famous bars toronto

The 10 most famous bars in Toronto

The most famous bars in Toronto might not claim international recognition, but from a local standpoint they're far better known than your average watering hole. Some even boast national awareness, if only because of live performances that have happened within their walls.

Here are my picks for the most famous bars in Toronto.

Horseshoe Tavern

The 'Shoe, branded The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, has been around forever (since 1947, to be exact), and when The Rolling Stones choose to grace your small-scale stage, iconic status is often soon to follow.

Sweaty Betty's

This was one of the first of the many bars that now line Ossington. It prides itself on catering to those of us who are decidedly un-fancy. Drinks are simple (this is not a cocktail bar), but you will find a steady supply of PBR and Jameson, which is all any of us really need, right?

Bovine Sex Club

This bar has been a fixture on Queen West since it opened in the '90s, and is generally home to our city's filthy (in a great way) punk rockers and metal lovers. Aside from the music, the 80-seat rooftop patio is a highlight at the Bovine.

Sneaky Dee's

This dive bar landed in Toronto in 1987. Originally on Bloor, it later migrated down to the south east corner of College and Bathurst, where its wacky signage beckons us today. Everyone from BSS to Arcade Fire to Fucked Up has graced the bar's stage.

The Pilot

Established in 1944, this Yorkville establishment was originally located on Yonge Street north of Bloor before moving to its current Cumberland location. It's known for its rooftop patio, cheesily dubbed The Flight Deck.

The Lockhart

This bar nearly blew up the internet. Ever since news broke that there was a Harry Potter-themed bar in Toronto, this small spot on Dundas West was thrust into star status across the world.


This Queen West bar acted as a pioneer for the Toronto cocktail renaissance. It's most well known in the city for its epic and insanely expensive cocktails.

Dakota Tavern

This rustic, subterranean bar on Ossington is a throwback to the dusty saloons of the American West. It's arguably Toronto's most noteworthy live country music venue and bar.

Crews & Tango

The Church St. staple still draws massive weekend lineups for its drag shows. It's one of the few hubs for drag culture in the city, where seasoned queens have residencies and aspiring acts try to land a recurring gig.

Green Room

Found in an alleyway between Brunswick and Borden is this not so secret hidden bar. It's a popular spot among locals, thanks to its lasting reputation for cheap drinks and a bohemian atmosphere.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at the Horseshoe Tavern

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