rock bars Toronto

The Best Rock Bars in Toronto

The best rock bars in Toronto are where to see the acts that are not only up and coming in this city but on a global stage. Great drinks, good sound, awesome bills and an exciting atmosphere are hallmarks of all these places, and most are also home to a ton of music history.

Here are the best rock bars in Toronto.


Horseshoe Tavern
1

Horseshoe Tavern

The Shoe, as it's known, has seen its fair share of big acts from Waylon Jennings, the Band, Bruce Cockburn and Stompin’ Tom Connors to The Ramones, The Police and The Cramps. Around for over fifty years, the Queen West bar still has old school pool tables but now also features a convenient window right into the A&W next door.

Sneaky Dee's
2

Sneaky Dee's

This Little Italy club is a venue with a capacity of 200 up top and a punk bar serving nachos and brunch down below. Open since 1990, bands such as Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene got their start here.


Bovine Sex Club
3

Bovine Sex Club

With a low stage and walls dripping with memorabilia and borderline trash that includes not only band stickers and posters but panties of past groupies, this Queen West spot is as divey as they come, but where better to a see a show? Plus, there’s a tiki bar on the roof.

Rivoli
4

Rivoli

Big music acts like Adele and Blue Rodeo as well as some of our city’s best comedy like Kids in the Hall have performed here. The sprawling multi-level Queen West bar also features a full restaurant and a massive pool hall.


Velvet Underground
5

Velvet Underground

Drinks are slung at lightning speed to crowds gathered to see international indie acts like Dean Blunt and locals at this dark Queen West bar.


The Hideout
6

The Hideout

Relocated from one rock neighbourhood to another, from Queen West over to Little Italy, this bar is now much closer to Sneak’s. Their new home is huge and impressive, with plenty of standing room and two bars.

Smiling Buddha
7

Smiling Buddha

Toronto newcomers to the rock scene test their mettle at this haven for local musicians. Long and narrow with performances on a stage upstairs and on the floor in the basement, the drinks aren't cheap here but the events schedule is reliably packed with phenomenal local acts.


Cherry Cola's
8

Cherry Cola's

This lush but divey club on Bathurst almost at Queen is complete with fringed lampshades and burlesque dancers.

Hard Luck
9

Hard Luck

Dundas West has this unassuming space with a roster of hard rock acts, smaller stage, bare bones look and shelf full of whiskey.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at the Horseshoe Tavern

The Best Rock Bars in Toronto

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The Best Rock Bars in Toronto

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