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Eat & Drink

The top 10 pubs in the Beaches

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / July 29, 2013

Beaches Toronto pubsThe Beaches may not be known for a thriving bar, food or music scene, but what it does have in spades is pubs. The stretch of Queen St. East between Victoria Park and Coxwell is home to a large variety of watering holes that are well-loved by locals for their chicken wings, beer specials, people watching or spectacular view. They all have at least one thing in common, too, despite their differences: some of the friendliest staff in Toronto which is what you want at a neighbourhood spot designed for brewing your blood into beer.

If you like sports and beer and live in the Beaches, or even if you don't, here, in no particular order, is where you want to go when seeking out suds on the far east of Queen Street.

Captain Jack
Captain Jack is a true dive in the best way imaginable. The regulars call it 'the hole.' Those regulars include ex-pornstars, ex-athletes, Neil Young's brother, and other fantastical characters. The lovely woman behind the bar tells me, "We have nothing special. Just a few old man beers, like 50." She's totally wrong, though. First of all, 50 is awesome, and second, it's this bar's clientele that make it incredible. On a recent visit, one of the aforementioned 'old men' asks me to stay, but it somehow doesn't seem creepy. Later, he tells me I have nice feet, which is just about the creepiest thing another human has ever said to me, but is also kind of adorable. Pints can be had for $5, and that doesn't hurt either.

Castro's Lounge
Castro's is a dark little lounge at Queen St. East and Hammersmith known for its beer selection and vegetarian menu. It may be veggie-focused, but the menu still features traditional pub food, like quesadillas and veggie chili. There are healthier options, too, like vegan grain bowls. You'll find an ever-changing selection of unique craft brews on special, as well. The front window is a garage-door style setup, and they open it up to let in the sounds of the street in the summertime. There's loads of visual interest here, with a living gallery made up of old celebrity photos.

Fill Station
Fill Station is the place to go to grab all of the pub food classics on the cheap. They do a pound of wings for $6.99 on Mondays, a $4.99 nachos special on Thursdays, and bar snacks like jalapeno poppers and calamari for $5.99 every day of the week. It's a friendly spot where the servers know the customers by name. You'll also find a selection of $5 pints. There's entertainment, too, like sports on the big screen and Guitar Hero contests. I would caution against being a woman with a face in here during the week, though, unless you really like being aggressively hit on by much older dudes. In that case, fill your boots.

Gull and Firkin
I'm not sure where you'd find a Guinness and oyster special in the city other than at a Firkin, and the Gull is the Beaches' answer to that. The Gull and Firkin is a place to go if you'd identify as a fairly normal person looking for consistent food and service and British-inspired pub food like Shepherd's pie ($11) and poutine with a British twist. On weekdays, they do a happy hour from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. featuring $4.50 domestic draught and house rails. This Firkin location has a patio with room for about 50 people, and they're also down with the sports. All of the sports.

Whitlock's Restaurant
Compared with some of the other spots on this list, Whitlock's is a bit more austere on the inside. It's the kind of place you might go to have a nice pleasurable cry into your bourbon after work. Located on Queen just east of Woodbine, this is also a place to frequent if you're a history nerd. The building is designated as a historical site, and it's been part of daily life in the beaches since 1891. It was a grocery store, and then a post office, and, in 1925, became the first Black Diamond Cheese Factory. It still has a dark factory feel to it, despite the modern furniture. Now, at Whitlock's, you'll find specials like all-you-can-eat brunch for $13.99, a burger deal complete with fries or salad for $10, several local brews on tap, and a full bar.

Murphys Law TorontoMurphy's Law
Murphy's Law boasts one of the best rooftop patios in Toronto. The views of the lake and of downtown are stunning, and the breeze is perfect on a summer day. Murphy's brands itself as an Irish pub, and while the feel isn't all that Irish, some of the Emerald-isle inspired dishes, like Irish stew and beer-battered fish, are also some of the most popular. Specials include half price apps on Mondays, and half price wings on Tuesdays. Drinks specials include Caesars for $2.99 with weekend brunch, and $4 and $5 beer specials throughout the week, with picks like Keith's and Rolling Rock.

Lion on the Beach
Lion on the Beach is another spot known for its extensive offerings in the patio department. There's room for about 175 people between the two patios, and patrons of those patios can enjoy what might be the cheapest hamburger special in the city (aside from McDonald's). You can order a burger and fries at Lion on the Beach for a mere $5.25. Drink specials stack up to this, too. Caesars can be had for $4 at brunch, and pints are $5 during Leafs games. The whole place feels kind of like a dignified Old English mancave, with dart boards and large TV screens.

Salty Dog
Salty Dog is known for being a neighbourhood gathering spot, too, but for a different set of folks than those who congregate at Captain Jack. I recently chatted with a server in her twenties here, and she says all of her friends from high school come here for reunions. Salty Dog is a classic sports bar. The servers wear baseball-inspired tees, there are big screen TVs on the walls, and patrons get together and conduct football pools. There's a loyal fanbase that comes out to catch hockey games, too. The whole place kind of feels like a sports theme park. Monday and Wednesday you'll find specials on wings, and, according to the staff, NHL personalities make a habit of hanging out here.

Outrigger Tap and Table
They should add the word oasis to the name of this pub. The patio makes you feel exactly like you're pool side on a vacation. There's no pool, per se, but there is shade and a glorious fountain. The food is tropics-inspired, too, with the menu offering dishes like tilapia with lobster ($16) and fish tacos ($12), one of their most popular dishes, which is served complete with avocado, cilantro and sour cream. For drinks, you'll find bellinis, margaritas and martinis, which are well-suited to the environment, as well as a limited beer selection including Steam Whistle, Keith's, Stella and Bud Light. And don't forget to check out the walls inside, too—they're brandished with some gorgeous paintings of Toronto.

Breakwall BBQ
Breakwall, of course, is known for its smoked meat. When I recently visited this spot (at 4:30 p.m. on a weekday), several utterly sloshed frat dudes have already become fixtures on the 35-person capacity patio. They tell me they can't resist the combination of smoked meat, beer and sports. Smoked specialties include ribs, beef and pulled pork. "It's fresh, too!" a cowboy hat-clad gentleman hollers at me. The tap includes picks from Rolling Rock, Keith's, and Budweiser, and two pitchers of Keith's can be had for $32. If beer is not your thing, Breakwall also has specials on frozen cocktails like margaritas and pina coladas.



Amanda / July 29, 2013 at 03:00 pm
Years ago I worked at the Ben and Jerry's that was next to Captain Jack (now a Bagel World) and we used to get one of their regulars in to our store all the time. He was a horrible drunk that yelled at us kids as we got his order of 2-3 pints of ice cream that he'd take back to the bar. There was also a woman who would leave her puppy-aged dog tied up outside literally all day (like noon to 8pm at least) while she sat in there drinking, in the summer, without water. We put out water for the dog and gave him bits of ice cream cone when we noticed she never even came out to check on him. Even called the Humane Society - not sure what happened after that.

I would not put Captain Jack on a list of good anything.
Shirley / July 29, 2013 at 03:06 pm
then there's that blast from the past the Lakeview Tavern on Kingston Rd. right across from the golf course.
Carly / July 29, 2013 at 03:11 pm
did the person writing about these pubs have a drink in any of them, or just stand out front and read the menus on the entrances.
i work in the beaches. not even a local, and im half offended by the lack of information on most of these places.

fill station has the best wings in the neighbourhood, if not, the city -> thats all that needs to be said, its TOTALY female friendly, so why the comments on it being otherwise i have no idea, youre not going to get stalked and creeped on at this bar by a bunch of "Older Dudes"

Castros-> amazing MUSIC bar. always have great live bands, and DJs playing REAL vinyl albums from their collections. not sure how that slipped away from the big picture. its not a "veggie" bar, it just caters to anyone who eats food. half the people i see there are outside smoking in shifts, and NOT vegans.

most people go to pubs to get drunk.
not look for ex athletes and people that have to state why they were once famous.

beacher replying to a comment from Carly / July 29, 2013 at 03:19 pm
castros switched to a vegetarian menu about a year ago.

no feathers on the list?
green dragon?

the beaches is pretty dead for nightlife.
Courtney / July 29, 2013 at 03:31 pm
Whitlock's has the worst service of any place I have been in a while. Slow, snarky staff and mediocre food. Avoid this place.
Tim replying to a comment from beacher / July 29, 2013 at 03:56 pm
We purposely didn't include the Upper Beaches in this list
Matt / July 29, 2013 at 04:08 pm
Feathers on Kingston Road is the most English of all English pubs in town. Vastly moreso than the Queen and Beaver an duh alike (as in, half the clientele are actually English).

And it's got a good brew selection and a friendly vibe.
Lee-Anne / July 29, 2013 at 04:11 pm
That's not so much the "top ten" as it is the "only ten" pubs in the beaches!
Jeff / July 29, 2013 at 04:55 pm
WOBBLY POPS on Kingston RD!!!
hat man replying to a comment from beacher / July 29, 2013 at 05:14 pm
Fitzgeralds has been closed for a while
BM / July 29, 2013 at 05:16 pm
It's the Beach.
Jeff replying to a comment from BM / July 29, 2013 at 06:05 pm
Upper Beach, Lower Beach, Kingston road and Danforth!!!
We are the Beach!!!
FRBYWA replying to a comment from BM / July 29, 2013 at 08:05 pm
Yes, Blog TO, don't forget it is THE Beach. Like the only one. The very very special one. Don't ruin people's day by calling it anything but the very GLORIOUS Beach that it is.

BM replying to a comment from FRBYWA / July 29, 2013 at 08:37 pm
If you're going to blog about a city, then know the correct neighborhood names. That's all I'm saying. Dickhead.
BEACHER / July 29, 2013 at 09:26 pm
BEACHES. thank you.
BEACHER / July 29, 2013 at 09:29 pm
Also, the Green Dragon on Kingston Rd is better than any of these so-called top ten.
Gabe / July 30, 2013 at 12:06 am
BEACHES!!!! we gotta expand....
Stanley / July 30, 2013 at 04:07 am
Everyone else in the city calls it The Beaches....get over it.
Brian / July 30, 2013 at 09:27 am
I know this isnt a top 10 list but I'll just say I caution anyone who is interested in going to Whitlocks. It's decorated nicely but the service is terrible (slow, inattentive, gets orders wrong), the food isnt any good and its expensive.
BM replying to a comment from BEACHER / July 30, 2013 at 10:26 am
Go back to Whitby.
beached / July 30, 2013 at 10:34 am
LOL @ Kingston road being the "upper beaches"
good god.
beached replying to a comment from hat man / July 30, 2013 at 10:35 am
that's incorrect.
Rob replying to a comment from BEACHER / July 30, 2013 at 01:39 pm
... execpt for the trashy clientele.
Open source 1111 / July 30, 2013 at 06:58 pm
The "Beach" is wishful thinking. The Beaches is the name of a neighborhood in Toronto. The debate reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.
FRBYWA replying to a comment from BM / July 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm
Your comment clearly shows who is actually the dickhead.

And who uses the word dickhead? Last time I heard that used was when I was in grade 6 or something!

Put another damn sticker on your car that says, Beach! Hell, put one on your back window, your side windows and your front window! Perhaps the residents of the harbourfront can put a sticker on their car that says, "Harbour." The Island residents can put a sticker that says "ISLAND." High Park residents can put a stick that says, "PARK." Wait...the beaches also has parks....should they put a sticker that says BEACH and PARK??? What would residents of Jane/Finch put on their cars? Hmmm... a sticker that says "GUN" or perhaps "DRUGS.." Danforth....they could put a sticker on their car saying "GREEK RESTAURANT."

Come on you proud beacher....lead Toronto on....get us all going with them stickers.....

Come to think of it, over top your damn sticker that says BEACH, put DICKHEAD.....
Dennis Wilson replying to a comment from FRBYWA / July 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm
Bwahahahaaa!! I enjoyed this comment. Thanks maaahhhnnnn!!!!!!
Aaron / August 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm
'Beaches' is passe. The community voted it is 'The Beach'. The 'Upper Beach' is a real zone as well. Bordered by the Kingston Road on the south, and the GO line on the north, NOT Danforth. That being said, the pubs on Kingston Road are great. The Grover, the Green Dragon, Mullins, The Feathers, etc. All are awesome. But, since this is a Beach survey, good list.
abdullah / September 26, 2013 at 10:54 am
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Jack / November 26, 2013 at 04:07 pm
FWIW it's now Beach Village. Not the Beaches or the Beach.

Why was Emerald Bar and Grill excluded? Was this on purpose?
Jefferson replying to a comment from Jeff / May 11, 2014 at 11:20 am
Anyone who has lived in Toronto for more 20 years knows it's "the beaches" not the "beach". The official name change to the "beach" was voted on by the influx of hipsters who have only recently taken up residence in the area. . Beach sounds more exclusive than beaches I guess
christopher / May 12, 2014 at 02:49 am
This is where all the old people go to drink at bars or the visiting grand kids of all the seniors that over populate the beaches. One of the oldest neighbourhoods in TO.
John replying to a comment from Jeff / August 10, 2014 at 07:33 pm
Yeah..... No... Danforth is not the beach lol....
hannah brown / August 10, 2014 at 09:05 pm
when I moved here 30 years ago, the neighbours all called it The Beach. I liked saying I lived in the Beach, it sounded like I was up to my neck in sand. AND people also called it the Beaches. No one really worries about it, not if they're a Beacher. BEachers go to the Fox in their bedroom slippers, if they feel like it. Norman Jewison was asked why he went around in t-shirts and track pants, was he making a statement, and he said, No, I'm a Beacher. Still lots of jocks and hippies here, and lots of wonderful dogs. And Castro's has great music, for sure: check out Blue Venus on Mondays.
Kathy / August 10, 2014 at 10:55 pm
All I can say is that in the beach community there are a few beaches; Balmy Beach, Kew Beach, Woodbine Beach. I've been calling this area the beaches for 40 some years. I don't care what you want to call it and you shouldn't care what anyone else calls it. It is a beautiful precious area to live by the lake. Grow up.
Hook / August 11, 2014 at 02:18 am
Most of these aren't pubs and half of them are crap anyway. Very few real pubs along queen.
Joe replying to a comment from BM / August 11, 2014 at 09:17 am
I lived in The Beaches for a few decades and the name always made sense to me:

Although the actual beach is just one long strip of sand, the Beaches isn't one beach, it's 4 beaches(Scarboro Beach, Kew Beach, Balmy Beach, Woodbine Beach).
Joe replying to a comment from Open source 1111 / August 11, 2014 at 09:19 am
Not to mention the name of the riding is 'Beaches-East York" and not 'Beach-East York.'
Joe replying to a comment from Jefferson / August 11, 2014 at 09:21 am
As someone who lived in The Beaches for decades I agree: All this naming nonsense began when the condos and quick-build housing went up at the former racetrack (Woodbine/Queen).

It reminds me of the people who moved into the Entertainment District and immediately began complaining about the clubs and bars around them.
AS replying to a comment from Jefferson / November 16, 2014 at 08:16 pm
"The official name change to the "beach" was voted on by the influx of hipsters who have only recently taken up residence in the area..." it wasn't. It was voted The Beach by all the local old timers who have called it The Beach for decades. It started getting called The Beaches in the 80s when all the "yuppies" moved into the neighborhood back then. And hipsters don't live in The Beach. I'm guessing you really don't know what a hipster is...
Sasha / September 16, 2015 at 04:10 pm
I would agree with your list except Captain Jacks is a sleezy dive And Fill Station is the nastiest local drunk tank in the area. You really dont to be a female in that place cuz all the gross old regulars -- like the loud mouth Aussie that pollutes most of the bars on Queen E. Or the "loser" guy that just sits in the window seat everyday creeping out. I have heard even the waitress have had to quit cuz this guy is so desperately creepy.
Stay away if your not an old creepy dude.
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