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. 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...Read More

  • 2. Lula Lounge

    Little Portugal

    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. Pop and rock...Read More

  • 3. Free Times Cafe

    Queen's Park

    There's live acoustic and folk music every night of the week on this casual eatery's backroom stage, plus a highly popular traditional Jewish brunch buffet...Read More

  • 4. Jazz Bistro

    Dundas Square Area

    Finding a quiet place to relax and listen to great music is not so common in Toronto but, luckily, there's the Jazz Bistro. The sound...Read More

  • 5. Lee's Palace

    The Annex

    Some of the most exciting young bands in rock, indie, and punk play at this club with a psychedelic graffiti facade on the edge of...Read More

  • 6. Opera House


    This late 19th-century vaudeville theater retains some of its original charm, most notably in its proscenium arch over the stage. The 850-capacity venue hosts internationally...Read More

  • 7. Rivoli

    Queen West

    One of Queen West's oldest venues, the Rivoli showcases indie music, theater, and comedy. Arcade Fire, Adele, and Tori Amos all graced the intimate back...Read More

  • 8. The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar

    Queen West

    Legendary on the Toronto jazz circuit since it opened in the 1980s, the Rex has two live shows every night, and multiple acts on weekend...Read More

  • 9. Mod Club

    Little Italy

    This sexy black-on-black space has great sight lines, killer acoustics, and amazing lighting. Past shows have included Lana Del Rey and Digitalism, but upstart Canadian...Read More

  • 10. The Silver Dollar Room


    This time-worn music venue has a long history in the world of blues, but thanks to the efforts of local bookers, it's become a hub...Read More

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