Tuesday, October 21, 2014Cloudy 10°C
Best of Toronto

The Best Karaoke Bars in Toronto

Posted by Guest Contributor / August 20, 2010

karaoke torontoThe best karaoke bars in Toronto are a varied bunch. Like their loyal patrons, the venues on this list represent the best of every flavour, each fighting for its time in the limelight. The traditionals offer private rooms, or karaoke boxes - the original term in karaoke days of yore - while neighbourhood locals offer something more akin to Canadian Idol (read: public humiliation) any and every night if the week.

The tradition of studio recordings lacking the vocal track is an old one - a string and horn section doesn't run cheap, nor a live band - but it wasn't until the 70's that some bar in Japan made it available to more than just the troubadour. The history is much-disputed, and would become a discussion of patent law before long, but somewhere along the line the desire to get on stage and fulfill the rock star fantasy took hold and literally swept the globe.

So, when it comes to karaoke, Toronto is replete with options, and variations on every one. The following list, voted upon by readers of this site, is just a taste of what you can find on a quick sweep of the streets. Try one, none or some.

Here are the 12 best karaoke bars in Toronto.

Writing by Tanner Cormier. Top photos by Lizzie Libation, FilkerDave and Richelle on Flickr.

XO Karaoke

XO Karaoke

All karaoke, all the time in the heart of K-Town. Ten years in, XO still keeps its private rooms open all night long. And with a catalogue of 500, 000 songs, start in the 70s and emerge somewhere between Mary J. and BSB by dawn. Even better, with rates starting at $20/hour, you can focus on your liquid finances. More »

Revival (Hip Hop Karaoke)

Revival (Hip Hop Karaoke)

Rooted in NYC, Toronto’s first Hip Hop karaoke night takes place at Revival every third Friday. HHK is touted as the place for wannabe MCs to cut their teeth before a live audience. That the audience gets to hear songs it actually knows makes the $5.00 cover worth every cent. More »

Twister Karaoke

Twister Karaoke

The pride of North York takes form in the family-owned Twister Karaoke. It’s the only joint in town offering “karaoke boxes,” though exactly what differentiates them from private rooms must be more nuanced than I can tell. The folks at Twister say they once hosted a 15-hour karaoke marathon. Whether it was in English, Russian or another of the nine languages offered is unclear. Rates start at $25/hour and increase by the head for a party of more than five. More »

Rivoli Pool Hall (Kickass Karaoke)

Rivoli Pool Hall (Kickass Karaoke)

For those about to rock - Kickass Karaoke at the Rivoli. This is karaoke for the grungier half. Every other Sunday (first and third of the month) rockers roll in to hear their peers belt it to Bowie and Byrne. It’s sweaty, but anything worth its studs is. More »

The Duke

The Duke

If in Leslieville on some dusking Saturday, consider stopping by the Duke. Though pub grub and pints are aplenty, the commodity to get in on is the karaoke. This is the only East-end entry, so you know it’s good. The century-old inn no longer operates, but raise a glass to history and whistle for the oaf singing Journey.

BMB Karaoke

BMB Karaoke

BMB is the best place to exercise foreign-language prowess - the catalogue is extensive and largely Korean. Worry not; Toronto’s largest karaoke bar has plenty of English pop songs to go around. Lights and lasers distract from the tacky decor, but the utterly random videos never fail to amuse. BMB is best for small groups; a gang of four will pay $20/hour, but it’s $5 extra a head per hour for larger groups. More »

Bar + Karaoke

Bar + Karaoke

Clean, modern decor and fair rates –$25/hour for a group of five–make up for the fact that it exists at Yonge-Gerrard. I’ve been twice with large groups and there are no bells or whistles. Just rooms with couches and microphones, and lyrics projected on screens. All the better to make the party our own. More »

Baby Huey

Baby Huey

Like a ghost from Ossington’s past, Baby Huey serves up karaoke every Tuesday, if in better style. Previously home to a brothel-slash-karaoke dive, as the legend goes, Baby Huey’s hip and relaxed atmosphere offers a different groove in the karaoke scene. More »

Hurricane's

Hurricane's

Karaoke with a side of professional sports. The only true-blue sports bar on the list makes the best of its casual atmosphere and friendly host of regulars and staff. Pop in on Wednesdays to play spectator to a weekly match of Bloor West Idol.

Opera Bob's

Opera Bob's

Unpretentious is the order of the day at Opera Bob’s. Have a drink with Bob himself – owner/Canadian Opera Company member - and jump on stage for a song on Thursdays. Unlike most bars on or just-off Ossington, Bob’s is a great place to enjoy a good vibe and avoid hipsters out on a bender. More »

TEN23

TEN23

I’m pretty sure TEN23 is the only place in the GTA that offers private karaoke rooms and a menu complete with ox tongue and spaghetti Bolognese. But know this - Decent weekday rates double by week’s end and the rooms are rented by the evening, not the hour, so fill them up and plan for a full night of singsong. More »

Discussion

49 Comments

Anfernee / August 20, 2010 at 10:41 am
user-pic
#loserkaraoke on Thursday nights 10pm @ Tequila Sunrise is where it's at. It's free and the regulars there are super cool. Bonus is that Burrito Boyz and Smoke's Poutinerie are right next door!

That hip hop karaoke looks fun.
Paul / August 20, 2010 at 11:26 am
user-pic
The Gladstone? #1? Now there is a surprise blogto.
Penny replying to a comment from Paul / August 20, 2010 at 11:46 am
user-pic
Almost as surprising as people complaining about the BlogTo selections....
Sambots replying to a comment from Anfernee / August 20, 2010 at 11:57 am
user-pic
+1 for Tequila Sunrise
Jeff Goldblum / August 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm
user-pic
I didn't know Powder frequents the Gladstone.
Richard / August 20, 2010 at 12:45 pm
user-pic
Wow... really funny comment Mr. Goldblum.
Peter / August 20, 2010 at 01:12 pm
user-pic
Where's Neutral's Tuesday night? Possibly the best hidden-treasure in Toronto. The regulars are devout, and everyone is there to have a good time. A solid songbook, with all the standards and some great surprises(Nick Cave, Black Flag, Stooges, etc.).
Vivy / August 20, 2010 at 01:21 pm
user-pic
BMB rooms smells like cat pee....VERY STRONG SMELL. Staff is not helpful and rude. I am glad that you have this post, I'll be trying other ones on the list. Thanks BlogTO!
frijoles refritos / August 20, 2010 at 02:27 pm
user-pic
The Groundhog Pub @ bloor & sherbourne. Unless it's deadpooled.
Kelly / August 20, 2010 at 02:37 pm
user-pic
Yet another +1 for #loserkaraoke.
Maria replying to a comment from frijoles refritos / August 20, 2010 at 03:31 pm
user-pic
The Groundhog Pub has been gone for 2 months or so.
JoeParez replying to a comment from Peter / August 20, 2010 at 03:53 pm
user-pic
Seconded for Neutral Tuesday nights. But I think it doesn't make this list for two reasons, 1. It's always the regulars and you don't see alot of new faces and 2. BlogTO readers at Neutral?? C'mon!! But it's a great party.

However, my heart is at Bar+ and Kickass Karaoke @ The Rivoli.
This is a great list.
BH / August 20, 2010 at 05:05 pm
user-pic
The best Karaoke would be the one with the best songlist (assuming it wasn't a total dive otherwise) and that would be Twister. Everything else is window dressing. Twister could definitely improve its interior, but its interior is no worse than a lot of others.
picard102 / August 20, 2010 at 05:31 pm
user-pic
+1 Tequila Sunrise and the #loserkaraoke gang
Solabusca / August 20, 2010 at 05:33 pm
user-pic
Jeremy S, the old host for The Groundhog, is currently hosting every Thursday at Mayday Malone's (Bathurst & Dupont), and will most likely resume weekend duties at The Blake House, the Groundhog's successor.
simuls / August 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm
user-pic
I'd add the Dog's Bollocks on Queen West on Thursday's and Sundays. Especially Thursdays. Huge song list and the most eclectic non-judgmental group of people ever. If you suck, awesome, if you don't...you're still awesome. Plus, it's free (no cover) and it has super cheap, really good food and super cheap drinks.
MIANNI / August 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm
user-pic
The Abbey Pub and Steakhouse at College and Rusholme Rd. has a Karaoke night on Wednesdays (I think). It's definitely a weekly. Great patio too!
JasonRolland / August 23, 2010 at 05:27 am
user-pic
Once again someone puts up an article about Karaoke and they have not done the research to support it.
The fact that Gladstone is #1 is RIDICULOUS (worst sound EVER and a tiny songbook)
If you would like to try doing this list seriously let me know because you have NO IDEA what GOOD karaoke is.

(this is not me trying to plug my shows I can think of 10 other peoples shows that are not on this list that are far better than the crap spots you offered up!)
T. replying to a comment from JasonRolland / August 23, 2010 at 04:31 pm
user-pic
Hello, Jason.
This list was determined by the reader's votes. That's first-hand data, not a doctored list. People like what they will, regardless of your supposed expertise.
JasonRolland / August 23, 2010 at 06:25 pm
user-pic
First…sorry for the harshness of my last post it was late and I was cranky.
But my expertise is that I have been hosting some of the most successful karaoke shows since English karaoke has been around. 20 plus years!

My issue is this…there should have been two lists.
1) Karaoke BARS & Boxes (every night or private rooms)
2) Karaoke SHOWS. (once or twice a week in a bar)
They are two very different animals.

And the Gladstone is a special pet peeve of mine because every time there is an article about karaoke it holds the Gladstone up as the Holy Grail of Karaoke shows. BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER. It's the same reason old people always ask for Lady in red at a wedding...It's THE ONLY SONG They know the title of!

Generally Karaoke singers look for 4 things in a good karaoke show.
1) Large Song selection
2) Good sound
3) Entertaining and fair host
4) Cheap drinks
The Gladstone has none of these except for a decent Host.
Also... THE DUKE! Give me a Frickin break...the caption under the Blog TO page says it all…Deadly Shooting!!! Oh And watch out for the hookers and homeless guys in the bathrooms!

Note: You DO have Baby Hueys on there, which is a good show that has all the criteria that I stated above.

My point is that the group that voted on these must have been VERY small and or a narrow demographic of people. Because choosing between the Gladstone, Duke & XO is like trying to decide which one of the Golden Girls you wanna F%$K...THERES NO GOOD CHOICE

Below are a just a few GREAT shows that meet all the criteria above and yes they include my shows.

SUNDAY & MONDAY at TOBYS - 411 College St. with www.jasonrolland.com
MONDAY at Fox & Fiddle - (John & Adelaide) with Richie Rich
MONDAY at The Unicorn – 175 Eglinton E with Steve-O
TUESDAY & THURSDAY at Tequila Sunrise – 212 Adelaide St W with www.jasonrolland.com
TUESDAY at Neutral Lounge – 349A College St. with Steve-O
WEDNESDAY at Fox & Fiddle Danforth with Richie Rich

I invite you to come out to any of the shows I listed and see what GREAT Karaoke is all about. P.S. My shows are 100% Celine Dion Free!
Derek B / August 24, 2010 at 02:48 am
user-pic
I love Hip-Hop Karaoke.
T. replying to a comment from JasonRolland / August 24, 2010 at 07:08 am
user-pic
JR: I think it's safe to say people vote for whatever makes them happy. I'm sure if a large number of people had had a wonderful time at Tequila Sunrise with www.jasonrolland.com, they'd have voted for it. I, personally, would never go to a bar called Tequila Sunrise, nor would I go to a bar on Adelaide, Eglinton or John. I think karaoke is something most people are relatively ambivalent about, but if the vibe is good, they'll dig it. Dig it? If it makes you feel any better, I missed The Hole in the Wall on this list.
JasonRolland / August 24, 2010 at 06:10 pm
user-pic
Well considering I have been hosting at Tequila Sunrise for over 7 years twice a week and the show is PACKED almost every night there is a TON of people that love it...they just didn't hear about your poll. Same with Richie at the Fox on Adelaide its one of the busiest shows out there for 7+ years as well.
Between the two shows we have likely had more happy singers over the years than all of the bars on your list combined! (except the asian room places there like karaoke brothels)
This proves my point that your voters pool was very small and narrow. Otherwise the type of shows on the list would have been more diverse. I would love to know how many votes the Duke actually got. How many people actually voted for the whole list?

And the fact you would rule out a bar based just on it's name or the street it's on is just ignorant and snobby. What's a matter do we not wear the right kind of wallet chains or chucks on Adelaide.
In fact I noticed that with only 2 exceptions all the shows on this list are west end places! what did you do ask 20 people at the corner of queen and spadina and then make your list!

For those that would like a list of Karaoke venues that is a little more diverse check out this group on facebook. Make sure you click the info tab thats where the GIANT list is. (always check with the bar first to confirm the info is current)

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=28317670444&;ref=ts#!/group.php?gid=28317670444&v=info&ref=ts
TVOR / September 6, 2010 at 09:12 pm
user-pic
You guys, karaoke is serious business!!
Japhet / September 12, 2010 at 06:18 pm
user-pic
The best karaoke is where you have the most fun 'cos your friends are with you.

That could be some dingy Vietnamese bar that only plays MIDI or some room in Koreatown. Even the Gladstone.

I put together a downtown listing that's organized by what time of the week and even has a handy Google map:

http://jollyinebriate.com/karaoke
San / October 11, 2010 at 09:33 pm
user-pic
KARAOKE 3 NIGHT'S A WEEK
AT FOX AND FIDDLE - WELLESLEY

THURSDAY, FRIDAY & SATURDAY
GREAT SOUND.
GREAT SELECTION OF SONGS
DRINKS SPECIALS
FOOD SPECIALS
GREAT HOST'S

BEST KARAOKE SHOW HOSTED BY PETEROCK RADIO & BERNEY GOLD.
Monika Choudhury / December 4, 2010 at 11:34 am
user-pic
Jason Rolland, I have to book a good place with private rooms and fair rates for this upcoming Saturday Dec 11th. Any suggestions???
Josh / December 4, 2010 at 11:39 am
user-pic
Check out Fox and Fiddle - Wellesley. I did my private Karaoke party on there 2nd floor !! Cheap rates ..plus they have thursday, friday and saturday regular shows as well...
Tazamanaz / December 5, 2010 at 05:57 pm
user-pic
Jason I agree with you almost 100%. There is one show that certainly should be there but has not been listed and that is Hottraxx Karaoke with Monique & Randy.
Her sound is awesome and selection second to none. None of the cheap imitation music you get from the older style karaoke discs.
We love to rock it out with them as they provide much heavier end music you generally do not see at a lot of Karaoke shows as well as all other styles of music, and her following is large.

Unfortunately her Friday , Saturday gig at the Rose & Thorn is no longer thanks to poor management at the bar but they are running Karaoke at the rock bar "THE ROCKPILE " on Monday nights right now Hwy 427 and Dundas.

And where i disagree with you Jason, those locations are no where near the west end, but this one is.

Anyone looking for a great Karaoke to attend or any owners out there looking for a great Karaoke for their bar, email me back. I promise you will not be disappointed !!
JAsonRolland / December 6, 2010 at 04:04 am
user-pic
Taz....They are almost all West shows when your talking about the downtown core. Generally when your talking about the downtown entertainment core anything west of Bathurst is considered west end.

And if your gonna plug your shows... OWN IT don't pretend to be a patron at the begining of your post and then reveal that your the host by the end of your post.

my 2cents
Lee / December 7, 2010 at 08:51 pm
user-pic
Wow Jason... actually Taz does not own hot traxx... please... before you want to spout off you should really look into it.. Taz is a patron named Rob.... Really Jason.... are you that insecure??

Hot traxx has THE best selection you will find in the GTA

I have promoted this Karaoke company since they started and until you try them... don't knock them!!
tazamanaz / December 7, 2010 at 09:06 pm
user-pic
Jason, whats up with yuo man ? I ws actually agreeing and protecting you but now I see that maybe these other people's opinion on you might have some backing ! Either way I do not know. Also to say anything west of Bathurst is west end is just plain ignorance and trust me you are not alone on that one.
Now as Lee said I do not own any Karaoke but I do love Hot Traxx and have for a long time, however I have been trying to get to some of your shows for awhile now but your spots are tough for us West Enders to get to but I will still try as I enjoy trying all Karaokes out.
I hope your Karaoke is worth my time cause as your site says, your karaoke doesn't suck, I know the one i normally go to does not so I have one to compare it with and who knows maybe I can bring a few of us real west enders with me.
BTW my name is Rod not Rob ( Thx Lee for that DUH ! ) but I will make sure when I do pop by you will know who I am guaranteed.
Jim / December 7, 2010 at 10:46 pm
user-pic
Jason Rolland's Karaoke suck's. The bar's he does his shows are the worse such as Toby's. Service and food suck's staff are ignorant. I use to go there very often and i wanted to do a private show for my work party and he asked me $400. Who does he think he is / stupid looser !! JASON ROLLAND KAROAKE SUCKS ass..
Richie Rich / December 8, 2010 at 07:00 am
user-pic
First of all, Word up to all my peeps on the Oss. that represented for Baby Huey's! *brup brup* For those of you who didn't vote, well you're not cool so it doesn't matter :P

Second;

What is up with all this hate on my buddy JR here? True, he sometimes lacks a certain finesse when dealing with idiotic interweb haters, but trust me mang - he's good people and his shows ALWAYS rock at the top of the "Rockpile" LOL

anywayzzz

He has a bunch of valid points but seriously, everyone stop your beeyotching and just know your place. If your karaoke sucks, it sucks. If it is awesome, then you don't need to plug your shows here or anywhere else. Also, not calling anyone cheap or anything but *cough* if you think $400 is expensive for a private work sponsored function then shhheeeiiit go have it at McDonalds or BiWay or somthing. I'm not stuck up or anything cuz I do my fair share of charity gigs (Movember, AIDS awareness, ...you know, sh*t that MATTERS) but when you want the best you gotta pays the moneys.

For all my peoples all over the t-dot,

Word.

<3

-------Richie Rizzle the True Asian Host with The Most
JaosnRolland replying to a comment from Jim / December 8, 2010 at 05:05 pm
user-pic
Response to Jims post:

OK well that was just rude and immature! & really inappropriate to discuss prices on a public forum. But I will try not to resort to name calling as Jim did.

Jim, I have no recollection of what your talking about.
But there are many things that determine pricing. So if I quoted you that price it must have been for a longer period of time than a typical karaoke show. (ie:10pm-2)
If a client wants me to work for 6 hours then I'm going to charge for it!
Or maybe I already had a regular karaoke show that night so for me to have someone cover my show so that I could do your event it would cost me money? So I had to cover my costs. Or maybe it was a Saturday or a Friday, which I charge a little more for? Since I usually DJ a wedding on Fri. & Sat.

But If that price was too expensive for you then that's fine. A Mercedes is too expensive for some people but that doesn't mean Mercedes suck.

Sun & Mon @ Tobys are 2 of the busiest karaoke shows in the city so somebody likes it. Plus you seemed to like it enough to go there before & to try to book a party there! But because you didn't like my price it all of sudden sucks??? You sound like a women scorned.

Anyways your feelings about my show are yours & your welcome to them...so don't come.
We are doing fine without you!!
Laurie / April 3, 2011 at 06:28 pm
user-pic
We are starting Karaoke Friday May 7th, 2011 and every Friday thereafter.

What will be unique about our Karaoke is we will be starting at 6:00 for our office crowd and going through till close!!

One of Dr Spins female host will be running the show.

Come early as we have happy hour from 4 - 6 PM $5 drinks and half price appetizers

180 Yorkland Blvd. Entrance at the back parking lot!! See you there!!!
Art / April 19, 2011 at 08:36 pm
user-pic
Jason is the man. I've been to many places around DT and Tequila's is where we just always end up going! +1 for them and him.
Patricia / May 20, 2011 at 09:50 pm
user-pic
What is missing from this list is Ti Carlos bar at Lansdowne and St. Clair.. Karaoke by KJ Helder. If you like Spanish karaoke, this is the place to go. He has an EXTENSIVE playlist of English, Spanish and Portuguese songs. The sound is awesome..... I have been going for 4 years, and am NEVER disappointed. Karaoke is on Fridays and Saturdays. He also does karaoke at Teaser's bar on St. Clair on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
John / August 7, 2011 at 07:08 pm
user-pic
Gladstone is the place that I absolutely avoid and would not recommend anyone to go there. The host peter style often plays favor to his friends and often starts much later than 10:00PM as advertised. There are many karaoke places in town that would fairly and respectfully treat you. Avoid Galdstone - spend your hard earned money somewhere else.
Jack / January 20, 2012 at 12:50 am
user-pic
I and a couple of friends went to the Gladstone a while ago and the host sucks big time because he chose one of the worst version of the song for us. Like many previous commenters, he favored his friends and ignored others. The sound system is bad and the song book is one of the worst in town. I heard that they have rescheduled the Karaoke show from 12:00AM to 2:30 AM after the renovation. One more reason for NOT GOING to that unfriendly karaoke place.
Russell / February 5, 2012 at 08:31 pm
user-pic
There's a new kid on the block: Jeff running the Karaoke Night every Saturday starting at 8 p.m. at the Markham Hilton Suites' Absolute Lounge.

Jeff runs a good show and, unlike most karaoke hosts, sings well. His song collection, ranging from "Music of the Night" to "Let it be," is the most complete I've ever seen.

The Absolute Lounge is also the most decent karaoke place I've been to. Service is excellent, so is the price.

What the Absolute Lounge needs is more decent singers, people who're serious about singing and enjoy listening to good songs. Are you the one?
andrew / February 9, 2012 at 01:23 pm
user-pic
Just went to this new Karaoke Studio Lounge. It is AWSOME!!! All the room are designed differently with a unique theme. The guy showed us a few rooms we were allowed to pick from and all of them looked fantastic. The themes ranged from Paris to japan to just a nice modern looking comfy room. Another cool thing was we could change the color of the lights of the room to whatever we wanted.

Finally I didn't expect this at all but we were hungry since we all just got off work so we ordered some food to eat. I was expecting some half decent (bad) food since its Karaoke after all... but instead we were pleasantly surprised the Sushi was one of the best we ever had in toronto and the wings well they got my vote for having one of the best in toronto!

yeah no lies check them out!
sarah / February 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm
user-pic
Oh i been to that place where andrew is talking about (STUDIO LOUNGE). I was at smokey joes at yonge and sheppard and right beside it there was a karaoke upstairs of sushi moto. Such a nice place, very clean, and upscale. Definitly recommend to everyone.

I was with my girlfriends on a girls night out and they had bottle service (grey goose,wine,etc) for such an amazing price where it was affordable for all of us girls and we got to munch out on food too. We had such a great time dancing and singing meeting new people at the bar area. For sure i will be going there again :D
Harold / March 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm
user-pic
Just visited studio lounge with some friends. They are ok karaoke somewhat mediocre. They are new in town. Cleanness is well expected. They get their food from neighbors and add extra dollars. I have seen better interior in uptown area. Their prices are somewhat more expensive than other karaoke spot in Yonge & Finch area. Overall they are ok. If you live around neighborhood and love singing, worth trying it out.
D / July 24, 2012 at 12:33 am
user-pic
Gladstone and Drake suck. JRolland is right ... absolutely no selection ... if you're interested in singing. If you want to booze up ... ya go there. Otherwise, XO and Twister are the bomb!
Bobby / September 14, 2012 at 03:11 pm
user-pic
Does anybody know of a good K bar in the west end of toronto or east Mississauga that runs on Fridays.
Wu Banger / March 1, 2014 at 02:30 pm
user-pic
Did we forget "The Boat" ? I am an original member of the Wu bangers so recognize that should be #1 even though I hear the no longer do it
Karioka / March 2, 2014 at 01:12 am
user-pic
This seems to be an old list.

Correcting a couple of factual errors:

1. Hip-Hop Karaoke hasn't been $5 since it was at The Boat when it first started (inspired by/stolen idea from the NYC night, depending on how you look at it). It's been at Revival for years and costs $10-20, I think $15 is the standard.

2. Parts & Labour (in the basement) now hosts LIVE karaoke with a band. The first edition (or maybe it was the second, anyway there was one that...) took place recently in Feb. 2014. The key organizer is Tim McCready who if I am not mistaken is also the guitarist-accompanist for Choir Choir Choir.
electric digital pressure cooker / August 18, 2014 at 12:57 am
user-pic
Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I
stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always helpful to read content from other authors
and practice something from their web sites.

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal