Step into the darkside, as you enter some of Toronto’s best hidden speakeasies. Since the Prohibition era, speakeasies have served the public as the hip, alternative choice to enjoy spirits and secrets. Typically hidden and entered through backdoors, these social establishments are sure to give you a glimpse into another time period. If it’s taken you some time to locate, and you’re not quite sure if you’ve entered the right place, chances are you’re at the right place.
Prepare to reveal your darkest confessions as you enter the dimly-lit Vatican Gift Shop, tucked behind a religious merchandise and accessories store. The deceptively spacious establishment is housed under an imitation Sistine Chapel, serving a selection of European beers, along with Neapolitan pizzas. The quaint Leslieville beer-hall hosts live music, and even an open confessional window, just in case you were hoping to right some wrongs during your night out.
How To Get In: Behind the little gift shop, push past a romanesque door in the corner Where: 1047 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, Ontario
Embedded within a funky neighborhood with many mysterious doors and alleyways, Cold Tea finds itself right at home. Its name originates from local city jargon, which is code for beer that is typically served in teapots. Surround yourself with rotating art installations and enjoy some Asian South American fusion cuisine known as ‘Juanmoto’. From dumpling stands to ceviche, and intriguing drink choices alike, Cold Tea is a sensory experience to tuck yourself right into…And that’s the tea! 🍵
How To Get In: Inside of Kensington Mall, you’ll find a doorway with a red light above it Where: 60 Kensington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario
At one point or another, we’ve all wished we could step into a time portal, and head right back to childhood. With just a push of a shiny Captain America button, Figures brings that dream into a reality. From iconic action figures to original Archie comics, your childhood favorites will surround you, as you sip on Stormtrooper themed drinks (complete with dry ice) and nibble on shareable tapas. Enjoy a blast from the past, as Figures brings your imagination to life.
How To Get In: Step into a vintage toy and comic book shop and press on the Captain America shield button to activate a secret door Where: 137 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario
Situated in one of Toronto’s most bustling streets, and nestled behind a tiny bodega, Mahjong Bar is one you may just walk right past. Upon arrival, you will notice the neon glow, and enter a red room with checkerboard tiles and traditional floral murals that dress the walls. Share some fun snack plates, and enjoy the Break-Even Bottle deal, which allows you to try out top-shelf bottles at cost – and will surely lead you to the dancefloor shortly after.
How To Get In: Enter through the convenience store with a neon pink interior to the key-hole shaped entrance. Where: 1276 Dundas St. West, Toronto, Ontario
Calling all muggles and wizards! Inspired by the global phenomenon Harry Potter series, The Lockhart invites you to their thematic establishment where magic is always in the air. Try the novel-inspired Butterbeer and house-made ‘potions and elixirs’ crafted by their mixology enthusiasts. Be sure to snack on the renowned chocolate frogs for a ribbit-ing taste of the wizarding world.
How To Get In: Between a florist and Hakim Optical, The Lockhart awaits you. Where: 1479 Dundas St. West, Toronto, Ontario
Reveal some of Toronto’s best crafted cocktails that await you behind a velvet curtain. From the prohibition-esque ‘The Illusionist’ to the ‘Icelandic Tart’, Cloak Bar is home to fascinating and sophisticated drink choices, paired with a food menu that features late night staples, available until 2 am. Offering upscale decor with a hip atmosphere, lounge back and prepare to be dazzled.
How To Get In: Behind a velvet curtain, between Marben’s kitchen and bar, via a stairwell Where: 488 Wellington St. West, Toronto, Ontario
Say the magic words, and enter a dim chamber where the illuminated ‘Pablo Loves You’ sign greets you upon arrival. Experience the tastes of the south with an ever-changing menu of eats and cocktails. You never know what you’re going to try when you walk into Escobar, offering you an element of surprise on each and every visit. Don’t be intimidated by the bar’s name, however, as this is surely an inviting place for all.
How To Get In: Obtain the secret password that changes daily by approaching a staff member, or asking for the ‘magic words’. Located on top of the Baro restaurant. Where: 485 King St. West, Toronto, Ontario
We all know that feeling of excitement we got as kids when walking into a corner store. Nostalgia awaits you at Convenience, serving as a retro corner store with Popeye sticks and Milk Duds, and doubles into a bar with throwback soundtracks and retro nibbles. Whether you’d like to fire up some Pac Man for 25 cents, snap a photo with the iconic ‘Game Over’ backdrop, or just enjoy a pack of Skittles, this nostalgic restobar is sure to redefine ‘convenience’ for you.
How To Get In: Enter through the retro corner store, and make your way to the back bar Where: 1184 Queen St. West, Toronto, Ontario
Get your palm ready, as you descend right into your very own fortune. A palm reader awaits you at the bottom of the stairs behind a curtain, offering palm, tarot, and numerology readings. The bar itself is themed with sculptures and mythological art, and features an antique wheel of fortune that guests are welcome to spin. Potent drinks are The Libertines’ specialty, with the lovely ‘Beaudelaire’ being its recommended feature.
How To Get In: Look out for the neon ‘Tarot Cards Palm Reading’ at the entrance, and make your way down the stairs. Where: 1307 Dundas St. West, Toronto, Ontario
Indulge in a taste of the Caribbean, under a string-light ceiling with Ossington’s very own street art surrounding you. Merging an authentic Toronto feel with authentic Caribbean cuisine and drinks, this speakeasy is one that is genuinely true to tradition. From jerk chicken sandwiches to drinks named ‘Nephew’s Side-Ting’, Roywoods is home to staples of the culture, with a combination of the Caribbean’s finest ingredients and products.
How To Get In: Find this secretive bar located at the very back of a Caribbean restaurant Where: 198 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario