toronto bar neighbourhoods

The top 10 neighbourhoods for bars in Toronto

The top neighbourhoods for bars in Toronto each foster their own kind of intuitive pub crawl. They all boast a hefty lineup of cozy spots for cocktails as well as louder spaces for small dance parties and group fun.

Here are my picks for the top neighbourhoods for bars in Toronto.

Dundas West

The ever-changing west side street continues to flourish with some of the city's more gritty, daring and creative bars. Classics like Communist's Daughter, Get Well, Montauk, Bambi's, Black Dice and Cocktail Bar paved the way for spots like The Baby G, The Lockhart and Swan Dive. For wine lovers, there's Midfield and Archive.

Parkdale

Slow gentrification has kept Parkdale weird and wonderful and a little rough around the edges. There are plenty of small and mighty bars like Pretty Ugly, Grand Trunk and The Yukon, mixed with consistent mid-sized drinking holes like Pharmacy, Parts & Labour and the Shameful Tiki.

Ossington

The popularity of this west side streets ebbs and flows, but its collection of bars is undeniable. Sweaty Betty's is the anchor that holds it all down, Oak Island brings the tropical vibes, Baby Huey brings the party, Man of Kent is a lovely local, SP184 is a secretive spot, and the Dakota Tavern, the Painted Lady and Reposado offer live music options.

Queen West/West Queen West

Queen West was Toronto's original art bar scene, and there are still lots of favourites here. For live music, you can't miss with The Horseshoe, the Rivoli and the Cameron House, barflies congregate at the Done Right Inn, BarChef and Squirly's, and partygoers flock to The Velvet Underground, Apt. 200, The Beaver, The Drake and The Gladstone.

King West

Large-scale clubs and VIP bottle service set the tone of the King West party scene. There are slick cocktail spots like Escobar hidden at the back of Baro, Lavelle and SpiritHouse. Scattered throughout are bigger venues like Spin, Early Mercy, Candyland, and the Addison's Residence.

Bloorcourt/Bloordale Village

Call it what you want - Bloorcourt, Bloordale, Blansdowne - but the bar-rich neighbourhood has a lot going for it. Places like Mulberry Bar, Northwood and Bar Neon sit amongst reliables like Civil Liberties, Another Bar, The Steady and 3 Speed.

Little Italy

Little Italy has a long history as a social hub that shows no signs of stopping. Favourites like No One Writes to the Colonel and Ted's Collision mingle with later additions like L'Absinthe Bar, Nightowl, Track & Field and Bar Raval. Pray Tell, Birreria Volo and LayLow bring a new school touch of class.

The Junction

The Junction's bar scene is a world all on its own with local favourites like Famous Last Words, Hole in the Wall and 3030 Dundas West. Grab a pint at brew pub Indie Alehouse, then catch a show at the Junction City Music Hall before capping the night a low-key drink at Shamone.

Church-Wellesley Village

As ground zero for Toronto's LGBT community, head to this area for drag shows, dance parties cocktails for people watching and fetish fun. Woody's acts as Toronto's gay Cheers, there's the Black Eagle for the leather crowd, Boutique Bar for cocktails, Crews and Tangos for drag and Glad Day Bookshop for books, art shows and dance parties at night.

Riverside

The east side's nightlife continues to grow with the arrival of big guns like the Broadview Hotel. It keeps locals happy with reliable destinations like Hi-Lo Bar, Aft Bar, and I'll be Seeing You. Boots 'N' Bourbon Saloon, Prohibition Gastrohouse and the Opera House have you covered for louder, large group good times.

Lead photo by

Hector Vazquez at Woody's


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