The Best Irish Pubs in Toronto
The Best Irish Pubs in Toronto are a definite mixed bag and as far as I can tell, a bit of a misnomer that depends wholly upon your definition of the word "Irish" - for it is this word that supposedly separates them from just a regular pub.
While all of these pubs will undoubtedly yield a good time if you're with good friends as they all have the requisite food, drink and neighbourhoody vibe, only a select few have the atmosphere, disposition and legendary Irish hospitality that truly make one feel welcome, at home and instantly part of the crowd.
The rest more closely resemble a Disney version of an Irish Pavilion at Epcot, but with less authenticity. Then again, after a few beers and shots of whiskey, it may be a moot point after all.
Here are the 15 best Irish Pubs in Toronto as voted by readers of this site.
Stuck beside a repair shop and Beer Store on an unassuming stretch of Queen East, this place definitely earns kudos for interior design, a playable piano and for having the superb Murphy’s Irish Stout on tap. However, with its poor customer service (I once stood in the entrance for 10 minutes without a word being said), lack of Irish hospitality, cliquey atmosphere, and rude lady of the house you'll definitely be taking your chances. More »
A cozy pub with fine finishes, an intimate vibe and a good beer selection, The Pour House is one of the pubs owned by f.a.b. concepts (of which 5 are on this list). Catering to students and suits alike, it has a great atmosphere, but the Irish component is definitely one of branding. More »
In a fabulous old bank building on the corner of Yonge and Wellington, this is the rowdier, sportier and even more suit filled older brother to P.J. O’Brien. The high ceilings ensure a loud evening, but the service is top notch and so is the food. Owned by the same people who bring you Shopsy’s and Quinn’s Steakhouse it’s a good place to watch the game. Any game. More »
In its 24th year and known for its incredible whiskey list (302 and counting), Allen’s is definitely not your local sportspub. Feeling more like a New York Irish Saloon, it is, according to manager John Maxwell, proudly community oriented, doesn’t care for trendy or contemporary and instead “delights in and respects tradition”. Definitely worth several visits. More »
Having taken Liberty Village by storm since late 2007, this is a gorgeous pub that’s almost always busy with tons of room, a second “Poet’s Pub” upstairs and 3 patios. Another f.a.b. product it’s a fun, although overpriced, local pub with great people watching potential. On days when the FC plays, it’s mayhem! More »
This original King West pub lost some steam when the Brazen Head moved in just down the road, but it seems the most local, intimate and “Irish” of all the f.a.b. pubs. With a wraparound patio and cute, small rooms to hide in, it’s a fun watering hole. More »
Whiskies, a long brass topped bar, no kilts on the waitresses (ala f.a.b.) and older crisply dressed Irish gentlemen almost always to be found sharing a story or a joke somewhere in the place, this is as Irish a pub as it gets. Period. More »
A quaint pub with antique knick-knacks in the window that’s immediately next door (and sister) to Allen’s on the Danforth, Dora Keogh is a more laid back pub with local vibe, live music several times a week and a well worn feeling of authenticity to it. Maybe it’s the older upholstery or the worn wood - I dunno - but I like it. More »
Across from the City of Toronto Police HQ and smack between two office buildings, a view is definitely not what this pub has going for it. With the Tragically Hip playing, World Cup paraphernalia everywhere and an all female, kilt wearing serving staff (as all f.a.b. concepts seem to have) there’s very little Irish to be found. It’s been open awhile though, so somebody loves it. More »
Occupying a refurbished bank building, the interior is beautiful, the rooftop has a great view, but the front patio’s view of the intersection of Queen East and Kingston isn’t the greatest. This list’s last entry from f.a.b. was a much welcome addition to the Beaches neighbourhood and it fits the bill for a local perfectly. More »
Also called the New Windsor Tavern and around since 1962, this would be my second pick for authenticity. It proudly wears its colours and its republican bent on its sleeve and isn’t afraid to let you know should you bring up the subject - and it would rather you not. As simple and gritty and friendly as they come, it’s easy to forget you’re on the corner of Church and Richmond. More »
Open less than a year in the old Kubo Radio spot, owners Andy Schnurr and Mark Corbett have created a small, intimate, refined and almost library like atmosphere - but one where the art of conversation is enthusiastically encouraged. With a mid-30’s and up clientele it’s definitely not a “club-pub” and while a couple of TV’s can be found, it’s the perfect place to write that great Irish-Canadian novel. More »
In a hideaway basement space just west of Spadina on King, Fynn’s is DGC Industries’ first Toronto venture. Very local, charitable and ensuring a good time for all its long dark bar, great specials and gastro food make it a favourite. While the Irish is again a product of branding, it’s super friendly. Make sure to try GM Robin’s bacon-infused vodka Caesar! More »
Nestled in a pseudo restaurant row just east of High Park with a small patio out front, a tiny bar inside, another tiny bar and larger patio upstairs, it doesn’t take long for Whelan’s to get busy – and that’s part of its charm. Irish accents were heard, new friends were made and a few bucks were left in my pocket at the end of the night. Good times. More »
In the heart of the entertainment district this is another exercise in Irish branding. While there’s nothing wrong with the pub, its food or its service, they’re pretty good actually, like so many on this list, it’s really just a pub with Rush on the radio and 17 beers on tap. As a surprise bonus, however, it does have live music 3-5 nights a week! More »