Accessible restaurants in Toronto worth a visit

One of the greatest strengths of Toronto’s food scene is its diversity, a reflection of the city’s reputation as a melting pot of different people and cultures.

Being able to hop from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, picking up world-class dishes that stand toe-to-toe with their international origins, is a privilege that we never take for granted. Part of diversity and inclusion, though, is making restaurants accessible to everyone—and we think this city still has some room to grow on that front.

Accessibility is a far-reaching term that envelops much more than automatic doors on entry (though those are important, too): barrier-free navigation, lighting considerations and clear signage are just the tip of the iceberg. While many of our top restaurants and their patios have measures in place to address some of these items, claims that any space is ‘fully accessible’ are likely never entirely accurate. As an industry, we can collectively do more—including standardizing the implementation of accessibility measures across the board.

We’ve highlighted some restaurants here for their accessibility measures, but it should be noted that this is far from an exhaustive list, and it’s still very important to call in advance. Together, Toronto, let’s renew our focus on ensuring our incredible food landscape can be appreciated by everyone—completely barrier-free.

Hy’s Steakhouse

365 Bay Street–
White tablecloths, cold cocktails and tableside flambéeing: sometimes, it’s classic for a reason, y’know? When you dine at Hy’s Steakhouse, each sip is steeped in culture and every ounce of prime grade steak is dripping with tradition. The iconic chophouse has roots that stretch back to 1955, when Hy Aisenstat founded the family business in Calgary. Locations and menus may have changed, but the warm hospitality has remained the same for more than half a century—and Hy’s’ commitment to equitable service for every customer is a big part of the draw.

Automatic doors provide ground level access at this Adelaide Street spot, and accessible washrooms are located on the upper and lower floors of the 18,000-square-foot former bank building (with an elevator to service both). Plus, the entire restaurant is wheelchair accessible, meaning that the steaks can be high or low, depending on where you want to enjoy your martini and caesar salad. Snag a booth in the downstairs lounge on game day or break out the snifters in the mezzanine level’s whisky bar.

hyssteakhouse.com

Café Boulud

60 Yorkville Avenue–
Ride an elevator up to elevated cuisine at Café Boulud, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s French restaurant in Yorkville’s Four Seasons Hotel. With a seasonal menu deeply rooted in French tradition, bistro classics and contemporary dishes are made approachable with appetite-satisfying portions. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Café Boulud’s staff are happy to print off larger-font versions of the menu for any who may need it.

A short lift to the second floor brings guests to a pair of double doors that are always kept open and a barrier-free entryway that allows plenty of room for navigation. There’s even space for storage near the front of the restaurant for wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and the like. The dining room is stunning—mid-century design by Martin Brudnizki and low-volume music set the stage for a vintage, friendly atmosphere. Both Café Boulud restrooms have automatic doors and are equipped with larger accessible stalls, automatic sinks and hand dryers.

cafeboulud.com

Ten

1132 College Street–
Brockton Village’s Ten restaurant can be found inside an old Toronto apartment-turned-restaurant that seats just 10 guests at a time. You’ll find a focus on progressive eating here, starting with chef Julian Bentivegna’s waste-conscious and vegetable-forward tasting menu that changes nightly. Tipping has also been eliminated in favour of a standard 18 per cent service charge on every bill that gets split evenly between the front and back of house.

With progressive thinking at the forefront, Ten has ensured their space is accessible for all customers who wish to visit. Automatic doors greet you at the front entrance, followed by a wheelchair-friendly ramp. With only 10 seats, a crowded dining room is never a problem—and there’s plenty of aisle space for easy wheelchair navigation and access. There’s also an accessible washroom located on the main floor, complete with grab bars, lock button and alarm system in case of emergencies.

10restaurant.ca

Amano Pasta

65 Front Street–
An oasis from the hurried clusters of commuters racing to catch their train, Amano Pasta feels like it operates on a separate timezone from the rest of Union Station. Diners can put down their PRESTO for a while and chow down on some elevated Italian food, like the tasty Nonna’s Meatballs or The Brick Lasagna with bechamel smoked provolone.

Arrive at Amano Pasta by using one of Union Station’s accessible entrances, then follow designated obstruction-free paths of travel to the restaurant. The entrance to the restaurant is barrier-free as well, and there is adequate space to navigate the dining room, even during busier hours.

An accessible washroom can be found within the restaurant, complete with automatic door, lock and toilet. Amano Pasta can have a lively atmosphere—especially on Friday night—but staff are willing to lower the music volume if requested. Larger font menus are available for printing upon request, and knowledgeable servers are always happy to answer any questions diners might have.

eatamano.com

Leña

176 Yonge Street–
A stone’s throw away from the endless crowds of Toronto’s Eaton Centre sits Leña, a multi-storey venue located at Saks Fifth Avenue. An obstruction-free entryway, outfitted with automatic doors, leads to a spectacular interior—stained glass windows, a prominent octagon-shaped bar, and blue velvet chairs are eye-catching, even for casual passers-by. Here, find a South American-inspired menu that’s just as vibrant as the decor, with creative cocktails to match.

Grand staircases greet you upon entry and are paired with a spacious elevator for traversing Lena’s three levels and reaching the bottom floor’s accessible washroom that features an automatic door, emergency lock and grab bars. Wide walkways make navigating to your table a breeze on every level, and staff are happy to remove chairs for wheelchair seating. Re-printing in a larger font on the menu is available upon request.

lenarestaurante.com

360 Restaurant

290 Bremner Blvd.–
Tourist or homegrown local, everyone who finds themselves in Toronto has to visit the CN Tower at least once—if not more than that. We may not be able to get Drake’s view, but the sweeping scenery never gets old, and neither does the local, sustainable Canadian fare at 360 Restaurant.

The tower is “Accessibility Certified” by the Rick Hansen Foundation. Before you arrive, call to arrange accessible parking at the Rogers Centre. There’s a designated Wheel-Trans stop at Gate 7 of the Rogers Centre, too. The restricted mobility entrance, with an automatic door located on the far left, is on Bremner Boulevard. If needed, courtesy wheelchairs are available. Upon arrival, visit Guest Services to show your Access 2 card, and for any required assistance. Accessible washroom facilities are available on every level.

The views start as soon as you board the glass elevator and only get better from here. After your meal, save time to check out the Main Observation Level, where floor to ceiling windows allow for more inclusive views of Toronto and far beyond. Onsite staff are available to help guests access the Glass Floor. For something a little more daring, the SkyPod (complimentary for wheelchair users) is the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere and its first level is wheelchair-accessible.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, settle in at 360, where braille menus are available if needed. Choose between prix-fixe or à la carte—both menus are chock-full of delicious options from land and sea. P.E.I. mussels, plump scallops and beef tartare will get your engine going before digging into main courses like Canadian AAA steaks, East Coast lobster and Ontario lamb. Wash it all down with a glass or bottle from the world’s highest wine cellar.

cntower.ca

SOCO Kitchen + Bar

75 Lower Simcoe Street–
If you’re in need of a place to pre-game, SOCO is the spot this summer. Located on the main floor of the Delta Hotel at Bremner and Lower Simcoe, you can see the Rogers Centre from the restaurant’s windows—and hear it when the Jays get a home run.

Enter through the hotel and there’s a ramp to take you into the main dining room that has plenty of low-set tables to enjoy a bite of classic comforts like rotisserie chicken and steak frites with their famous mushroom ketchup. There’s braille signage on major landmarks like the washrooms, which are wheelchair accessible; however, there’s no automatic doors or locks. On the Bremner side, you’ll find a barrier free entrance complete with automatic doors.

Use the elevators in the hotel lobby to get to the barrier-free, fourth-floor rooftop for pitchers and shareables paired with views of the CN Tower (try their CN Caesar with jalapeno-infused tequila and vegan caesar mix) and the heart of downtown.

socokitchenandbar.ca

Foodism Toronto is Toronto’s largest food and drink magazine with long reads, new restaurant profiles, guides recipes and more.

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