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Photo: Jonathan Loek

Posted by Ben Spurr / July 23, 2010

Unlovable is positively subterranean in a city that has its share of underground and basement bars. Practically camouflaged beneath a travel agency on Dundas West, the place is invisible unless you're standing right in front of it, and even then your only clue that there might be something going on inside is the fleet of road bikes (the preferred conveyance of the under-30 hipster set) chained up outside on any given night.

In honour of history's most famous basement bar, co-owner Jamal Watson says he originally wanted to call the place Shitty Cheers, but eventually opted to name it after a Smiths song instead. A reference to those purveyors of adolescent angst pop fits perfectly with the decor of the place, which looks like the interior of a bedroom belonging to an intellectual teenager, complete with kitschy Soviet propaganda posters on the walls, a Philadelphia Flyers garbage can, and a Star Wars pinball machine (free to play, by the way).

On the back wall written in chalk are memorable quotes from the owners and some of their friends. Words of wisdom like "Don't toast to Will Smith. He wouldn't for you." Filled with thrift store knick knacks, Watson says the original inspiration for the layout of the bar was the inside of the Beaver's dam in Chronicles of Narnia. "But like if the Beaver was from Brooklyn," he says.

Drinks wise Unlovable, which Watson co-owns with Sweaty Betty's proprietor Pol Williams and Unfamiliar Records' Greg Ipp, offers a wide but familiar selection of beers, with the obligatory tall can of PBR costing $5 and Molson Stock Ale setting you back $4. If you're feeling flush, spring for a bottle of Heineken at $6. The house specialty is a Dark and Stormy made with Sailor Jerry's rum and corner store ginger beer, priced at $7.25. The food menu is predictably unpretentious and features only two items: Jamaican beef patties and, for the brave of heart and strong of stomach, microwavable bowls of Stag Chili .

The neighbourhood west of Dufferin on Dundas already has its fair share of watering holes, but unless you're a fan of Portuguese soccer they unfortunately don't offer much. Along with the Atlantic and the Henhouse down the street, Unlovable is the latest bar pulling the Ossington party crowd further West.

Although it's only been open for two weeks, Unlovable's already lined up three reliable weekly parties. Scott Cudmore has abandoned his weekly gig at Sweaty Betty's to helm old school jam Big Trouble in Little Portugal every Tuesday, and party scene fixture Dave LaMerde is spinning reggae tunes every Saturday under the title Jamaican Me Crazy. On Friday nights former Deadly Snakes frontman Max McCabe teams up with BBQ's Mark Sultan to host something called Ape Sodom. If nothing else, these guys have a way with names.

Additional Details

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Signature Drink:
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Who Goes There:



Ryan / July 24, 2010 at 11:27 AM

So the west end of Toronto is the hip place to live right? Is this bar part of the reason? Do they have beer on tap? The two food choices are frozen for the first and from a can for the second, impressive. This will sure lure me from my midtown condo.

netninja / July 24, 2010 at 12:08 PM

@Ryan the place is too cool for you. Stay in your lame cookie cutter midtown condo, no one likes you

Vanc / July 24, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Wait, you're proud of living in a cookiecutter condo in the middle of nowhere?

KL / July 24, 2010 at 12:22 PM

This is why I got the hell out of this area. Hipsters think they're faaaantastic, but I could tell you your life story in thirty words or less (small town to Toronto, likes smoking, PBR, namedropping places and people, studying something useless in school, considering dropping out, being floated by parents). Now *that's* cookie cutter.

Greg / July 24, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Ryan, please stay in midtown.

Brian / July 24, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I sure hope there is beer on tap. My friends and I will be coming in from Scarborough and we'll be thirsty.

Facepalm / July 24, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Another place sucking up to the hipsters by offering the abomination that is Pabst Blue Ribbon.

It's such a double edged sword isn't it - you want people to see you drink PBR because you think they'll think you're different and cool. But if you drink it, you're just like so many other hipster clowns who drink beer for the packaging and not the beer. I guess other PBR drinkers size you up - measuring you - are you cool enough to drink it? Are you bringing pride or shame to the PBR drinkers of Toronto?

I was once young and stupid like you. Back in the 90's the crap beers I drank were Export and 50. We thought we were so f'n cool drinking it. We were so edgy. Then we woke up and realized what morons we were.

Same beer dorkiness, different decade. Some things never change.

Stock ale is Export. And while we're at it, so is Laurentide. Have fun, kids.

blah / July 24, 2010 at 4:21 PM

what is everyone going on about?!
it's a bar...either check it out or don't

sam / July 24, 2010 at 4:41 PM

you guys seriously sit around and do this, im with blah, old man facepalm needs to live and let live you had your chance to be young sorry you wasted it

blah In replying to a comment from Ryan / July 24, 2010 at 7:57 PM

good. dont come.

blah In replying to a comment from Ryan / July 24, 2010 at 7:59 PM

haha i put my name as blah and didnt notice that someone already did that... and my comment was directed at the first guy up there

ben / July 24, 2010 at 8:05 PM

somewhere a bunch of ad executives are very happy to know that they've made some one, somewhere, actually believe that the kind of beer you drink says something about who you are.

tgp / July 24, 2010 at 8:40 PM

So what if kids want to drink PBR or 'Heinekin" and hang out together? I did a ton of that kind of thing in Montreal when I was a student 20 yrs ago... it was FUN! What I remember from those nights isn't a whole lot, but I don't regret a thing.

Who would want to live in a city that has no fun bars for students? Gimme a friggin break.

annakarenina / July 24, 2010 at 10:19 PM

and to those knocking condos.. its as cookie cutter as you make it... and when you bust your ass and can afford 6 hundred g's for a "clean" , "well maintained" place, you could care less about some filthy apartment above some store on queen street. character does not only come in a neat victorian brick package. and condo does not equal cookie cutter dear friends. you're just jealous u dont have a half a milli lying around to live in a little bit of luxury ;) peace.

Yvonne / July 25, 2010 at 2:08 AM

this blog is really "unlovable"!!

mark In replying to a comment from annakarenina / July 25, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Can you even see the tower from your 'luxurious' condo in Oakville?

RayRay / July 25, 2010 at 2:46 PM

ah man old man condo is so bummed he doesn't have any friends to go to Unlovable with.

less / July 25, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I drink pbr because it's cheap and I'm a student. It's really not about being "cool" ... my eyes scanned that blackboard and pbr would be the second thing I'd go for. Maybe the first... stock ale sounds pretty scary.

Nice / July 25, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Nice place, I'll check it out. I only hope known of the above commenters are there.

APOW / July 25, 2010 at 5:40 PM


christiana / July 26, 2010 at 2:25 AM

I love Unlovable. I went there once and I can't stop going back. But it needs more dudes. Too many hot chicks. I am serious. Its a problem! Otherwise, I am going to go back to flicking ice cubes at the weird bartender with the undercut and nobody wants THAT now do they!

west side dweller In replying to a comment from less / July 27, 2010 at 2:46 PM

less, it ain't easy being a student these days but i think you should try to get to some more of your classes or at least sit in on an econ 101 class.

if you are so concerned with saving money then i suggest forgo the pbr for carling ice - bottles are cheaper than pbr but more bang for your buck saves cash on the cans. polish off a few in the back alley before heading inside and you will only need to buy one beer to tie you over for the night - you can spend that quarter you saved on the case of ice over pbr to impress your date by 'upgrading' to an organic or steamer.

Whokebe / July 27, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Haha Ryan stick to your FIrkin boy. We don't want u @ unlovable. Like it or not you subway loop geezers are far from ground zero Toronto. The real sh* is happening east, west, north! We like when you late adopters chase the magic though, just floats our boats so we can take off away from u lame f*cks again. Cheers Ryan I'll say hello to u in ur tight tie as i scream past on my fixed gear wearing wayfarers. ART LIVES

ummmm In replying to a comment from west side dweller / August 22, 2010 at 4:15 PM

you're the only commenter on here who makes any sense and actually said something helpful. alleyway tallcans are the way to go. I like you.

GAWD! / September 19, 2010 at 7:08 PM

this comment thread is god awful.

Jared from Subway In replying to a comment from GAWD! / September 23, 2010 at 4:02 PM

heh, yeah, this comment thread is so totally toronto - completely hung up on appearance and identity markers, to the extent that the underlying qualities these things are supposed to reflect just get lost in the spectacle. all i have to say is that if you live in a condo and enjoy beer that doesn't taste like piss, then good on you - but you should be more secure with your lifestyle than to have to come on here and disparge people just so you can affirm the materialistic life choices you've made. as for the west-end-dwelling, bike-riding, pabst-drinking artists - the point of living like that is because it's fun and cheap, not because it validates some juvenile sense of rebellious individuality. both of yous, ya tryin' so damn hard..

thek / October 6, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Back to the comments about the actual content of the post.

The bar is great. I went there last night for some chill drinks with friends. While Dark & Stormy comes in a tall glass (what?!), it's still not bad. Tuesdays are the $1 off pints - what can be better?

Unlovable seems like a great bar to get snowed in this winter. Will be back stat.

Now, if only they improved the "food" menu :)

Japhet Bower / October 14, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Actually, people drink PBR 'cos it's cheap.

This place is alright. Music's good and they have a decent selection of beer.

Carsten Nielsen / October 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Haters gonna hate and Unlovable is great!

Carsten Nielsen / October 20, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Haters gonna hate, and Unloveable is great!

Greg In replying to a comment from Facepalm / January 6, 2011 at 10:07 AM

More of these (and MLSE RSB), please!

AV In replying to a comment from KL / January 6, 2011 at 11:53 AM

KL, you are THE best.

Cock Star In replying to a comment from Ryan / January 6, 2011 at 12:19 PM

@Ryan. U sound pretty stock. Unoriginal. I bet u just moved here from somewhere shitty like Mississauga. Go down to Jack Astors, where you can pretend to listen to other douchebags like yourself, when you're actually just thinking up a story to trump theirs. U bore me. Go have a pint of Coors Lite. I think Astors has those taps that make it really cold.

Richard In replying to a comment from Cock Star / January 6, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Your illiteracy and lack of diction is only rivaled by the sheer stupidity you have displayed in your reply.


Fontaine / January 6, 2011 at 2:44 PM

they should've stuck with 'Shitty Cheers!'

ANTONIO / January 8, 2011 at 1:11 AM


Dicky Nights / January 9, 2011 at 1:37 PM

You have all ruined Blog TO for me....thank you!

word / January 16, 2011 at 7:38 PM

i just came here looking for the address. i've been there once and it was fun. this thread is bananas though.

Eric / February 19, 2011 at 7:11 PM

This blog was a hilarious read. I love it.

Charlie Chesterfield / May 17, 2011 at 9:45 PM

I hope they play u2 tonight!

Amberleigh / May 23, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Geeze. Why does anyone care where anyone else lives, what they do, wear, or drink? The whole point of this blog is to expose new, or old bars/clubs to people who are looking for something different. Leave it at that, and please grow up. I'd hate to venture out of my "wonderful" city if Brampton to encounter the attitudes displayed here:(

Mark / June 2, 2011 at 10:30 AM

You're all a bunch of drama queens.

bob / January 31, 2012 at 8:26 PM

All I want is to get cheaply intoxicated in a dimly lit room ravaged by nostalgic trash that reminds me of my broken childhood because I look better in the dark and go home with someone who likes my fringe and glasses more than my tits and ass. I want to feel the dank air filled with pheromone boasting body odour stickily caress my face, I want to be freeeee.

Is that so much to ask?

Bangka / July 23, 2012 at 12:04 AM

Hi there I have an album coming out and I was woriendng if you'd like to lay some vocals down. There are a bunch of singers on this and I will be passing it out to a lot of people in a lot of places. Hope to hear from you! JImPS: The Chameleon show was great. The vocal harmonies are 5/5.

Raff In replying to a comment from less / September 16, 2012 at 4:24 PM


MorseShana24 / October 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM

I received my first credit loans when I was 25 and that helped my family very much. Nevertheless, I require the car loan once again.

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