Baro Rooftop brings big flavours and energy to King West

Opened in 2016, a lifetime ago by King West standards, Baro Rooftop is still a Toronto summer staple with bold dishes, loud music and a whole lot of fun. 

Baro Toronto rooftop patio

Whenever I walk down King Street West, which is quite often, I usually see either a new restaurant opening or one permanently closing. There is a certain (cursed) building that's been three different restaurant concepts in under four years. It's an area with high traffic, yet high turnover.

One place, though, has stood the test of time: Baro. Opened in 2016, a lifetime ago by King West standards, the four-storey, Latin-inspired restaurant, rooftop patio and event space has become a fixture in the neighbourhood, and it's about time I finally checked it out.

Baro Rooftop Toronto: The vibe

Being summer, we requested a table on the Baro Rooftop patio, which is half open to the elements and half enclosed by a wall of windows. On a really sunny day, the covered area can feel a bit like a sticky greenhouse, especially with all the hanging plants and window boxes overflowing with greenery, but there's usually a breeze to keep you cool — or ice cold cocktails.

Baro toronto | Open rooftop patio

For a relatively small space, the fourth floor rooftop has big energy. Things get loud — the music, the conversations, the cocktail shaking — but it's all part of the fun. It's an ideal spot for casual after-work drinks and bites, and it feels like a little escape from all of the construction and city life hustle and bustle below.

Baro Rooftop Toronto: The food

Each floor at Baro has its own unique menu. Up top, you'll find lots of shareable items with bold flavours, plus barbecued vegetables and meat cooked on their custom parrilla-style charcoal grill.

Baro toronto | Grilled octopus

We had to start with their three-chip (taro, plantain and corn) salsa and guac. I loved the trio of salty chips and both the salsa and guacamole were stellar and the optimal snack-able portion size. 

Baro toronto | Chips and guac

I don't want to say I'm a ceviche snob, but... I am a bit of a ceviche snob. And I will order it whenever I see it on the menu. I thought Baro's tuna ceviche with mango, avocado and a pour-over of lime and chili leche de tigre was a creative take on the dish. Cucumbers and red onions gave it some bite, along with chulpes and rice cracker pearls for little pops of crunch. I enjoyed all of these flavour and texture combinations; however, I found that the dish lacked citrus and some of the tuna pieces were too chewy.

Baro toronto | Charred jalapeño hummus

The charred jalapeño hummus with a pool of chili garlic oil on top stole the show. It's such a simple appetizer, but it was executed so well, with just the right amount of heat. We couldn't stop dipping our lightly grilled house-made flatbread into it. 

Baro toronto | Asado Negro

We went meat-forward for the mains: lamb anticuchos and asado negro, the national dish of Venezuela and part of Baro's Dine Around Latin America program (each month will feature a different signature dish).  

Baro toronto | Grilled lamb skewers

The asado negro was an excellent tribute to the traditional "dark beef roast." Braised for 24 hours, the beef was tender and comforting, and I loved the addition of pickled fennel to cut through the fat, the tasty cassava crumble and the accompanying golden arepa for dipping. The lamb skewers, perhaps my favourite dish of the evening, were full of spice brought out by the charcoal grill and served with a perfect, punchy chimichurri mayo.

Baro Rooftop Toronto: The drinks and deals

Baro Toronto | Coconut mai tai on the rooftop

Why have happy hour, when you can have fiesta hour (every Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Fridays from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.) on the rooftop? The cheeky deals don't stop at the rotating signature cocktails — like daiquiris, coconut mai tais and mojitos — you can also snack without breaking the bank with menu items like grilled street corn with five chili crema for $10 — muchos gracias.

Dinner and drinks for two: around $150 before tax and tip

Baro, 485 King St. W.,