June is pride month, a month to celebrate queer culture community and love. A great way to support Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ community is to support queer-owned and queer friendly businesses. While this list is by no means complete, here are some queer owned and queer friendly restaurants to support across Canada. For more information on finding queer-owned and friendly restaurants near you, GayCities.com has a database of queer friendly restaurants around the world.
Montreal: Le Saloon
Known for its gay scene, Montreal has countless spots serving quality food drinks and entertainment. Le Saloon is no exception. Serving cuisine from all over the world, Le Saloon has vegetarian options as well.
Kelowna / Victoria: Friends of Dorothy Lounge
Dating back to WWII, when homosexuality was illegal in the United States, being a “friend of Dorothy” was a codeword used for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing. If someone was a friend of Dorothy, they were gay, and thus in danger if their sexuality was ever discovered.
The Friends of Dorothy Lounge started in Kelowna, and has expanded to a second location in Victoria. Described by themselves as “Louis the XIV meets punk chic” Friends of Dorothy is the Okanagan’s first LGBTQ+ cocktail lounge. With artisan cocktails, share plates, and a dance floor in their Kelowna location, Friends of Dorothy is open for brunch, happy hour, and drinks and fun until 10 pm.
Toronto: La Bartola
La Bartola is a destination restaurant for tacos and Mexican cuisine in Toronto. This plant-based restaurant is a hit with vegans and non-vegans, creating staple Mexican flavours, that happen to be plant-based and queer owned. For information as to when they will be reopening, check out their website.
Ottawa: Shanghai Restaurant
Craving some authentic Asian cuisine? Check out Shanghai Restaurant. The Kwan family has been serving incredible Asian style food since the 1970s. The incredible “hostess with the mostess” China Doll, Shanghai’s Queen of Karaoke and Drag was the subject of a 2019 documentary. This retro-modern eatery is currently closed for renovation, for information and updates check out their blog here.
Edmonton / Calgary: Brewsters Brewing
Brewsters Brewing, company located in Alberta with eight locations, has been serving the thirsty across Alberta for over 25 years. Quality craft beer, and North American comfort food will leave you feeling happy and full.
Tangier: Spry Bay
With the hope of being able to take vacations across Canada soon, Spry Bay hosts a spacious campground and is close to the white sandy beaches of Taylor head Park. Not only does Spry Bay have beautiful scenery and cozy cabins, but also a pizzeria. Spry Bay is queer friendly and a great spot for families to explore Nova Scotia.
The benefits of supporting businesses that support LGBTQ2S+ people to the queer community are immense. For LGBTQ2S+ folks, knowing that a restaurant, whether it is queer-owned or queer friendly is safe for them to go into can be very important. Knowing they’re not walking into a place that can be potentially dangerous for them, their partners, and their friends and family is huge.
If you, or anyone in your life is struggling, please check out The Lifeline Canada Foundation for resources and information.