1000 College, at Havelock, 416-539-8239.
While its front space is a noisy Portuguese barbecue take-away, its huge, grassy family-style backyard, complete with rows of picnic tables and a water feature, makes a great spot to pig out in the great outdoors. Besides suckling porkers every Wednesday, count on succulent grilled-over-steam chickens doused with house piri-piri, sided with roasted potato balls, gargantuan carnivorus platters of egg-topped steaks sided with smashed spud 'n' olive, grilled sardines and barbecue salt cod.
1296 Queen W, at Grove, 416-536-7717.
Behind its strorefront marquee of a sawn-in-half Caddy, Parkdale's self-described "home of roots, rock and country music" also houses the biggest backyard hideaway in Parkdale. Partially covered and now twice as large as when it first opened, this grungy grotto is a favourite with local music buffs, who knock back five bottles of Amsterdam Blonde or Kawartha Lakes rasppberry beer for 18 bucks while chowing down on 35-cent chicken wings Mondays.
Fat Cat Wine Bar
331 Roncesvalles, at Westminster, 416-535-4064.
Formerly the short-lived Idoru and now an offshoot of chef Mathew Sutherland's Eglinton eatery, this sleek supper club has one of the loveliest patios on the avenue. Hidden from prying eyes, its chic walled-in courtyard is the perfect spot to nibble abbreviated takes on surf 'n' turf while sipping low-mark-up consignment wines by the glass.
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen W, at Tecumseth, 416-366-4743.
Taking its name from the Rastafarian expression for, well, having a good time, this laid-back joint is always jumping. Especially on the JA-stylee supper club's balmy, breezy walled-in backyard patio festooned with potted plants. As DJs spin the latest imports, the crowd savours starters like beer-battered tiger shrimp sprinkled with shredded coconut and jerk pork chops sautéed in a red wine reduction, sided with grilled hoisin-kicked veggies and sweet corn mashed potatoes. Red Stripe, anyone?
1182 Queen E, at Rushbrooke, 416-463-5663.
Now that spring has sprung, this terrific Leslieville café just east of Jones (hence the handle) spills onto a fabulous backyard cloister. The only sound is the wind in the trees above and the appreciative murmurs of customizers as they bite into owner/chef George Wensley's - who's worked under Greg Couillard and Restaurant Makeover's David Adjey - assured card of summery salads and pasta specials. No surprise that locals like to keep this private veranda all to themselves.
206 Queen W, at Duncan, 416-598-4719.
With its overgrown trellis overhead and cobblestones underfoot, the Queen Mum's backyard terrace has been one of downtown's definitive outdoor dining spots for more than 20 years. While soft 80s rock plays at a comfortable level, kick back with an eclectic card that includes pad thai, wasabi guacamole and the notorious Cosmic Burger, a ground nut patty topped with flakes and sprouts slathered in Thousand Island dressing on a sesame-seed bun.
720 Queen W, at Claremont, 416-504-0320.
Now that the city's favourite nu-skool pizzeria has doubled in size since it annexed the storefront next door, its neoclassical backyard grotto has grown as well. One thing's been left unchanged: minimally appointed but beautifully rendered thin-crust pies topped with garden-fresh basil, spicy Calabrese sausage and grilled red peppers, plus summer Mediterranean-style salads and Italian cold cut panini. Now, that's Italian!
More patio hideaways
119 Yorkville, at Hazelton, 416-926-9037.
Though this intimate Yorkville boîte has attracted the likes of Justin Trudeau, Ben Mulroney and Sean "Puffy" Combs, its shady backyard deck just off Old York Lane is one of the least pretentious spots in the nabe.
240 King E, at Princess, 416-368-1300.
Surrounded by very tall walls, Betty's sequestered patio is the local of choice for students from nearby George Brown and members of the tabloid press.
296 Brunswick, at Bloor, 416-929-3253.
First-timers have a hard time finding this obscure inner courtyard complete with working water fountain hidden down the alleyway behind the Poor Alex theatre.
Not My Dog
1510 Queen W, at Fuller, 416-532-2397.
Boho Parkdale watering hole with a heated, semi-covered backyard grotto where selected cocktails go for $4.50 Wednesdays.
The only cafe
972 Danforth, at Donlands, 416-463-7843.
New backyard patio gets sun all day long.
538 Queen W, at Bathurst, 416-203-6623.
Rock-and-roll-themed resto rocks Fridays and Saturdays till 4 am.
Silver Dollar Room
486 Spadina, at College, 416-975-0909.
This retro boozer is the ideal place to weep into your dirt-cheap beer.
636 College, at Grace, 416-537-1883.
A true College original since 1992, its candlelit, enclosed rear patio's a cross between some futuristic sci-fi flick and the set of West Side Story, complete with fire escapes to the sky.
Vicky's Fish & Chips/Sue's Thai Food
414 Roncesvalles, at Howard Park, 416-531-8822.
No other resto in town has such a disparate card at war with itself - so-so fish 'n' chips versus terrific Southeast Asian eats.