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Best of Toronto

The Best Pubs in Toronto

Posted by Ben Johnson / April 15, 2013

best pubs torontoThe best pubs in Toronto are a handful of unique locales that reflect the city's increasingly complex tastes in beer, our preference to support local talent as opposed to franchises, and the value that a sense of community can bring to the after-work-pint-and-a-bite experience.

Sure, they're the kind of places where the staff is engaging, and the menu and drink list is carefully considered, but they're also places that harken back to the origin of the word "pub" to the public houses of old that fostered a sense of community and reflected a city's culture. They're the kind of places you might feel as comfortable spending a late night as you would a thoughtful Sunday afternoon or maybe even bringing the kids on Saturday.

Here are the best pubs in Toronto.

See also:

The best gastropubs in Toronto
The best Irish pubs in Toronto
The best beer selection in Toronto
The best places to drink a pitcher of beer in Toronto
The best cheap drinks in Toronto

Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods Brewery

While this place is rightfully known for the fantastic beers that are made on-site, Bellwoods and its rustic, minimal dining space has become something of cultural hub for the burgeoning Ossington Strip. Its intimate 40-seat dining space (double that when the patio's open), simple menu, and outstanding beer have redefined the city's notion of a neighbourhood bar and clearly, we're all on board. More »

Bar Volo

Bar Volo

Long a favourite among the city's beer fans, barVolo with its 125 different beers used to be one of a select few destinations for craft beer. It's since been joined by a slew of others but their dedication to a rotating list of beer on tap and hosting all manner of beer-related ensures that this cozy and newly renovated Yonge street staple remains a crowd pleaser. More »

The Only Cafe

The Only Cafe

You get the sense that the regulars at this hole in the wall on the Danforth would prefer no one else knew about it, but unfortunately for them The Only's laid-back vibe, outstanding beer tap curating, and casual bring-your-own-food approach has made what once may have been a best kept secret one of the city's go-to destinations for pints or even weekend brunch. More »

Victory Cafe

Victory Cafe

A Mirvish Village staple for over a generation, the Vic boast arguably the best patio in the city during the summer and a year-round dedication to all things local. They've got cask ale and an extensive beer menu along with a reasonably priced, locally-sourced menu and the upstairs space hosts live music, poetry readings and all sorts of bohemian offerings. And did I mention the patio? More »

The Local

The Local

Roncy locals will most certainly question why this fun, laid back pub isn't ranked higher. The go-to place for pre- or post-movie libations for folks headed to the Revue, The Local lives up to its name not only by supporting fiercely loyal regulars but also by serving locally sourced food, pouring locally made wine and beer, and showcasing local musical talent. More »

The Queen and Beaver

The Queen and Beaver

Seemingly the lone holdout on this year's list for traditional English pubs, the Queen and Beaver is arguably the city's best sophisticated bar experience with classic British fare all made from scratch and two bars (and two patios) pouring a broad selection of beers that might perfectly accompany a football game. More »

Betty's

Betty's

If you're looking for character and a place that's a little rough around the edges, this George Brown student hangout is the place for you. Thrift store furniture, big tables, reasonably-priced pub fare, a large draught list, and a decidedly laid-back vibe make this King East classic a destination for a fun evening with no pretense. More »

Indie Alehouse

Indie Alehouse

This Dundas West brewpub is at the heart of a booze-fueled revival currently taking place in the city's Junction neighbourhood. Along with a bustling atmosphere and a menu featuring in-house smoked delectables and wood oven pizza, Indie's on-site brewed craft beer is literally bringing the community together as they supply the area with beer and welcome in neighbours for collaborative brew days. More »

House on Parliament

House on Parliament

Having moved to new digs next door two years ago, House on Parliament remains a local institution. The new space is a little more modern and the larger size means you'll have less trouble getting a table, but it retains all its casual charm, reasonably priced fare, and the solid draught list that makes this a Cabbagetown classic. More »

Rebel House

Rebel House

Around for over 20 years, Rebel House is arguably the city's first gastro pub, featuring above average pub fare at reasonable prices and a draught list of local options sure to please any beer snob. However the low-key vibe and excellent terrace patio make this perennial Rosedale favourite welcoming and far from pretentious. More »

The Caledonian

The Caledonian

Boasting 140 single malt scotches and a handful of blends, The Caledonian is a place for serious, no nonsense drinking, as a good Scottish bar should be. There's traditional Scottish fare, specials made from local organic produce, and an intimate leafy patio that Little Italy locals know is one of the city's best kept secrets. More »

Bar Hop

Bar Hop

One of the city's newer pubs, Bar Hop has already established itself as a craft beer destination and a haven for those seeking a cozy pint among the 905ers and dance-music of King Street West. In addition to an-ever changing draught list, there's excellent food and frequent specials like Buck-a-shuck oysters every Tuesday. More »

Discussion

66 Comments

Uh Oh / April 15, 2013 at 03:14 pm
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let the angry/drunk trolling begin...
alan / April 15, 2013 at 03:23 pm
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love betty's...
Bruce Mandrake / April 15, 2013 at 03:26 pm
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The people want appletinis.
evan / April 15, 2013 at 03:27 pm
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Kinda nice that the locations on the map are pretty spread out. Usually it's all concentrated in one area.

I kind of see places like The Only and Betty's as being "pubs" but then Bellwoods and Volo as being more beer bars, or restaurants... But they don't feel like "pubs" to me. I don't love them any less, but I love them for different reasons than why I like a "pub".
Yvonne / April 15, 2013 at 03:34 pm
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what about William Landing's and Brazen Head in Liberty Village? they are great pubs/bars!!!
Tingles / April 15, 2013 at 03:37 pm
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I love pubes.
Cbab replying to a comment from Uh Oh / April 15, 2013 at 03:38 pm
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"What? You didn't include that one place that was only open for 3 hours and sold fermented C-plus out of sippy cups for $30/pop? THIS IS THE WORST LIST IS THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!!!1"

.... ;)
Cbab replying to a comment from Cbab / April 15, 2013 at 03:38 pm
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*in
stephen / April 15, 2013 at 03:40 pm
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I think it's Amnesia at Bathurst and Bloor...but i can't remember. Mary is the best!
MAtt / April 15, 2013 at 03:41 pm
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Betty's? You just lost ALL credibility.
Matt / April 15, 2013 at 03:47 pm
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Great choices. I would have excluded a couple while adding a couple, but it seems like a good selection.
Jer / April 15, 2013 at 03:49 pm
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Good list! Tough category to tackle.
Dave / April 15, 2013 at 03:51 pm
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Indie Ale House is OK (especially their beer), but service is sometimes spotty. You're much better off at The Hole in the Wall across the street.
Guillaume / April 15, 2013 at 03:59 pm
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Victory Cafe is terrible, Bar Volo barely has food, and the drink selection at most of these places is abysmal. Why yes, I'd love a $5 bud light. Where's Bryden's where I can get the best nachos in town, sit in a comfy chair, and drink a $5 cask ale?
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nicole replying to a comment from evan / April 15, 2013 at 04:23 pm
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Agree with you regarding Bellwoods and Bar Volo, although I love them both. I voted for The Oxley. Now that place feels like an authentic British pub (albeit a tad shiny and new in comparison).
nardl blarn / April 15, 2013 at 04:49 pm
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yeah quite a number of these aren't really pubs and are bars, or higher end dive bars. Was looking forward to an illuminating list of pubs with hopefully a couple more to try out but instead it's a standard list of non-nightclub drinking establishments in the city.
Chris / April 15, 2013 at 04:49 pm
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I've tried to go to Bar Volo many times but it's usually at capacity with most people taking up tables drinking pitchers of water.
Actually, no. replying to a comment from Chris / April 15, 2013 at 04:53 pm
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A) There are no pitchers at Volo.
B) No one goes there to drink water.
evan / April 15, 2013 at 05:04 pm
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There are however large bottles of water on each table, and it is often quite busy, but it's worth it to stand for the beer they serve.
Chris / April 15, 2013 at 05:32 pm
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Pitchers/bottles. w/e. It wasn't beer. I would actually like to go there, but sadly like a lot of places its stuffed with people who like to dress up pretending they have money, want to be seen somewhere that's 'cool', buy one drink and sit there for hours drinking water.
jerry / April 15, 2013 at 05:44 pm
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Betty's has horrible horrible food and it's filthy.
Paul replying to a comment from Guillaume / April 15, 2013 at 05:49 pm
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Where's Bryden's? Um, practically in Etobicoke. Too far for nachos, that's for sure.
Guillaume replying to a comment from Paul / April 15, 2013 at 06:08 pm
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Practically in Etobicoke? Maybe. On the subway line? Yes, 1 minute from Jane station. Too far for nachos? Definitely not, especially if you add in a beer or two in some comfortable chairs and some good company.
Ang / April 15, 2013 at 06:12 pm
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The Roy all the way!
Bobo / April 15, 2013 at 08:49 pm
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OK list, but take off Bellwoods Brewery. Too many hipster dbags just ruin the place. To the person who commented that the Brazen Head in Liberty Village should be on this; I hope they're kidding.
Ryan replying to a comment from Ryan / April 15, 2013 at 09:21 pm
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All I'm saying is...as a result of the tragedy in Boston, some people don't have legs to walk to their local pub so stop your superficial bickering re: "why isn't " this pub on the list. Just be happy that we can.
PJ replying to a comment from Ryan / April 15, 2013 at 09:48 pm
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Inappropriate and offensive
c / April 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm
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House on Parliament is amazeballs. 'nuff said.
John / April 15, 2013 at 10:18 pm
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Indie Alehouse is the best
Ryan replying to a comment from PJ / April 15, 2013 at 10:47 pm
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God bless...may we walk in peace. The 'public house', long before the internet, was THE social hub. A place to receive, digest, discuss the days current events, no matter how good or bad.
Rod / April 15, 2013 at 10:51 pm
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The Only! Great Neighborhood Pub! Great place. Been there multiple times over 10-15 years.
Gareth replying to a comment from Bobo / April 15, 2013 at 11:21 pm
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I feel that's an awfully poor judgement. While the Bellwoods is in a trendy neighbourhood with a lot of hipsters, I find it to have one of the better atmospheres to go and get locally made beer. Their staff has always been friendly and very knowledgeable when I've been there. I think it's easy to dislike the Bellwoods because it seems as though it's a little 'too cool'. Other than the hipsters, what put you off? The excellent beers, creative menu, or unique design?
Ella / April 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm
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A good list, but your missing 3030 (at 3030 Dundas West). Local beer, the food is amazing and they have great shows.
Mikey / April 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm
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At this point, no one is going to read this comment... but all of these places truly are great, I'm just a little disappointed to see that C'Est What didn't make the list.

I'm not sure what I would remove from the list (haven't been to ALL of them), but I think it should get an honourable mention at least.
The H Word / April 15, 2013 at 11:33 pm
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What is a hipster? A young person who follows certain trends? All the people scared of Bellwoods for the "hipster" population sound like 1950s parents railing against the scourge of the "greaser." Young, trendy, humans shouldn't be so scary. Bellwoods Brewery is awesome and that's probably why blogTO readers chose it as the best pub in the city.
Sousedbergin / April 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm
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Honourable mention to Ten Mile Aroma.
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from evan / April 16, 2013 at 11:58 am
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Yeah, that single one across the Don doesn't stand out at all...
Mikey replying to a comment from Ryan / April 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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I agree. That's why I love the Monarch Tavern. Totally neighbourhood feel, an original public house. They switch up the taps every week. Victory is great for this too.
EMQ replying to a comment from Chris / April 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm
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I know what you mean, Chris. My husband and I had been going to Bar Volo for years and now when we can get through the mob and have a beer, we are overwhelmed by the hipsterhood. We have decided to seek a new watering hole. Any suggestions?
Stein / April 22, 2013 at 08:11 am
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Cheers to the Rebel House, always been an excellent place for good food, great line up of Ontario Craft Beer and friendly service. They deserve to be on this list.
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west of west queen west west / May 8, 2013 at 04:29 pm
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uh... where is 3 brewers and pickle barrel!?
Jimmy / June 3, 2013 at 09:00 pm
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My drinking days are over so I don't care about this list.
Barb replying to a comment from Jimmy / June 10, 2013 at 02:48 pm
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Then don't comment, dink.
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N / October 3, 2013 at 10:28 am
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#7 Betty's? Betty's shouldn't place on any list. I go there all the time, once the a/c condensation was dripping in my beer...and it's too expensive, the food is not very good, the waitresses have attitude if u want to split up the bill in groups. The beer is so limited. You're losing so much credibility right now BlogTo, my head is spinning. Betty's #7.. like... shouldn't even be number 107
Adam / November 21, 2013 at 06:26 pm
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Good selection here, I've been a to a few. Check out Stout on Carlton near Parliament, cool spot.
David / December 21, 2013 at 08:02 pm
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Opera Bobs! Dundas and Ossington, great location, great staff, great atmosphere for sports!

This should be on the list!
Nick Hill / December 21, 2013 at 08:21 pm
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You are missing my three favourites:

1. Henry the VIII: http://www.henryviiialehouse.com

2. Prohibition Gastro House: http://myprohibition.com

3. Sin and Redemption Pub: http://www.sinandredemption.com
J D / December 21, 2013 at 09:06 pm
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Sauce On The Danforth!

http://www.sauceondanforth.com/
whitebox / December 22, 2013 at 03:13 pm
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The Bellwoods Brewery makes great beer but there are few establishments in the city that are more cold and sterile. It is far from a cozy welcoming pub. I definitely can't imagine bringing kids there.
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Yessss. Absolutely.

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