The best secret bars and speakeasies that opened in Toronto this year

In 2023, the trend of opening secret bars in Toronto has taken the city by storm. From hidden entrances and unmarked doors to establishments tucked within other venues, Toronto is buzzing with hidden haunts where patrons can go incognito and savour a delicious drink and eats.

Here are the 5 best secret Toronto bars that opened in 2023.

Bar Bowie

@barbowie/Instagram

A back alleyway may not seem like the best spot to find a stellar dry martini and late night tapas in this city, but this seems to be the case with Bar Bowie, a new basement-level bar that recently opened on Ossington Ave. in the heart of Trinity-Bellwoods. Bar Bowie was opened by Adrian Juan Jose Joaquin, who is also behind Toronto’s iconic Lakeview Diner, Better Gift Shop and French bistro Milou. Publicly branding itself as “not a speakeasy” given its lower-level, kind-of-secret location beneath a laundromat, Bar Bowie’s snug interior includes mirrored ceilings and a dimly-lit atmosphere that invites guests to sit back and connect with one another over shared cocktails and light bites amidst good music and a good crowd. On the menu, which was designed by Michael Kim (Milou, and previously Uncle Mikey’s Inc.) you’ll find drinks and eats reminiscent of a no frills snack bar — beer choice is limited to a house Bowie lager, Stella Artois and a cider, and guests can have their pick of one red, white, rose, sparkling or skin contact wine by the glass or bottle. 180R Ossington Ave.

Bar Habana

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Discover the newest speakeasy-style Cuban cocktail and rum bar on Ossington! Tucked away at the back of La Cubana, Bar Habana is shaking things up in the best way. Thanks to the talented mixologist Josh, who’s been diligently crafting new Cuban-inspired cocktails like the decadently delicious Carajillo Affogato and the smoky, rich, and bold Old Baracoa. The menu features a delicious array of Cuban pressed sandwiches and empanadas. 92 Ossington Ave.

Bar Avelo

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Located atop Avelo restaurant in a charming heritage building, Bar Avelo offers a cozy setting with a dramatic arched ceiling inspired by its Victorian origins. The drink menu features a mix of classic and creative cocktails, a thoughtfully curated wine selection, and various beverages. The upscale food menu includes dishes with luxurious ingredients like truffles, green caviar and an assortment of wild mushrooms such as lobster and lion’s mane. 51 St Nicholas St.

Bar Đêm

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Located on the top floor of contemporary Vietnamese restaurant Dzô Viet Eatery, Bar Đêm, is adorned with colourful Vietnamese art, while skylights create a night market feel. There’s a spacious bar which creates a lounge-friendly atmosphere. The bar is accessible through a graffiti-covered alley, while the entrance is marked with hanging lanterns. 308 Dundas St. W.

Bar 404

@bar404toronto/Instagram

Adding to the city’s diverse collection of speakeasies, Bar 404 invites urban explorers to indulge in an evening of exquisitely crafted cocktails and culinary delights. The menu boasts seafood options like the Tiradito Nikkei, featuring torched ahi tuna, soy citrus marinade, crispy onion, and cucumber. Additionally, there’s a tempting selection of charcuterie, artisan cheese, and truffle flatbread. Among the libations, the Strawberry Short Cake cocktail stands out—a delicious blend of white and spiced rum, Appleton rum, vanilla liqueur, pineapple, lime, strawberry, pecan bitters and cream. 85 John St Level 1.

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