Wind chill got you down? Find refuge beside a fire at any of these fine drinking establishments.
We’re now familiar with the polar vortex. We’ve become acquainted with frost quakes. Toronto is in the grips of a deep freeze, and it sometimes feels as if above-zero temperatures are things of fantasy, or of the distant and unimaginable past. There is, though, still a whole city out there beyond the chill, even if it’s covered by frost and snow. There are friends to call upon, drinks to imbibe, snacks to devour, jokes to make, and moods to lighten. And perhaps more importantly—there are fireplaces. Fireplaces to enjoy. Fireplaces before which to sip whiskey and hot chocolate. Fireplaces that reward a traveller who just trekked through frost and snow with warmth and a comfortable glow.
Sure, patio season might be sexier. But didn’t you learn as a child that it’s what’s on the inside that counts? Here’s a list of places where you can eat and drink next to open flames.
Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments.
1 C’est What (67 Front Street)
Getting from A to B in a wintry Toronto can sometimes feel like a blistery trip down the slopes, so it makes sense that at the end of your journey you’d end up in a joint reminiscent of a swanky log cabin. This underground bar and restaurant in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood has an admirable beer list and a tall, inviting fireplace surrounded by plush chairs and couches.
2 The Victory Cafe (581 Markham Street)
Year-round, you can’t miss with The Vic in Mirvish Village. In the summer, you’ve got the patio. In the winter, you’ve got the fireplace by the entrance on the ground floor.
3Imperial Pub (54 Dundas Street East)
The Imperial is possibly the only place near Yonge and Dundas where you can relax and unwind with a game of pool, a pint of beer, and a handful of free popcorn—or simply grab a book from the Library Lounge upstairs. All the while, you’ll be comforted by the crackle of a fireplace. You don’t have to go to Ryerson to enjoy this place, but it helps.
4Dora Keogh (141 Danforth Avenue)
The stool-and-bench seating scheme might not look comfortable at first glance, but oh, that’s a real big wood-burning fireplace we see. The Danforth’s Dora Keogh claims to be Toronto’s most authentic country Irish pub. It has a special event room in the back that serves hearty home-cooked meals, rich wood floors and furniture, a roaring fire, and enough whiskey and Guinness to warm you inside and out.
5The Caledonian (856 College Street)
For another taste of the Commonwealth, head to Little Italy’s The Caledonian for quintessential Scottish fare like neeps and tatties, Scotch eggs, and haggis fritters (if you dare). Since Robbie Burns Day is coming up this month, consider a party in the Burns Room, which has leather couches and a warm fireplace to accommodate larger groups.
6The Drake Sky Yard (1150 Queen Street West)
For those looking for a rustic chic atmosphere, The Drake’s Sky Yard rooftop bar is an option year-round. In the colder months, you can either sip cocktails at the bar inside or brave the outdoor heated area, complete with fire pit.
7The Roof Lounge at The Park Hyatt Toronto Hotel (4 Avenue Road)
If it’s crowded at the Sky Yard, consider hopping a subway to the Park Hyatt, where the Roof Lounge keeps a fireplace burning 18 storeys above Yorkville.
9Parts and Labour (1566 Queen Street West)
As one of Parkdale’s favourite restaurants/concert venues/clubs/providers of libations, it gets a rustic vibe from the wood-burning stove at the front of the dining area. Get toasty warm while snacking on terrine and bone marrow.
10The Unicorn (175 Eglinton Avenue East)
Not quite as rare as its namesake, The Unicorn is an Irish pub located at Eglinton and Mount Pleasant that doubles as a live music venue. It features a gas fireplace in the front of the restaurant, surrounded by dining tables.
11Against the Grain (25 Dockside Drive)
The beach doesn’t seem like a natural destination in the depths of winter, but the Against the Grain Urban Tavern will make Torontonians consider the trek. With fireplaces overlooking Sugar Beach and Lake Ontario, you can get that warm, fuzzy feeling while watching the freezing weather outside.
12And we’d like to thank our readers for chiming in with these toasty suggestions: The Roy Public House (894 Queen Street East), Stout Irish Pub (221 Carlton Street East), The Blake House (449 Jarvis Street), and The Oxley (121 Yorkville Avenue). And then there’s also The Ceili Cottage (1301 Queen Street East), which has a winter yurt.
This post has been updated with current weather information and reader suggestions.