The international day of love is right around the corner!
While gifts are good and fun, everyone knows the most exciting thing about Valentine’s Day is where you get to eat! If you haven’t booked your reservation yet, or just haven’t got a clue about where to go, we’ve got some underrated ideas that’ll impress you and your date. Start or end the evening with some fun, free activities, and then head to a spot on this list.
From a vegan restaurant with an ultra-cool vibe to a cocktail bar that’ll take you back in time, here are our picks for top Toronto restaurants for Valentine’s Day.
If you’ve been to Fresh, you already know how good the food is. But just last year, the go-to for vegan and vegetarian fare opened an outpost unlike any of the others. Fresh on Front, just a short walk from Union Station, is much larger than its other locales, with seating to fit around 100. Visitors are welcomed by the takeout counter and cocktail bar (yes, they serve alcohol!), dotted with pink suede stools. But the money spot is located at the back of the restaurant. If you can, grab yourself a lush velvet booth. Beautiful decor and dim lighting, coupled with cocktails like Fire & Ice (cinnamon whisky, Fresh’s organic Chaga Miracle Cider, coconut milk, and star anise) and shareables like quinoa onion rings and buffalo cauliflower, are enough to make any date swoon.
Cocktail aficionados will love this east end joint, where the tipples are craft and the shareable French bistro-inspired plates are a plenty. A date at East Thirty-Six will make you feel like you’ve escaped to the prohibition-era and makes the perfect place to get lost in conversation. While the menu is impressive, featuring plates like beef tenderloin tartare and sous vide chicken, the cocktails are East Thirty-Six’s real star and feature unique liquor infusions like chili vodka and lemon rum.
For those looking for a more casual setting (where the pressure isn’t on and you can relax), Pennies is the spot. Tucked away in a residential ‘hood, you won’t be able to miss the bright yellow building that houses the restaurant and bar. Grab a spot at one of Pennies’ communal tables and order a feast of sliders. Our personal faves are the Southern Honey Fried Chicken, Bacon Cheeseburger, tater tots, and classic Corndog, which are just $4 each. And while you’re there, don’t forget to squeeze in a game of shuffleboard!
The weather might suck, but you can still experience the taste of summer with your Valentine. In the St. Lawrence area, you’ll find Barsa Taberna, which is known for its delicious variety of sangrias. We suggest the Sangria Cava, a combination of sparkling wine, brandy, mango, raspberries, and blueberries that’ll make you forget all about snow storms. The inventive tapas menu is perfect for “accidentally” grazing fingers over, or if you like something a little more planned, you can still try to book a table and indulge in the five-course Valentine’s Day tasting menu, which will cost you $65 a person.
While those in the neighbourhood will know this spot well, others consider it a hidden gem. The Italian and Negroni bar in Davenport Village is the place to be for hearty pasta dishes, and the chefs even creates three fresh pastas daily. The Spicy Pork Meatballs are regulars’ favourite, so make sure that’s on the roster when you order for your date. Just make sure to get their early — the space is small and unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, but the wait is so worth it.
Featured Image: Instagram/@theveganjetsetter
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