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Bars at Woodbine & Danforth?

  • t

Hi all,

New to the Woodbine and Danforth area, and there is the obvious realization that there is not too much in the way of food or drink around.

I know I'm on the subway line, and a quick hop to Greektown or elsewhere, but sometimes you just want to stagger home quickly after a night of drinking, right?

From what I can see, there seems to be quite a few "scummy" looking bars on the Danforth strip in this area... consisting of lots flannel and too few teeth. So... does anyone know of any decent, clean, and friendly places to get a drink?

Wise Guys Deluxe Grill & Bar looks okay from the outside - has anyone been? I think Relish may be okay for some drinks, although I've heard the food is not so hot. Anyone been to "Sarah's" at Coxwell and Danforth?

Any suggestions/recommendations are appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. "Scummy" sure captures the flavour of our hood! I haven't gone into any of the places along the strip there -- when I want a cocktail, I go to Allen's (Broadview and Danforth), Murphy's Law (Queen and Kingston Road) or Feather's (Vic Park and Kingston Road). There's also a very cute Irish pub on Gerrard two blocks west of Woodbine called McCarthy's. I've been to Sarah's once but found the service quite horrendous -- slow, rude and incompetent. Others rave about it, however, so maybe it was an off night. Let us know what you find if you're brave enough to enter any of the places on the strip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hmmm

      There's a bar/restaurant right near the northeast corner of Coxwell and Danforth called "TKO". Has anyone ever been? Any good?

    2. Sarah's is nothing to rave about, but they have a nice beer selection and at times, decent food. If you go there expecting bad service and mediocre food, you might have a good experience. If you go expecting great service and yummy food, you'll be disappointed. It's a typical neighborhood spot.
      Maverick's is supposed to be OK, just West of Greenwood, as it the Only Cafe, at Jones. A bit of a hike from Woodbine, but hey, with a few beers in ya, it shouldn't be too bad.
      3's Company Cafe has great food during the day, but I'm not sure they're licensed.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jill

        I believe Maverick's is actually west of Jones - past the Only, almost at Pape. It seems like one of those places filled with regulars, albeit friendly ones.

        1. re: julesrules

          I actually meant the Hargrave, not Maverick's.

      2. I like Sarah's. The food is okay (true, not gourmet), but probably the best place in the neighbourhood to hang out and have a few drinks.

        1. Used to live in the hood until a year, so here are my thoughts:
          1) Sarah's — stopped going many years ago. Service is bad, bad, and really bad. Did I say service was bad. The food is very mediocre, if not bad. I can make better food at home. Sure they have nice beer on tap and it looks nice inside. Otherwise don't recommend it. Don't get there. The other poster did not go there on a bad day. The service is bad.
          2) TKO — quite liked the place, although the smoking ban scared away lot of regulars. The wings are very good, the Chicken Club sandwich was a deal. For pub food, very good. It may look intimidating, but nobody will bother you there. Nick the owner is actually not a bad guy once he stops scowling at you. And guess what? Unlike Sarah's, service is good.
          3) Greek place across the street from Sarah's.... can't recall the name, but got souvlaki takeout from there and it was very good. The people there very nice. Family run business.
          4) Only Cafe. Great beer, excellent brunch. Yes, it's at Danforth & Jones, but it is only $6 cab ride away (believe me..)
          5) In the Danforth/Greektown strip, go to the Auld Spot (although I understand it is under new ownership), the Court Jester Pub, The Willow, and Allen's (a bit pricey).
          6) In the beaches, go to Murphy's Law (great service) and my personal favourite, Captain Jack on Wheeler and Queen. (they have no food on the menu, but a great jukebox, great bartenders and great drinks.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Frederick

            I'm very surprised at people slagging Sarah's service. I go there about ten times a year and have NEVER had bad service. Or bad food...


            1. re: Frederick

              My wife and 10 of our friends made reservations at Sarah's for brunch last Sunday. When we arrived we were told that we weren't allowed to bring strollers into the restaurant. Our group had 2 strollers and we offered to fold them up and put them off to the side, but they refused to allow us in despite the fact that the place was almost empty. So we hopped on over to 10 Feet Tall where we had an excellent brunch with excellent service. Shortly after, another group of 5 people came into 10 Feet Tall after being refused service at Sarah's because they didn't allow baby strollers.

              Needless to say we won't be going back...stroller or no stroller.

            2. Thanks for all of the suggestions. I will definitely try the recommended places out.


              1. d

                I recently went to the Relish Bar and Grill. They have a Tapas menu - very tasty small servings of food. Also noticed a small selection of draft beer (hubby had a cherry beer) and wines. Our son was with us, and he enjoyed some of the foods: seafood risotto, ribs and polenta. We also had grilled portobello mushrooms. It's new in the area and the servers are keen and friendly.
                It's at the corner of Cedarvale and Danforth.

                Link: http://www.relishbarandgrilll.com

                1. Sarah's has an o.k. burger but don't touch anything else. It's an amatuer kitchen. The latkes (actually just one) was cold, burned, rock hard and they tried to hide it by completely smothering it with apple sauce - which was not what I had ordered.
                  It's a shame there is nowhere to eat in this area that is not either incompetent (Sarah's) time warped (Bebich Bistro) agonizingly slow (El Sol). Gerrard pizza is o.k. for unexciting Italian.

                  1. Sarah's depends on your server, I find, but they are totally kid unfriendly. Not a bad place though. Ten Feet Tall is great place for a beer and a bite and they are kid friendly, definitely, if that matters. McCarthys is a great little joint down on Gerrard, about 5-10 minute walk from the 'hood'. Great for a pint. And Bibiche Bistro - well its stuck in the early 80s for decor but they give you a lot, and, I do mean, lot of food. Not a drinks place though.As for places within a walk (but longer walk- 30 minutes) - Captain jacks and Castros on the Beach, the Only Cafe and the Dora Keogh beside Allens.

                    1. The Only is the best spot in the hood by far, and I used to go there long before I moved out here to the nasty east side. Seriously, what's with all the skid bars? And why do they all have 'Happy" in their name?

                      Sarah's is a bit too snooty for the hood. I agree the Only is a bit far and we are lacking anything decent close to home. Its either skid or Melanie's Bistro - nothing chill and in-between. So I eat a lot of Ethiopian and head to Little India often for awesome cheap vegetarian food. I too like the Gerrard Irish pub - and everyone is really Irish (its not one of those faux Firkin deals). Grinder on Main and Gerrard is a great day time destination for coffee.

                      So yes - lets take over one of those hoser bars! One good thing about the east side is the absence of off-the-rack hipsters. I haven't seen a single person in Dallas Green glasses and perfect indie hair wandering the Danforth. Unless they are lost.

                      18 Replies
                      1. re: hosergirl

                        I second that...let's keep it a hipster free zone! Of course, several musicians beloved of the cult of hipster live around here, but that's another story...
                        I wandered into that little Thai place a block or two down the Danforth and it was not at all bad. Very friendly service too. Happy Sushi (there's that word again) on the other hand, was pure misery. Can't advise strongly enough (mainly because the moderators won't let me) that it should be avoided!
                        I love Ethiopian food passionately and as I only just moved in too, I have barely scratched the surface. There seems to be quite a gaggle of them down by Coxwell. Any recommendations?

                        1. re: hosergirl

                          hosergirl, that ('off the rack') is hilarious. I am adding you to my reading list!

                          While the general thinking is that there are few destinations to be found on this stretch of the Danforth, there are plenty of worthy places as I discovered in writing down all the good places on a previous post. For all of us interested in good food, our neighborhood being below radar is not a bad thing.

                          I will spare this post of another kick at Sarah's. I'm sure my hate-on for them is well-documented here.

                          Was excited to see the take-out/delivery menu in the flyers...but then I remember that is the location of Ikky Sushi. With the pine banquettes and stale oil smell. So, so sad there is not a decent sushi joint within walking distance.

                          Will not repeat the recs for all the wonderful Ethiopian places, Melanies and Jean's. Nobody has mentioned the Terminal. Open for dinner now, they serve alcohol and are kinda very loosely casual without the divey-a-fistfight-may-break-out-any-moment vibe.
                          When I feel patient and longing for comfort food, I think right away of the chicken couscous platter at Marrachech.

                          1. re: neighborguy

                            I like them all. I'm a veg and I must say all the platters are pretty much the same for me.

                            One funny story though: My friend and I were about to try out "Safari's" at Coxwell when we noticed that the health rating posted on the window read "conditional". I guess we gawked at it long enough before we bailed, because on the way back later that night we noticed that they had removed the sign from the window altogether.

                            I used to like Blue Nile because its lively and people party there. But the veg platter has been diminishing in portion. And the other, less fancy Ethiopian joints have cheaper beer.

                            Which skid bar should we usurp?:
                            Groove Bar might be an option. Its right across from the Farmer's Market park in that Melanies/ Wag pet store/ most likely to gentrify strip. Its not Queen and Ossington, but I drank on the patio with the owner recently and he at least has his teeth. Maybe we should all go there and convince him to play better music, turn off the big screen and do something about the 80s rock decor and then we promise to bring our friends.

                            What's the Terminal?

                            Sorry to dis Sarah's. I just find it unnecessarily expensive for the hood.

                            And never mind the skid bars. We haven't even talked about the mafia cafes! I just moved from Little Italy. Safe Italian cafes with rosy children and puff pastry and hip couples drinking cappuccinos and lots of beautiful people who all work in TV. (oh and Utopia - can I talk about how I miss Utopia). Here in Little Sicily these cafes are jammed with bad-ass men wearing track suits just like in the Soppranos. Have you noticed the brightly lit "back rooms" with pool tables, black sofas and smoke? What goes on there? None of them have cream for coffee, only the bag in the the plastic jug kind of milk they keep in the back fridge for the likes of me. And there's no food. At Double Shots they sell bags of chips and chocolate bars. They don't even have a till. I'm sure the real revenue comes from the back room.

                            1. re: hosergirl

                              We are so used to the Italian social clubs now -- they don't even register. Mosdef they are all about 'don't ask -- cuz we wont' tell' to those who are not paisan. Just. Stay. Away.

                              The terminal is the diner to the west of the Shoppers. It's the real deal, with none of the faux-retro garbage decor that you get all over the place now. Definitely chow-worthy. A neighborhood joint but without the uppity self-absorbed entitled monster-SUV crowd you'd expect to see.

                              1. re: neighborguy

                                Oh, THAT Terminal. Yeah, it's a nice simple diner place where you get good diner-level food. At reasonable prices. And your analysis of the crowd there is spot on.

                              2. re: hosergirl

                                Please let' s do the Groove Bar - it's at the top of my street.

                                Hilarious depiction of the mafia cafes - I tried to find one with TSN2 to watch a soccer game last year. No dice - what do they do in there?

                                TKO's was my local for leaf games when I was closer to Coxwell. It's quite fine and friendly. I actually tried the Blue River and Wise Guys once - big mistake.


                                1. re: mariecollins

                                  I only went to the Groove Bar once (hey neighbour! Also at the top of my street...), and it was...kinda scary. I got a very "eastern European guys in dark close looking shifty" kinda vibe

                                  1. re: James Goneaux

                                    Have to update this: not scary at all, Rob and his folks (Mama and Papa) are super nice.

                                    Could use an update decor-wise, but nothing to be afraid of.

                                    1. re: James Goneaux

                                      The Groove Bar seems to be getting a lot of love lately - did you see Deca Diaries?. What's good to eat there? I tried the Kilt and Haggis on opening night but haven't had the chance to go back yet. Seems uninspiring.

                                      1. re: mariecollins

                                        Yes, it was the Diaries that reminded me to try again.

                                        I don't remember what we ate, actually. Probably nachos? Definitely need to go through the menu.

                                        We've tried the Kilt and Haggis, a few times, mostly for drink on the way home. Food was ok (again, I'm the worst chowhound ever, can't remember...). I'll give it a few more chances, but its not as comfy as TKO's. A real pub has booths. Just sayin'.

                                        1. re: James Goneaux

                                          I walked in the Kilt and Haggis once. looked at the kitchen and the patrons and the dingy furniture and gloom, and walked out again. You are a braver man than I.

                                          1. re: Pincus

                                            Actually, I meant "The Kilt and Harp", sorry about that.

                                            Then again, I used to drink at "The Tap" in the Annex, which actually scared some frat boys I know...

                                            1. re: James Goneaux

                                              Oh, I meant "the Kilt and Harp" too. Same owner as the Haggis though.

                                              1. re: mariecollins

                                                I wonder if we're talking about the same place I walked into.

                                                1. re: Pincus

                                                  To be clear: I've only ever been to the Kilt and HARP, the new one that is on the north side of Danforth, just west of Woodbine, used to be Suzanna's. Never been to the Kilt and HAGGIS.

                                                  1. re: James Goneaux

                                                    I think we're talking about the same place, and you're all braver than I am if you stuck around there.

                                          2. re: James Goneaux

                                            I made the mistake of ordering wings here & had the worst indigestion and foul smelling belches all night. My Smithwicks was fine though...

                                            1. re: eller

                                              Same thing here. My spousal unit and I went a couple weeks ago, specifically for dinner. Ordered 2lbs of wings and a couple of pints. The place was busyish, but nobody else seemed to be ordering food, so the kitchen wasn't busy.

                                              It must have taken 20 minutes or more for the wings to arrive- my guess is they were hoping we'd finish our drinks and order more. When they finally showed up, the wings were dry, overcooked, and lacking flavour. We were starving by then and ate them anyway, hopeless as they were.

                                              Had high hopes for a decent neighbourhood pub. Doesn't look like this is going to be it.

                            2. As an adult without strollers, I have never had bad service at Sarah's. Just don't order food there. I will have to explore Ten Feet Tall more soon based on all this, been there once and it was enjoyable. But otherwise, yeah, you need to go west on the Danforth to get into some non-scary bars.

                              1. Taps and Tails is not quite stumbling distance from Woodbine, but given all the discussion of Sarah's, it's only one block further - Danforth just west of Linnsmore (the street with Greenwood station). Haven't tried the food yet, but its a nice spot for a drink and friendly staff....

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Julie McCoy

                                  Taps and Tales is great. I have been there a couple of times and the food is really good. The beer selection is pretty broad with a variety of beers you probably have never had.

                                  My favorite local is the Seanachai. It is just west of danforth. If you want a cheep beer and good food it is a good place to go.

                                  1. re: Julie McCoy

                                    I believe Taps and Tails absolutely satisfies the OP's query.

                                    Went in for dinner last night for the first time and I'll be back. They have a respectable beer selection on tap and a decent-sized menu. Meals were fine. Not sure what the place looked like before but the room is suitably designed. I've not read anything on this, but my spidey sense tells me the reno is not a RM hatchetjob. And good thing too! I want this place to do well. The room is comfortabe with neighborhood pub details (but without the over the top cliches and flourishes RM barfs out.) Some dark wood, stainless steel, brick, and i liked the dimmer light switch at every booth. Very thoughtful.

                                    The place was full of people from the neighborhood.

                                    Service was friendly and casual.

                                    1. re: neighborguy

                                      I will try Taps and Tails and report back. Thanks for the suggestion. Its really close to home.

                                      1. re: hosergirl

                                        No one has mentioned Djerba La Douce yet, but maybe that's because it's unlicensed. It predominantly north african food, that also blends into italian. It's a bit of a wait, but the food you get is fresh, lovely, and the chef is an incredible saucier. Their out of control good mint tea helps with the wait.

                                        I'm in agreement with the hate on for Sarah's, many stories to back that up so I won't bother adding. A friend of mine used to cook there and the owner is terrible with their chefs so a lot just end up not caring, and anyone good usually is out the door once they find out how terrible it is to work there.

                                        I'm all about TKO's, ten feet tall and relish, and have enjoyed many a meal at Rendez-Vous which is about 300 metres west of Sarah's and serves booze.

                                        Rendez-Vous Restaurant
                                        1213 Pitt St, Cornwall, ON K6J3T3, CA

                                      2. re: neighborguy

                                        Taps and Tales is my current go-to place in the area. Great service, and food that tastes like it hadn't just been boiled in a bag and dumped on my plate.

                                    2. Kind of late to answer the old questions about TKO's, but I enjoy the food there. It is a sports bar, and it is very neighbourhood, but not that noisy. Good service, good homemade style food, reasonable prices. Not the place for an upscale night out, but if you want to hang around in a t-shirt and shorts, perfect.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Pincus

                                        Brass Taps at Logan and Danforth has some great food and cold beer. Service is always pleasant.

                                        1. re: Herne

                                          I love their half-price pizza nights on Wednesdays! I've usually had good service there, except for last time, which I am treating as an exception.