It’s not quite a tapas eatery, or a wine bar, or just a cocktail lounge: Canteena is a hybrid lounge. Torontoist would classify it as more of a a drinkery than an eatery, and definitely more of an intimate lounge than a bar –but whatever you call it, it’s good.
Despite the skeezy corner it rests near (a stone’s throw north of Queen on Bathurst), Canteena is more likely to draw a similar crowd to its Paddock and Lalot neighbours than the not-so-swank Reverb near by.
Canteena’s decor is cozy and cool, with redwood tables and black leather ottomans, a room-length bar along one side and lighting to make everyone look like a million bucks. Sure, it’s a tiny spot barely noticeable from the street, but Canteena scores big as a great spot for a date or great conversation over cocktails, the music’s good and it’s very affordable (not cheap per se, but better than the average cocktail lounge).
Creative cocktails include martinis like the Grean Tea Sake-tini and the house Canteeni for $7, and rumour has it the Mojitos are awesome. And though Torontoist stuck to wine this time ’round, The Rasberry Caipiroska looks pretty damn tempting.
And speaking of wine…to avoid being labelled a “wine bar” which would scream for a level of pretentiousness Canteena’s noticeably trying to avoid, the wine is casually listed on a chalk board as “Cheap, Decent, or Good.”
Then there’s food. Torontoist hasn’t been for brunch yet, but the tapas-style finger foods are great. All platters are priced at $8 for a single serving, and $15 for two. The Misto Azul is an awesome tray of dips, cheese, salami and olives — the dips are out of control really. Torontoist estimates there were at least six DELICIOUS dips to taste, the only drawback being there wasn’t enough bread/crackers, and of course you’re charged for extras.
Of course there’re more options too, more dips, more cheezes… but the highlight looks like Envy, a dark and white chocolate fondue that’s apparently to-die-for. Canteena’s owners also run The Chelsea room, the hipster hot spot up on Dundas — they obviously know what they’re doing.
181 Bathurst Street
mon-fri 5pm-2am; sat/sun 10:30am-2am