Toronto has one of the best music and nightlife scenes in the world. Home to buzzing bars, great restaurants and venues that welcome the biggest acts, there’s plenty to keep you entertained after a day sightseeing.
If you are going on holiday to Canada as a couple, family or with friends, you’re bound to find a crowd pleaser in Toronto. Whether you’re into street food or fine dining, cocktails or concerts, we’ll take you through the places that make Toronto’s nightlife worth travelling for.
Bars and restaurants
What: El Caballito translates as “the little horse”, and this street-style Mexican diner certainly comes with a kick. Regarded by many as Toronto’s best Mexican restaurant, its selection of tacos ranges from pork belly and chicken to beef brisket adobo and spicy shrimp.
Who: Everyone will love the freshest of fresh guac and tacos on offer. The more adventurous can indulge in a tasting of the most robust selection of tequilas and margaritas in Toronto.
Where: El Caballito is located a short walk from the Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre and the Toronto International Film Festival in downtown Toronto. Handy for popping to after a day taking in the sights!
What: Bar RAVAL is famed for its incredible cocktail and wine list, and they mix products that are locally sourced with imports from Spain to execute the Spanish-inspired menu. Even if you’re only after a casual lunchtime wine and tapas, visit to check out the stunning, undulating mahogany interior.
Who: If you like meeting new people on your holiday, you’ll love this. The social dining experience that Bar RAVAL boasts means that people head there for the whole day to meet friends and soak in the atmosphere. Open daily from 8am-2am, seven days a week, this is place for night owls and early birds alike.
Where: On the corner of Palmerston Boulevard and College Street, close to Little Italy and Kensington Market.
Parts & Labour
What: Parts & Labour (P&L) is a popular haute cuisine restaurant/bar and is famed for its burgers. In fact, the P&L burger has been voted as the number one burger in Toronto. Both delicious and wallet-friendly, diners can enjoy one of their award-winning burgers with a drink for just $18 CAD. Other tasty items on the menu range from ribs to fried chicken to noodles.
Who: Perfect for families in the daytime or party-lovers in the evening. As well as Parts & Labour’s delicious cuisine, this multi-faceted and open space is well-known for hosting a variety of events. P&L has a live-music venue on the lower level and the best local bands perform at this great location.
Where: Vibrant Queen Street West in the Parkdale district, alive with bars, restaurants, local shops and galleries.
What: Reposado Bar and Lounge is a tequila lover’s paradise as it has the largest selection of premium tequila in the city. Those wanting a snack with their tequila can munch on tortilla chips and salsa, Spanish smoked chorizo served with pablano peppers, tapanade & crostini, as well as a variety of other light bites. The bar is also well-known for offering visitors a selection of cocktails and these range from the caffeine-fuelled Hola Café to the sweet-tasting Mango Tango.
Who: Their 100-plus varieties of tequila and its chilled atmosphere mean that Reposado Bar is perfect for couples and young adults to kick back and relax.
Where: In the heart of downtown Toronto.
What: Get Well is a craft beer bar with constantly rotating taps. In September, the bar has 13 different ales, ciders and lagers on tap. These include Beau’s Lugtread Lagered Ale, the tasty golden ale from Cologne in Germany, and West Avenue Heritage Dry Cider, the creation of British-born cider maker Chris Haworth. The bar also has a large selection of bottled and canned beers, ales and ciders that come from Canada and the rest of the world.
Who: This bar is perfect for visitors looking to experience Toronto’s well-known brewing culture. Get Well has an eclectic mixed decor and some old school arcade games at the back of the bar that visitors can enjoy as well.
Where: Downtown Toronto
Track & Field
What: Track & Field is a great lawn games bar, but there is plenty of local and imported beer for people to enjoy as well as cocktails on tap. Offerings include sangria and negroni, which cost just $10 CAD. There are a range of snacks available, and they’re even cool with you bringing your own food, or ordering a pizza to be delivered.
Who: This fun-filled pub has two lanes of bocce and two lanes of shuffleboard inside, so sports enthusiasts and armchair gamers are able to indulge in summer outdoor activities year round. Challenge your friends to a game of bocce or shuffleboard!
Where: Located at 860 College Street, Track & Field bar is a great place to drive to. If you have hired a car in Canada then it will take you just 10 minutes to drive from downtown Toronto to this pub. Located in the West End, those that make the short trip can stop off at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre or visit High Park. Dufferin Grove and Little Italy are vibrant neighbourhoods to visit nearby.
Music venues and other entertainment venues
What: Horseshoe Tavern was founded by local entrepreneur Jack Starr in November 1947 and his aim was to open a restaurant-tavern that specialised in prime rib roast beef, with slaw and maybe some live music on the side. Today this dream has not only become a reality, but has surpassed Jack Starr’s original dreams. Horseshoe Tavern is now somewhat of a musical institution in Toronto.
Who: Over the years the music venue has welcomed a range of well-known artists, with country superstars like Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lyn, Charlie Pride, and Ian & Sylvia Tyson having graced the stage of the Horseshoe Tavern. The tavern now welcomes the best up-and-coming musical talent that Canada has to offer, and visitors can listen to a variety of music such as country, blues, punk, rock and lots more. If you’re music taste is eclectic then you should head to Horseshoe Tavern.
Where: Located on the corner of Queen Street West in downtown Toronto, this music venue is close to a variety of restaurants and bars that you can visit before attending a gig here.
What: Massey Hall is one of Canada’s most important venues for concerts, but the venue also hosts lectures, film premiers, boxing matches, beauty shows, comedy shows and even chess tournaments. The venue was given as a gift to the city in 1894 from the Massey family and now for over 150 years visitors from across the world have gone through the venue’s famous red doors.
Who: The 2753-seat venue has previously welcomed some of the world’s best talent, including conductor Igor Stravinsky and jazz legend Charlie Parker, and is most definitely a vital part of Toronto’s nightlife and entertainment scene. If you want to experience one of the most unique places in Canadian music history, then you just have to visit Massey Hall during your Toronto holiday.
Where: Massey Hall is also located in vibrant downtown Toronto and is just a nine-minute car journey away from Horseshoe Tavern.
The Drake Hotel
What: The Drake Hotel is not just a place to sleep and eat. It is also a hotbed for culture and is now a landmark in Toronto’s nightlife scene because of its unique approach to all things culture and entertainment.
Who: The hotel hosts festivals such as Canadian Music Week and Toronto International Film Festival. Even if you are not staying at the hotel you can check out a show or gig in the Underground or enjoy some drinks on the chic rooftop patio, Sky Yard. The Underground would be a hidden gem if it wasn’t so popular. DJ-led dance parties and well-known bands and groups perform at this great venue, making it a popular destination for younger people.
Where: Also located on Queen Street West in Toronto, the Drake Hotel is just a short walk away from the Bellwoods Brewery and 2km from Toronto’s waterfront and Dufferin Mall.
Danforth Music Hall
What: Danforth Music Hall is one of Toronto’s oldest live music venues and this 1,400-person live space has a slightly inclined floor, meaning that everyone gets a prime view from all angles.
Who: If you love music then the Danforth Music Hall is the place to visit. This venue now attracts local and international acts and in the coming year the likes of Bastille, KT Tunstall and Catfish & The Bottlemen will be performing at this iconic venue.
Where: The music hall is located on Danforth Avenue in the neighbourhood of Riverdale in the East End, known for its independent arts.
Image Credit: El Caballito, Haley Polinsky (Bar Raval), Massey Hall, Parts & Labour, Joe Fuda (Reposado), The Drake Hotel, Get Well, Track & Field, Paint, The Come Up Show.