Smiling Buddha has long been known as an on-and-off hub for emerging Toronto indie rock bands as well as a prototypical dive bar that resisted gentrification. But as of this month, new life has been bestowed to this College and Dovercourt spot.
While the massive porcelain Buddha, colour blocking painted walls and cracked peach and white linoleum tiling remain, a few exciting changes have come, like a return to regular concert scheduling.
Last Friday I saw Hooded Fang play a special cover set of New York's Seminal No-Wave ambassadors ESG to a happy crowd that kept the vibe bouncing off the walls. Had they played at a larger venue, it might not have been the same.
The Bruce Lee painting acting as stage backdrop is a welcome new addition to the old 70s lamps, and weird kitschy art like a knitted wall-hanging that reminds me of Tool's Ănima album cover.
The bar is well stocked, and on the cheap with cans of Strongbow cider for a mere $5.00, premium pints of Sapporo and Blanche De Chambly are as low as $5.50, and you can even splurge on a 600 ml bottle of Beau's Lugtread for $7.50 if you've just been paid and are feeling like a baller.
Straight shots start at $3.75 and you don't even have to rent out a booth! In fact, there are plans to bring the former restaurant booths back and to resurrect the kitchen (a Chinese menu is unlikely), but these are long-term goals.