Dating in Toronto is a challenge. And it can be even more challenging trying to figure out where to meet that Tinder or Bumble dating app match on your first date.
Not only do you need to be on just the right app, swipe on just the right person, and engage in a natural, non-creepy, back-and-forth banter, but you also need to catch a crush who is willing to meet with you IRL to make something of it.
And it doesn’t stop there. Because if you want to set just the right tone, and make just the right in real life first impression, you need to suggest just the perfect place to go in the hopes that the venue of choice will tick off all the boxes.
And, oh, there are many boxes that need to be ticked. So before we present you with the seven best places in Toronto to meet your dating app match, let’s review some of those boxes …
These questions can present in your inner-monologue. They may include, but aren’t limited to:
- How much money do I have?
- How much do I want to spend? And if I don’t want to spend anything, how much can I afford if my date only covers their half of the bill?
- What’s within my price range? And what if my date stiffs me with our entire bill? (This has happened to me twice. I shit you not.) Where can I go to ensure I stay within my means?
- What’s within walking distance, in case this date is an epic fail and I want to roll back home, into my PJs to cuddle up with a burrito? Better yet, what’s outside my area so I don’t run into anyone I know?
- What spot has the type of lighting that hide the streaks of make-up I put on my nervous splotchy rash on my neck/mini-hormonal breakout that will make them feel more comfortable because we all feel more comfortable in the dark?
- Where can I woo someone I’m really into, until they want to delete their app and be with me forever and ever?
- Which spots take resos in advance? Where will there be a line?
- What’s a good spot for someone who prefers mocktails?
- Where can you make a quick exit?
The list is endless, but instead of going on, let’s get to your plentiful meet-up options in Toronto.
And if you haven’t found an app-match just yet, keep swiping, connecting, and taking the time to meet IRL. Because it can be worth it.
In fact, according to Bumble Canada, 41.2 per cent of its users are on the app daily. And 20 per cent went on a first date in the past 30 days. Plus, a whopping 68 per cent of men who use the app say they’re looking for a girlfriend or wife.
Knowing these stats, it’s clear people are willing to take the time to connect over coffee, drinks and or a whole meal of food.
With all that in mind, I’ve put together a hit list of some hot new places, some to-be-opened spots, and some tried, tested and true haunts across the city, for you to meet up with someone IRL that you ‘re pursuing on a dating app.
All these spots will help you make your first meet more tolerable, and more of a win-win situation for you both …
Here Are The Top 7 Toronto Places To Meet Your Dating App Match IRL
This just-opened spot at College and Bathurst is perfect for those who have taken one too many dates to Bar Raval, but want a similar feel and level of excellence.
Everything from the design (which was done in collaboration with PARTISANS) to the Mexican food (using local Canadian produce, meats and seafood, cooked over a wood-fire,) creates a dining experience the redefines Mexican cuisine in Canada. Plus it makes for an impressive and delicious spot.
There are low- and no-alcohol cocktails, as well as terrific options for meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike. But most of all, they offer shareable dishes, which helps a lot. You can easily tuck yourself away in a back corner, or sit at the bar, or enjoy the front window to distract you when the conversation lulls.
Bonus: A 10-seat chef’s table directly in front of the open flames allows guests to partake in the spectacle of cooking with fire.
This elevated Italian restaurant in Little Italy is set to open end of August. They’ll offer both traditional and unexpected Italian dishes without skimping on portion sizes.
Head chef Dino Cordileone — who hails from Montreal and has cooked for Bono and Alexander Ovechkin — has reimagined Italian cuisine with an authentic twist. The modern yet approachable interior will showcase contemporary art installations.
If you want to bring your date somewhere you know they’ve never been before, this is the spot.
Bonus points if you order the gnocchi poutine.
The beautiful space with a chic botanical vibe is the latest from Ruth Tal who started Fresh Restaurants as a pop-up juice bar about 20 years ago. Her newest spot is in the St. Lawrence Market District and is her take on an elevated plant-based dining experience.
You can grab a juice or a bite to-go then walk through the historic area with your date. Or you can sit down at the bar or at one of their banquets and indulge in craft cocktails, organic wines, and impressive new menu items that would even impress meat-eaters! (The nachos are a must.)
Bonus points if you suggest this spot to someone who has told you they’re vegan or vegetarian.
There’s a small sign in the window with its name, but blink and you might miss it. It’s cash-only, and fills fast after 8 p.m. or so, so plan accordingly.
The drinks are cheap and they offer just the basics like bar rail, beer, bottles, and house wine. The music is always changing, and it feels like a hidden gem. It’s a cozy, no-frills spot that seems to always impress those who have never been. Because it’s so small, and the lights are always oh-so-dim, it’s intimate, which is great when trying to get to know someone.
Bonus points if you go on Monday night for Vinyl Night and bring a record of one of your dates fav bands. (Before you set out, be sure to ask your crush what their fave album of all time is or what band they’ve been feeling lately. Then surprise ‘em with it.)
Every food editor in Canada’s fav spot is now opening a sister location in Yorkville. Everything about it is all very hush-hush, but it is currently slated to open in September and will offer the similar signature vibe as aloette.
Who says a first date has to be had over something to sip or food to split?
Going to a central spot to get your sweat on with a date is a great way to release endorphins — and to see if there’s any chemistry before committing to conversation and an extended and awkward date (read: interview).
Plus if you meet and immediately know they’re not for you (which happens more often than not), then you hit two birds with one stone.
Barry’s is the original cardio and strength high-intensity interval workout. The signature red lights (very flattering!), killer music and energy in the room harmonize for what is described as “the best workout in the world.”
After a class, a date could head to The Fuel Bar downstairs. The Fuel Bar is stocked with post-workout shakes and elixirs, including vegan and gluten-free options. Each shake is made with clean ingredients, high-quality protein, and have an optimal carb-protein ratio for muscle recovery.
Bonus points if your date mentions they’re a fitness junkie in their profile or during your chats.
Dust off your cowboy hat and pack your appetite because Beer, Bourbon And BBQ is back on August 24, 25 and 26!
More than 17,000 attendees will close out the summer with three days of Toronto’s best BBQ, bourbon cocktails and ice cold craft beers paired with live country music, free line-dancing classes, axe-throwing and of course, mechanical bull rides. This hoedown goes down at Ontario Place.
Bonus points if your date loves experiencing different foods, because offerings include sizzling Southern dishes like pulled pork poutine, baby back ribs, fried chicken and smoked meats prepared by the city’s best grill-masters.