To some, birthday dinners are a moment to shine and dine. To others, birthday dinners are a point of stress and excess. To many, they just want to eat, have a good time, spend a semi-appropriate amount of money for their pay grade as they celebrate a milestone of their own, a friend or family member. Whether it’s your party or you’re taking the reins for a loved one, there are a lot of factors at play! Take a breath and pull up a chair, because we have compiled a list of places that you can enjoy for your next b-day bash.
This Dundas West Italian spot fills a void you didn’t even realize existed. The entirely pescatarian menu is a treat for any kind of eater. We suggest sharing plates because you’ll try everything, but ordering individual dishes is also an option. Shell-like circular booths in a saturated blue hue help make this a great spot for conversation and celebration.
From the moment you walk into Kinka, you are met with a booming greeting from the entire restaurant staff. So as you can imagine, birthdays are not taken lightly at Kinka, to the point that they have a birthday menu with various songs, signs, and treats. Pull up a stool (or a pillow, since they have some sunken-in seating) and a pint of Sapporo for a damn good time of Japanese share plates.
We know it. You know it. Bar Isabel is beautiful dinner spot. The menu is always great, with plenty of variety and they certainly don’t rest on laurels. For the adventurous ones, a not-so-hidden secret allows you to talk to your server and request an on-the-fly chef’s choice menu. They’ll take your dietary concerns and preferences into account, but will also keep it in your budget and give you a wider selection than if you would have ordered a la carte. Low lights and just-loud-enough music make this a relatively low-key, yet sexy spot to celebrate.
Bar Isabel via @MrLanceChung
Whatever your vibe – there’s a Buca for you! For an impressive yet intimate tavern/Italian underground grotto feel, there’s Buca. For fish-focused Yorkville swank complete with tableside sea bass carving, there’s Buca Yorkville. And for a more easygoing walk-in experience, while still having some of the best bites of your life, there’s Bar Buca.
This two-story environment has seasonal, Canadian cuisine with a wood-fired oven cranking out fresh bread for all to see. This is another great spot for dining alongside vegetarians since they present two menus at each table. The space is warm and inviting, you’ll either bond with your birthday party or get a little friendlier at the communal table.
To really go big or go home, go to Alo. Every night, the French restaurant serves up a totally different set menu. For $89, you receive five courses and that comes with two opportunities to choose. But when you factor in the amuse-bouche and in-between course bites, the number of dishes hitting the table can actually get closer to ten. This is for a birthday with a capital B.
Inside Alo via @tocalla.homes
Birthday on a Budget:
The Yorkville address, without completely shattering the bank! This Italian spot doles out pasta, pizza, and assorted Italian plates at an accessible price point. You can’t make reservations, but with two stories of seating, it shouldn’t take too long. Plus, if you’re a fan of Gusto 101, you’ll find many of the same fan favourites on this menu too.
Don’t mind getting a little adventurous and eating with your hands? Ethiopian food is the perfect fix and you won’t believe the bill after you see the portion sizes. Ethiopian House, in particular, has space for large parties and if you like a bit of theatre with your dinner, order up the coffee ceremony!
At less than $5 for most tacos, and the ability to order individual tacos, each person can really pick and choose what they want to eat and how much they want to spend. The atmosphere is fun, with hip-hop blasting. With four locations in different pockets of the city, it’s easy to find a place that works for your crew. And for dessert, what’s better than churros and inventive paleta plates?
La Carnita via @La_carnita
From pop-up shop to just-can’t–stop! This cozy spot on Queen West offers a hip snack bar feel, alongside relatively cheap offerings that are in the realm of “sandwich, salad, poutine and wraps by day… Snacks, sliders and drinks by night…”. At a place like this, it’s easy to accommodate all kinds of tastes and wallet sizes.
Why have a regular party when you can have a sausage party? Enter WVRST. This self-confessed sausage hall is the perfect place to lounge out with crews big and small. Long, self-serve tables mean you can probably get all the space you need and keep everyone happy with over 25 sausage options. It’s simple to go bunless for the gluten-free crowd, and there are multiple options for the vegetarians too. With this kinda selection, you’ll surely be on your wvrst behaviour in no time.
Booze and Bites:
This West Queen West gem is the perfect place to grab a bite and drink, at almost any time of day. As long as they’re open, Bar Fancy sports their full menu, meaning the opportunities for oysters and killer fried chicken platters are almost endless. Great staff and fun music (with the occasional DJ popping up) make this a one-stop shop. Just don’t miss the entrance, which involves spotting the fluorescent tiger sign and following it down an alley.
A feast at Bar Fancy via @barfancyto
Who doesn’t love BBQ? Electric Mud it is. For the down-home birthday, pull up a picnic table (indoor or outdoor) and have a not-so-casual feast. Bourbon drinks and beer specials will round out the experience (their house brew is only $2.50 on Mondays). Just make sure that the sweet, sweet fried chicken is still up for grabs because it sells out fast.
This new Roncesvalles brewery slays with its beer selection and uber-cute branding on their beer flights. With a massive space and patio, there are plenty of areas for your team to sprawl out. Want to share a giant plate of meat? They’ve got you covered there, too.
Before the sweeping craze of tapas and small plates in Toronto, there was Torito. A Kensington Market staple and trailblazer of a restaurant, this spot offers a lovely selection of authentic Spanish tapas. And it’s worth calling in first, but we’re pretty certain that you can still Bring Your Own Wine and on certain nights, you can get a deal on the corking fee.
Torito via @portiaxtara
Let’s take a trip, shall we? The brainchild of Anthony Rose, Bar Begonia provides a more fanciful take on the “booze and bites” category. The Parisian bistro provides luxurious French snacks and thoughtful cocktails, in a room that will make you feel transported to France.
If the standard restaurant experience and menu does not appeal to you – try using a service like Pass The Table! Their concierge-like service will help you book a custom dinner experience or you can choose from their stacked calendar of ready-made experiences. From eating head-to-tail or in the kitchen of your next favourite restaurants, there’s something for every group and party size.
Are you and your friends more into an interactive experience? Make an activity out of the birthday dinner and take a personalized cooking class together! The good people at The Edible Story can arrange a cooking class in their studio or come straight to your home. Create your own menu with The Edible Story’s talented chefs and they’ll do the rest!
Inside The Edible Story via @ViewtheVibe
Go spontaneous! Especially useful if you’re planning a dinner for a smaller group, use DINR app to get same day reservations at (literally) some of the best restaurants in the entire city. You name it – Bar Isabel, Alo, Hopgood’s Foodliner – it’s there. Or maybe you forgot to make a reservation for that special someone? This is your best bet to get out of the doghouse.
In a city where Uber Eats, Favour Delivery, Maegan, Foodora, Just Eat and many more food delivery services are all here and in competition, it just makes sense to harness that energy! Take advantage of food that comes to you! Host a dinner at home, a take-out potluck, or plan a park picnic, with restaurant food.
Fun and Games
And if you don’t want to be fully in charge of hosting duties, pick an establishment that allows you to bring in your own food like the lawn games bar Track & Field, or a private karaoke room on Bloor Street West.