The 7 Best Spots For A Sober Toronto Date According To Someone Who Doesn't Drink

"Winning at something provides a better buzz than drinking any day."

Contractor
Hillary showing her hands full of dirt at Evergreen Brick Works. Right: Hillary holding a mocktail at Stackt Market.

Hillary showing her hands full of dirt at Evergreen Brick Works. Right: Hillary holding a mocktail at Stackt Market.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

After living an extremely sheltered childhood in New Brunswick, drinking and nightlife were my way into social circles, particularly when I moved to Toronto. I never hung out with my friends without a drink in hand, even though I knew it was detrimental to my health and success.

After living in Ottawa with my father for a while and sobering up, I knew my triumphant return to Toronto couldn't include alcohol, which meant doing some serious research and soul-searching into what venues, locations and types of activities were safe for sober me — and what felt good for sober me while dating, without the comfort blanket of alcohol.

I now have seven favourite spots for a sober Toronto date — though to be honest, I enjoyed them all as a drinker as well, so was proud to return and stay sober.

From bars with cute mocktails to great food venues or activities not centered around booze, here are the places where I feel authentically me that I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't drink — or simply doesn't want to on their date.

Track & Field

\u200b\u200bHillary LeBlanc at Track & Field.

Hillary LeBlanc at Track & Field.

Hillary LeBlanc

Price: 💸💸

Address: 582 College St., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: What makes sober dating easy? An activity to distract from the lack of alcohol, of course! My last experience at Track & Field is what sparked this entire article. I went with a friend, knowing the pretty pink lights, bocce ball, and great DJ would be enough to make sure I wasn’t uncomfortable sober.

There were plenty of people to flirt with and chat up, while having the competitive element of playing a sport. Upstairs there's also foosball, ring toss and a more quiet area to get to know someone away from the DJ. For one night, Track & Field gave me my "main character" romance.

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ZED*80

\u200b\u200bHillary LeBlanc at ZED*80.

Hillary LeBlanc at ZED*80.

Hillary LeBlanc

Price: 💸

Cuisine: Greasy, Canadian Pub Food

Address: 185 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: I love joking around and having banter, especially in a competitive setting. My entire family is competitive and I see it as a way to reveal a side of passion, and in date settings, saying "bring it on" is highly flirtatious.

ZED*80 is an arcade bar in Greek Town where you pay a flat fee to enter and have many fun arcade games at your fingertips. There are classic pinball machines, two-player Mario Bros., Ms. Pac Man, shooting games, driving games and even ski-ball! The kitchen also has good finger food and serves until late.

If you’re looking for a date where someone can keep up with you while you shoot at zombies, then the location you seek is definitely ZED*80. Being competitive and winning at something provides a better buzz than drinking any day.

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Sneaky Dee's

Price: 💸

Cuisine: Canadian Pub Food

Address: 431 College St., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: This is a place I've managed to frequent sober many times, and while it may not seem ideal for a date, I would argue it is. My favourite time to go is on a Friday night, during Emo Night specifically. There's something magical about deciding, with your date, to dress up like it’s 2007 and scream My Chemical Romance into a pit of other Elder-Emos who miss the days when we weren’t worrying about rent or taxes.

The music and head-banging/mosh-pit dancing mean no alcohol is necessary and the fact that the music is so unpredictable means you don’t have to worry about your date crossing any lines — it’s hard to make emo sexy.

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Woody's

Price: 💸

Address: 467 Church St., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: If RuPaul’s Drag Race has taught us anything, it’s that everyone can enjoy a good drag performance. It’s the same reason we love lip-syncing on TikTok when it’s done well — the emotion, the passion!

I recently went to Woody’s for amateur night and it was amazing — Sprite in hand, I felt no qualms about being sober and was able to enjoy the show. Grab your date, stay completely open and non-judgmental, and enjoy people decked out in the wildest looks performing (most likely) Britney Spears. It’s loud enough to be fun, while still having enough intermissions to get to know your date. Who knows, maybe drag is something they’ve always wanted to try!

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Evergreen Brick Works

Hillary showing her hands full of dirt at Evergreen Brick Works.

Hillary showing her hands full of dirt at Evergreen Brick Works.

Hillary LeBlanc

Price: 💸

Cuisine: Bistro/Sandwiches

Address: 550 Bayview Ave., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: In warmer weather, Evergreen Brick Works is the perfect farmer’s market date. You can visit on Fridays and grab veggies to plan a cute supper with someone, or on Saturdays, you can visit the vintage market for some shopping.

During the summer they also have some outdoor events, like listening for bats in the Don Valley, getting your hands dirty and building seed bombs, or making planters for your gardens — and a lot of the options are free! There’s also a cute cafe to eat in with your date before you start playing with dirt. It’s a great way to feed your inner child with some outdoorsy fun while getting to know someone. Who said Toronto has no nature?

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Stackt Market

Hillary holding a mocktail at Stackt Market. Right: View of the Toronto skyline from behind a fence in winter.

Hillary holding a mocktail at Stackt Market. Right: View of the Toronto skyline from behind a fence in winter.

Hillary LeBlanc

Price: 💸

Cuisine: Varies by stall

Address: 28 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: Stackt Market has something for everyone when it comes to dating possibilities. There’s the art gallery, several food stations, games, shops, and a great view! On top of that, they frequently have events. Have you ever gone to a DJ night and ran into Alexis from "Schitt's Creek?" I did, at Stackt Market.

I also tried their GoldInn dining experience, which was to die for, and such a fun winter date. Shacked up, side-by-side with someone inside a shipping container being served wagyu and watching the GO trains pass in the setting sun is a pretty cool Toronto date and something I wouldn’t necessarily have done before.

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Wildfire Steak

Plate at Wildfire Steak, Toronto. Right: Ceiling lights of Wildfire Steak, Toronto.

Plate at Wildfire Steak, Toronto. Right: Ceiling lights of Wildfire Steak, Toronto.

Hillary LeBlanc

Price: 💸💸💸

Cuisine: Canadian Steakhouse

Address: 8 Colbourne St., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: Most restaurants could be a date night pick, but Wildfire Steakhouse is great for a sober one. Despite being in a hotel, the ambiance is really quite nice — Wildfire felt like an elegant restaurant, especially sitting in the back where you can’t see the lobby.

The staff weren’t pushy about alcohol, and not many menu items were made with alcohol either. It’s a great place to start your date, get to know one another under the chandeliers, listen to the (surprisingly well-selected) music and decide which of the spots I listed above are going to be your next location!

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