143 Danforth, at Broadview, 416-463-3086.
The Danforth may be home to more Greek tavernas than you can shake souvlaki on a stick at, but this long-running New York-style saloon is cetainly one of the nabe's faves. While its indoor dining room can be quite chaotic, those in the know prize Allen's private patio out back. Shaded by a weeping willow named best tree in NOW's Readers Poll several year's running, waiters in white aprons dish up creditable burgers from the barbecue and regulars guzzle a large cross-section of microbrews, an all QVA Canadian wine list (many available by the glass) and over 200 single-malt scotches.
298 Queen W, at Soho, 416-593-2766.
The hip strip's busiest patio is a zoo from noon till late at night. Partially covered and with 200-plus seats right on the curb, it's the perfect perch for watching the non-stop parade of alterna-types marching past. Warning: the badass dude in head-to-toe leather who just pulled up on a Harley may look like an outlaw biker, but he's more likely a suburban dentist undergoing a mid-life crisis.
161 Harbord, at Borden, 416-961-7676.
Perennially popular south Annex spot on Harbord's restaurant row, this candlelit, shady Peruvian patio makes an amorous backdrop for lovers looking to dine al fresco on grilled seafood fired with searing hot sauce that sets both taste buds and passions on fire. The less romantically inclined will appreciate the Boulevard's extensive kids' menu, while the frugal will want to check out owner/chef Lirio Peck's daily specials.
594 College, at Clinton, 416-534-4637.
Celebrating its 39th anniversary this summer, this old-school Italian trat features an old-school menu - straightforward tomato-sauced pizzas, steamed mussels, leafy insalata - at rock-bottom prices. True, few come strictly for the food. But with its location at Little Italy's busiest intersection, the Dip makes a great spot to soak up the sun by day and observe the College Street scene in all its glory by night.
12 Kensington, at Dundas W, 416-599-2551.
Despite the name change about 20 years ago, not much has been altered since this JA-inspired joint in Kensington Market was known as the legendary Tiger's. It's still a mecca for cheap Asian Caribbean grub and budget-minded booze on a tree-lined terrace in the heart of Toronto's vintage fashion district.
432 Wellington W, at Spadina, 416-596-6405.
Once one of Queen West's most venerable restos, this recently relocated Parisian postcard-perfect bistro just off the chic King West strip offers a solid Franco card in a classic brasserie setting. Yes, prices are somehat higher than previously - what else is new? - but a three-course 6-ounce steak frites dinner with soup du jour and crème brûlée still goes for only $19.95 on the tree-lined garden terrace. Bonus: touristy CN Tower view!
Prego Della Piazza
150 Bloor W, at Avenue Rd, 416-920-9900.
Tucked away behind the Church of the Redeemer, this pricey Yorkville boîte is an oasis of sophistication just off Toronto's Mink Mile. If $48 for a Provimi veal chop doesn't faze you, sink into one of the 100-seat terrace's heavily upholstered chaises and eavesdrop on the Hollywood A-listers who mob the place during the Film Festival.
Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe
712 College, at Montrose, 416-531-7716.
The Sicilian is an old-fashioned ice-cream parlour purveying Italian ices including stracciatella, spumoni and tiramisú gelati. After dinner at one of Little Italy's far snootier eateries, stop in for dessert on one of two patios watched over by a large bronze statue of an eagle. Trivia: founded in 1959, the SSC was one of Toronto's very first patios.
More classic patios
693 Bloor W, at Clinton, 416-535-9541.
This log-lined multi-storey tavern features comedy Sundays and Mondays, live bands most nights and karaoke upstairs nightly.
99 Yorkville, at Bellair, 416-920-2108.
Schnitzel, anyone? Established in 1963 and Toronto's very first patio, this tucked-away Yorkville gem specializes in rib-sticking Hungarian grub.
483 Bloor W, at Brunswick, 416-922-5875.
A fixture for years on the Annex's main drag, this budget-minded patio is home away from home for cash-strapped students from nearby U of T.
124 Harbord, at Spadina, 416-961-3404.
Moderately priced Mediterranean mezes served on a private rooftop under a spreading chestnut and evening stars.
14 Madison, at Bloor, 416-927-1722.
Taking up two three-storey Victorian houses in the south Annex, the Madison is a maze of red velvet rooms leading to four separate covered and heated decks that face into the evening sunset.
4 Avenue Rd, at Bloor W, 416-924-5471.
Once home to Toronto's literary set circa 1965, the rooftop deck of the former Park Plaza may be considerably smaller these days, but it still offers a fantastic overhead view of the ROM.
667 King W, at Bathurst, 416-504-9912.
Opened in 1849, the Sheaf is not only Hogtown's oldest bar, but one of its longest-running patios, too.