Chef Alec Martin preps the crispy sea bream at luscious late-night spot Hawker Bar.
1. 416 Snack Bar
181 Bathurst, at Queen W, 416-364-9320, 416snackbar.wordpress.com. Does it get any better than this? A laid-back bar with zero pretensions, a wine lineup as carefully curated as its iTunes playlist, and a late-night carte of shareable tapas best described as nouvelle junque that refuses to break the bank. Go for the deconstructed Reuben sandwiches and $9 charcuterie and $11 cured fish boards; stay for the candlelight.
Nightly 5 pm to 2 am. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor.
2. Hawker Bar
164 Ossington, at Foxley, 647-343-4698, hawkerbar.ca. You can argue till you're blue in the face whether the Singaporean street food served at this hip west-side lounge is authentic enough (what is these days?), but there's no denying it's damned tasty. We'll take Aussie chef Alec Martin's spectacularly plated whole sea bream in a sweet chili reduction and explosive Son-in-Law Eggs over a styrofoam container from some food court any day of the week. Woohoo! The liquor licence just kicked in!
Tuesday to Friday 11:45 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday 11:45 am to 2 am, Monday 9 pm to 2 am. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, washrooms in basement.
3. Lahore Tikka House
1365 Gerrard E, at Highfield, 416-406-1668, lahoretikkahouse.com. Though this long-running 400-seat (!) patio in Little India doesn't sell booze, it generates a substantial buzz. Regulars know to stick to the kitchen's incendiary tandoor-fired kababs and whole Pakistani-style fish washed down with made-to-order sugar cane juice and soothing scoops of kulfi ice cream. Counter service, general chaos.
Sunday to Thursday noon to 1 am, Friday and Saturday noon to 2 am. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.
4. Don Don Izakaya
130 Dundas W, at Bay, 416-492-5292, dondonizakaya.com. Less forcibly frantic then Guu and with no silly two-hour limit on tables, this student-friendly watering hole specializes in Japanese bar snacks - salty deep-fried shrimp, barely seared BC tuna smoked over hay - that go down a treat with endless buckets of beer. No surprise when you learn that ex-Kaiseki Sakura chef Daisuke Izutsu is at the controls.
Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to midnight, Friday 11:30 am to 1 am, Saturday 12:30 pm to 1 am, Sunday and holidays 12:30 pm to midnight. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms on same floor.
5. Grand Electric
1330 Queen W, at Elm Grove, 416-627-3459, grandelectricbar.com. Now that this nuevo taco shack has more than doubled in size with the addition of a 40-seat backyard patio, scoring a no-reserve table should be twice as easy, right? Wrong! You still have to show up half an hour before they open to secure a more-precious-than-ever two-top. Eat slowly, drink copiously.
Nightly from 6 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.