The nightlife scene in Toronto is as varied as the neighborhoods. Downtown—in the Entertainment and Financial districts and Old Town—bars and pubs cater to theatergoers and weekday worker bees. They can be dead on weekends after dark, however—especially in the Entertainment District—until 11 pm rolls around and the big loft-style dance clubs get going. To hang with locals at their neighborhood joints, head to Little Italy or the Annex, where university students mix with residents of the surrounding Victorian-lined streets.

Gay nightlife centers around Church and Wellesley streets northeast of the downtown core. Everyone under 40 ends up on Queen West at some point, patronizing the once-bohemian, now-established arty bars and cafés. Ladies who lunch meet for midday martinis in swanky Yorkville and later clink glasses at the tony lounges. Throughout the city are dedicated music venues, bars, and supper clubs that specialize in jazz, Latin, blues, rock, hip-hop, and everything in between.

Most recently Toronto has emerged as a food-obsessed city with late-night restaurants (from hole in the walls to the crème de la crème in fine dining), offering sips and nibbles to those who wish to feast past the usual dinner hour. Other emerging trends include a flourish of local brewpubs and luxury hotels offering unique evening programs which have locals and tourists swarming. In this section, we've covered the places that have cemented their place in the city's scene, but new hot spots are always emerging. Check local news outlets to get the latest.

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  • 1. Bellwoods Brewery


    This restaurant, bar, and on-site brewery has been a smash hit since it opened in 2012. If the sun is shining, expect a line for the spacious patio, a great spot to sample the always evolving craft beer selection. Sour-beer fans should try the seasonal fruit-infused Jelly King, which has beer drinkers queueing up at the bottle shop on release day. The hearty snacks run the gamut from Canadian cheeses and terrine to a crispy Newfoundland cod sandwich.

    124 Ossington Ave., Toronto, Ontario, M6J 2Z5, Canada
  • 2. Canoe

    Financial District | Bars/Pubs

    Though it's primarily a restaurant, Canoe, on the 54th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Bank tower, is worth a trip just for a drink at the bar and a panoramic view of the lake. It has what might be the city's best Niagara wine selection and an extensive list of international bottles, as well as cocktails and beer. It's popular with finance types from the neighboring towers, who suit the swank surroundings. Go just before sunset to make the most of the view.

    66 Wellington St. W, between York and Bay Sts., Toronto, Ontario, M5K 1H6, Canada

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Mon.–Fri. 11:45 am–10:30 pm, Closed Sat. and Sun.
  • 3. Danforth Music Hall


    Built as a cinema in 1919, this stately theater is now a live music venue that attracts popular touring acts that run the gamut of punk, rock, rap, folk, electronic music, and even stand-up comedy. Notable performers have included Rihanna, Blue Rodeo, Lizzo, and Echo and the Bunnymen.

    147 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Ontario, M4K 1N2, Canada
  • 4. Drom Taberna

    Queen West

    Part rustic Balkan eatery, part cabaret, Drom Taberna is alive with the spirit of the Romani people. Every night of the week you'll be able to experience a wide range of global sounds from Middle Eastern--influenced flamenco to interactive Balfolk dancing. Menu must-tries include čevapi (a Bosnian grilled meat staple) and goulash, and no meal would be complete without a bowl of Ukrainian-style borscht. Armenian, Croatian, and Georgian wines dominate the drinks list, along with a dozen different herbal digestifs, rakijas, and palinkas (fruit brandies).

    458 Queen St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2A8, Canada

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues.
  • 5. Gladstone Melody Bar

    West Queen West

    The Gladstone draws an artsy Toronto crowd that appreciates creative endeavors like music performances, cabaret and burlesque, and trivia nights. A 2022 relaunch gives the trusted community and LGBTQ+-friendly programming a bright neon pop art backdrop, with a light-up dance floor, '70s and '80s art-pop records on the wall, and TVs broadcasting what's on stage during busy events. Regulars flock to popular karaoke nights—both recorded and with a live band—and drag brunches. The Bar + Bistro has an accessible comfort food menu with Mediterranean and North African twists, plus plenty of themed cocktails that play off the Gladstone House's long history. The Gladstone Ballroom, once the centerpiece, now hosts mostly private events and weddings, but does sometimes host big party spillover. Original pieces from local artists are on nearly every wall.

    1214 Queen St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1J6, Canada
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  • 6. Horseshoe Tavern

    Queen West

    This legendary, low-ceilinged rock bar on Queen West has earned a reputation as the place to play for local acts and touring bands alike. Opened in 1947 as a country music venue, the Shoe (as it's often called) hosted greats like Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, and the Carter Family. The venue's scope widened to include the emerging folk, rock, and punk scenes in the 1960s and '70s, giving way to early appearances by the Police, Tom Waits, and Talking Heads. The Rolling Stones even played a now-legendary surprise set here in 1997. Today, the venue books rock, indie, and punk acts from home and abroad.

    370 Queen St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2A2, Canada
  • 7. Lula Lounge


    Latin-music lovers of all ages dress up to get down to live Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and salsa music at this old-school hot spot. Now over two decades old, Lula has become a global music institution, going beyond those genres into samba, cumbia, reggae, Indigenous throat singing, and anything else you can think of. Weekend salsa nights include dance lessons, live band performances, and a prix-fixe menu (C$64). Lula is also an arts center, with dance and drumming lessons and a multitude of festivals and cultural events.

    1585 Dundas St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M6K 1T9, Canada
  • 8. The Drake Underground

    West Queen West

    Locals know the Drake as a hub for art, culture, food, and nightlife, with multiple spaces hosting events on any given night. The basement is home to the Drake Underground, a venue that hosts live music and DJ nights, while the rooftop Sky Yard patio serves drinks surrounded by eye-popping art installations.

    1150 Queen St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1J3, Canada
  • 9. Writers Room Bar


    Such Canadian literary luminaries as Margaret Atwood and Mordecai Richler have used the 17th-floor Park Hyatt bar as a setting in their writings, and now it's been renamed the Writers Room. A popular date spot, it's also a good place to sip a glass of wine, scotch, or a cocktail and soak in the city. The chic bar has big, open windows and an impressive patio that offers some of the most breathtaking views of the city, including the nearby ROM and University of Toronto. Inventive, spirit-forward cocktails (presented with quotes from books) come with little bowls of nuts and olives. There are also adventurous sharing plates like foie gras doughnuts, beef tartare, and oysters.

    4 Avenue Rd., Toronto, Ontario, M5R 2E8, Canada
  • 10. Amsterdam BrewHouse


    This brewpub features two massive bars with more than 10 local brews on tap, an open-concept kitchen with an imported Italian wood-burning pizza oven, and a sprawling patio with stunning views of the Toronto Islands. The building, a former 1930s boathouse, also houses a brewery; tours and beer tastings are available daily. Tours are free, but book in advance.

    245 Queens Quay W, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2K9, Canada
  • 11. Avling


    Known as much for its industrial-chic pastel interior as it is for its reliable selection of small-batch beers, this modern brewery is proudly local-first. Many of its brews are made from 99% Ontario ingredients, and the staff grow produce and herbs for stellar seasonal small plates in a rooftop garden.

    1042 Queen St. E, Toronto, Ontario, M4M1K4, Canada

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 12. Axis Club

    Little Italy

    Renovated in 2021, this mid-size club and concert venue boasts impressive lighting and sound systems. The roster includes a mix of live acts (from pop and rap to jazz and indie), touring DJs, and dance parties. Get down on the main dance floor, or head to the upper deck for seating and a killer view of the stage.

    722 College St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 13. Bar Hop Brewco

    Queen West

    One of the city’s most interesting destinations for beer, Bar Hop Brewco features an ever-changing lineup of 40 rare and one-off beers on tap. The location just off Queen West features an aging room for beers, a large and sunlit rooftop patio overlooking the main drag, and a menu of refined beer-laced eats like Porter-glazed garlicky mushrooms, bacon-and-blue-cheese mussels with baguette, and bone marrow poutine.

    137 Peter St., Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H3, Canada
  • 14. Bar Volo


    Tucked down a cobblestone laneway across the street from its original location on Yonge Street, Bar Volo is one of the city's top destinations for beer lovers. Once specializing in rare and one-off brews from other breweries (still a major, the new location at the other two Volo locations in Little Italy), Bar Volo now has its own brewery on-site. That means you can get traditional English-style hand-pulled cask beers, highly drinkable German and Italian-style lagers, and some hoppy ales. It's a European style, which means the beers are all well-made, approachable classics and not too wacky (though you can find some of those on the beer list as well). For non-beer drinkers, there's also a full cocktail program and a full list of natural wines they import themselves. After pandemic-era changes to the city's liquor laws, those one-off wines and beers are all available to buy and take home. Or sip them alongside southern Italian tapas inside or on the sizable front patio.

    17 Nicholas St., Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G4, Canada

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 15. BarChef

    Queen West

    The dark apothecarian interior at BarChef features dimly lit chandeliers and tabletop candles, which set the stage for wild and wonderful concoctions that force patrons to reimagine classic cocktails. The bartender's bag of tricks includes liquid nitrogen, so cocktails foam over like a foggy mist onto the table or turn into ice shards for a sensory experience that looks as good as it tastes. Purists can order a classic French absinthe fountain while fans of whiskey should order the signature Vanilla and Hickory Smoked Manhattan, served in a smoke-filled jar (but be warned, it clocks in at a hefty C$50). While not highlighted, a full page of the menu is devoted to meats, cheeses, and elevated bar snacks.

    472 Queen St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2B2, Canada
  • 16. Betty's

    Old Town

    This laid-back dive bar has an excellent selection of draft beers and classic pub fare, from poutine to nachos and chicken wings. It’s a fun spot to watch sports.

    240 King St. E, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 1K1, Canada
  • 17. Bier Markt

    Old Town

    With more than 150 beers from 30 countries, including 50 on tap, this enormous restaurant/bar has a corner on the international beer market, but the best thing about it is the oversize year-round sidewalk patio on the Esplanade, ideal for an afternoon brew. The lines are ridiculous on weekends—do as the locals do and go midweek instead.

    58 The Esplanade, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1R2, Canada
  • 18. Birreria Volo

    Little Italy

    The family that runs this narrow beer bar has a side business importing rare brews from all over the world, so you know whatever's on tap—whether it's brewed in Ontario or Belgium—is going to be stellar. The setting feels decidedly Old World, complete with weathered brick walls and a hidden patio space that feels like a walled-off courtyard. A specialty grocer and bottle shop, Bottega Volo, is two doors down.

    612 College St., Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1B4, Canada

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 19. Boutique Bar


    In comparison to the raucous, glittering scene you'll find nearby, Boutique Bar is a (relatively) low-key spot for a cocktail, whether you're feeling like a classic negroni, a martini, or one of the house creations. If you can, grab a spot on the tiny front patio and watch the comings and goings along Church Street. DJs bring the party on weekends.

    506 Church St., Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 2C8, Canada
  • 20. Bymark

    Financial District | Bars/Pubs

    Located in the heart of the Financial District, this culinary oasis is popular with the business suits that work in the area. Don't let that keep you away though, because this downtown hotspot offers a sun-filled patio that's hidden from the hustle and bustle of Wellington Street. Bartenders whip up phenomenal cocktails while the kitchen creates harmonious textures and flavors on your plate.

    66 Wellington St. W., Toronto, Ontario, M5K 1M6, Canada

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