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bars

The Underground Garage

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Martha Stortz / February 26, 2013

The Underground Garage is a self-described "urban saloon" located in the Club District. I recently visited the Underground Garage on one wintery Thursday evening. I was directed up to the main floor in the Underground Garage. I was disappointed to see that it is neither underground nor a garage, which threw me for a loop. After a few minutes in UG, it dawned on me that the name Underground Garage actually refers to Underground (a movement to work against an existing regime) and Garage (place the creepy uncle goes to drink beer quietly until someone confronts him and he explodes).

This interpretation aptly describes UG as it is a true dive bar, working against the existing regime (the area of Toronto it exists in is home to overpriced condos and douchebags). As for the Garage portion, nothing says creepy uncle like a collection of cotton A-cup bras with sweat stains from Walmart displayed next to half-empty crusty-lipped Smirnoff bottles. Makes sense.

UG's slogan is "if Pearl Jam owned Cheers" but from first impressions, it may be better suited to "if Mike Tyson owned Snake Hole Lounge". The walls are covered with memorabilia reminiscent of literally every family restaurant in the '90s and Christmas lights and the bar is adorned with the aforementioned bras hanging from the ceiling.

The music at UG on that night was a great rock/alternative band called Chatty Cathy, though they have different bands playing throughout the week. There isn't a lot of room to dance (though I'm told they open up a lower floor when it gets busier). The clientele is mostly male and the feel of the crowd is very Frank-the-Tank (when his wife isn't around).

After a few minutes of taking in the music and various grunts of the other patrons, I made my way to the bar and ordered a vodka soda ($3 for a very strong bar rail drink). I chatted a bit with the friendly bartender about the Victoria's Secret-inspired art installation over the bar. He told me that it was just a tradition for female patrons to offer up their bras to hang over the bar. Sometimes they were given a shot for it, sometimes not.

He pulled a few down, and while most were the cheap variety reserved for the onset of puberty or lazy days where leggings suffice as pants, a few were the fancy, lace-lined, made-in-Europe, it-only-seems-appropriate-to-call-them-brassieres kind. In a way, this myriad of lingerie acts as an allegory for the bar itself; a variety of very different people come together to put pretension aside and get blackout drunk.

As the website says, leave your ego at the door, and that's exactly what patrons of the Underground Garage do. True, the Underground Garage is the unfinished DeVry business degree among the MBAs of King West, but UG totally owns it and that's what gives it character.

With that in mind, UG would be a good place to go if you are looking to get unapologetically sloppy drunk or are with a lady with low self-esteem. Whatever you do, if you're wearing an expensive bra, keep it, and if someone says you're a nice Christian girl, do not go home with them.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Creemore springs, Amsterdam Natural Blonde, Steamwhistle Pilsner
Signature Drink:
Jagerbomb
Bar Snacks:
No
Patio:
No
Music/Genre:
Rock/Alternative
Live Music:
Yes
Who Goes There:
Anyone who jokes about being an alcoholic and then goes home and secretly googles the symptoms and weeps.
Hours:
Monday- Sunday, 10 pm- 2:45 am


Other Cities: Montreal