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.
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.
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!
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.
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....
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..
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
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
242 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M5A2G2, CA
23 Augusta St, Hamilton, ON L8N1P6, CA