Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Feb 23, 2012 08:23 PM

Bier Market (king st) vs Beer Bistro vs Other

Trying to decide where to take a group of 10 for my birthday tomorrow night. Looking for some beer and drinks, and possibly food. All in all, want to make sure everyone can get what they want.

I really hate the Beer Market on Esplanade. Way too crowded and noisy. I went to the one on King St only once, and it was in the middle of the week and very quiet (probably too quiet) but decent. Never been to Beer Bistro.

A friend also suggested Volo, Another recommended Church Aperitivo Bar.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would take Beer Bistro over Bier Market any day.
    If you haven't made a reservation it might be hard to get in to Beer Bistro last minute though as it does get slammed in the evening and Friday nights forget about it (actually I had to wait a bit on Saturday evening when the Downtown work crowd is away!)
    I haven't tried Volo but friends who have been there recommend it. So I would pick Beer Bistro and then Volo.

    2 Replies
    1. re: elvisahmed

      There was a time when Ciro's was my local. Not the greatest neighborhood, (Lansdowne and Bloor is improving), but their selection of imports (120-150) was as good as anyplace downtown. Bonus, absinthe! Volo's is better for micro brews, but it might be hard for them to accommodate 10.

      1. re: glassonion

        Forgot to mention, don't confuse Volo's on Yonge with Volos on Richmond (I think). The latter is a Mediterranean restaurant.

    2. Depends what your desire is.

      Bier Market would be the last choice on my list, but don't fault them. THey have a nice bottle and tap list.

      Beer Bistro has very good food (albeit pricey) and is very pretty. their tap list doesn't excite me, but their bottle list has some beer snob gems.its the only place in Toronto where you can order Cantillon (although they're storing the bottles upright, which is a pet peeve of mine) and they have a good (for Toronto) selection of Flemish sours. if the last few beer comments has you scratching your head, then perhaps focus on the food and ambiance.

      Volo's my favourite bar in Toronto. Hands down. we never go there for dinner, but people do and they like their food. I'd put BB ahead of Volo on food quality/dining experience. Volo is very laid back and more bohemian. their tap list is the best in Toronto. their bottle list is excellent as well. you can easily spend $35 on a 750 mL bottle of wine-like beer that tastes like nothing you've likely had before.

      you should make a reservation at BB. you cannot make a reservation at Volo.

      7 Replies
      1. re: atomeyes

        For sure, Volo and Beer Bistro win over Bier Markt (or however they spell it) which I really hate. Beer Bistro usually has the better food (though consistency is a problem). Volo had changed their menu for the better from the red sauce Italian last time I was there, but I don't know if those changes are still in place.

        Other beer centric places would be C'est What at Front and Church (enormous draft list but all craft Canadian beer, and food has improved notably over the past year), and the Town Crier Pub on John St across from Hooters (a huge European-centric beer list, food is average but frites very good). There's also the new Smokeless Joe up near College and Bathurst but I've not been yet nor heard how it compares to the original.

        1. re: Gary

          Smokeless Joe's: never went to the original. bottle list at new place is incredibly meh. like, why bother selling beer that i can pick up at the beer store or LCBO and at 300% mark-up?
          their tap list was not overly inspiring when i dropped by. things may have changed. its a nice space. they have food. no clue what its like.

          the Rhino is another option, but its become a jock/19 year old hang out on weekends. they have a revamped food menu that didn't really excite me (don't have a section called "Things on a Stick")

        2. re: atomeyes

          Just wanted to add that I was at Volo recently and they didn't have a food menu! So call ahead to find out if they're even offering food, as they told us they're shifting their focus and they only had a very limited "food" menu while we were there. Think: cheese plates, olives and bread.

          Having been to all three, for good beer, all are great, but Volo and BeerBistro are awesome. For food, BeerBistro wins easily. BB has a nice bar/lounge area that can fit a big group on a first come basis - dining area needs a reservation. Volo has a lot of room for a big party but no food. Bier Markt is loud, food is just okay, but can accomodate big groups.

          1. re: racheljenna

            i knew Volo was shifting their focus. didn't know they stopped the food menu already.

            1. re: atomeyes

              Thanks for sharing I was planning on having a meal at Volo otherwise. Correct me if I am wrong I thought it is mandatory to serve food if you serve alcohol in Ontario?

              1. re: elvisahmed

                they're going to carry high-end charcuterie (not made in house) and cheese and preserves. e.g. ploughman's platters

                i think it is law. god forbid we get drunk when we go out to drink.

                1. re: atomeyes

                  BTW, it seems I went to Volo on a Sunday when the kitchen wasn't fully operating. Based on my quick search through their blog, there is a regular menu the rest of the week:

        3. You should also consider the Rhino on the west side. Big tap list and a pretty versatile menu. Food is decent but not incredible.

          1. Wow great replies. Thank you all. So Bier Bistro or Volo, and maybe Rhinos. My only concern now is getting 10 people, possibly more, in. I looked at the dinner menu of BB and it seems pretty decent. I don't mind the prices myself (it's not expensive, but it aint cheap) but maybe a few others won't be too happy about it? But then again, this is an after- 10pm thing, so people have a chance to eat at home if they want to. The drink menu looks pretty terrific though.

            Can't get any info on Volo from their website.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sepandee

              what info do you want on Volo?
              beer list is posted every day via their website. lots of rotating taps of one-off Ontario beer.
              you go there for the beer and the atmosphere.
              also, as an aside (not knowing if its men/women joining you): Volo's man:woman ratio is no where as slanted as i would expect a beer bar to be. women are well represented and very welcome there. so its not a testosterone house.

              1. re: sepandee

                IMO, food wise BB is first followed by Rhino then Volo.

                Beer wise you are looking at Volo, then BB then Rhino.

              2. K well I went to BB. Told my friends to be there at 9 and I went there with 3 others at 8:30 to try and get a few seats. No such luck for 45 minutes. Luckily, before anyone else came, a table opened up in their lounge and soon 7 out of 8 were seated, and it wasn't much longer before two corner tables opened up. The beer list was pretty good and I also had a taste of the chicken wings (which was terrific), the cheese fondue (decent), and the kobe beef taco (pretty good). By this time we were 12 and a friend suggested Volo would not be possible, so after a lot of back and forths among the group members we went to Nirvana for a few more drinks. Overall a fun night.

                Thanks, everyone.