THE PODIUM (36 Dundas East, at Victoria, 416-775-3200) Open Tuesday to Saturday noon to 10 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
If it ever gets finished, Dundas Square just might become as electric a city centre as New York's Times Square or Tokyo's Shibuya. You'd never know it by day, when it seems as dusty and anonymous as any corner in the core, but come nightfall, the electronic advertising towers that soar over the square come alive like some futuristic dreamscape straight out of Blade Runner.
The best vantage point for taking in this nocturnal light show is an umbrella-topped table at the Podium , the fifth-floor rooftop patio at the recently opened Olympic Spirit. There's a panoramic view of the Square's dancing waters against an ever-morphing backdrop of Jumbotrons flashing pop culture images against a black, starless sky.
These seat's don't come cheap. Unlike the tourist attraction downstairs, admission is free, but the innocuous lineup of souped-up pub grub - a very average burger with OK fries, a club sandwich on ciabatta with the puzzling texture of Wonder Bread (both $10) and a 10-inch thin-crust pizza swabbed with Gorgonzola, spinach and oyster mushrooms that would be more than acceptable if it weren't 15 bucks - is the price you pay for the sci-fi scenery.
Deep downtown high over Clubland, the French country terrace at the Fifth (221 Richmond West, at Duncan, 416-979-3005) launches its al fresco lineup tonight (Thursday, May 19). Though it's surrounded by some of the noisiest venues in town, the Fifth's fifth-floor deck is an oasis of relative calm where the Bay Street bunch charge the likes of lamb chops marinated in herbes de Provence ($32) and tiger shrimp and calamari with guacamole and peppery Piquillo sauce ($27) to their expense accounts.
Late-night revellers with less expensive taste head to the third-floor crow's nest at 7 West (7 Charles West, at Yonge, 416-928-9041), which has an unobstructed view of the downtown skyline. It also has a veggie-friendly card of economical noshes: where else can you find a large saucer of spinach- and ricotta-stuffed pasta in creamy rosé paired with soft Italian bread (Rosie Ravioli, $12) at 4 in the morning?