As the crowds pass by, what better way to experience this weekend's Dyke March and Pride parade than from a front-row seat on a patio along the route, celebrating the sunshine and working on a tall cool one - and maybe a drink if you're thirsty? Here's a quick rundown of outdoor watering holes along the queer cavalcade.
The raised, tree-shaded deck just off Yonge at Local 4 (see Parade route restos, page 60) is such prime Pride real estate, people are probably camping out front to snag one of its 20-odd seats as we speak. Swanky lounge Wish (3 Charles East, at Yonge, 416-935-0240) goes all South Beach under its tented curbside terrace and promises a pre-parade brunch and fancy frozen blender concoctions.
A few blocks south, Brownstone Bistro (603 Yonge, at Gloucester, 416-920-6288) gets in a rainbow-hued mood with Jell-o shooters spiked with vodka, and Rainbow Vegetarian Wraps.
Featured in Queer As Folk, Fire on the East Side (6 Gloucester, at Yonge, 416-960-3473) serves up brunch on Saturday and Sunday, while it's business as usual at Bar Volo (587 Yonge, at Gloucester, 416-928-0008), where a slew of microbrews are on tap.
But our pick for best Pride barstools are the six seats in the front window of Hoops (458 Yonge, at College, 416-929-3324). As the parades come into the homo stretch, embrace diversity by witnessing how the other half live in their natural habitat - a sports bar.
Zelda's (542 Church, at Maitland, 416-922-2526) has been the epicentre of the Church Street scene since it launched back in 97. A crazy clash of cocktails, cross-dressing and disco kitsch, its busy patio goes ballistic Pride weekend with 3-ounce martinis ($6.25). The $12.95 no-reserve brunch starts early on Sunday at 9:30 am, while Ms. Angelfire's annual Hangover Brunch gets under way at 11 am on Monday. The cozy second-storey deck at Lub (487 Church, at Wellesley, 416-323-1489) is a great spot to take in all of the chaos below. Formerly Wilde Oscar's, the huge two-tiered patio at O'Grady's (518 Church, at Maitland, 416-323-2822) fires up the barbecue for a burger 'n' chicken spread that continues until 4 am Friday to Sunday.
And if you're still up for it, the Village Rainbow (477 Church, at Maitland, 416-961-0616) offers a streamlined nouveau-Danforth lineup both days from 7 am. Ask for table 26 - the Village's peak people-watching perch.
The leather crowd will be hanging out all weekend on the secluded rooftop at the Black Eagle (457 Church, at Maitland, 416-413-1219), while the more fashionably inclined will be attending Sunday's reservation-only brunch at chi-chi Byzantium (499 Church, at Wellesley, 416-922-3859).
For those whose Pride outfit is a twisted homage to Scarlett O'Hara or Rhett Butler, the antebellum terrace at Le Petit Liban (580 Church, at Dundonald, 416-963-2222) is the perfect stage to recreate scenes from Gone With The Wind over Mediterranean brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am.
Last Call 4 am
From Thursday to Sunday (June 23 to 26), the following watering holes serve alcohol till 4 am.
BAR 501 (501 Church, at Wellesley, 416-944-3272)
BYZANTIUM (499 Church, at Wellesley, 416-922-3859)
THE COURTHOUSE (57 Adelaide East, at Church, 416-214-9379)
CREWS (508 Church, at Maitland, 416-972-1662)
GEORGE'S PLAY (504 Church, at Alexander, 416-963-8251)
LUB (487 Church, at Wellesley, 416-323-1489)
PEGASUS (491 Church, at Wellesley, 416-927-8832)
STATLER'S (471 Church, at Maitland, 416-925-0341)
TALLULAH'S CABARET (12 Alexander, at Yonge, 416-975-8555)
WISH (3 Charles East, at Yonge, 416-935-0240)
(467 Church, at Maitland, 416-972-0887)
(542 Church, at Maitland, 416-922-2526)
ZIPPERZ (72 Carlton, at Church, 416-921-0066)