The Bar With No Name
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