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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:
Bar Snacks:
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Anyone who jokes about being an alcoholic and then goes home and secretly googles the symptoms and weeps.
Monday- Sunday, 10 pm- 2:45 am



Jimmy / February 26, 2013 at 9:29 AM

This place used to be underground years ago. I guess that space is still used? I'm not sure.

guy / February 26, 2013 at 10:02 AM

"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."

Quite possibly my favourite sentence from any BlogTO review.

AmH / February 26, 2013 at 10:11 AM

For those curious about the debauched world of Rock n' Roll but too timid to jump in the deep end which is the Bovine Sex Club.

Kuma / February 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Gotta say.....stay a way. The author of this article has missed the point entirely. Apparently the 'garage guy's ' are doing something correctly. The author is the douche. Keep buying your a-cups a walmart and stay clear of the mutts on king street. Hey, what's the weekly special at milestones??? Beoch

Kuma / February 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Hey Martha....why are you so fricken angry? Seriously?? You've bashed The wrong dudes. We are common folk, partiers, musicians,etc and mixed us together with over-priced condo dwellers? And what family resto from the 90's has walls adorned with celebrity boobs? Tell me. I wanna eat there 'cause bits probably cool and the food is delicious. You are an idiot. You are repressed and have missed the point of fun and recklessness.

todd / February 26, 2013 at 1:59 PM

the UG is different for everyone.... like whatever blogto critic wrote this "...situated in the remains of beloved King West establishment The Underground Garage. Unlike the Garage, which wore its dive bar proudly...." Some get it and some dont .. Even people working for the same place, doing the same thing. Thats why I love it there.

SW / February 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM

I've never had a bad time at this bar. Great music, fun people, cheap drinks, friendly bartenders and staff...

Although every time we go, my boyfriend always has to mention, "Imagine if a terrible fire broke out in here.." We'd surely never get out alive.

McRib In replying to a comment from Kuma / February 26, 2013 at 4:54 PM

seems you're the only angry one around here.

get mad!

Noel / February 28, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I find the surly barbacks attractive.

Tessa / June 3, 2013 at 3:16 AM

At last, soeomne who comes to the heart of it all

Cathy / October 22, 2013 at 3:36 PM

I lost my virginity there....went back a few days later but I couldn't find it....thanks again Jersey guy

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