Toronto is crawling with hidden restaurants and bars – concealed from the public eye, they often use unmarked doors and secret entrances, and take a little savviness to find. Here are some of the coolest hidden restaurants and bars in Toronto, which includes the 411 on how to get inside. And shhhh – please don’t tell!
Who would guess that one of the world’s best restaurants is a housed in the same building as a Hero Burger? Alo, a fancy French eatery that’s been named one of the top 100 restaurants in the world, occupies the top floor of the Victorian building at Queen and Spadina. Expect to spend at least two hours indulging in a multi-course menu, featuring small batch wines and seasonal dishes made with Canadian ingredients. Bon appetit!
Inside the Kensington Mall, look for a red light glaring over a doorway and push open a heavy metal door to unearth Cold Tea – a Prohibition-inspired underground bar with crowded communal tables and a backyard patio illuminated by lamplight. Saddle up at the bar and ask the mixologist what’s shaking in the drinks department. The menu is ever-evolving and showcases some incredible Asian-inspired tipples, best enjoyed while busting a move on the dance floor.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a comic-themed restaurant? Hidden in Yorkville, Figures serves more than superb food and craft cocktails – it brings your favourite superheroes and comics to life. The trick is to find the entrance: at first glance, the venue appears to be a comic book shop; but press a big red button and a hidden door opens to reveal a 2000-square-foot restaurant covered with decoupage style comics and poetry.
Skip the line up at La Carnita, and instead, take the stairs to the basement to what’s dubbed “The Worst Kept Secret Secret Bar.” Tucked away downstairs is Good Fortune, a popular late night cocktail and snack bar with comfy booths and a simple but tasty menu. In addition to craft cocktails, expect other fun drinks like boozy milkshakes, slushies, and Jell-O shots, best enjoyed with a cheeseburger topped with hickory sticks straight off the strip.
If you’re craving real deal tacos, check out this little family-run taqueria hidden in a butcher shop on St. Clair West. Hungry hordes flock to Itacate to sink their teeth into what some consider “the most legit tacos in the city,” as good as you can get in Mexico City. FYI: it’s cash only, but you won’t need to carry big bills since their menu is so affordable.
Lo-Pan Cocktail Bar
It’s almost midnight, but the queue for DaiLo spills outside onto College Street, packed with hungry patrons waiting to dine at one of Toronto’s top restaurants. Rather than vie for a table, bypass the line and head upstairs to Lo-Pan – a secret snack bar that serves stellar Eastern-style cocktails. After a few drinks, sink your teeth into some Asian-inspired comfort food, such as Korean barbecued short ribs and KFC popcorn tofu, served dim-sum-style until 2 a.m.
You’ll have to descend a staircase into a murky basement to find The Cloak, a boozy underworld accessed by a secret staircase between the bar and kitchen of Marben Restaurant. This bar is well worth the treasure hunt: here, you’ll enjoy old timey cocktails made with fancy liqueurs and spirits, as well as gourmet snacks like shepherd’s pie croquettes and homemade sausage rolls. Tip: if the basement door is locked, call or text the phone number posted on the entrance to open sesame.
You’ll have to slink down a back alley and up a freight elevator to access this rooftop restaurant. Although tricky to find, it’s been a favourite in the 6ix for over 20 years, with patrons flocking to The Fifth for its exquisite grilled meats, enchanting atmosphere, and killer city views.
Outside, the glowing neon sign advertises Tarot Cards and Palm Readings, and illuminates an unmarked entrance to a basement. But you can channel a different spirit world at The Libertine, a whimsical secret bar hidden inside a no-frills building on Dundas West. Downstairs, there really is a fortune teller, but also a moody 2000-square-foot lounge serving potent drinks, craft cocktails, and flutes filled with bubbly. A word of warning for the hungry: the bar no longer serves food.
Osgoode Hall Restaurant
The legal community has really kept this resto under wraps. Inside the historic, gated Osgoode Hall building is a secluded space serving farm-to-table, seasonal fare that’s won rave reviews. Dine on culinary creations by esteemed Executive Chef Adam Foley (Rosewater Supper Club, Brassaii, Brant House) surrounded by leather-bound law books, stained glass, and robed lawyers on their way to court. A head’s up: Osgoode Hall Restaurant is only open to the public from Monday to Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from September to June.