Sky Yard @ Drake Hotel
1150 Queen W, at Beaconsfield, 416-531-5042 ext 244.
If you thought it was difficult to get into downtown's hottest hotel on a Friday night, just try gaining admission to its private rooftop deck! Since it launched three summers ago, this hipster haunt has proven so popular, you expect a wristband policy to be in effect. The attraction? A breezy island-style hideout complete with overstuffed daybeds, a contemporary lineup of pan-global grub served at communal tables and Bob Marley in permanent rotation on the sound system. Lineup too long? Check out the less frenzied wraparound curbside patio off Beaconsfield, where nightly three-course prix fixe suppers go for $23 from 6 to 7:30 pm.
225 Richmond W, at Duncan, 416-979-3005.
Though it's only five flights up from the clamorous clubland scene below, this heated and tented French country deck couldn't be further away if it tried. Accessed from a back-alley freight elevator, the Fifth offers an oasis of civility to those who can afford to drop 120 bucks for chateaubriand and foie gras for two while swilling $20 glasses of champagne. Reservations, needless to say, are essential.
1702 Queen E, at Kingston, 416-690-5516.
With a view looking south over Ashbridges Bay Park and the sparkling lake beyond, this breezy fourth-floor retreat in a converted bank isn't your typical Irish pub. Yes, there are as many fiddles as in Conrad Black's expense account, but Murphy's grub - steak and kidney pie, corned beef hash, Sunday-only $15.99 prime rib dinners - is unexpectedly tasty, especially after the third pint of Guinness.
539 Bloor W, at Albany, 416-530-1331.
Once a branch of the CIBC, this converted three-storey bank is now one of the most popular pubs on the Bloor student strip. There's a roadside patio on the ground floor, but up a series of stairways to the roof is one of Toronto's best-kept secrets. Reminiscent of the old Bamboo, this Caribbean-themed deck has a panoramic skyline view as long as you're standing. Bonus: daily half-price food specials between 5 and 8 pm.
22 Cumberland, at Yonge, 416-923-5716.
Now that the venerable downtown institution (64 years and counting) has completed the long-term overhaul of its three floors, the Pilot's rooftop Flight Deck is one of the most impressive around. Fittingly, the Deck's been given a retro streamlined aeronautic look, all rivet-studded stainless steel and aluminum panels, that reflects the esteemed pub's heritage. Bonus: an automated awning makes patio partying possible year-round.
314 Queen W, at Peter, 416-263-0330.
As tasteful as a centrespread layout in a design mag, the swanky white-on-white rooftop deck at downtown's hottest A-list joint is the complete opposite of its former incarnation as the Bamboo's funky treetop lounge. Instead of roots reggae and Red Stripe, expect a South Beach-style spa complete with former YYZ chef Chris Zielinski's sharable seafood platters and Monday night's $20 whole lobster specials.
More rooftop patios
457 Church, at Maitland, 416-413-1219.
Toronto's only leather bar boasts an outdoor play area obscured by camouflage netting.
124 Danforth, at Broadview, 416-466-2000.
Café Brussels gets transformed into one of the season's hottest boîtes. Reservations essential.
487 Church, at Wellesley, 416-850-1209.
Once Blu, the upper deck of this overhauled cocktail lounge overlooks downtown's cruisiest street.
665 College, at Beatrice, 416-536-7575.
No one's here for the food. Instead, regulars drink, look good and case, from the patio on high, the throng (or thong) below.
99 Blue Jays Way, at Mercer, 416-348-0099.
Despite its fancy Broadway decor, this shrine to hockey's Great One is as Canadian as a Tim Hortons donut.
102 Peter, at Adelaide, 416-599-2224.
The top deck of Level, one of downtown's biggest dance clubs, this sophisticated Miami-style lounge comes complete with waterfall, low-slung sofas and glow-in-the-dark coffee tables. Bonus: $3 rail shots nightly till 11 pm and free hors d'oeuvres from the barbecue.