Tapas and wallet-friendly cocktails are on the menu at Lisbon Hotel

A team comprising some of the city's veteran bartenders and chefs has created Lisbon Hotel, a new bite-sized tapas concept in Toronto's Corktown neighbourhood.  

Lisbon Hotel: The space

Lisbon Hotel is located on the ground floor of a condo complex in Corktown. Though it is not a hotel, it has been transformed into a cozy and atmospheric cocktail haunt. Award-winning building designer Saucier + Perrotte has done an incredible job of spinning what could have been a storeroom into a vibey space with romantic nooks, Persian rugs and a gorgeous bar. 

A spread of food on a table in the corner at Lisbon Hotel in Corktown
A bartender pours Aunt Spike, a peachy spin on a gin sour, at Lisbon Hotel

Choose from one of the smaller tables that line the edge of the room, or if you're a bigger party, there's a large family-style table next to the entrance where you can spread out. Looking around the space, it feels like it's mostly couples and friends catching up in the glow of Lisbon Hotel's dangling pendant lights and the backlit bar.

Unlike the protein supplement stores and dentists that pervade in ground level condo businesses, David Wex wanted a restaurant to live inside the River City condos. Since this was not his field of expertise, the Lisbon Hotel partner and owner of Urban Capital Developments brought in some friends to assist.

Lisbon Hotel: What to eat

Marinated Mushrooms on sourdough bread at Lisbon Hotel
Skewered Shrimp with salsa verde at Lisbon Hotel
Warm Chorizo with a Green Sauce at Lisbon Hotel
Ricotta and Pear Toast at Lisbon Hotel

Fellow owner Adam Hijazi already has a slew of restaurant successes under his belt (Buca, Eataly, Terroni). But, when it came to Lisbon Hotel, despite its diminutive size, he wanted to cover as many bases as possible. 

“We wanted to create an unparalleled bar and café with simple operations and broad appeal," says Hijazi. "Lisbon Hotel will serve a globally inspired menu that allows the quality of ingredients to shine. It’s well-travelled and simultaneously hyperlocal with a menu that has all vices covered.”

Despite its Portuguese moniker, the cocktail bar offers tapas in a wider sense. With a small plate selection featuring olives, marinated lupini beans, cheese and cured meat, it's the perfect place to graze and catch up with colleagues or friends without the commitment of a multi-course meal.

A tasty salad at Lisbon Hotel
The Anchovy Toast with cucumbers at Lisbon Hotel

The beauty of Lisbon Hotel is that you could order the entire menu and have a pretty decent meal, with dishes scaling up to more robust plates like Ricotta and Pear Toast, which slathers house-poached pears and ricotta on top of crunchy Blackbird sourdough, and Warm Chorizo with Green Sauce, which adds a lovely drizzle of honey to its almost neon green blend of peppers, parsley and shallots. 

Though Lisbon Hotel has billed itself as a place where one can 'go for the coffee, stay for cocktails,' its caffeinated options are limited so far, given that it currently opens at 5 p.m. Stay tuned for future hours and programming, which should see baked goods and coffee become a lifeline for River City locals looking for a morning fix.

Lisbon Hotel: What to drink

Hotel Lisbon | Aunt Spike cocktail with gin, white port, peach aperitif and egg whites
Hotel Lisbon | Little Wine Highball cocktail with Fino sherry, sake, cucumber cordial and lime juice

You might recognize Sally Gillespie, Lisbon Hotel's general manager and part owner, for her stints at some of Toronto's top bars, including Bar Raval and Pretty Ugly. At this Corktown locale, she's done a fantastic job of creating a small but diverse menu of cocktails that cover almost everything you might be in the mood for.

Unlike so many of Toronto's drinking dens, which don't serve a cocktail for less than $20, Lisbon Hotel is, relatively speaking, refreshingly cheap. From Aunt Spike, a peachy spin on a gin sour, to booze-forward beverages like the Boy with Apple, which blends scotch, calvados and white port, each section of the menu will direct you toward tipples.

Friendly Reminder cocktail at Lisbon Hotel with rum, a house banana liqueur, Amontillado Sherry, toasted sesame and lime
Borrowed Time cocktail at Lisbon Hotel, with tequila, campari, a house coffee liqueur, benedictine and chocolate bitters

There's also a small but well-curated selection of European wine by the glass, plus some local beer from Burdock and Left Field. And, if your stay at Lisbon Hotel is sober, you can still imbibe delicious zero-proof spritzes and highballs — at a very reasonable price. It seems that a one-night jaunt to Lisbon Hotel is never enough. 

Snacks and drinks for two: around $100 before tax and tip