Patio Perfect

When my husband Peter and I moved from the country to the city a couple of years ago, one of our reasons for moving was so that we would have more to do. We didn’t know then that we would be doing it during a pandemic.

These times are testing our ability to be creative, to find new and interesting things to keep us active and engaged. That challenge is definitely easier in the good weather. Think how wonderful the last few days have been. With the sun shining and the breezes warming our faces, those long walks and patio lunches filled our souls with joy. But can we keep doing that during the colder months? I think we can!

The busy main street in our neighbourhood has been growing outdoor patios for the last couple of months. They are sprouting up all over the road, separated from noisy cars whizzing past by only a small fence and a concrete abutment; not really conducive to conversation or fine dining. But there are some ingenious restauranteurs who have branched out. One pub owner created a patio out of a back-door parking lot by building an arbor and covering it with fake vines . Another high-end restaurant owner climbed up his stairs to the roof and voila – a “high”-end patio! These places need only add some outdoor heaters and their season can extend through November at least.

On two of our recent walks, Peter and I came across a couple of other patio gems. One day we drove to a parking area near Ontario Place, and walked around the grounds. We spent a couple of hours reminiscing about the good old days when Ontario Place was open and we visited with our young families, taking in concerts, movies in the Cinesphere, and the beach on Lake Ontario. These days the buildings are closed but the grounds are open, and some washrooms too.

After wandering around, we headed north through the deserted CNE grounds and up towards a street that would take us back to our car. There, unexpectedly, we came across a patio. It was in a large sunken courtyard with tables well-distanced, and there were heaters near each table. The aroma was enticing and suddenly we were starving. Well not Third World starving, just hungry. We spent a very enjoyable hour eating a late brunch and staying warm at the Big Rock Brewery.

On another adventure we set out to explore Corktown. This is an area in the south-east end of the city which was the original landing place of settlers from County Cork, Ireland, or so the story goes. This part of the city seems to be the original Toronto settlement: the very first parliament buildings of Upper Canada were situated here until they burned down, one after another, three times. Part of the land is on the Don River floodplain, so building there is forbidden. Instead, a wonderful new park was created in 2013. Walking trails, fountains, a children’s playground, all fit into the gently rolling hills of Corktown Commons.

There were a number of industries here too, built during the 1800’s, mostly related to the distillery business. And so we now have – The Distillery District. And guess what? Lots of patios! Peter and I wandered along the streets, inspecting them and trying to decide where to sit. We settled on El Catrin, a Mexican place. The food was excellent, and the heating was extensive. A huge fire pit in the centre of the patio radiated heat out to the nearby diners. Above each table a dual-purpose chandelier sent heat downwards. And as back-up there were several electric heaters on stand-by. We were toasty warm as we ate our tacos.

These visits have given us hope. if we could find two patio treasures like these without really trying, there must be more. Are there enough to get us through to Spring? We’ll find out!


Chandelier heater at El Catrin


2 thoughts on “Patio Perfect

  1. We have a wonderful city to explore this winter. You have given me incentives to discovery all the gems that Toronto has to offer.


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