NEXT’s Toronto Winter Food Guide 2023

Toronto’s top cosy spots for cuffin’ season

Sometime during the last 10 years, the zeitgeist decided that the second the temperature dropped, and day turned to night around 5 pm was also the official marker of cuffing season. Every year, this fall phenomenon moves couples to ditch their park parties and tuck into cosy hideaways where they can spend some time, one on one.

Daters have many things to consider when scoping out where to share a romantic tête-à-tête. Neighbourhoods across Toronto boast inviting, dimly lit spaces, perfect for you and your boo to catch up and canoodle. Lighting and music are both obvious contributors to romance, while food and drink are the pearls of what date night is all about. Whether you’re courting someone or already cuffed, Toronto is full of hidden gems to cuddle up in.

Lake Inez

Lake Inez

1471 Gerrard St. E.

Find this candle-lit restaurant on Gerrard Street East. The relaxed space is full of dark corners for you and your sweetie to snuggle up in over a bottle of orange wine. Lake Inez is a great spot to bring someone new, as the menu and wine list are full of whimsical descriptions and drawings that will have you leaning in close under the candlelight. Beautiful small plates on mixed and matched China are as endearing as they are delicious. Looking for something a little adventurous? Try the secret patio dinner series. Cosy up under a blanket on the upstairs terrace and be led through a mystical and magnificent dining experience.

Goods & Provisions

1124 Queen St. E.

Head to Leslieville for an “Old Fascist” and a dozen oysters at the lively neighbourhood bar Goods & Provisions. Covered in prohibition-era decor and strewn with tea lights, this charming spot is an ideal place to get lost in conversation over a snack and a drink. Coming here without an appetite is a missed opportunity. Find the menus painted on mirrors throughout the space and listed with dishes reminiscent of bar food you love, made with grade-A ingredients and supremely high-level culinary skills. Get lost in good music, great food and even better company.

The Comrade

758 Queen St. E.

If you’re looking for a nightcap, head east and make your way over The Comrade. This commie-inspired bar harkens back to a time when debauchery was a little more acceptable and intellectual conversations were hosted in far less intellectual spaces. A last-minute venture into this lively saloon is the perfect way to spend your night. Order a cocktail or a glass of vino as the conversation flows under the dim red lights and taxidermy-lined walls of this iconic East End bar.

Bar Isabel

797 College St.

Find yourself ensconced in the red hues of this old-world tavern. Recently inducted into the Michelin Guide, a reservation at this romantic tapas bar may win you partner of the year. Grant van Gameren’s rustic yet focused dishes spark emotions that will leave you and your date in a culinary trance. Jazzy tunes move through the space and add to the timeless appeal of this Spanish-inspired space. Share a slice of the Basque cheesecake for dessert before heading back out into the cold.


537 College St.

New to the neighbourhood, this intimate Italian restaurant is the perfect place to settle into on date night. Pasta, like Lady and the Tramp clearly showed us, is the ultimate dish for stirring up some romance between you and your date. Not to say you’re going to meet in the middle of a piece of spaghetti for a mid-dinner kiss, but this intimate corner hideaway is the place for it. Taste through the carefully crafted cocktail menu and swoon over the modern Italian fare.

Bar Pompette

Bar Pompette

607 College St.

Find Bar Pompette tucked away from the hustle and bustle of College Street. Vintage wood fittings and whitewashed brick add to the Parisian vibe of this quaint cocktail bar. Taking your honey out on a Sunday? This French-inspired café fills with the sounds of local jazz musicians making this cosy room even more enchanting.



96 Ossington Ave.

Warm up by the wood-fired oven and get seduced by the magnificent plates of Middle Eastern food at Ahzar. The aromas in here alone are enough to have you in a frenzy. Charring vegetables and fresh bread, fragrant spices and the faint smell of Turkish coffee looms overhead while you sit back at one of the candlelit tables. As most of the menu is cooked in a wood-fired oven, the cosy atmosphere is a perfect place to warm up on a cold autumn night.


909 Dundas St. W.

This intimate wine bar is a great stop to escape the crowd of Ossington Avenue. Shortly after opening, this bar became a haven for natural-wine lovers. Sporting a casual atmosphere where wine knowledge is celebrated but not expected, this is a great place to bring your date if they enjoy wine and want to snuggle up and discuss tasting notes. Try a blind flight or enjoy a glass and some charcuterie before heading off on your next adventure.

Communists Daughter

1149 Dundas St. W.

This snack bar just north of the strip is hidden away from the riff-raff and made for couples looking for a classic drink and a laidback vibe. This tiny one-room hallway makes for a shoulder-to-shoulder atmosphere but in a way that leaves you feeling comfortable, not claustrophobic. Great music, romance and casual drinks collide and bring you both into a state of inebriated bliss before making the venture homeward.


971 Ossington Ave.

Tucked away on the corner of Hallam and Ossington is Actinolite. With a prix fixe menu that is nothing short of extraordinary, this ode to local ingredients and artful curation of food is made for special occasions. If you’re celebrating or want a reason to, make a reservation here to taste through this incredible string of Canadian culinary masterpieces. Seriously, this is one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets and is sure to impress.

Loop Line Wine & Food

643 Dupont St.

Treat your date to a bottle and a bite at Loop Line. This Annex wine bar has all the makings of a romantic cosy hideaway. Dim lighting and smooth contemporary music, all enclosed by bottles and bottles of wine. Choose from the extensive list of producer-focused, classical wines with the help of the wickedly knowledgeable team. Make sure to ask about the Last Drop, as this wine bar is known for opening some spectacular wines when the time is right.

Le Tigre

1060 Yonge St., 2nd Floor

Rosedale’s all-pink martini bar is hidden atop a nesting place for Steinway pianos. Head up the stairs through a dark yet decorative hallway and tuck into a table for two made for quiet conversation. The cocktails at this location lean a little more classical than the ones at the Dundas St. counterpart, but there are a handful of house recipes that set this location apart from other bars in the neighbourhood.

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