With the weather warming up in Toronto, the cherry blossoms are out, the birds are singing . . . and all the single people in Toronto are coming out to date again. There’s plenty to do in Toronto, so much so that it can be daunting to pick the right place for a date – especially a first one. So we spoke with a few Toronto locals about their favourite spots for first, second and third dates in the city.
There’s never an exact science to picking a foolproof date spot, but bartender Danielle Levasseur said she usually does first dates at a bar, second dates dinner and third to an event. “But my real favourite dates are just bopping around to multiple places in the same area like Ossington,” she says.
First dates: Drinks, coffee
Cozy and casual hangout
Lucky Shrike- 850 Dundas St. W.
This Dundas Street bar has vintage church benches out front and a covered back patio; ambient and casual. “I like Shrike as a first date spot because the atmosphere is super fun, cozy and just a little bit exciting,” says fashion student and server Karenza McCarthy.
Unique cocktail bar
Civil Liberties- 878 Bloor St. W.
This spot is a cocktail bar without a menu. Instead, the mixologists ask your preference for alcohol, spirits and additional flavours, and concoct a drink specially made for you. 26 year old server Sarah Phillips called the experience “a creative way to get to know your date.”
“I feel like you can learn a lot about a person by their drink preference, and even more by the way they order,” Philips says.
Cheap drinks and chill vibes
Green Room– 414 College St.
For a low-key environment and drinks and food that won’t break the bank, this might be the place. “Good for a first date, because it’s divey and chill, no pressure,” says server Sharon.
Second dates: Breakfast, day time activities
White Lily Diner- 678 Queen St. E.
This spot is a favourite of husband and wife Rebecca-Jo Dunham-Baruchel and Jay Baruchel. The couple say they’re more of day time date people. As for second dates, brunch and lunch are the casual version of dinner, with less expectation of intimacy. Brunch is good because it’s early in the day, and also acts as a good excuse to depart if the date doesn’t go well (just say you have errands to run!).
Worthy breakfast for the morning after
Saving Grace breakfast restaurant- 907 Dundas St. W.
If your first date went particularly well, it might bleed into the next morning. And your second date very well might be breakfast or brunch. A stand up comedian and engineer who lives in the Junction says Saving Grace is worth the transit. “It’s one of the best places for breakfast in the city, and a great cure for the prior evening’s events,” he says.
Thrifting and drinks
Imperial Pub- 54 Dundas St. E.
“It’s so nice to have something to start conversations and I feel like both those lend itself nicely to that,” says student Eira Dougall. A five-star review of Imperial Pub by local guide Vic Vu reads, “This is a five star review because the bar is fn [sic] great and it is what it is. It is not fancy. It doesn’t have good cocktails. The food is pub fare. The place is weird . . . I give this place five stars for being Toronto as ever.”
Third dates: Night life, outings, dinner
Movie night with a twist
The Revue Theatre– 400 Roncesvalles Ave.
“A great spot for a drunk movie night,” says Karenza McCarthy. By the third date, you’re either deciding whether you want to keep seeing someone or you’re starting to get comfy. A movie is both a great conversation starter and a passive event that you can enjoy with a new partner. Add drinks to the mix, and you’re bound to have a fun time.
Open mics and burlesques
The Painted Lady- 218 Ossington Ave.
This small, eclectic bar has live music features, open mic Mondays and burlesque shows. And on the same Monday night that The Painted Lady hosts open mic, Communist’s Daughter hosts Decide on the B-Side, an activity in which regulars bring their favourite records and the bar collectively decides whether to play the flip side of that record or move onto a mystery record.
Date night dive bar
Seoul Shakers- 1241 Bloor St. W.
This bar has a trendy and warm interior featuring cocktails and Korean fusion eats. “I love Seoul Shakers because the staff is all really nice and work very hard,” says barista Tat Havens, who visits with her boyfriend. “The atmosphere is cozy and filled with locals of Bloordale. My boyfriend and I have gotten to know the staff pretty well and they always treat us great when we come in.”