There’s no better way to eat and drink your way to the heart of Toronto than through its wide selection of trendy snack bars. Often slightly hidden (think: Speakeasy) with their own limited menu of light nibbles and strong drinks, these undeniably hip establishments are where the city’s coolest citizens come to socialize throughout the year.
Toronto’s snack bars take advantage of one of the most diverse culinary scenes on the planet and proudly incorporate an international spin to many of their shareable plates. So say goodbye to another humdrum plate of nachos and hello to salt cod croquetas and poke wonton tacos.
Combining these artful snacks with expert cocktails and fashionable atmospheres, snack bars are full of good times and surprises that last well into the night. To inspire your journey, here are 15 of the top snack bars in Toronto.
416 Snack Bar
Ask any Torontonian and they’ll point towards 416 Snack Bar as the city’s quintessential snack bar. The essence of Toronto even lies in the name, in which the “416” is derived from the local area code. With dim lighting, pared-back décor, and a rotating playlist of smooth R&B music, this Queen St W and Bathurst spot comes alive each evening. The phenomenal kitchen impresses with a rotating menu of exquisite bites that are delivered with care and presentation, taking from a variety of far-reaching culinary influences that’s meant to represent the makeup of the city. Further reinforcing its shareable plates, the snacks here are specifically made to be eaten with your hands and there’s actually no cutlery on site.
Located in the colorful Parkdale neighborhood, Superfly is the new spot with an old-school soul. Aptly named after the classic Curtis Mayfield song, this swanky bar throws it back to New York in the 70s with its disco-inspired ceiling and groovy furnishings. To the constant beat of funk and soul music, it’s easy to enjoy the well-executed small plates that span crab quiche, steak tartare, and grilled avocado salad.
Kanpai Snack Bar
Taking inspiration from the sizzling street food of Taiwan, Kanpai Snack Bar brings the culinary traditions of Taipei to the Cabbagetown district. Incorporating ultra-chic accents that are especially easy on the eye, the refreshing wood-clad dining space transports you to the world-famous night markets of Raohe or Shilin. The creative menu pays homage to the looping playlist of old-school hip-hop with dishes such as the MC Hammer Taiwanese popcorn chicken or the Piggie Smalls spiced pork belly. To wash down your tangy street food, Kanpai offers a wide selection of craft beer, sake, and classic cocktails.
The entrance to Bar Fancy is hidden at the back of a dark alleyway under its own neon-lit tiger sign. Once you locate it and head inside, you may be surprised to discover that this West Queen West joint isn’t so fancy after all – at least in the traditional sense. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, however, as the reformed space tastefully integrates industrial elements, minimal decoration and smooth surfaces for a low-key and mellow atmosphere. Bar Fancy also keeps it uncomplicated with its menu of crave-worthy bites, highlighted by their daily oyster and fried chicken specials. If that wasn’t already enough, the drink list keeps it local with a selection of refreshing Ontario craft beers and ciders.
Apres Wine Bar
If wine and snacks sounds like your kind of night, Apres Wine Bar is the perfect spot for you. This minimalist space incorporates sleek industrial elements and boasts a refined selection of natural wines from all over the world. Led by a friendly and knowledgeable sommelier, every bottle on the menu has been thoroughly curated for ethical farming practices. Chosen specifically to complement your bottle of wine, the delicious selection of shareable snacks range from high-quality cheeses and cured meats to squid stuffed with peanut romesco.
From its swooping mahogany panels to the long list of traditional Spanish tapas and pintxos, Bar Raval instantly transports you to the streets of Barcelona. Open from morning until late, this beautifully-designed space keeps it cozy with standing-only barrel tables and hidden nooks throughout. Beyond traditional Spanish drinks like vermouth and cava, the Gaudí-esque bar offers a diverse array of bold cocktails, beers, and wines for you to enjoy, whereas the masterly tapas can rightfully be considered divine works of art in themselves.
Influenced mightily by its Balkan roots, the dream-like setting of Blua features long communal tables, flickering candles, and hanging plants. From the chalkboard wall to the modern accents, the subtle artistic touches give the space a homey feel, while the aromatic cocktails keep it classic with a fun twist. The kitchen puts forth a no-frills menu of Mediterranean snacks that includes marinated olives, roasted peppers, and selected European meats and cheeses.
Pinkerton’s Snack Bar
Named after a Weezer album, Pinkerton’s Snack Bar keeps it grungier than its snack bar contemporaries. Dim lighting, metal stools, salvage materials, and a warm wooden bar keep the interior cozy and friendly, while the piercing rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack makes this hidden gem one of the most raucous places on the East End. The changing array of bar snacks have an Asian-infused twist to them, such as the braised pork neck served on a kimchi pancake and finished with chilies, scallions, and peanuts. Beer is the focus of the drink menu here, keeping it local with a healthy selection of Canadian craft brews.
Cold Tea is one of Toronto’s worst-kept secrets waiting to be stumbled upon. Hidden within a back hallway of Kensington Mall marked by an unlabelled door with a glowing red light, this speakeasy is named after the “cold tea” codename used by local Chinese restaurants serving beer in teapots after 2am last call. The casual underground vibe is accentuated with long communal tables, industrial stools, and a rotating collection of local artwork. Elsewhere, the kitchen has developed its own Asian/South American fusion concept that’s highlighted by bites such as the tigre de leche ceviche and teriyaki chicken wings. The knowledgeable bar staff take mixology seriously with a delectable selection of cocktails and draft beers, whereas the patio is especially popular on the weekends with “in the know” locals.
Tucked away in a timeless two-storey Victorian house in Toronto’s posh Yorkville neighborhood lies Bar Reyna, an upbeat snack bar with a Mediterranean twist. The enticing bites feature a wide spectrum of interesting flavors and fresh ingredients that invigorate your taste buds, such as the piquillo pepper hummus and lamb shank baklava. Between the elegant interior space and cozy all-season back patio, Bar Reyna delivers a relaxing and friendly atmosphere to enjoy the lavish selection of cocktails. If you don’t feel like making the journey uptown, the snack bar has also brought its warm vibes and lush décor to a central King St location.
Founder is an ode to the creative spirit of Toronto. The elegant interior design combines a palette of rich teals and luxe blues with metallic lighting fixtures, clean grey walls, and local artwork. Bringing together flavors from around the world, the refined food menu offers a number of small sharing plates that are as diverse as the city of Toronto itself. Between the Hôtel de Paris, Big in Japan, and Alcázar, the house cocktails are all made with their own inventive twist. Though sophisticated, this snack bar is anything but pretentious and maintains its reputation as the perfect place to enjoy good conversation and laughs in a laid-back environment.
IST Snack Bar
A clever wordplay on Indian Standard Time, IST Snack Bar is Toronto’s Indian spin on a snack bar. This Parkdale-based spot keeps it interesting with a casual take on Indian cuisine, including butter chicken, tandoori wings, and hummus platters. The flavorful portions are balanced nicely by an equally tantalizing cocktail list, as well as a selection of local beers and wines.
Named after a prohibition-era term for booze, Project Gigglewater is an ode to old-timey cocktail culture. Not only do the classic cocktails here ooze creativity with something to suit everybody, but the space transports you back in time with its custom-designed wood slat ceiling, curved bar, and eclipsed lighting fixtures. Smooth R&B music and cult classics lead the music selection on most days, whereas the dimmed lights further set the mood when the sun goes down.
Conveniently located in the heart of the Fashion District, Locals Only is a prime King St W pit stop among party-goers. This little basement dive bar sits below sidewalk level and has a cool industrial feel to it that’s accentuated by the neon signs, spray-painted graffiti, and a giant shipping container in the back corner. With a long list of bar snacks and trendy drinks, Locals Only is the perfect place to get the night started before moving onto the next stop.
Inventive, cute, and unique, Pray Tell on College and Ossington is the refreshing neighborhood snack bar that keeps the vibes both elegant and whimsical. Decked out with a lush collection of plants, this playful space features cozy wood finishes and various adorable touches throughout. The colorful selection of Instagram-worthy cocktails come laced with fruit and floral, while the home-made snack menu keeps it simple, local, and fresh.