Spice Route 499 King W, at Brant, 416-849-1808.
The second joint effort from club impresarios Nick DiDonato's Liberty Group (C Lounge, the Rosewater) and Charles Khabouth's Ink (Ultra, This Is London) is their most over-the-top yet. Once a Toyota dealership, this cavernous space has been transformed into what's best described as Ali Baba Goes To Vegas. Think lots of velour and a waterfall. Outside, a 150-seat curbside deck complete with a tiki-tastic koi pond is already attracting A-listers like Paulie Shore and Sting's yogi for ex-Monsoon chef Winlai Wong's East-meets-West tapas – Kobe carpaccio, calamari and rock shrimp tempura – and Asian pear-infused sake-tinis.
Cabana @ Polson Pier 11 Polson, at Cherry, 416-649-7437.
Part of the Polson Pier entertainment complex – aka the Docks/Sound Academy – this 150-seat lakeside getaway on the Eastern Channel offers a consummately Toronto panorama of the downtown skyline and the islands. Sundays from noon to 5 pm, they fire up the poolside barbecue for burgers and corn on the cob. And what other facility also features miniature golf, beach volleyball and a drive-in movie theatre?
Best classic haunt
Black Bull 298 Queen W, at Soho, 416-593-2766.
Since its sunny west-facing patio first opened back in the 70s with a couple of picnic tables, the unbeatable Bull has grown into one of downtown's most popular outdoor destinations, so much so that on a balmy Saturday night you can wait in line for more than half an hour for one of its highly prized 164 seats. A recent reno has added art nouveau lighting, retractable awnings and fancy red umbrellas.
Tati Bistro 124 Harbord, at Major, 416-962-8284.
Launched this spring in the former Kensington Kitchen space, it's become the hottest thing to hit the Annex since the Birkenstock boutique opened on Dupont. No longer home to falafel platters, the kitchen under ex-Teatro chef Laurent Brion keeps it traditionally French – bavette frites, duck confit – while its famed and notoriously wobbly backyard deck has been completely rebuilt. Not too worry, the spreading chesnut still stands.
Best Romantic Grotto
Olivia's @ 53 53 Clinton, at College, 416-533-3989.
With her new name, owners and menu, this once-quirky cantina has morphed into the only resto in town with its own microwinery. There's a streetside terrace out front just up from the Dip, but it's the secluded backyard garden that warrants serious oenophile attention. There, in early June, owners Alejandra de Miguel and Julian Pinder host a stomping of the grapes accompanied by live tango music.
Best Fine Dining
George 111 Queen E, at Mutual, 416-863-6006.
Toronto's most acclaimed resto, this luxe supper club in a converted 19th-century warehouse-cum-spa features a breathtaking grotto in the complex's four-storey atrium. Against a backdrop of shade trees glowing with fairy lights and a water wall, foodies nosh on chef Lorenzo Loseto's just-introduced $55 dollar four-course lunch tasting menu with pairings of local private-order wines by the glass. Come July, expect the likes of the former Susur sous's signature olive-oil-poached cherry tomato salad served with pan roasted pickerel, and Ontario-raised Wagyu beef tataki with fava tartare and soya shallot. Bonus: vegetable gardens fed from a rooftop water reserve!
Best Lakeside spot
Rectory 102 Lakeshore, Ward's Island, 416-203-2152.
Nestled in a grove of tall pines, this idyllic Ward's Island café just off the south-shore boardwalk will be open seven days a week for the summer starting in mid-June. While its front-yard beer garden makes the perfect pit stop for those who want to grab a quick pint while blading, the main attraction's the former community centre and ministry's patio on its south lawn, where day trippers nosh on the likes of braised rabbit stew with spring vegetables and blue-cheese-topped lamb burgers sided with herbed frites.
Sidecar 577 College, at Clinton, 416-536-7000.
Taking its name from the retro cocktail, this low-key College cantina has been the surprise hit of the spring. Mark McEwan vet Bill Sweete has turned one of the strip's emptiest boîtes – Versace's Driveway, anyone ? – into a dining destination. Of course, it helps that Sunday through Wednesday Sweete's three-course prix fixe – Caesar salad followed by roast chicken with spaghetti squash, grilled Atlantic salmon with Swiss chard, or steak frites, and dessert – will set you back all of $22.