Toronto’s downtown waterfront isn’t the most user-friendly, with copious condos, office complexes, still-working industrial port businesses, and airport blighting the limited space of Harbourfront. But with one’s back to the city, looking out onto Lake Ontario, the harbour and encompassing islands are surprisingly idyllic – which is why a rare restaurant-patio like Against the Grain is worth its weight in gold.

Though it’s been around for a decade, I discovered the “urban tavern” only last week thanks to a first post-pandemic (?) luncheon with the new director of the German National Tourism Office in Canada, Anja Brokjans, whose office at VoX International is across the street. Located in the Corus building on Corus Quay (near the bottom end of Jarvis Street on Queen’s Quay), ATG plays up its position as one of Toronto’s only waterfront taverns, and with a spacious lakeside patio to boot (seating is first-come, first serve Thursday-Sundays, reservations available at other times.)

We took advantage of the patio recently (on what was proclaimed to be the hottest day of the summer), which was festooned with flowers and tables suitably distanced. On this occasion, I didn’t notice the firepits or lounge seating that are usually a popular feature.

However, it was the view of the harbour that commanded attention (other than each other), including passerbys casually strolling by along the lake’s edge.


Anja and I settled for soft drinks and sparkling water for our meal, but an extensive bar list beckoned for future occasions, especially a beer list featuring close to three dozen brews. About half of those are available on tap, ranging from local city favourites such as Mill Street and Steam Whistle to a few from further afield – Muskoka Brewery, the US (Rolling Rock), Belgium (Stella Artois) and Ireland (Guinness). Non-beer lovers will find a fine wine list and cocktails, served from the inside bar.

Food options were similarly inspired and eclectic – “donut holes” for dessert gives you the idea – and ranging from oysters to noodle bowl, jerk chicken to Hawaiian Ribeye, and various “hand-helds,” i.e. burgers and sandwiches. I tried the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich (so tall I had to use a knife and fork, and so much, I couldn’t finish); and if Anja doesn’t mind me saying so, she opted for a bowl for mushroom risotto, managing it with more grace than I couldn’t manage with my gigant-o sandwich.

All in all, Against the Grain was a great spot to enjoy a great day on the waterfront. Next time: indoors in the winter.

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:



First published at Travel Industry Today