Saturday, August 1, 2015Sunny 19°C


Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Caroline Leung / August 8, 2012

Handlebar, courtesy of Rachel Conduit (of the east-end's Avro), embodies the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." If you're a dedicated fan of the Avro, then there's not much about Handlebar that you don't already know.

Its motif is obvious. In a city where the bi-wheeled are often maligned and fodder for near civil warfare, Handlebar is a haven. There are bronzed bikes anchored on the wall, and for those who wear their cyclists' hearts on their sleeves, this place is almost cartoonishly perfect (hey bikers, I don't bike, but I like your zeal). It certainly made for a beautiful, cohesive space, and also lacked the smell and hard edges of a space reincarnated, providing a relaxed vibe that one typically associates with an older place.

The space itself is long and narrow, but has far more room than its east-end sibling. In a room at the back, you'll find a stage that's small enough to be more appropriate for comedic stand-up than music. The seating area is split into small tables, and there's a roomy patio littered with season-appropriate poolside chairs.

As with the Avro, Handlebar is not a space for those with fancy tastes. Beers ($6.25) and whiskies ($6.50 for a Maker's) are the focus here, which is not necessarily bad for the weary palate. Their bar menu is similarly unpretentious, serving homey favourites such as spaghetti and meatballs or tacos. The dishes vary daily, but hover around $6. I was sated.

There are places that go out of their way to push you out of your comfort zone, but that's not the case here. What I liked most about Handlebar is that intimacy is not only possible, but seems to be encouraged. Its Kensington location also proves to be an advantage; it not only works with all the other bars in the area, but answers to what they're missing. In short, if the Embassy was larger, Cold Tea lower-key, and Ronnie's more put-together, you'd have Handlebar. Having just opened last week, Handlebar may be the new kid on the block, but its potential to be a neighbourhood favourite is cinched. Cyclist or not, you'll be very welcome.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Beau’s Lug Tread, Okanagan Fest-of-Ale, Budweiser, Amsterdam Big Wheel, Handlebrew (their own house brew), Keith’s Cider
Signature Drink:
Incoming, but the bourbon sour (at $8) would easily fit the bill
Bar Snacks:
A rotating menu
Genuinely good indie rock/electronica—crowd favourites. There’s also a jukebox
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
The bearded and the mustached
Tuesdays to Sundays, 5pm - 2am



vp / August 8, 2012 at 12:26 PM

it has good cider on tap... was there saturday...not bad...

gg / August 8, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Spotted: Jordycakes at Handlebar

Chris / August 8, 2012 at 5:15 PM


Ryan / August 8, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Chicago has had a Handlebar for years now. Way to go guys.

Andrew In replying to a comment from Ryan / August 14, 2012 at 12:40 PM

And? Awesome bar but it's in Chicago. There are no $1 shots of Malort to be had here. I'm sure there are many similarly named and/or themed bars and restaurants in cities across Canada, let alone the states as well, get over yourself.

Stopped by not too long ago and had a great time, great drafts, cozy space, very friendly service. I'll be coming back for sure.

baby In replying to a comment from Ryan / September 5, 2012 at 3:20 PM

"Chicago has had a Handlebar for years now. Way to go guys."

Alex / December 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Really? How so? Does this differ from any other bar write-up? "I've not been and doubt I will." What a valuable contribution to the review!

If you'd ever met Rachel or been to The Avro, you'd know that it's far, far from pretentious and disingenuous. She runs a comfortable, friendly and inviting bar, on both counts. But I'm sure that you're real proud of yourself for being dismissive with long words.

Laurouu / January 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

I love this place AND I took some of my suburbian friends here and they, too, loved it. Definitely have the perfect vibe and reasonable drink prices downnnn!
Just wish there was more room to sit!

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal