The top 5 jukeboxes in Toronto
The top jukeboxes in Toronto are the ones you can rely on in times of trouble. Boxes stocked with ironic picks (looking at you, Red Light) can provide some funny-haha good times, but on those serious nights when you need to hear "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "The Boy is Mine," or "Two-Headed Boy" to avoid spontaneous combustion (read: retreating from ever experiencing the wonders of human emotion ever again) it's good to have fail-safes.
While Toronto is blessed in the jukebox area and some of y'all swear by the selections at watering holes like Unlovable, Allen's, Motel, and The Gem, here's where to find my picks for the top jukeboxes in Toronto.
There's a lot to love about Sweaty Betty's, from the worn, cozy decor to the fact it was one of the first decent places to drink on Ossington (and still remains one of the best.) Betty's diverse CD jukebox is just one more thing to count on going right, even if everything else in your life is goin' wrong. From Motorhead to The Cure to Springsteen and Willie Nelson, this is one of the best jukeboxes in Toronto to spend a night with.
The Communist Daughter
The bartenders have a pretty good handle on what to play when there isn't live music or a bring-your-own-vinyl night on the schedule, but this much-loved jukebox is a not to be missed Toronto experience. Of course Communist D's jukebox stocks Neutral Milk Hotel, and while you might have to wait for your picks to wrestle it away from some eager flannel clad younger type looping Aeroplane Over the Sea - "just one more time!" - or some older cats queuing up country jams, the eclectic mix of indie, jazz, country/folk and classic rock is worth it.
Henhouse might be Toronto's kitschiest bar / brunch spot. It's more like a summer cottage than an urban watering hole, except most summer cottages don't have jukeboxes stocked with Kate Bush, T-Rex, Prince, and Joy Division. Honestly, I'd rather be sliding shiny dollars into the machine here than slapping mosquitoes in the dark at the lake most nights. And yes, everyone does really, really want to hear "Running Up That Hill" again.
When DJs aren't spinning, Disgaceland's CD jukebox makes you choose between 1000 songs while you sip your drink, shoot pool, or devour brunch. I heard that those overwhelmed with choices in life tend to succeed less then those who aren't faced by as many stressful decisions, but you could also just go for The Beatles or make a selection with your eyes closed. The jukebox is free on Mondays because Disgraceland cares about your emotional and financial well being.
This list would be incomplete without the Imperial Pub, who aside from their rooftop patio also claim a 70 year history of letting you pick the jazz selections. Wet your whistle and pick some tunes near Ryerson and be a part of history - from the Imperial Pub's website: "In the 1950s, Jack bought our now famous Seeburg jukeboxes and loaded them with the best 45s from his own lifelong Jazz collection." That's right, 45s. Music fans really are spoiled in Toronto.
Photo by Eugen Sakhenko