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