menu, Sky Yard has the perfect summer menu. From fresh appetizers ranging from $6 to $19, through plates meant for sharing ($8-$39), sushi ($11-$100) and other more traditionally served dishes.
Most groups go to Drake's hotel for its club-like atmosphere and drinks, which range between $14 and $16. Of course, you can pop-in early for brunch and try anything from their special brunch menu.
Address: 2968 Dundas Street West
Jamie's tip: Tempeh Tacos ($9)
The Beet took over their neighbourhood restaurant Passenger and merged these two into bigger space with a good old-fashioned street patio.
Taking a fair share of the sidewalk, separated from street walkers only by an iron fence, this patio makes a perfect spot for some people watching.
As for the food, the Beet really is a local food heaven. Their dishes contain only certified organic ingredients and local or Fair Trade items. They pride themselves in being a socially responsible business, using eco-friendly packaging and reclaimed materials.
If you want to eat healthier this summer and still enjoy a good city patio, visit Beet. They serve All Day Breakfast (ranged from $6 to $16), Appetizers ($6-$9), Salads ($12-$14) and Wraps ($13 or $14).
They also serve various Bowls, Burgers or Sandwiches. If you really want to taste what Beets is all about, try their house special Loaded Avocado Combo ($15). It contains avocado stuffed with brown coconut, Thai rice and veggies with spicy peanut sauce and sprouts. It's served with salad, toast with house pesto and daily soup as a bonus. Other than that, most main menu items range from $13 to $15, with only Norwich Farm Chuck Burger priced at $18, so this restaurant will not make that much of a dent in your wallet.
Despite being eco-friendly and organic, they didn't forget about the most important humans - kids. They have an all-separate kid-menu items including some finger food, nibble plates or even some baby food. Kid menu will cost you from $2 for the pureed fruit and vegetables to $8.
Address: 102 Lakeshore Ave
Jamie's tip: Grilled Cajun Calamari ($15)
The Rectory Cafe is a small, scenic restaurant inside a historical building on Wards Island. The building itself is a remnant from times the Toronto Islands were used as vacation homes for wealthy families looking to escape the city for the summer, but not to go too far away.
This two-story stucco residence from 1948 is one of the only two houses that survived when the city decided to demolish the houses after Second World War due to flooding problems. Now the building became part of the Land Trust, and today it contains offices and community meeting rooms as well as The Rectory Café and Island Art Gallery.
Their patio is situated in a wide garden of the house, with a surprising number of tables available. It's shaded by nearby trees and grants stunning views into surrounding nature and nearby lakeshore.
Menu is fish and sea-food centered, with various starters ($7-$22), assortment of Sandwiches (around $15) and Entrees ranging from $14 for French Omelette with white sharp cheddar, toasted multigrain bread + mixed greens, climbing as high as $35 for Wellington County Striploin served with daily vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes topped with a smoked blue cheese & walnut cream.
The star of our visit were the Grilled Cajun Calamari ($15). With the perfect balance of anchovy parsley sauce and served with jicama slaw, they were a show-stopper.
MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Vivian Lynch