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Sweaty Betty's

Photo: Eugen Sakhnenko

Posted by Guest Contributor / July 15, 2009

Do not ride your bike over to Sweaty Betty's on a Friday or Saturday night. This place attracts fixie- and cruiser-riders like an indie rock concert, yet there are no ring-and-post lock-ups around this Queen and Ossington establishment. The bikes are usually two or three deep on the neighbour's iron fence or the bar around Sweaty Betty's gas meter (where you are not permitted to lock up, by the way). "Parking" is a total hassle.

If you're more inclined to drive your Hummer over, though, or have your limo drop you off, Sweaty Betty's may not be for you. Lauded for the no-bullshit attitude of its servers and quietly wielding a three-ingredient-limit on its mixed drinks, Sweaty Betty's is unwavering in its commitment to pared-down drinking for those who appreciate a good jukebox selection and a little tasteful irony in their decor - hence its reputation as a hipster bar.

Never mind who is and who isn't a hipster. Just know that virtually every night of the week, this place is packed wall-to-wall with stylish folks in outfits their parents probably just don't understand, from ladies with elbow tattoos to long-haired fellas in trucker hats.

The atmosphere isn't exclusive, though. Anyone is welcome to join the crowd, although on a busy night you'll likely be standing. The most daunting thing about Sweaty Betty's is actually making your way to the bar once you squeeze your way through the door. The crowd bottle-necks in the small front room around the bar, but once you get your drinks, there's more space in the larger back room, and a fair-sized patio out back.

As if the first hotspot bar on Ossington needed any more cred, rumour has it that famous local bands like Broken Social Scene, Metric and Feist make this their Toronto local, although it's probably just that, a rumour. You're more likely to see the strangers drinking next to you in closer proximity than you would at a larger bar, but this adds a friendly sense of community. The jukebox works hard all night, but the music won't drown out your conversation.

Guinness, Creemore, Amsterdam Blonde, Wellington and a tasty brew called Big Wheel are on tap. On weeknights between 5 and 7pm, pints and highballs are a $1 off. There are a few items on the menu, such as toast with cheez whiz or Nutella, but, naturally, nothing fancy. However, there is a barbecue on the back patio on summer Sundays that's worth checking out. The bar opens at 3pm on weekends and the patio makes a nice sunny afternoon destination, barbecue or not.

Just be prepared to walk from Ossington and Dundas, after you lock up your bike.

Writing by Jessica McGann

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Guinness, Creemore, Amsterdam Blonde, Wellington, Big Wheel
Signature Drink:
That there is no signature drink
Bar Snacks:
Nutella, toast with Cheese Whiz
Whatever is on the jukebox
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
So-called hipsters during the week, and (according to the owner) douchebags on weekends
Mon-Thurs 5pm-2am, Fri-Sun 3pm-2am



Disgruntled / July 15, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Great job guys - you're on track to have 40 of the "best" 50 bars in Toronto to be located around Ossington and Dundas. I can see you've really combed the city.

Becca / July 15, 2009 at 2:01 PM

It's weird seeing these bars in the light of day

DS In replying to a comment from Disgruntled / July 15, 2009 at 2:02 PM

No kidding.

How about covering some "essential" bars with furniture that doesn't look like it's attracting lice.

eric In replying to a comment from Disgruntled / July 15, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Me thinks the majority of the contributors here on Blog TO are west enders based on the typical array of articles, but I could be wrong. One thing for certain though, this list really does need to expand - if not from this general area than at least from places that look like they were decorated with pickings from grandma's garage sale.

DS / July 15, 2009 at 2:49 PM

I often wonder whether BlogTO's staff is aware of the fact that not everyone who reads the content of this site is twenty-something. I don't expect the spectrum of writing to be exclusively pointed at the Toronto Life crowd either but a little diversity would be nice.

James In replying to a comment from DS / July 15, 2009 at 3:03 PM

DS, I'm mid-40s and always have a great time at Sweaty's. Like the article says, there really is a "no-bullshit attitude" here. Come and check it out sometime!

tu / July 15, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Killer jukebox, but hope you don't like ACTUALLY LISTENING to it.

If someone working there (or an employee off-duty as it were in our case on this Saturday night occurance) doesn't think the picks you've payed for can "rock the crowd" they'll reach under and skip them. Some guy that looked to be a friend of the bartenders (again, or an employee who happened not to be working) skipped every single one of our picks save for one. This was such bullshit. Apparently King Khan and the Shrines can't rock a crowd?

Nick W / July 15, 2009 at 3:53 PM


Maybe that's my fault. A friend and I used to go as often as possible and pay for about fifteen "Ball and a Biscuit"s in a row. It NEVER gets tiring.

Well, at least, it didn't then.


Nono, Sweaty Betty's is really that good, regardless of where it is.

kevin / July 15, 2009 at 8:16 PM

I'm not impressed much with this list so far myself (I dont live in the west end fashionista ghetto either).
Actually, Sweaty Betty's crowd I found particularly unfriendly actually - very rare that I've talked to a stranger in there who didnt turn their nose up at having their space interrupted (even if they werent actually having a conversation).

If I had some time on my hands, I would do a tour of some bars and grills that have 'LLBO' on their sign outside for this website... they arent trendy, but they're definitely 'authentic' and 'dives'.

kevin / July 15, 2009 at 8:17 PM

Sorry, I said 'actually' three times. Doh.
You can shoot me if you like.

kevin / July 15, 2009 at 8:18 PM

Hmm, my comment seems to have vanished.

the wizard of ossington / July 15, 2009 at 11:46 PM

these responses are hilarious
especially the guy who claims to have purchased 15 ball & a biscuits in a row.
that is killer and totally sounds like something i would do.
i don't mind sb's so much. it IS pretentious and there's nothing special about it, but it's a nice place to hang out nonetheless, especially in terms of the oz strip... it fits nicely in the hierarchy of 'shit on ossington':
1. levack block (DOUCHE BAG HAVEN)
3. the ossington (nice decor, and THIS is where all the A&C people hang out - i've seen emily haines there a few times, plus she always puts it on metric's twitter when she's there and that's actually quite often... still KINDA DOUCHEBAGGY)
4. sweaty betty's (A LIL DOUCHEBAGGY)

danielle / July 16, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Sweaty Betty's started out great, then as soon as Ossington became ground zero for douchebags, SB's followed suit. The new staff are intolerable, self-important twits, and what was once a lively, convivial atmosphere has degenerated into a wasteland of self-conscious hipsters conversing in hushed tones. So. Over. It.

blamblamvietnam In replying to a comment from danielle / July 16, 2009 at 12:07 PM

I love you.

Gloria / July 17, 2009 at 10:01 AM

My comment disappeared. BlogTO Staff: stop deleting legitimate comments.

This place is the most pretentious place I've ever been to. I wouldn't go back. It's full of people who think of themselves as "hipsters". Yeah, right.

FarmerAmparo / September 24, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Make your life easier take the credit loans and everything you require.

Juna / August 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM

I love it. Sweaty Betty's is very cool!

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