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Restaurants

Real Sports Bar

Posted by Alexander J. Yolevski / Reviewed on October 26, 2010 / review policy

Real Sports Bar TorontoThe Real Sports Bar at Maple Leaf Square is a mammoth man cave - an adult's arcade and according to ESPN the best sports bar in North America. Call it what you want - this place is huge.

During my recent visit the Leafs weren't playing so there wasn't the usual line-up. Outside the bar, the formally attired bodyguard (who admitted he didn't watch sports and had no idea who was playing that night) asked me if I had a reservation. I didn't, so I walk in to put a party of four on the wait list. The waiting list is an hour.

45 minutes later my electronic buzzer thingy starts vibrating and it's time to go in. With 199 flat screen televisions (all broadcasting sports, natch), free WiFi, an arcade section including table top hockey and virtual golf and - oh yeah - a two story flatscreen, HDTV with a size that rivals the one just put outside of the ACC, there seems to be very little reason to disregard this as somewhere one could visit religiously to watch the game.

Real Sports Bar TorontoWe are brought upstairs and given high seats overlooking the entire downstairs bar and the gigantic TV just above it. I love the fact that no matter where you sit, including in the bathroom, you have a television to watch in clear sight. Everything is sports. Even the bottom of a glass has either a basketball or a football welded into it.

Real Sports Bar TorontoWe order an entree each and they arrive in a very quick manner. My friend orders the "Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Focaccia" ($12.99) which comes with a house salad on the side as requested. Of course I dug in for a bite. The bread is wonderfully toasted with tenderly crisped but moist chicken breast coupled with fresh tomatoes and provolone cheese. The garlic aioli infuses a perfect amount of tang.

Real Sports Bar TorontoFor the vegetarian sports fan this place has some decent options. My veggie lady friend ordererd the "Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich" ($11.99) with tomato pesto and herbed goat cheese on focaccia. This entree arrives with a side order of sweet potato fries. The kitchen is skimpy on this night with the goat cheese but when I squinted hard enough I could see it. The veggies and mushrooms brushed with tomato pesto taste fresh and savoury. Being a meat eater myself, I can't imagine this being the most filling item on the menu but the great tasting sweet potato fries helped fill the void. Nonetheless, my friend assured me this was on her list of fave veggie sandwiches in the city.

Real Sports Bar TorontoJust like any decent sports bar, wings are on the menu and in a very big way. The thing to get is "Chef Tony's Ultimate Chicken Wings" (1LB $12.99, 2LBS $24.99, 4LBS $47.99) which seem pricey compared to many wing options around town....but there's a reason for this. They're big, crispy and, most importantly, meaty (not fatty). There are 11 sauce options including Chipotle BBQ, Cajun Dry Rub, Lime Salt and Pepper. My girlfriend (who eats out as much as I do) orders wings with medium Buffalo sauce which are a bit too sour and vinegary for both our liking. Oh well....next time maybe we'll go for the Thai Sweet Chili.

Finally, what would a sports bar be without hot dogs? I personally take a liking to the foot long "Bacon Wrapped Dog" ($12.99 - top photo) which comes with cheddar cheese supplied by Burkie's Dog House (a vendor at the ACC) and a side order of house cut fries. Not a great option for those on a diet, so my girlfriend warns me, (who comes to a sports bar when they're on a diet anyway) but the dog comes to life with crispy bacon and perfectly melted cheese.

While taking my first bite into this beast I had to check I wasn't drooling all over myself. This was one juicy dog. I loved it. Sided with warm fries (the regular kind, with skin-on), this is one classic American meal. If I closed by eyes for a moment, I could have been at Wrigley Field.

Real Sports Bar TorontoFor dessert I indulge in the "Black and White" milkshake ($6.99) which consists of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and chocolate chips. It's definitely a serving for two, but I attempt this on my own with everyone else feeling stuffed from their meals. I almost finished it. The hot fudge wasn't hot and seemed to be more like chocolate syrup than fudge. I also would have preferred if the chocolate chips were mixed in rather than just some sprinkled on top. But overall it was a good milkshake. I can't complain too much about something with these ingredients.

Real Sports Bar TorontoOne additional note: the prices. While one might expect a restaurant owned by MLSE to have inflated prices, the menu here (both food and drinks) is actually quite reasonable and is good value for the money, especially when you factor in all the "free entertainment" throughout the place. Domestic bottled beer starts at $4.75 and there are over 100 taps.

Discussion

46 Comments

MattyC / October 5, 2010 at 08:13 pm
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Going to this bar is like going to a Leaf's game. Packed full of suits who aren't even watching the game. Pretty authentic experience.
natehindle / October 7, 2010 at 01:03 am
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Watched a sunday night football game here. Best Place for football, the crowd was super into it and the prices were not as bad as I thought they would be. I will for sure go back.
Cat / October 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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lol @ MattyC. The recliners are nice if you can get'em though..
KL / October 26, 2010 at 09:27 am
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$13 for a hot dog. This is why everyone's broke.
Harry / October 26, 2010 at 10:07 am
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Is this bar any different? 100% of bars in Toronto are clueless when it comes to operating their TV's. Hopefully this new bar's owner and manager are not visual dullards. Every other bar owner/manager is a visual dullard in Toronto. Why? They take a regular 4:3 TV "picture" and stretch it 50% in width - in order to fill a 16:9 TV screen! LOL A basketball now looks like a football! 7 foot tall basketball players looks they are 5 feet tall and 5 foot wide. All hockey platers look like they are 3 foot tall and weigh 600 pounds! LOL Here's what I mean:
http://visualdullard.com/Site/Blog/Blog.html

Basketball!?? What!! We play basketball in Toronto!? What!! Toronto has a professional basketball team!!?? I have to beg to watch a college or pro basketball game in ANY/EVERY bar in Toronto! That includes HOOPS LOL. HOOPS on Bremner Blvd. is 40 feet away from Air Canada Centre - where the Raptors play - basketball??? Shoeless Joes, Gretskis all in the same duH! boat - 30 TVs on, all with the same hockey game dUh!!

And if by a miracle they actually put on a basketball game (it usually takes at least 30 minutes of begging )- they stretch the picture 50% in width to fill the screen - it likes watering down the beer (half beer half water.)

ESPN has it all wrong - the best sports bar in North America is the Yankee Doodle in Santa Monica Cal.
http://www.yankeedoodles.com/index_main.html
Harry / October 26, 2010 at 10:14 am
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Here's a better web page to demonstrate what "visual dullard" bar owners is all about:
http://visualdullard.com/Site/Blog/Entries/2007/11/5_Entry_1.html
Traps! / October 26, 2010 at 10:54 am
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Harry - that's enough. Off to the showers with you.
Jimmy / October 26, 2010 at 11:01 am
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"My girlfriend (who eats out as much as I do)"

That's some kind of girlfriend. Heyo!
ufc? / October 26, 2010 at 11:27 am
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anyone know if they show PPV UFC fights at this place?
agentsmith / October 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm
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Been there once, not really impressed. Had a burger and it was dry as a bone and rather tasteless. Others in my group seemed pleased with their meals though. The main reasons to go there would be the huge screen and the big crowd atmosphere.
MP / October 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm
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Whatever keeps the 905ers out of Sports Centre Cafe on St. Clair is fine by me. This place reminds me of WEGZ only busier, more expensive and less fun.

Note: The ESPN poll was "fan voted" and every single MLSE employee with a Twitter account (even players!) spammed "Vote RealSports @ ESPN" for about a month before the place even opened. That said, it's a fine bar, but overhyped and likely to trend downwards which is pretty much in line with how MLSE generally conducts its ventures.
Mackenzie Chiu / October 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm
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Amazing spot to watch the game and the food price points are pretty much the same as Jack Astors with a 10X better menu!
Regina / October 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm
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This place is a joke.
Delusional Leafs Fan replying to a comment from ufc? / October 26, 2010 at 01:31 pm
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They do show UFC, but have a $10 cover. We left after being told this in addition to having standing room only.
Scott / October 26, 2010 at 02:06 pm
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I've been there 3 times for UFC and never had to pay cover although the last time I had a reservation. Make sure to make them WELL in advance.

The food here is excellent. I think the worst item on their menu is actually the burger strangely. Only dish I haven't been satisfied with.
Henry / October 26, 2010 at 02:37 pm
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A $7 milkshake? John Travolta's character from Pulp Fiction must be turning over in his grave.
hendrix / October 26, 2010 at 03:13 pm
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I've been there about 5 times... went during the World Cup when it just opened. Food's excellent. I haven't eaten ANY Of the stuff listed in the review actually. I've had stuff like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. Both were excellent -- taking kids stuff and making it gourmet. My girlfriend, who doesn't eat a lot, loves the Wimbledon salad. The bruchetta on the hockey stick was awesome, and more like a meal than an appetizer. They've really taken care with the food. It's not typical sports bar crap.

I've heard people complain about the prices, but I don't think it's that bad. Many of the portions are massive and I end up taking some home. But downtown in that area, every restaurant costs more than the burbs or some sketchy diner in King West. What I've learned is that you don't need to pig out at this place to enjoy the food. Get the appetizer and a beer and you'll be full, without the cost.
FoodSnob / October 26, 2010 at 03:42 pm
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"garlic aioli" is redundant.
Shawn replying to a comment from Harry / October 26, 2010 at 06:07 pm
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hahaha that's so true about Hoops. If there's one damn place that should have basketball its them.

We went to one on game 7 lakers/celts and they didn't change the channel to the game until about 15 seconds into the 1st quarter (no pregame, intros, etc.).
Habeas Corpus / October 26, 2010 at 07:42 pm
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What happened to the friendly local watering hole?
Paul G replying to a comment from MP / October 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm
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I agree with MP's comment over the dubious nature of the ESPN Mobile poll-which no media outlet here seems to have remotely bothered to look into at all.
no replying to a comment from ufc? / October 27, 2010 at 12:21 am
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they do
PShag / October 27, 2010 at 02:28 am
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Nice review, detailed and honest.

Living down the street in a new-ish condo, this has become my local watering hole and it feels like everybody knows my name. To calm "Harry"'s fears, DJ Ryan Real is on the job for all the big nights. In addition to ensuring every screen is in perfect ratio and clarity, he also mixes tunes during commercial breaks with one eye on the screen for the game's return. It makes for a great "at the game" atmosphere where you get contests and music during breaks instead of commercials.

UFC night was fun too, but get your reservations in early, last time it was a 3 hour wait for a table. This will likely calm down after the novelty wears off, but for the next 6-8 months, expect this place to be packed every night of the week.
DD / October 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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By the way--those milkshakes are made with Greg's Ice Cream.
DD / October 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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By the way, those milkshakes are made with Greg's Ice Cream.
ko / October 29, 2010 at 03:17 pm
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$12.99 for a hot dog is not "reasonably priced"!

Steer away from the nachos -- they were a greasy, unappetizing mess.
Jason Paris / November 1, 2010 at 09:42 am
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I can think of a few better Toronto "man caves" personally.
Matt Kinch replying to a comment from Jason Paris / November 3, 2010 at 04:37 pm
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Please enlighten me to these places. How are beer prices here?
Vic replying to a comment from Jason Paris / November 6, 2010 at 05:49 pm
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-------------------------------------------------------------

i think he is talking about the turkish steam bath houses on bathurst.
Anneliese Grosfeld / November 11, 2010 at 03:33 pm
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Went here after the Bills/Bears game last weekend at the Dome. It was THE WORST experience I've ever had in my life. We had a reservation through a regular at the bar I work at. After sitting down it was 45 mins before anyone paid an iota of attention to us. This was after stopping a few people and asking for service and being told "sorry i can't help you i'm just a hostess" Finally our server came over and told us she was ignoring us because she didn't think we were really the reservation. Nice. When i tried to complain to the manager on duty about the horrible service he actually tried to argue with me and told me that if I had a problem I should've complained sooner instead of at the end of my meal. Oh and he also told us that the server was warranted in ignoring us because the hostess didn't walk us to our table. I tried to explain to him that we all work in the industry and understand when places are busy but that we've never had such horrible service. In the end we left, completely infuriated. I wish I had gotten that manager's name as I would've loved to call head office and complain about him.

The food was good. I had the pulled pork sandwich, very saucy and delicious and the wings were great too. Great service at the main bar.
CNote / December 15, 2010 at 11:51 am
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Hahaha...I'm sorry but $18 for 2 pints of Harp is not "quite reasonable"...geeze. Maybe for your next review you can sample something other than a bottle of Canadian.
SJ / March 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm
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For anyone that thinks the prices here are over the top, that's not fair. They are on par with other restaurants in the downtown core and Toronto's steep taxes on liquor, dining --and well everything, make that two pints of Harp $18. Great atmosphere for anyone that loves to watch sports on TV, and it actually feels like you're at the game! Hats off to Chef Tony Glitz. The attention to the menu is unlike anywhere else.
Garretot / April 26, 2011 at 04:27 pm
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–éHola!

el punto de vista Competente, es curioso.
Garretot
SBMX / October 25, 2011 at 07:27 pm
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Seems like you have a pretty firm hand on the whole bar scene. So this may be the best time to try out one of the industries best resources. With more then 2500 bars nation wide we can safely say we know the industry.
SBMX is many things, but stands for Sports Bar Marketing Exchange. We make people want to come to you, and no one else. With a TON of resources, including but not limited to: Daily Fax/ Email with today's sports tv guide, a call center where you will NOT get a machine, social media integration and business management techniques we have massive potencial to make your business grow.
Check out our free advise blog: http://sportsbarmarketing.com/index.php?option=com_wordpress&;Itemid=47
john / January 11, 2012 at 04:22 pm
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Worst service ever... They messed up our reservations, and gave me attitude when i asked if they can give us a table that would fit the amount of people we asked for...

I wouldn't go back if you paid me... And i have numerouse season tickets, so your loss you pretentious pricks
M replying to a comment from Jason Paris / February 2, 2012 at 08:40 pm
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Jason,

Please share your man-caves' locations with us.
This single woman needs to know :)
denis / February 22, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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will wrestlemania 28 be shown here on april 1st?
Rich / December 29, 2013 at 02:30 pm
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Real Sports is great but think they charge cover a lot and they are rammed to the brim. think you have to call months in advance to reserve for a ufc. wouldn't have minded watching the silva fight there.

http://mmaquotes.blogspot.ca/2013/05/anderson-silva-quotes.html
Rob / January 18, 2014 at 08:47 pm
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Was there this past friday and I have to say that I was impressed. We got a seat at a table about 20 feet from the giant screen tv...they had womens tennis playing but it was 14h00 in the afternoon so nothing else was playing live. I like the fact that the chairs can swivel so you can always have a good view of the screen or of the waitresses...half the time I couldn't figure out if I was at a sports bar or a strip club...the skirts on most of these waitresses were barely covering their asses.....must be a dress code....all in all nice atmosphere...tv's at the urinals are genius! I ordered the baseball steak 10oz smothered in hot sauce and blue cheese as well as 12 wings 2 on the menu for spiciness...for two of us with one coke a 10oz steak 12 wings and fish and chips it came out to 102.00$ with a 20% tip.
Daniel / January 27, 2014 at 01:56 pm
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I just wanna bang hot dudes
Anthony / May 3, 2014 at 08:18 pm
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I just want my kids back
Marty / June 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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The large screen TV at Real Sports was ok but nothing like a LCD projection screen from HDSIGN. Check it out at www.hdsign.ca
We have begun to install them in Bars and homes. Full 1080 quality.
Alexander / July 21, 2014 at 03:25 am
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The huge screen Its amazing
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