The Lakeview Restaurant is a piece of Toronto history. Open since the 1930s and the backdrop for some feature films, it closed in 2008, but not for long. When reopened, it dropped part of the original name but kept enough charm to woo back the original patrons. The black and white photographs on the website prove that it is not too modern, yet it chooses an IPod over the more classic Jukebox. The restaurant is open 24 hours, and it has an extensive menu for you and your friends with all of their dietary preferences. There are many versions of poutine (the Canadian speciality of cheese curds, gravy and fries), including a breakfast version that throws in some maple sausage and a sunny side up egg. Burgers, salads, sandwiches and classic desserts round out the menu for a true Betty and Veronica experience.
If you ever have ever had a sleepless night, wondering who was awake in the city with you, you don't have to look any further than 7West. This Charles street Victorian cafe is cozy and charming, with three floors and an expansive menu. People talk quietly over candlelight, play cards or sometimes even pull an all-nighter. Bring your midnight snack up a notch with some Primavera pasta or a chevre appetizer served with roasted red peppers and goat cheese. If you want to be the first person in the city to get your breakfast fix, indulge in their "All the Time breakfast." Scrambled eggs with mozzarella have never tasted as good as when you have competed against the sun and won.
Oddseoul is a restaurant so confident that it doesn't have a website. Nor does it have a phone number. It doesn't seem to matter much, as this exposed brick low-frills restaurant has plenty of clientele. Open after 6pm to 2am, you can have ssams, which are family-style Korean dinners if you come on the earlier end of things. If you choose to come in the later part of the night, enjoy the extras, which are like Korean tapas. The snack menu includes the Loosey, which is a mini-burger with short ribs and kimchi hollandaise (which you can read as "special sauce"). Or start mopping up any liquor you have consumed with Acorn Squash Poutine, a greasy take on the Canadian favourite that tastes better the later it gets.
Grand Electric may not be open as late as some of the other "late night" places, but it sure gives you reason to go there regardless. Tacos and bourbon are sold seven nights a week, with the menu displayed brightly in chalk. You buy per taco, so prices are reasonable, and toppings are as tempting as chorizo and queso to crispy cauliflower. You can also get your guacamole and chips and your tuna ceviche if you want some varied flavours as the night is waning. If you need to wind down your night of drinking, Grand Electric has you covered with Margaritas, Jesus Juice and shots of Jack Daniels.
Johnny Jackson puts everything in a brown recyclable takeout box for you to dig into wherever you happen to be. In the back of a cab, on the TTC, sitting on the curb rehashing the night...it doesn't matter. This is not health food, but there is a California veggie burger that has brie and fries. That is about as virtuous as it gets. There are also deep fried mars bars over cashew brittle and caramel corn. It is the type of food you might turn your nose up at if it were lunchtime. But when the sun has been down for some time, a triple decker grilled cheese sandwich seems just the ticket. Johnny Jackson knows you so well.
416 Snackbar is the epitome of modern eating. It began as a blog, which is a good start. Once it became a real life bar, it attracted hoards of Torontonians looking for a small and cozy place that celebrates the night. From DJs to $5 tapas, this is the kind of bar where you might forget that you need to eat for awhile. Once you recall that basic human function, you won't be disappointed. Incredibly diverse food from an eggplant "sangwich" to steak tartare for under $10. The steamed pork buns are kind of like potato chips: it is hard to eat just one. Not that you have to.
Bar Isabel has received a lot of buzz in the last year, but so far it has not gone to their head. Late night eats are impressively carnivorous, such as roast bone barrow or a whole octopus or fish ceviche. You can also have some horse tartare, tongue on brioche, or a vegan salad if you aren't as impressed with eating tongue. If you are ready to keep the libations flowing, the cocktail menu is seriously impressive with intriguing names like "A Woman Scorned." People have reservations six weeks in ahead. The place is worth the wait and worth the hype.
There are times in the middle of the night when a diner sounds like heaven and a greasy spoon is the only kind of spoon you want to put in your mouth. The Thompson Diner is probably classier than what you imagine, with the sleek design of the hotel restaurant being reminiscent of many of the kitchens in Toronto's modern condos. With 24 hour service, you can go to continue your evening with drinks and appetizers. Or you can start yourself on the path to sobriety with meals ranging from fried chicken to mac and cheese with truffle oil. Meals are gigantic and great for sharing with your hip downtown friends.
If you find yourself up around midnight and leaving downtown for your West End digs, take a quick pitstop at the Rude Boy in Roncesvalles. This restaurant is more gourmet burger joint than rude boy collecting point, but don't let that stop you from dragging in your less than charming self. The burgers are made from all natural, hormone free, grass fed beef. The beef is ground in house daily and ingredients are as locally sourced as possible. Burgers are given the royal treatment with toppings such as jalapeno chips, kimchi and even tongue pastrami. You don't even need a few beers under your belt to recognize that this is fine dining in burger form.
One of the most interesting food trends that emerged in Toronto was when street food got off the street. Mind you, this wasn't intentional: all the red tape surrounding food trucks and street food made it pretty hard to keep these comforting staples in their original home. Chow down on Hawker Bar's Prawn Ginger dumplings or slurp a coconut curry based soup. Many of the dishes are designed to be served tapas style and with a rowdy and hungry group of friends. This Singapore influenced restaurant even has the Singapore Sling, but calls it a Hawker Sling to justify the $11 price tag. Look for the sign that says "Prove That You Love Me and Buy The Next Round." You have arrived.