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Pubs 2011

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I wanted to start a new thread about your favourite Toronto pubs (not so much sports bars). Places that make you feel comfortable, have a good atmosphere, are inexpensive, have cheerful service and a clean atmosphere.

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  1. I've enjoyed Football Factory every time I've gone. The service has always been really friendly, the food is surprisingly good and I don't think it's ever been more than half full when I've gone, which is nice when you're trying to have a conversation. I haven't been there during any soccer games though, so not sure what it's like then, but outside of those times it's been quite pleasant and cozy.

    1. I haven't gotten out as much as I rightfully should have to have well-rounded opinions, but here are a few thoughts anyway:

      Ceili Cottage. I like the fire outside. It was packed inside but had a good atmosphere the night I went. I didn't eat here but the beverages were good and the service was relaxed and friendly. However, it is not inexpensive.

      Queen and Beaver. Also not inexpensive but I went here for a quieter evening and really liked the feel upstairs. Loved the fries, burger did not suit me but I don't think it was bad, just not to my taste. I would return.

      The Press Club. I tend to go here at times when it's not busy so I am not sure what it's like when there is a band or a crowd, but it is inexpensive, has good selection, friendly staff, and is super casual. This is the place I like when I feel like getting together for a drink with someone but don't feel like Going Out, definitely in part because it is so close to my house (I doubt it is a destination place). I don't think they have food.

      Notes on sports bars:
      I have to admit I have been to the Real Sports Bar three times and have enjoyed myself there all three times. It should be loud and obnoxious-- there are giant screens everywhere, it's very corporate (suits/little black dresses), and it's usually packed-- and I'm sure many people do find it obnoxious, but I liked it in spite of myself. I had some horrifying "I have to know what this tastes like" beer/coke/amaretto mixed drink on the last visit along with the fried calamari and it was surprisingly good. I liked our servers too. Am I really admitting this??

      I personally have not loved the Football Factory, having visited maybe 5 times over the last 2 years. I find it sort of empty somehow. The service has been both good and not good, and the food looks better on the menu than it actually tastes (to me). Different strokes!

      1. My pubbish experiences tend to be on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, when most venues are pretty quiet. I always count on The Pilot for comfort and palatable food. Recently I 've had friendly, efficient service and good food at Bar Volo, Hair of the Dog, and (surprisingly) the Fionn MacCool's on Bloor Street East.

        Queen and Beaver, which I loved beyond telling when it first opened, has disappointed me severely three times in a row (not so much in service, but defnitely in the preparation and presentation of the food), so I'll be spending my pub dollars in other places, at least until I forgive Q & B enough to try it again.

        9 Replies
        1. re: waydowntown

          I have never been to the pilot but remember hearing about it from some friends who go to U of T. Is the crowd too young (students at a bar..?) or can a semi-quiet meal be had?

          1. re: hungryabbey

            love the pilot, good homey diner food and (the once was everywhere in Toronto)pad thai with big jumbo shrimp-when you order it spicy-it is hot! mixed crowd but mostly local business people, not really that young...there is an area away from the maddening crowd but the pilot is a bar not a pub....

            1. re: hungryabbey

              Why hungryabbey, shame on you. You've never been to The Pilot?!?!? I'm simply shocked. You've always been my Pub Goddess. Generations of Torontonians have gotten drunk there and had a great time doing it. Go, go, go and try all the seats while you're at it. The street patio, the bar, and the rooftop lounge..

              1. re: Googs

                I could not agree more. I think I may have actually lived in the back there for a while many years ago :)

                1. re: JamieK

                  Hhaha, I know I know. Im so behind. I will have to check it out before we lose this good weather!
                  what do you recommend eating?

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Sorry I can't make a recco as far as eating goes because it's been a while since I've been there. But there was no rooftop patio in my Pilot days and I've only seen pictures but I suggest you check it out before the weather turns :)

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      They have food there?

                      1. re: Googs

                        zactly... I don't think I ever ate food there.

                        1. re: JamieK

                          I'm wrong. Met with a some friends for dinner a few years ago and either we didn't know about the rooftop patio or it didn't exit yet but we ended up at the front street-level patio with cars rushing by, a stinky sewer by us and smokers all around us... don't remember what I ate.

            2. Favourite local pub is Firkin on King. Food's amazing, service is friendly ... oh, but sit in the basement level, its much more cozier than the room with high ceilings and high tables. Chicken wings are good, there's a half chicken meal... and now they have a winter menu with root veggies. I was surprised the quality of food for a Firkin restaurant, ... but its become my local favourite.. !

              Firkin on King
              461 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

              1. I am fortunate that I live in Cabbagetown and we do have great neighbourhood pubs that provided something for most everyone.

                The House on Parliament currently is too crowded to be considered a pub (a place where one could hang out and drink) linups and less than warm service hinder what I still believe could evolve into TO's Spotted Pig. The owners know their stuff and a move into larger premises in the spring may bing this place to the level it should be at.

                The Ben Wicks has great staff, lots of bar space but very inconsistant food many attempts to change things but they have yet to get it right. Keep trying guys...

                New is the Underdown in the former Pimbletts Bar another case of very good intentions and deserves to be patronized. Music most nights.

                Stout on Carlton, in the former Brass Taps has a great beer menu, ok food and appears to be taking off with a younger, noisier crowd

                Ben Wicks Restaurant
                424 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A3A2, CA

                Pimblett's Restaurant
                242 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M5A2G2, CA

                Spotted Pig
                23 Augusta St, Hamilton, ON L8N1P6, CA

                1. I didn't know where most of these places are, so adding some place tags for the sake of the map.

                  Ceili Cottage
                  1301 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

                  Queen & Beaver
                  35 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

                  Football Factory
                  164 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5V2R3, CA

                  1. My standbys in no particular order:

                    - C'est What - Food is adequate though not fantastic, but the decor and great all-Canadian beer selection make up for it. The service is good unless they are really busy in which case things can fall apart.

                    - The Jason George - This place near the SLM has recently renovated to double in size, and it has a very cozy vibe with several fireplaces for the winter and a good patio for the summer. It's a nice pub without being too upscale or fancy. The food is well done classic pub food. The beer selection is average.

                    - Queen & Beaver - I like this place, it has an atmosphere that is unique in Toronto. I prefer the more casual upstairs to the downstairs restaurant area. The food is ambitious and adventurous, so when it's good it's great and when it's bad... look out! They always have a good beer on cask. It's a bit expensive, though.

                    - Smokeless Joe - This tiny hole-in-the-wall in the entertainment district is very cozy and independent feeling. It's the kind of place where the staff and fellow customers tend to chat with each other, rare for Toronto. It is very beer-centric with a huge list that contains some very expensive imports, but if you choose carefully there are reasonable options, too. Without a proper kitchen the food select is minimal, but what they have is decent.

                    C'est What
                    67 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E1B5, CA

                    Smokeless Joe
                    Toronto, ON, Toronto, ON , CA

                    The Jason George
                    100 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5A1E1, CA

                    Queen & Beaver
                    35 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gary

                      I have always wondered abotu the Jason George. I will def check that one out.

                      The Jason George
                      100 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5A1E1, CA

                    2. I like some of the places mentioned above... volo, ceilli... but my current favourite is Taps and Tales because it's within walking distance for decent food and beer and extremely friendly warm service, nice atmosphere too.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JamieK

                        Is it clean in there? What do you normally order?

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          yes, clean definitely. I usually only go for beers and maybe an app and I'm not familiar with the menu so not helpful sorry. I've had the dips which which were fine. At dinner they have an app special and I regret the last time I was there that I did not try the calamari special. If you're in the general neighbourhood, which I think you are, it's worth a try.

                      2. I used to love the Auld Spot on the Danforth, although I have not been there in a few years. I am also a fan of the Abbot on the Hill.

                        Auld Spot
                        347 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                        Abbot on the Hill
                        1276 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T1W5, CA

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                          Abbot On The Hill has been renamed The Monk's Table a couple years ago I think.

                          My favourite places seem to be the ones with better beer lists. I seem to end up at either C'est What or Volo at least once a week.

                          C'est What
                          67 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E1B5, CA

                          The Monk's Table
                          1276 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T 1W5, CA

                          1. re: kwjd

                            What dishes does the Monk's Table do best? How are their Fish & Chips?

                            The Monk's Table
                            1276 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T 1W5, CA

                        2. The Victory Cafe on Markham south of Bloor has been good in the past. I think ownership has changed so if anyone has more recent experiences please post. They had a very good draft selection, very good food for a pub and friendly staff.
                          We did a neighbourhood bar crawl recently and tried the Magpie, The Press Club, Communist's Daughter and Sweaty Betty's. All were very friendly with good beers on tap.

                          The Press Club
                          850 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V5, CA

                          1. I have great local pub...Bryden's on Bloor@Jane...

                            The food is great (love the nachos) & the tap list is excellent...all craft beer...

                            It is pretty busy and a small room though...but the service is good...Sitting on the patio right now in unbearable due to all the construction on Bloor Street...

                            1. Cam's Place (formerly Mad Monty's) is a nice pub on Yonge near Blythwood. They've done a lot of work upgrading the kitchen, and put out some fairly decent fare. Very nice nachos. Decent selection of beers, and a nice band space upstairs that has live music a few nights a week.

                              Cam's Place
                              2655 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P, CA

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Snarf

                                Cams Place? You've got to be kidding! Read the other threads and you'll never go back. It's filthy inside, the food is terrible and the beer is warm. Save your money and your time!

                                1. re: franpelyk

                                  I'm guessing you haven't actually been, as you're completely off the mark.