jojo bar toronto

The JoJo Bar

The JoJo Bar is a pint-sized dive bar on Danforth East, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Main Station.

This bar is the newest venture from the team behind the John and the J Arthur, two popular and friendly bars that span the east and west sides of Toronto.

Co-owner Eric Jordan claims that neither he nor his business partners intended for all three establishments to start with the same letter. "It just kind of happened," he says with a chuckle.

jojo bar torontoHe went on to say that he wanted to give the JoJo a "fun" name — "the kind of name you might give your little dog," he explains.

Pet-naming preferences aside, the JoJo is every bit as fun as its name implies. The bar is filled with pinball machines, board games and retro consoles, including a SNES with over 700 titles.jojo bar torontoA trio of flat screen TVs play a seemingly endless supply of music videos. New wave and techno bands dominate the bar's soundtrack, but Eric assures us that he tries to play a little bit of everything.

Trinkets and tchotchkes sit atop the shelves behind the bar, sharing space with liquor bottles and cooking equipment.
jojo bar torontoThe decor gives the effect of an overstuffed arcade, which Eric claims is entirely intentional. Since family-friendly bars are few and far between, the JoJo caters to both the young and the young at heart.

"It's the kind of bar where the kids can have a hot dog while their dad drinks a beer," says Eric. jojo bar torontoThe JoJo's lack of kitchen spaces means that many dishes are prepared at either the John or the J Arthur. The rest of the prep is done behind the bar, using a toaster oven and an airfryer.

Consequently, most of the menu items are simple but effective riffs on pub staples.

jojo bar torontoChili Dogs ($9) are piled high with corn, bean and onions, as well as the requisite chili and cheese.jojo bar torontoWings ($14) are served in baskets lined with red and white checkered napkins. In addition to a variety of classic flavours, the JoJo also offers their own unique combinations.

Golden Cadillac is one such combination, made from honey mustard, ranch dressing and Frank's Hot Sauce.

This sauce is all over the place in terms of taste, hitting spicy, creamy and tangy notes without letting any of its components overpower the others.

jojo bar torontoFlatbread Pizzas ($13) are topped with green and red peppers and pepperoni. The crusts are thin and crispy while the slices are covered in gooey mozzarella, leading to fantastic cheese pulls.

Of course, the contents of the bar’s mini-fridge are the real stars of the show. From canned beers and seltzers ($8) to singles ($8) and doubles ($14), there's something for everyone to try.

jojo bar torontoMt. Tiki is a cocktail that was created for us on the spot.

Though its olive green hue doesn’t exactly scream "beach vibes", its refreshing blend of Jagermeister, pineapple juice and rum (not to mention its adorable lime umbrella) certainly do.jojo bar torontoThe Aperol Margarita is a pleasant peachy colour and tastes like a salty, citrusy dessert. Though definitely one of the simpler cocktails on offer, it was my favourite drink of the night.

The imaginatively named Piss is the JoJo's signature beer.

The bright yellow can depicts Eric and his partners, Will Johnston and Nicola Rapko, in fanciful situations, such as holding a helium balloon or flying an old-fashioned airplane.

jojo bar torontoThe beer itself is heavy and rich, with a weight that could easily be mistaken for a stout. However, it doesn't contain the hoppiness often found in these beers, giving the drink its own distinct character.

It's fitting that it's Jojo Bar's signature beer, as it's description can be applicable to the establishment as a whole.

jojo bar torontoThe atmosphere is rich with amusement and personalities, who are either popping in amidst a quick crawl or lounging on the seats, oblivious to time passing. Jojo Bar is its own distinct character, indeed. 

jojo bar torontoThe JoJo Bar is located at 2408 Danforth Avenue.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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