As soon as the weather gets remotely nice, there aren't too many places better in Toronto than a patio with a cold beer or a pitcher of sangria. Of course there are plenty of dodgy patios in the city: those with rickety plastic chairs, bad beer or are barely bigger than a small beach towel. We say, these are unacceptable!
We want you, dear reader, to enjoy each and every precious summer afternoon (or evening) on a patio. To help, we've picked out some of the city's best patios. From grungy but friendly neighbourhood locals to opulent hotel rooftops, here are some of our faves.
For People Watching
The Black Bull
There's no surer sign of spring than the Torontonians flocking to the Black Bull's patio. The bar's expansive patio overlooks Queen Street West so it's a prime people watching spot.
Runner up: Biermarkt
Toronto might not have Vancouver's natural beauty but from the rooftop patio of the Park Hyatt it looks pretty darn great. Located on the 18th floor of this ritzy Yorkville hotel, the rooftop bar also makes a great date spot.
For Grunge Lovers
Ronnie's has one of Kensington Market's most popular patios. You can even order a grilled cheese from across the street and they'll bring it to your table. If your small group snags a picnic table please play nice and share it. Make some new friends.
Runner up: Sweaty Betty's
People Watching (Fancy Edition)
This two-level patio just a few steps away from Yorkville is the closest you'll get to being on a Parisian sidewalk. A few quick glasses of wine would also help that illusion.
Runner up: One
Best Patio If You Care About Your Beer
Bar Volo is one of the most important places for beer in the city. Enjoy a great heffeweizen, pilsner or other great summer beer on their patio off Yonge St. On Monday's the bar has a $5 pint special which is a must if you're dying to try some of the great Canadian beers on offer.
Best Patio Near The Lake
Against the Grain
Just a stones throw from Sugar Beach, Against the Grain, is a welcome oasis in one of the Toronto's newer lakefront areas. Bonus points for being an absolutely ginormous patio.
Runner up: The Rectory Cafe
Best Patio For Wine
Crush Wine Bar
Located right in bustling King St. West, Crush might just be one of the best wine bars in the city. Tack on a charming patio and you've got a perfect place to sip your wine outside.
Runner up: Ciao Wine Bar
Best Patio For Winter
Yes, it's still months away but if you must drink outside in the winter months, the Ceili Cottage is probably one of the better bets. The owners build a little skating rink for you. There's even a yurt.
Runner up: Really? It's winter... stay inside.
Also on HuffPost:
Summer Recipes And Tips
What To Grill? How To Avoid Burger Fails, Summer Cocktails and more
Grill blueberries by injecting them with spiced rum or whisky and throw them on the grill over foil or a grill-safe tray, says <a href="http://www.tedreader.com/" target="_blank">chef and grill master Ted Reader.</a> "Once they begin to dance and bounce, squeeze an orange over them."
If you're looking for a healthier barbecue sauce alternative, make your own. This <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/barbecue-sauce_n_1055245.html" target="_blank">recipe by Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone combines soy sauce, pineapple and red onions for a sweet yet tangy taste.</a>
This recipe isn't vegetarian-approved: The cabbage head is stuffed with bacon and onions, soaked with butter and barbecue sauce, and grilled. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/barbecued-cabbage_n_1049688.html" target="_blank">Get the recipe here.</a>
These barbecued pork ribs are cooked "low and slow" until a flavourful crust surrounds the meat. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/the-cooks-ribs_n_1058114.html" target="_blank">Get the recipe here. </a>
Reader is also a fan of grilling frog legs over the grill. If you're wondering what they taste like, no, they <a href="http://julesfood.blogspot.com/2010/06/bbq-frog-legs.html" target="_blank">don't taste exactly like chicken.</a> <a href="http://julesfood.blogspot.com/2010/06/bbq-frog-legs.html" target="_blank">Get a recipe here by Jules Food.</a>
Grilled Chicken Skewers
These grilled chicken skewers are made with a flavourful garlic sauce and fresh lime juice. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/finding-happiness_n_3254794.html?1368453595" target="_blank">Get the recipe here.</a>
This one is great for the kids, Reader says. Roast or smoke bananas over your grill and use them as a spread over raisin bread.
Smoky Buffalo Burger
If you're tired of traditional beef burgers, go with bison. Instead of melted cheese on top, this recipe uses cheese to season the meat, adding that much-needed moisture. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/smoky-buffalo-burger_n_1056677.html" target="_blank">Get the recipe here. </a>
If you're a fan of foie gras, try it on the grill, Reader says. This <a href="http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/grilled-foie-gras-with-roasted-pears-and-spice-syrup-with-sauternes-jelly" target="_blank">recipe by Cookstr uses roasted pears and spiced syrup.</a>
A true Canadian treat, Reader suggests grilling fiddleheads with your favourite BBQ sauce or spices.
How to make your burgers the talk of the party!
This Burger Is A Beautiful Burger
But it doesn't always work out like this, does it? If your burger came out less than ideal, we've found some examples to make you feel just a little bit better, comparatively. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdrephotography/8406839593/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">jdrephotography</a></em>
Did You Slather Your Burger In Curry Sauce?
We love curry. We love burgers. They are separate foods. <em>Photo via <a href="http://imgur.com/MNi50TA" target="_blank">Imgur</a></em>
Guys, TOAST The Bun
Toast. Don't singe. <em>Image via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pyxopotamus/4903007237/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">me and the sysop</a></em>
Did You Buy Hockey Pucks Instead Of Meat By Accident?
<em>Photo via <a href="http://imgur.com/ugLllpR" target="_blank">Imgur</a></em>
Powerful Evidence That Burgers And Eggs Should Be Cooked Separately
Breakfast burgers? Yes please. But... there are rules. <em>Photo via <a href="http://imgur.com/cXb4a" target="_blank">Imgur</a></em>
Did You Put Your Burgers On Artificially Colored Buns Just For Fun?
As the original poster, Reddit user durianno said, "I tried the new Black and White Burgers from McDonald's. I highly recommend not doing so yourself." <em>Photo via <a href="http://imgur.com/ySQyK3N" target="_blank">Imgur</a></em>
Okay, Everyone -- This Is Not The Color We Are Shooting For
Is your burger still the color of meat? You're doing okay, then. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/shuttercat7/910021967/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">grafixtek</a></em>
That's not it either. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/khawkins04/5969315133/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">khawkins04</a></em>
This Burger Is Wrapped In Turkey Bacon
The point of wrapping something in bacon is to impart flavor AND FAT. Turkey bacon is invalid. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mesohungry/5069165412/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">jasonlam</a></em>
<em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mesohungry/5069166100/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">jasonlam</a></em>
This Burger Is Made Out Of Turkey
You want to make a burger out of turkey? Fine. Don't say we didn't warn you. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/theimpulsivebuy/5667081564/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">theimpulsivebuy</a></em>
What. Are. Those. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/afiler/225794227/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">afiler</a></em>
THERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE FOR SPROUTS, GUYS. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/waytru/986989598/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">WayTru</a></em>
Did You Cover Your Grill With Foil For Some Reason?
No? You're doing better than these guys.
Did You Set Your Burgers/Grill/House/Best Friend On Fire?
No? You're doing better than these people!
Veggie Burger Recipes
Why should meat-eaters have all the fun?
BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers
Get the <a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/03/bbq-cheddar-chickpea-burgers/" target="_blank">BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers recipe</a> by How Sweet It Is
Veggie Burgers With Pomegranate Ketchup
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/veggie-burgers-with-pomeg_n_1061058.html" target="_blank">Veggie Burgers with Pomegranate Ketchup recipe</a></strong>
Double Bean Burger Patty Melts
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/10/double-bean-burger-patty-melts/" target="_blank">Double Bean Burger Patty Melts recipe</a> by How Sweet It Is</strong>
Quinoa, Fava Bean And Chard Veggie Burgers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://food52.com/recipes/21779-quinoa-fava-bean-and-chard-veggie-burgers" target="_blank">Quinoa, Fava Bean, and Chard Veggie Burgers recipe</a> by Carolyn Cope via Food52</strong>
Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa Burgers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/03/roasted-red-pepper-quinoa-white-bean-burgers/" target="_blank">Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa Burgers recipe </a>by How Sweet It Is </strong> Of course, leave off the bacon if you're a vegetarian.
Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers With Roasted Garlic Cream
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/09/smoky-sweet-potato-burgers-with-roasted-garlic-cream-and-avocado/" target="_blank">Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic Cream and Avocado recipe</a> by How Sweet It Is</strong>
Easy Double Bean Burgers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/06/easy-double-bean-burgers-with-avocado-basil-cream/" target="_blank">Easy Double Bean Burgers recipe</a> by How Sweet It Is</strong>
Brown-Rice Veggie Burgers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/brown-rice-veggie-burgers_n_1058252.html" target="_blank">Brown-Rice Veggie Burgers recipe</a></strong>
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.macheesmo.com/2010/08/the-beet-burger/" target="_blank">Beet Burgers recipe</a> by Macheesmo</strong>
Veggie Masala Burgers With Cilantro Chutney Aioli
<strong>Get the <a href="http://food52.com/recipes/20511-veggie-masala-burgers-with-cilantro-chutney-aioli" target="_blank">Veggie Masala Burgers with Cilantro Chutney Aioli recipe</a> by Madhuri Sharma via Food52</strong>
Crispy Quinoa Sliders
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/09/crispy-quinoa-sliders/" target="_blank">Crispy Quinoa Sliders recipe</a> by How Sweet It Is</strong>
Spicy Edamame Burgers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/04/spicy-edamame-burgers.html" target="_blank">Spicy Edamame Burgers recipe</a> by A Beautiful Mess</strong>
Substitute this for that at your next barbecue
Corn On The Cob
Who doesn't love corn off the grill? But instead of slathering on a ton of butter and <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/05/20/salt-in-the-sweet-spot" target="_blank">salt</a>, simply top it with freshly squeezed lime juice. Skeptical? Don't knock it until you try it. And once you do -- trust me -- that butter will be a distant memory.
Good Old-Fashioned Hamburgers
This year, instead of your usual ground chuck, choose a leaner cut. Go for sirloin, ground chicken breast or skinless turkey. You can even try mixing the ground beef with the ground poultry when making the patty. We can attack topping choices another season.
It's time you ditched the fluffy white flour buns and progressed to the 100 percent whole grain variety. You could also try a 100 percent whole wheat English muffin or the buns marketed as a "sandwich thin" instead.
Sneak <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-products/top-rec-fiber-supplements-55" target="_blank">extra fiber</a> into the salad by keeping the skins on your potatoes. (I'm partial to using new red potatoes.) And try adding white wine vinegar, mustard and a little olive oil in lieu of regular mayonnaise.
Swap in <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2011/09/30/greek-yogurt-vs-regular-yogurt-which-is-more-healthful" target="_blank">nonfat Greek yogurt</a> for regular mayo, and add a little apple cider vinegar to give it just the right flavor.
I've never said that a lean cut of beef can't be grilled on the barbecue, but if many cookouts are planned, why not try a different category of steak? Tuna or salmon steaks are great on the grill, especially when they're brushed with olive oil and seasoned with a little fresh lemon, lime, herbs and spices.
Chips are staples of most cookouts, but they're not always a healthy choice. If you're craving something salty and crunchy, try making your own kale chips instead -- a rather popular trend these days. Or simply have a pickle, which can leave you surprisingly satisfied.
What's a cookout without ice cream? Instead of passing on it altogether, buy individual serving sizes in lieu of the gallon box. This way, you're in control of how much ice cream is scooped and served. Or if so inclined, switch to nonfat frozen yogurt -- but you'll still need to <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/03/07/5-ways-to-practice-portion-control" target="_blank">keep your portions in check</a>.
Fresh berry pies are amazing in the summer, but they're usually a bit high in calories. So instead of giving into a slice, create your own healthier version. In a bowl, crumble two graham crackers, then pile on the berries and top them with low-fat Greek yogurt. Viola -- your own <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2013/03/14/pi-day-6-healthy-pie-recipes" target="_blank">(healthy) pie</a>!
Many people would prefer not to consider cocktails as a source of calories, but they certainly are. This summer, make your own fruity version with vodka, seltzer or club soda, a splash of fruit juice and fresh fruit for garnish. Leave the pina coladas and daiquiris to cookouts of summers past.