The Rivoli is one of Toronto's not-so-hidden gems. It stands amidst the sea of chain stores that has become Queen West and offers refuge to anyone with an appetite for food, pool, live music, comedy, or just a quick drink.
What's distinct about the Rivoli is how well it uses space. The patio out front is always buzzing, especially in the warmer months; the restaurant offers seclusion from the rush of the bar, with a large dividing wall; the back room offers an intimate (though by no means small) live music/comedy venue, also with its own bar; and of course, the pool hall is upstairs for anyone who wants to hit a few balls around.
On a recent visit, I find the patio is almost full (go figure...it's one of the first warm days of the year) and I grab a seat at one of the remaining tables. In less than a minute, I have a menu and a glass of water in front of me, and I start to people watch - one of the best things about this particular patio. I peruse the menu and decide to order my usual: the spring rolls to start, the pad thai to finish, and a Stella whenever you have a minute.
Inside, the Rivoli is quaint and casual. The Side Bar serves the restaurant and patio, but also provides a few stools for anyone who wants to have a quick drink. The seating area in the restaurant is spacious but cozy. Dim hanging lights give the room a calm atmosphere, and it's surprisingly quiet in there, even though so much is going on around it. Those dining seem pleased - I think some people are still surprised by how genuinely good the food is. They expect it to be typical pub fare, but it's so much more.
The Back Room is the lifeblood of the Riv. It's one of Toronto's best live music venues, and it hosts a lot of great comedy and spoken word performances. The bands and sound technicians are just arriving, setting up the stage for sound checking, but as I watch them, I remember the countless great nights I've spent in this room. The music still lives in the walls. It's the perfect venue. There are no barriers between the stage and the crowd. Everyone is in it together, unified in the room's simplicity. Some sit along the wall, but I tend to stand for easy access to the bar in the corner and for a great view of the stage.
I walk out of the Back Room, out into the fading sunlight. I settle my bill and prepare to leave, asking the friendly bartender a few more questions. I learn that Feist once worked at the bar and that so many amazing stars (both rock and otherwise) have graced the Rivoli with their presence. It's a true Canadian landmark.
It opened in 1982, and in its 27 years, it has grown to become a local favourite.
Writing by Andrew Hanna
FOOTPRINTS- Sat, March 25th 2017. After the success of our Honest Ed's event last month a joint production with our friends at Uma Nota Culture, we return for another proper dance session inside the backroom of the Rivoli on Saturday, March 25th!
As always, we provide an open minded, allinclusive space for you to lose yourself in a vast range of dancefloor music! Everything from Funk, Groove, Soul, Hip Hop, Tropical Beats Samba, Salsa, Forro, Reggae, Ska, Dancehall Disco, House, Downtempo, Mashups and the occasional guilty pleasure thrown in!
DJ's GENERAL ECLECTIC JASON PALMA.
With killer visuals and unobtrusive Fotos by Mark Valino
Just $5 bucks gets you in before 11 / then $10 afterwards.
We go from 10pm til 3am...and it's dancing all nite in a non-pretentious, welcoming atmosphere!
Hope you can join us for another amazing night of music and experience!
Footprints is Toronto's longest running open format dance event.
Nearly 15 years strong, with a loyal and unwavering band of followers and lovers of dance, music and community. We make Toronto feel intimate inside the backroom of the Rivoli every LAST Saturday of each month. Spread the word to your friends and friends of friends!
Come celebrate the launch of our Spring 2017 issue!
The new issue will be available for purchase for $10, full of features profiling and critiquing Canadian media. No cover, free snacks cash bar.
Franc’Open Mic, the first francophone Open Mic in Toronto
Franc’Open Mic, the first francophone open stage in Toronto is organizing a special night for ‘La Semaine de la Francophonie’ festival on Thursday, March 23rd 2017 at The Rivoli (332 Queen St West) in a venue that offers a bigger stage for artists and more than 120 seats for the audience.
All artists alike are welcome to perform in French a variety of music, singing, theater, spoken word, poetry, comedy, stand-up and even clowning. Since October 2014, Franc'Open Mic has welcomed more than 150 artists on its stage supported by a warm and receptive audience. Sign up starts at 7:30pm before the show that starts at 8pm.
For table reservations please contact the Rivoli: (416) 596-1501