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The Bar With No Name

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Guest Contributor / November 6, 2012

The Bar With No Name is not the kind of place you go to for a signature cocktail, nor is it the kind of joint known for its ambiance and impressive decor. No, this is the kind of bar you go to in order to feel the sense of familiar comfort that can only be found in a dive bar.

Hunched men metaphorically bolted to the bar over a pint glass, sensation-numbing sports on every TV, and an arsenal of liquor behind the bar rail--this place has all the clichés you look for in a dive. Sitting casually on the end of a small throng of bars between Dundas and Keele on Bloor St. West, it has become a de facto haven for nerds and geeks looking to get a decent brew.

I walked into the space, awash in dark paint, old furniture and curious eyes. After taking my ceremonial place at the end of the bar, the first thing I noticed is the sheer volume of craft beer available. Seeing my bewilderment, the bartender Natalie offered a sample of beer to help narrow my choices. I ended up landing on an aptly named witch's brew called "Bone Shaker" from Amsterdam Brewery. Weighing in at 7.1%, it kept me plastered to my seat for the remainder of my stay.

Pints are cheap at $5.75, and pitchers can be as easy-on-the-wallet as $10.00 on the right day, so a little gets you a long way. The food menu is small, and consists mostly of unexciting and standard pub fare but on this night they pulled out all the stops with a buffet brimming with deep fried glory. They seemed to be expanding their options, and I was more than happy to partake in the samples.

What makes this bar unique though is its embrace of all things nerdy. Magic the Gathering symbols festoon the walls, obscure board games are available to play, and, oh, did I mention that Wednesdays are Street Fighter "fight nights"? Like many bars, it has its open mic nights, and game day specials for sports, but its obvious soft spot for Toronto's nerdy alternative scene defines this place for me.

It has a "devil may care" attitude towards those who frequent the establishment, so on any given night there are people from all walks of life. On this particular evening, the music and dancing swayed between head-thrashing '80s metal, to ska and reggae hits from the '60s and '70s. Sort of a grab bag, but there was solace in it.

The Bar With No Name certainly isn't a bar for everyone though. If it's busy, the bathrooms aren't always fully working, and they're covered in chalk board paint. The back patio closes at 11pm because of the residential houses right behind the bar, and it can be tough to get a table some nights. All in all though, it's got personality seeping from its pores and a great committed staff. It'll nicely suit those who are into the "drinking in your buddy's basement" kind of vibe.

Writing by Brandan Philip

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Flying Monkey Hoptical Illusion, Trailhead, Mill Street Organic, Octoberfest and Cobblestone Stout, Thornbury Cider, Steamwhistle, Lake of Bays Sparkhouse, Amsterdam Big Wheel and Boneshaker, and Wellington SPA
Signature Drink:
None
Bar Snacks:
Standard pub fare
Patio:
Yes
Music/Genre:
Mostly metal, ska, reggae and punk
Live Music:
No
Who Goes There:
The nerds and the friendly
Hours:
4pm - 2am daily

Discussion

18 Comments

Martini girl / June 26, 2011 at 4:59 PM
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My favorite martinis in the neighbourhood

Trixie / February 24, 2012 at 2:03 PM
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Best Burger EVER!!!!

Erika / March 6, 2012 at 1:28 PM
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I think you need to give the place a little more credit. They have amazing food, great variety, lots of nice local beers, friendly service plus lots of cool events go on there too! Highly recommnded!

jameson / November 6, 2012 at 1:58 PM
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Isn't that guy wearing a dragonball z tshirt in the first picture?

jer / November 6, 2012 at 2:03 PM
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What are "Street Fighter" fight nights? Do they have an original arcade machine or is it something else?

m4tth3w / November 6, 2012 at 2:17 PM
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What version of Street Fighter do they play?

Erika In replying to a comment from jer / November 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM
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Hi there,

My name is Erika Szabo, me and my boyfriend run the video game nights at The Bar With No Name every second Wednesday.

We don't specifically play Street Fighter, actually we bring lots of different kinds of games along with his Xbox 360 and duke it out. Sometimes it's beat-em-up night (i.e. Double Dragon, TMNT Turtles in Time, Castle Crashers, Simpsons Arcade etc.), other times it's fighting game night (i.e. Tekken, Super Street Fighter 4, Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat etc.). It really depends.

With video games in mind, The Bar with No Name also has a cocktail table with tons of retro arcade games if you want something a little more classic. It's a really cool new addition to the bar.

It should also be noted every other Wednesday is Magic: The Gathering Tournament night if you're interested in taking part. That might also explain the MtG mural too.

Jeremy / November 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM
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The food offerings are very limited, the burger w/onion rings is the only thing I ever get, but it's really good. It worked particularly well during the first couple months when they didn't even have menus.

As stated, the beer selection is great and the service is quite friendly.

Erika In replying to a comment from Jeremy / November 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM
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There's tons of good stuff there, actually! You can get burgers, poutines, nachos, perogies, jalapeno poppers and tons more.

Locallocal / November 6, 2012 at 4:27 PM
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My favourite local bar! I live in the neighbourhood and love coming by here often. I think this review doesn't really do the place justice. The beer selection is AMAZING and the service is even better! Some of the friendliest bartenders in the city.

The music is a great blend of punk, rock, metal and ska that I'm particularly partial to. The food is nothing to write home about, but not any worse than your usual "pub grub" - and at very affordable prices. The burger is probably the best thing on the menu.

Chris / November 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM
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Glad this exists in the area and glad that it seems to be doing well. This spot has been cursed for as long as I can remember, seeing bar after bar trying to make a go on this tiny strip in that particular building and failing. I think the geeks have it figured out, and it's a far more fun place to hang out than anywhere else in the immediate area.

radioTunes / November 6, 2012 at 4:49 PM
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Sounds like the name from a song...

Bojan Landekić / November 6, 2012 at 5:34 PM
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THat's just what this city needs, yet another bar with old furniture with dark paint... so original...

Pass.

Oopsy / November 7, 2012 at 7:59 AM
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You have their address as 1561 Bloor St. West, but I think it's actually at 1651 Bloor St. West. Oopsy.

Steve / November 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM
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the first time i've been here was when i started randomly talking to the cook of the place and he talked me and my gf into trying out the menu. i've got to say the burgers here are amazing and easily the best i've had at a bar. cheap pints certainly doesn't hurt either.

Franco / November 10, 2012 at 10:26 PM
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Went here this evening. Interesting.

xcel energy / May 6, 2013 at 10:23 AM
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good post, i have been looking for it

Cheap Oakley Sunglasses / June 16, 2013 at 7:06 AM
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I am not sure where you're getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this info for my mission.

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