If you’re looking to dine or grab drinks somewhere unique in downtown Toronto, we have got the list for you! Toronto is home to many speakeasies and ‘hidden’ bars that are worth your time to find. We’ve put together a list of our favourites below – let us know which one is your favourite!
Lovers of all things retro will feel right at home at Convenience Restobar, a corner store by day and bar by night on Queen West. Pac-Man and vintage party-line telephones provide a dose of nostalgia along with an amazing retro candy selection. (Popeye cigarettes, where have you been?) Attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the carefully curated space, from the giant, hand-stitched, videogame-inspired wall tapestries to the TVs leading down to the bathrooms (it’s worth lingering for a moment or two to watch the video footage of failed robberies playing on a loop). The menu is comfort-focused, with classics like mac ’n’ cheese, peanut butter and bacon sliders and root beer floats, but you’ll find many creative twists as well. Try the sushi burger with a panko fried rice bun or the veggie bennie for brunch.
Slip up the stairs that lead to this dim sum snack and cocktail bar on College Street. Located above its parent restaurant Dailo, Lopan is a benchmark for the late-night shared plates that have come to dominate Toronto’s food scene. Options like the KFC popcorn tofu and Big Mac bao put a playful spin on fast food while classics like blistered shishito peppers, shrimp cocktails and crispy confit duck wings are also on offer. The inspired drinks menu incorporates exotic flavours like Szechuan peppercorn-infused mezcal and yuzu sake in its modern upgrades on classic cocktails. Design elements like paint-dripped lucky cats and neon Chinese characters underscore the popular locale’s lighthearted character.
Located behind a magic wall in Coffee, Oysters, Champagne lies À Toi – a 1920’s-themed speakeasy that is as authentic as they can get in 2024. From the decor to the vibe, you’ll feel like you were instantly transported back in time, surrounded by hushed voices punctuated by bursts of joyous laughter. Their menu has been described as luxury-elevated pub food, without reflecting that in the price, and their cocktails are handcrafted with only the finest liqueurs. They only accept reservations for parties of 8 or more, so be sure to get their early to secure your table! A Toi keeps their beauty under wraps – just check out their Instagram – so you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!
Gift Shop Cocktail Bar
Hidden through the green lightbox in an unassuming barber shop lies Gift Shop, where Barman ‘H’ awaits to serve you up a unique and stunning cocktail, perfectly suited to your taste. If you can make it to any of the bars on this list, this should be the one. It’s renowned as being one of, if not the best, cocktail bars in Canada, and its extensive seasonal menus will tantalize your tastebuds within a speakeasy-themed yet very modern atmosphere.
Cry Baby Gallery
What looks otherwise like a regular gallery holds one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets – Cry Baby Gallery. They have a fully-stocked bar and can definitely make your favourite cocktail, but we recommend going with one of their “cocktails with a twist”. Their menu is fresh and lively, highlighted by locally made spirits and kombucha. The theme is modern industrial, with a chic vibe and low lighting. Their appetizer menu is very light, serving up East Coast oysters on the half-shell and a variety of cured olives. Be aware that Cry Baby does not accept reservations and accepts walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis – so check for the hours on the day you go and make sure to show up on time!
These hidden bars and restaurants may be some of Toronto’s best-kept secrets, and they are full of surprises! Take your time to explore and discover, before returning home to boutique luxury at the Anndore House.