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Feb 10, 2010 02:00 PM

Cheap and Dirty: Thrifty Dive Bars of the GTA

Hey all. I like drinking beer in seedy spots, and places full of history or character. I also want to make a documentary on the seediest, and most interesting bars in Southern Ontario. If anyone can let me know what spots they would recommend... I'll have a blast scouting out the scenes.

Anything from historic hotels, to real dumps. Let me know folks!

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  1. Akia on the corner of Broadview and Simpson. (just north of Gerrard).

    Don't know of any historical value. But it's certainly interesting. On a good night you can see some real professional drunks kick it on the karaoke machine.

    you're going to get a lot of response on this, I imagine. There are a tonne of seedy dive bars in Toronto.

    3 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      Karaoke machine's gone. It has a new owner (fourth one in five years!) but it's generally pretty quiet now.

      1. re: grandgourmand

        In East York the one to go to is the Linsmore Tavern at the corner of Linsmore and Danforth. It is both a historic hotel and a real dump. Well worth the visit for the 1$ drafts. Yes it is draft not beer.

        Sadly I think it won't be there much longer as the neighbourhood gentrifies it doesn't look busy enough to keep up.

        East York
        1039 Pape Ave, Toronto, ON M4K3W1, CA

        1. re: Kooper

          I ventured in here not long ago before having dinner elsewhere on the Danforth. $3.25 bottles of 50 made it an easy spot to kill time in, while watching the locals.

          It's worn down but not dirty. I thought it was kind of sad to see it so empty to be honest... a bit of atmosphere would do The Linsmore well.

      2. See the thing is, are you looking for seedy hipster dive bars (trendy dive bars) or like real shady bars where you will get accosted and dirty looks, with drunks.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Bobby Wham

          bang on. real shady ones. dirty looks. and hopefully places that have been around for more than 40-50 years. or any neighbourhood dump of notable interest

          1. re: doubledust

            Just go to any local bar where you see older men congregating, there is one in pretty much every old neighbourhood of Toronto that isn't Forest HIll or Rosedale.

            I can think of one on Queen in Leslieville a few blocks west of Sushi Marche that is real divey. There's one on Roncesvalles by the Home Hardware that is also very divey.

            There are no hipster dive bars in Toronto, the ones that people consider divey are far from it. They're all pretty new and generally around oss & queen. Sweaty Betty I like but it's a joke when people call it a dive bar.

            1. re: aser

              Are you referring to Jilly's at Queen and Broadview (nice old building actually) or The Duke at Leslie and Queen? Nobody has mentioned Teddies Sports Bar at Jones and Queen (Closing Feb. 15th), The Jones Bar and grill at Jones and Queen, or Tasty Chicken just past Carlaw on Queen!!! Talk abouut dives that are down and dirty!!!! I think there is also a nameless bar at Queen between Carlaw and Pape. Most of these have almost no redeeming features!!!!!

              1. re: Leslieville

                The Duke of York qualifies...a bystander murdered there in 2008.

                1. re: doubledust

                  Not sure if it would qualify but the Quality Inn on Dundas just west of Ossington...dont let the intersection fool you, this is not the Crooked Star or Sweaty Bettys, its technically a "Chinese Restaurant" but no one ever eats there nor do I think there is anything to be cooked in there.

                  Its old, its rundown, its cheap, its sketchy...hell, half the time it doesn't really look open.

                  Also would like to throw out the Barn at Queen and Bathurst

                  1. re: Benniep

                    HAHA... The Barn. Way back in the mid 90s, a group of us would a night of drinking at other seedy bars (no longer in existence) with a bottle of Mateus wine at the Barn. There are others that are dirtier and seedier, but you will get looks if you are not a regular. Main crowd that I recall being in the place was various groups of men, well into their 60s,if not older, watching hockey, and drining bottles of blue light or labatt 50

              2. Wasn't there a recent thread here on TO/GTA dives?

                  1. re: childofthestorm

                    yup. marked those all down. most seem to be trendy or fairly new. im looking for the places that are going out of business, or already look like they have. or somewhere where i can get a $1 dirty glass of stale beer where the lines havent been changed in ages, and someones relatives are pounding out horrible tunes on blown speakers

                    1. re: doubledust

                      There's "atmosphere" and then there's "health hazard." Survivability should be part of everyone's drinking experience, no? Hamilton, maybe?

                      1. re: Kagemusha

                        He doesn't need to go to Hamilton. Like Aser said, plenty of dive bars in most neighborhoods in Toronto.

                        1. re: Kagemusha

                          Ahh the best seedy dive bar in Hamilton (the Regal Hotel) was recently renovated by the Honest Lawyer group and turned into a theme restaurant...although there are still a few on Concession St. and down by the steel mills (you want a sketchy bar filled with regulars that give you looks - try one right by any of the steel mills in North Hamilton, especially right around shift change)

                        2. re: doubledust

                          Make sure you check out Googs' specifc post within the above thread. It has all the nasty places I was going to suggest:


                          They're all really something and, from my experience, exactly what you're looking for.

                      2. Start in Weston then head north.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Herb

                          "Start in Weston then head north."