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Jan 20, 2012 07:20 AM

New BBQ Place in Scarborough - Rally Sports Bar

This place looks promising- anybody been yet? Reviews?

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  1. It's on O'Connor, which is East York and not Scarborough, technically speaking.

      1. Here's a link for you, BeanerSchitzl.

        I've been twice now. The 2nd time was dramatically better than the first. I'll be doing a brief review when I have a few moments. For now, if you're looking for bbq and sports together this place is unparalleled. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions I'm more than happy to answer them.

        I've already started mapping out which Leaf games are special enough to go there for and squealed with delight at the thought of watching the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rally. I get a little excited about sports.

        LearningHow, I live nearby and, believe me, that neighbourhood is commonly referred to as Scarborough West.

        Rally Sports Bar & Smokehouse
        1660 O'Connor Dr, Toronto, ON M4A 2R4, CA

        17 Replies
        1. re: Googs

          I stopped by for a fact finding mission. I was disappointed that there was no smoke smell in the place. That said, I doubt a place up here could really get away with that kinda ambiance anyway.

          Anyhoooo, I'll probably give this place a try at some point but really aren't expecting a whole lot. It just strikes me of a place looking to capitalize on the BBQ craze that's hit the city. I worry that, like most, it will not "Get" BBQ.


          1. re: Davwud

            So you're predicting another "Memphis Style Smoke House"? Or did you have a feeling "Wild Wing" owns it? (of those two it would be a debate as to which would be worse!)

            From the photo it actually looks like a Crabby Joe's... made me wonder if that was the original intent.

            1. re: TexSquared

              I've not been to MSSH.

              To me it just screams "Let's open a sports bar. What should we serve?? I know, BBQ. Everyone loves BBQ." BBQ requires a knack. Most places I've found north of the Ohio River/Mason Dixon seem to forget that. That and the fact that it is what it is and not to be made into some gourmet concoction served on chiabata and topped with alfalfa slaw.


              1. re: Davwud

                OK, I'll wait for more reviews here and elsewhere before making the trip. See some obvious shill "reviews" on which isn't a good sign.

                As for your "let's open a sports bar" comment, I think you nailed it. What really screams this are those advertorials (like on Post City) and their website: they always talk about the 7000 sq ft and the 42 big TV's before talking about the food in any detail. That tells me a lot. If you have to play up the decor first, the food's gotta be lacking.

                This is the opening paragraph on their website...

                "At Rally Sports Bar & Smokehouse our goal is to create the ultimate venue for todays sports enthusiast. From NFL, NHL, European League Football, NBA, MLB, UFC and everything in between cheer for your team on over 40 big screens with two sounds!"

                You go there to watch TV not get good food.

            2. re: Davwud

              I appreciate that you stopped by, Davwud. Let's see if I can address a couple of your concerns.

              First, they didn't level the existing buidling to create their own space. They've only renovated the interior and did a fine job of it. That space has been at least two restaurants and one nightclub in the past. At least one of those occupants would have had to put in some serious ventilation for (legal or illegal) smoking. That would explain the lack of smoke smell.

              I'm not sure if they "get bbq" to your or embee's standard. I only know bbq from my own smoking experience and the long spans of time I've spent in Tennessee. This doesn't make me an expert. It only makes me crave the stuff .

              As for the food, every piece of meat coming out of the kitchen had the distinct pink tinge of smoke. You can't fake that colour and you certainly can't fake that taste. Ribs, being so personal a choice, I'll tell you right now they're of the juicy, fall-off-the-bone variety and not the crispy with a mop type. Delicious, yes, but if you want crisp go elsewhere.

              This is definitely a menu designed by men. There's no gourmet, no chiabata, and DEFINITELY no afalfa slaw. Jeez I kinda wish they'd consider kimchee for the pulled pork instead the the creamy coleslaw they now use. I'd like the bite, but I'm sure that ain't right for the crowd.

              I don't mind one bit that they started with a business strategy. I always say "start with a plan, execute the plan, stick to the plan." I only wish more restaurants and chefs had that kind of business savvy (*cough* *sputter* *Boehmer*). Sure they wanna make money. As long as they do so by listening to their customers, and based on the significant differences between day 1 and day 23 I'd say they do, more power to them.

              blitz, I've only been twice so that isn't enough to say they're consistent. I had a good enough time that I've started recommending it to co-workers and friends which I didn't do the first time I went. I've liked every staff person I've encountered so far. They did a bang-up hiring job for sure. Not sure if that helps you, but it's what I got.

              1. re: Googs

                Hey Googs.

                Keep in mind that while I'm casting some doubts I am fully aware that I can't offer up any opinion on the place without trying it out. Keep in mind that I cut deep into the heart of BBQ country at least 4 times a year. Down there, Q is an art that takes years to master. There is a lot of people up here that don't seem to understand that. (not just TO either, it's a northern affliction). One thing I saw no evidence of is "Upgrades." Too often, as I said, people without the BBQ heritage seem to think that better is better. It too often is not.

                So with that said, let me address one specific thing you said. The ribs are "fall-off-the-bone variety." That could be one of two things, an incorrect description because what you're looking for is meat that clings to the bone but comes off clean when pulled. It should have some chew. Some texture. If it's fall off the bone mush the ribs have been boiled. I figure you know enough and it's the first case.

                Perhaps we can hook up for lunch someday.


                1. re: Davwud

                  According to this article, they smoke for 5 hours first. Not as long as you can, I know, but enough to make the meat tender and, yes, fall away from the bone. No mush. I consider boiling ribs the number one deadly sin. Salting without considering the intensification smoking creates another.


                  If you wanna see me there for lunch, just show up for any Leafs game that US tv forces us to watch in the afternoon. I'm pretty sure the Caps game in March is the closest it gets.

                  Being around for the 2014 Winter Olympics is looking better and better.

                  1. re: Googs

                    The use of side ribs is good.


                  2. re: Davwud

                    "Q is an art that takes years to master. There is a lot of people up here that don't seem to understand that."

                    Definitely. As we both know, the guys at Camp 31 mastered the art in southern Alabama. Darryl at Buster Rhino mastered it in the Carolinas. Kentucky Greg in Buffalo mastered it in Florida. And these are the best 3 places I've been to within driving distance of my house. (I admit I haven't tried the places in Stoney Creek and Newmarket that have been recommended here)

                    So the important question is, where did the Rally's people get their "masters degree in Q"? That would give us an idea what regional variation of Q they'd be tending toward.

                  3. re: Googs

                    I fully intend to try this place out. I am always willing to give anyone a shot as some of the places that I have found good Q have been quite surprising.

                    Two items to mention/contribute 1) It is actually possible to "fake" a smoke ring. Through some Cure #1 on a piece of meat for one hour then rinse off before you cook. It won't be enough to give the cured taste/texture, but the nitrates will have started to penetrate the first bit of the meat and will give you the red of the smoke ring without the smoke.

                    2) Though they may be about the sports bar first, at least they care enough about their meat to list the specific manufacturer of their smokers. Sure it isn't a pure stick burner, but it does show that they have pride in their food/process.
                    Family health being willing I plan to hit them up on the weekend and will post my thoughts.

                    1. re: Googs

                      thanks for the input Googs. i did end up going and they did a pretty good job of accommodating 20 or so people late on a saturday night. the service was attentive and they had no problems doing up 20 separate bills. as for the food, you hit the nail on the head. the ribs are not the "crispy with a mop type". i did enjoy them, although i am more a crispy and saucy ribs fan. i suppose my baseline for good ribs is the type Camp 31 does at the Scarborough ribsfest. the half rack was $15 and came with fries and slaw. $25 for a full rack.

                      the restaurant itself is fairly large and designed well. as soon as i walked in i felt it was like a "mini real sports bar". TVs everywhere with a giant projection screen in the main dining area.

                      totally unrelated but when the ribs came out i thought it looked like a slab of char siu lol.

                      1. re: blitz

                        IMO the slab in the picture does not look like it's been smoked long enough.....the meat hasn't receded from the bones enough to be tender yet have a slight pull in order to eat any case I'll give it a whirl to see how it is.

                        1. re: plug

                          My ribs had the taste and appearance of genuine smoke, were tender and came gently off the bone. However, it's far too early to say if that'll be consistent. If I can shoehorn my way into the room, I may go for this Sunday's sports extravaganzas.

                  4. re: Googs

                    hey googs do you think this place is consistent enough (food/service wise) to bring a dozen or so people to? i wanna bring some buddies of mine for a post-bday snack (after 10pm on a friday).

                    1. re: Googs

                      Your hoping to watch the 2014 Olympics there? Let's see if they are still open first!

                      How can that be Scarborough west when Scarborough starts on the east side of VP? Why not call it Rosedale East in that case?

                      1. re: foodyDudey

                        Exactly. The border of Scarborough is Vic Park. This is clearly west of Vic Park.

                        That's like people I know who call Ajax/Pickering Scarborough East (because a lot of the kids who grew up in Scarborough ended up buying houses out there). I wouldn't post something saying "new restaurant in Scarborough!" when its clearly in Pickering.

                        1. re: LearningHow

                          Most of the people on CH think the East End starts at the DVP, because they don't seem to know what "end" means. Finally I found somethng that shows where the East End actually is.

                    2. This new-ish writer to GridTO really seems to like Rally. I guess it's time to check it out again. Since the next Leafs-Caps game is winner-take-all, that might just be the night (or afternoon).

                      1. Just to add my 2ยข

                        The location feels more like Scarborough than East York to me, and now that we are one big happy "mega-city" I could care less about technical borders, but yes, it is technically outside Scarberia, so I travelled well over 100 yards into East York, and...

                        I finally visited Rally's this weekend, and while Buster Rhino's has nothing to worry about, my group really quite enjoyed their pulled-pork sandwiches. Rave reviews from all, and the onion rings were enjoyed by all as well.

                        UNFORTUNATELY, I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken, which I DO NOT RECOMMEND.
                        The chicken breading was massively over-seasoned with bitter dried herbs to the point that neither I nor my dining companions would even eat the chicken skin!, AND the chicken itself (leg, thigh, wing)
                        had a distinct metallic freezer flavour to it. The Fries were frozen and poor as well, and while the chicken breading was obviously fresh, it was oddly 'frilly' (for lack of a better word) and the overall effect reminded me quite a bit of the Swanson frozen chicken dinners of my food-deprived youth!

                        Staff servers were delightful and professional, place was clean and attractive for a sports bar, and in the end, the group all said they would return.