Everyone has a favourite neighbourhood diner go-to. While not your typical event venue, diners do offer unique out-of-the-box settings with homey intimacy and often charming retro-style soda counter seating and booth setups for just the right occasion.
TSEvents e-news provides the following round up of restaurants serving delicious eats against a backdrop of diner-esque-like design and ambience:
Place Setting: The Lakeview is as old school as you can get with street cred and refurbished furnishings dating back to 1932. The 24/7 service is spot on with families and hungry late-night hipsters alike, earning accolades from fans including Chef Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives fame.
In The Details: A film location favourite, the Lakeview proudly retains its classic diner vibe with terrazzo tile floors, booth seating and authentic Formica soda fountain counter serving adult-friendly sippers along with good old-fashioned milkshakes. The menu comprises comfort food standards, from burgers and grilled cheese to poutine and all-day breakfasts. Total capacity is 130 with various sized booth seating and a patio for 30.
To Dine For Idea: Consider a fun interactive round robin event with guests moving from booth to booth for ice-breaking conversations and brainstorming.
Place setting: Step back in time, and nation, at La Cubana, where chef-owner Corinna Mozo, and brother Pablo, modeled their retro diner setting on a lunch counter their grandfather owned in pre-revolution Cuba. The first location on Roncesvalles Avenue seats over 40. A smaller, just-opened Ossington outpost also houses a private 18-seat dining room that’s set to open later this spring.
In The Details: Both locations share similar design. Mint green tile walls and backlit signage with eye-popping red lettering radiate a sleek, gleaming freshness. Intricate mosaic flooring, pantry-staple laden shelves and Latin grooves add an inviting, homey feel. Table placemat menus detail yummy, belly-filling Cuban sandwiches, platters and snack plates. Centre attractions are the dining counters with swivel seating that front the open kitchens. Artfully poured rum cocktails hit the spot. In summer, host a group on the cute back patio at the Roncy address.
To Dine For Idea: Host a Cuban cocktail evening with passed bocaditos (appetizers) and group lessons in the art of mojito making.
Place Setting: In paying tribute to Wilbur Scoville, creator of the Scoville Scale that measures the heat levels of peppers, just-opened taco shop Wilbur Mexicana on King Street West is more funky diner science lab than Mexican cantina inspired.
In The Details: The 60-seat space is bright and minimalist in design with white subway tile walls. A marble-topped order and eating counter lined with industrial-like stools wraps the open kitchen, with additional dining space available at communal wooden high-topped tables. Unique lab beaker lights and apothecary furnishing are a nod to Scoville’s scientific pursuits. Vintage soda fountains are helpee selfee, as is the salsa and hot sauce station offering a wide variety of toppers for the taco and burrito based menu.
To Dine For Idea: With a 30-seat patio opening this summer, we can’t help envision how the clever casualness of the space would make for über cool private parties.
Hip Hotel Eatery
In The Details: A roomy, upscale space, as far as diners go, with velvet-accented tufted black leather banquette booths embraced by the floor-to-ceiling window perimeter. A bank of televisions behind the marble-topped lunch counter cum bar keeps financial suits, perched on gold swivel seats, up to date on news and happenings while grabbing a quick bite. Classic diner dishes, from mac and cheese to burgers, are whimsically presented in unique serving dishes and platters complete with red-and-white checked paper liners.
To Dine For Idea: With generous-size banquette seating, grab a table, or book out a section, for a group lunch, office party or casual after-work celebration toast.
Return Of An Icon
Place Setting: Closing in 2014 after a run of nearly 40 years at the corner of Queen West and Peter Street, the Peter Pan Bistro recently reopened touting an updated setting and stellar contemporary menu under a trio of new owners including Chef Noah Goldberg.
In The Details: Diner-like in its Art Deco fixtures and furnishings, the bistro’s original tin ceiling remains as does the antique herringbone wooden booths with mirrors lining one wall. Red-capped chrome stools give the marble-topped bar a soda-fountain aesthetic. The “refined neighbourhood” menu reflects Goldberg’s snout-to-tail culinary approach. Large wall tapestry installations grace the restaurant, which seats just over 70, mesmerizing diners with three-dimensional animal heads that seem to appear or disappear depending on the viewing angle.
To Dine For Idea: Opening soon: Three private dining rooms on the second-floor that open up into one with seating for 100, plus a return of the bistro’s enchanting backyard patio, completely redone.
A Slice Of History
Place Setting: The Senator, located in a circa 19th century building just off the Yonge-Dundas Street strip, opened as the Busy Bee Diner in 1929. Today’s setting and fixtures remain the original Art Deco accents and layout introduced in a 1948 renovation and rechristening as the Senator restaurant.
In The Details: Vinyl-cushioned mahogany booths and oversized mirrors line the back walls of the long, narrow room. Up front is an L-shaped eating counter and bar, where the cheery red of an old fashioned Coca Cola soda dispenser keeps company with the gleaming chrome of a La Marzocco espresso machine. Former Langdon Hall chef Andrew Taylor has updated menus, spanning breakfast to dinner, giving quality dishes a proudly local suppliers spin.
To Dine For Idea: A popular film location, the Senator is also the perfect dining destination for showcasing Toronto the friendly for out-of-town clients.