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Restaurants

The Mugshot Tavern

Posted by Rebecca Fleming / Reviewed on August 2, 2011 / review policy

Mugshot Tavern TorontoThe Mugshot Tavern is my new home. Anybody there at the moment, feel free to finish your meals and pints, but please do pick up after yourself, because I'm moving in. That is just how comfortable I felt at High Park's newest watering hole, and soon-to-be (if not already) hotspot.

Mugshots sits at Bloor & Keele and fills the void where Mackenzie's used to be. They already have a steady stream of regulars, some of which the owners tell me are from the old Mackenzie days...almost as if they have been waiting patiently for a reincarnation. Being a resident of the neighbourhood, I know I was personally excited to see the signage go up some weeks ago.

Mugshot Tavern TorontoI had the chance to meet owners Scott and Jeff while I was there, and they dish out some mean Southern hospitality to go along with a similar inspired menu. Only a couple weeks in business now they already know some regulars by name, and are making a concentrated effort to get to know the rest.

Mugshot Tavern TorontoWondering about the name? Well, if you get the feeling you're being watched while eating, it wouldn't be unfounded. Celebrity mugshots line one whole wall of the bar. Captured on film in their prime, the likes of David Bowie and Mick Jagger stare down diners. I myself was under the watchful eye of Sid Vicious.

Mugshot Tavern TorontoFor starters I ordered the Mac & Cheese Fritters ($9) as I had heard so much about them. The order was preceded with the following letter written by yours truly, "Dear Arteries, I am very sorry for what is about to happen. Please take it up with Stomach and Brain. It was their idea." Breaded in Panko crumbs, these 3 cheese macaroni wedges are then fried and served with a spicy ketchup. How can something that feels so wrong taste so good? I think I have a problem on my hands here.

Mugshot Tavern TorontoNext, I ordered the Chicken Bacon & Brie Sandwich ($13), minus the bacon (I can almost hear a collective gasp). I love Brie. Me and Brie go way back. So I was pleased to see it oozing from the confines of my sandwich when it arrived at the table. The Rosemary foccaccia was nicely toasted on the outside while soft within. The chicken was very tender and paired nicely with a dijon mustard aioli... and did I mention it was smothered in Brie?

My friend went with the Mugshot Burger ($13 - top photo), which according to Jeff is one of their top sellers. She claimed "homemade goodness" on it's part which is what the menu promises and apparently, delivers. The all-beef burger comes served on a giant bun, that by no means dwarfs the patty, and garnished with a dill pickle and two house-made onion rings that Scott learned to craft back in the day at a fast-food restaurant that shall remain un-named.

There is an emphasis placed on quality, and with the exception of the bread and chicken wings, everything on the menu is prepared fresh, not frozen, and they source as many ingredients as they can locally. The menu is a work in progress, but the boys want to focus on Southern cookin' (think ribs, corn-on-the-cob, and pulled pork).

Mugshot Tavern TorontoAnd what goes hand in hand with quality food? Quality beer. And Mugshots has plenty. Thankfully there isn't a tap in the place that says Canadian or Coors. Instead they have a selection of craft beers from Big Rock, Great Lakes, Kronenburg and of course Mill Street and Steamwhistle, to name a few. ($4 for a 10oz mug / $6 pint / and $16 pitchers with imports being $1 more)

Mugshot Tavern TorontoOminous looking clouds kept us inside, but Mugshots does have a sweet rooftop patio. They've done a nice job of shielding it from neighbouring occupants (see: shady massage parlour) and adorning overhangs with twinkling strings of lights, giving it a backyard feel. But as with any backyard patio, seating is limited so I can imagine being hard-pressed to find a seat here on a sunny day. My advice is to arrive early and stake a claim.

Jeff said they set out to open a bar that they themselves would want to go to, and where everyone - couples, families, old and young - would feel welcome. I think they have succeeded.

Footnote: Look to the Mac & Cheese Fritters after enjoying a little too much of the aforementioned craft beer... they make excellent sponges.

Mugshot Tavern TorontoHours of Operation:
Mon. & Tues 5pm - 12am
Wed. - Sun. 11am - 2am
Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays!

Discussion

43 Comments

Dmitri / August 2, 2011 at 11:23 am
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This would be so helpful to have read yesterday as I was in the area.
John / August 2, 2011 at 11:26 am
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That food looks seriously unattractive, and does not make me want to visit.
Kevin replying to a comment from John / August 2, 2011 at 11:33 am
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I agree! This is boring standard pub food with a (slight, boring) twist to disguise that it's just another pub. I've been here and really can't understand this reviewers rave review. Seriously? Sounds like one of those people who calls everywhere "amazing!". No thanks.
AV replying to a comment from Kevin / August 2, 2011 at 11:48 am
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Keep up the hate... the less people I see in my new local the better it is for me
Joan / August 2, 2011 at 11:52 am
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If this pub specializes in Southern cooking, why isn't this displayed in the article? I agree that what is pictured does not look that exciting.
AV / August 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm
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That burger looks dry and that meat looks like it was frozen and recooked - PC burgers $12 each
Hepman replying to a comment from AV / August 2, 2011 at 01:07 pm
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Good call, bro. Looks like a place for a punch out dance, not a meal, 'no wha' aye mean?
Andriod / August 2, 2011 at 03:36 pm
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Dont judge a book by its cover. You need to see it and experience it before you open your big yaps.....get over yourselves. When was the last time you received great service somewhere in a pub setting? I thought so. Its a great addition to the local community.
"The Real" AV replying to a comment from AV / August 2, 2011 at 03:56 pm
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Just like to add that the 2nd post by "AV" is another user and not myself....

Jacq Attack / August 2, 2011 at 04:02 pm
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Are you kidding me? Yeah, make all your decisions based on photos. That's a great idea.

As someone who is speaking from experience (go figure, you need to try this place out for yourself. The service is out of this world (not to mention, the owner is a babe) and the beer selection is really fantastic.

Just shut up and try it.

Jager's Mum / August 2, 2011 at 04:12 pm
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Hmmm what do I love best about The Mug???

Fried chicken.

Why does it have be so good? The homemade batter? The fresh chicken inside all that crispiness? Yes and yes :)

I also love how Rosa Parks' owns her mugshot and a seriously foine young Al Pacino mugshot watching me eat that chicken.



rita / August 2, 2011 at 04:16 pm
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These guys worked very very hard to clean up the mess that was left behind by McKenzie. The place is spotless. The food is great, the hamburger patties are hand made, the fish has real BEER batter, real mash potatoes, no frozen veggies, everything is fresh . I wish them the best, at least I know someone that their life wish has come true.
Brina / August 2, 2011 at 04:21 pm
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the mug has a great atmosphere, laid back yet buzzing - this place is packed with people on a saturday night. i loved the music and the food was delish.
JacqAttack - i could not agree more! Beer + good looking staff = awesome
Wing Lover / August 2, 2011 at 04:29 pm
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The one time I visited, I was met with very friendly service and a great beer selection. However, I tried the wings (which were played up quite a bit on the menu) and was thoroughly disappointed. They were rubbery, fatty and not at all crispy. The homemade hot sauce left a lot to be desired... I will come back for the beer and the service, but venture for a different choice from the menu.
Chris replying to a comment from Kevin / August 2, 2011 at 05:32 pm
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I love you. That is exactly what I was thinking.
Cindy / August 2, 2011 at 06:18 pm
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The Mugshot Tavern does wonders for pubfare. Being a vegetarian (with a wheat intolerance) I often have the sole option of fries; however, Mugshot has a delicious veggie shepherd's pie. I tried it this past weekend and am definitely going back. It's hard to find a clean pub with decently priced drinks and friendly atmosphere, much less good food. I'm glad I found it here.
They don't make basketball shorts like they used to / August 2, 2011 at 06:28 pm
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Dear Chris, Kevin, John and the phony AV,

Thanks for the insightful comments. I thought I was the only one that could 'taste' food just by looking at photos!

Email me your favourite dish...I'm starving!!!!

-P


Kevin replying to a comment from They don't make basketball shorts like they used to / August 2, 2011 at 06:42 pm
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Just like to point out that if you actually read my comment, you would see that I HAVE been here and HAVE tried the food. And it sucks.
Richard / August 2, 2011 at 07:38 pm
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Had a beer here recently - good experience. However, I'm not sure a patio is a good idea with that horrific stench that comes from the Parkside area. Anyone else know what that smell is from?
kevin / August 3, 2011 at 09:35 am
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rewarded my bro in law for help with home renos with a pint and burger at the mugshot last week.

$50 for two burgers (bacon and cheese) and two pints with tip.

not a hot deal.

would reccomend some daily deals that mackenzies used to have if possible.
Sandman / August 3, 2011 at 11:23 am
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"They've done a nice job of shielding it from neighbouring occupants (see: shady massage parlour) ..."

Nice! Mugshot is an apropro name then!
Lewis / August 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm
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First off..i love the mug...
second....great review...
Third...why shield us from the shady massage parlour...if anything you should collaborate with them?!...Pint and Tug thursdays anyone?....too much?...

seriously...great addition to the hood...and don't forget to take your photo in front of the mugshot background...a nice touch...

carla / August 3, 2011 at 04:32 pm
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Just want to say that I love this place. I've lived in the neighbourhood a short time and am finally able to have a local nearby. I've been in a few times with friends and we all have loved everything we've eaten. Very fairly priced for the quantity and quality of food. The beers on tap are all canadian craft beer and delicious. Most impressive of all is the friendly service and the general vibe in this place. Good music, jukebox, comfortable furniture, nice lighting and cool mugshots all over. Everyone seems to enjoy working there despite the crazy hours they must be putting in. Keep up the good work boys. The other bars in the hood better make some changes or I won't be surprised to see them close their doors. I know I'm done going any where else. Don't believe the haters. Check it out for yourself.
John / August 3, 2011 at 05:35 pm
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Well, just so I wasn't ignorant, I went and tried the food. As expected, 4 out of 10.
carla / August 3, 2011 at 06:37 pm
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i couldn't disagree with you more. this john idiot probably works at the shittier bars up the road.
Emmy / August 4, 2011 at 08:06 pm
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To Those who are putting down the MugShot, please just stay in the Bloor West Village. Keep eating your over hyped Griffen burgers, keep drinking your pints poured from dirty taps at Firken,not to mention the horrible attitude at the door from the bouncer, and keep shelling out all your money at Sharkey's.

The MugShot is reserved for those who want great food, reasonable prices and who want to surround themselves with amazing people, staff and clientele alike.
Restaurants / August 13, 2011 at 02:04 pm
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Thank you for sharing! This was exactly what I was looking for. 4th photo absolutely delicious.
Trish / August 14, 2011 at 03:14 pm
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I think it's cute that all you negative folk want to hate on a place that is trying to avoid what SO many other pubs have been doing forever. I've been multiple times now and I can't think of a reason to hate on this bar (besides the damn mosquitos on the rooftop!). To be fair, I haven't tried the wings, but I have tried the nachos, which are really really good! Trust me! No one has mentioned them and they are seriously worth ordering. Thick cut, crispy veg on top of fresh AUTHENTIC tortilla chips and lots of cheese. They make their own salsa and guac and it's served on the side with sour cream. It's a great option if you're with a friend having some drinks. Also, the fried chicken and the fish and chips are delicious! I can't stress enough. (obviously, not for the calorie-counters) What else... anything I have ordered has been delicious and impressive for a tavern/pub. Don't judge the food by a few meh photos and I guess for the people that have had a rough experience with the wings, like someone said... the menu is a working progress. I think this place is a real gem!
Mike / October 14, 2011 at 06:14 pm
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Interesting reading through these comments later on - I've been to the mugshot a couple times now since it opened up. I'm quite happy with the place, particularly the decent beer selection and prices. Haven't been for a bit since the summer, so going to give it a go again, but I don't expect to be disappointed.
stef replying to a comment from AV / October 16, 2011 at 09:26 pm
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Didn't take long after sitting down that the two loud guys sitting behind us were completely hammered and meanwhile the waitress and two other staff were just letting it happen. The waitress was actually encouraging their boorish behaviour. We ordered the dry burger in the picture and the chicken brie sandwhich.
When receiving my burger I was happy to see the onion rings on top but disappointed when I lifted the top bun only to find a single piece of lettuce and a dry patty. (I had asked for no tomato).
The chicken sandwhich was decent... It was when we asked for our bill and rest of the sandwhich to be packed up...this place sucks.
Marvin replying to a comment from stef / October 17, 2011 at 04:33 pm
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It sounds like the two yobbos were loading up and getting ready to have their mug shots taken at the police station. The waitress should have whipped a dry burger in their direction and see if they fetched it.
dwayne wanner / February 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm
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You used to carry our beer and we were very grateful. We had to slow production for some repairs and reorganization but we are back in production. I will be bringing a fresh batch down to Toronto early next week. I would be pleased to drop off a supply. Please let me know what you wish to order.
Dwayne Wanner
President
Highlander Brew co
d wanner replying to a comment from dwayne wanner / February 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm
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message sent to wrong address
bosch coffee machine / February 15, 2012 at 08:13 am
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Conceive that not anything can make you genuinely feel that way without your agreement. It is however usual for people to give below the belt words and yet provided that you deal with them up-front, they don't go about doing exactly the same. There may be really a need to stay by how you feel even it is being faced with a range of opposition.
WestEnder / August 1, 2012 at 08:46 am
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BlogTO reviewers are bizarrely cranky. The Mugshot Tavern is a gem in the west end. It's a pub - so let's review it as such, it's not a fine dining establishment. Toronto has a dreadful number of cookie cutter chain pubs, so this place is a breath of fresh air. The food is above average and the craft beer offerings are selected with care. Highlights on the menu are the pulled pork sandwich, fried chicken with mac 'n cheese and a great broccoli slaw, and the Sunday night roast dinner. The poutine and corn dogs are excellent indulgences as well. Their burger and wings could be improved upon - they are average, but not bad. As a local, I can attest to consistently good, prompt and friendly service. It's nice to support small business owners and it's evident that the guys running the place put their all into it. Lastly, the patio is the most pleasant setting in the area.
Bling / August 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm
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Cumshots is average in nearly all regards. The seating is a bit awkward in the main area and while the upstairs outside patio is excellent, the service is just horrific. Too often I've been left with an empty pint.

The food choices and are decent to average. We were often treated to samples when they first opened. There is nothing here that should blow you away, especially when compared to some other local spots along Roncies.

The sewage stench that's been emanating from the N/E high park area the past few years is just a killer with the patio opened. Stinkiest corner of the city unfortunately.
Big Prawns / August 5, 2012 at 09:51 am
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First off this place is a straight up pub and nothing more so get over it people. I've been atleast 6 or more times and the service is always consistent...to the point they're asking you a couple more times when you don't need anything else.

The brunch is tasty and plentiful, same with the regular menu and there are a shit ton of beers on tap to choose from. This is a real local hang out...you will see the same faces if you go regularly. Maybe you are not going to be 'blown away' but when was the last time you visited a pub and were? Maybe vacationing in England maybe?

Bottom line: It's affordable, friendly, good food and tap selection with a fun atmosphere. Done. Btw I was there a few nights ago and didn't smell any sewer smell like dude above mentioned.
Phoebe / November 27, 2012 at 02:43 pm
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The beer is amazing! They have some of the most interesting selections of craft beer in the city. They have something new on tap every week and if you tell the owner what kind of beers you like, he'll find something that's absolutely perfect for you. The food is quite yummy, as well. Lots of insanely unhealthy but delicious things to choose from.

(I would like to also point out, as someone who has lived in the area for a while, it's not sewage, it's skunks. It's High Park, there are a lot of skunks in the area, especially along the East side of the park on hot summer nights.)
Damien / November 29, 2012 at 11:01 am
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This is the best Small bar in Toronto.. I Strongly suggest trying it !! The staff make you feel like your a family member and the food is the best food i have EVER had at a bar. The Curry is to die for although adding a little more chicken couldn't hurt ;)
Damien replying to a comment from Bling / November 29, 2012 at 11:06 am
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Bling.....Your an idiot .... The end
Greg / May 6, 2013 at 06:30 pm
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Best Fries I've ever eaten served by wicked cool staff. Thanks Mugshot.
George / January 15, 2014 at 06:15 pm
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Great new addition to the neighbourhood. Only problem is that it gets a little packed.
RenMan3000 / June 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm
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I was there last night.
Had a blast. Friendly engaging staff. I did not eat but had a few drinks. Great company, friendly atmosphere. Non pretentious. And non sketchy.

What more could you want?!?!

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