Dive bars in Toronto range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some are so well-appointed you’ll feel bad about your apartment, and you can people watch while slurping delicious craft beers. Others are grimey and grungy and glorious and a pitcher of beer will be cheaper than a ticket to the movies. Whatever your speed, these are the best place to gather some folks and knock back a few pints.
The Cadillac Lounge, 1296 Queen St. W.
Main Seller: The giant patio, the laid-back grizzly rockstar vibe.
People Watching: A healthy mix of friendly old metalheads, cute boys in bands, and grinning hipsters, cool rock and roll moms and dads.
Hot Date: Tuesday Pizza and a Pint for $13
Bistro 422, 422 College St.
Neighbourhood: College and Bathurst
Main Seller: Disturbingly cheap alcohol, surly waiters, an environment of dangerous permissivity.
People Watching: Young folks from Star Wars Nerds to fashion majors to kids in bands, also known as anyone who can’t afford to drink anywhere else.
Hot Date: Toss up between $8 pitchers on Tuesdays and Raffle Night on Thursdays.
Green Room, 296 Brunswick Ave. (Enter through the alley off Brunswick directly south of Bloor.)
Neighbourhood: The Annex
Main Seller: A dreamy, lovely, eclectic atmosphere, amazing nachos. (Ask for Muchos to make sure you get the good stuff.)
People Watching: Hip U of T intellectual artsy types, cute students.
Imperial Pub, 54 Dundas St. E.
Neighbourhood: Yonge and Dundas
Main Seller: A great, spacious, relaxing atmosphere surrounded by books and bar games.
People Watching: Ryerson students drinking with their favourite prof or drowning school-related sorrows with a day pitcher and some sweet potato fries.
The Communist’s Daughter, 1149 Dundas St. W.
Neighbourhood: Dundas West
Main Seller: The original Dundas and Ossington watering hole hasn’t lost any of it’s laid-back, no BS charm. Mismatched furniture and quirky decor make the bar feel like the apartment of someone with the world’s best collection of vinyl, vintage, and used books.
People Watching: Intellectual and creative types of the rumpled-clothes-and-cool-beards variety.
Sweaty Betty’s, 13 Ossington Ave.
Main Seller: Sweaty Betty’s feels like the melting pot of the Queen West scene. All the artists, party hoppers, guitar players, and hip students end up smoking cigarettes and drinking 50 on the patio on a Saturday night. The tiny interior feels like a weird Grandma’s living room, and the patio is the backyard you’d sell your roommates to have.
People Watching: A mixed bag of people who look like they’ve been cast as hip extras in an indie movie.
Ted’s Collision, 573 College St.
Neighbourhood: College and Bathurst.
Main Seller: Candles dripping wax in liquor bottles, seriously unfinished decor, music so loud it hurts your ears, and an awesome back patio with a tin roof.
People Watching: Hipsters, metalheads, students, anyone and everyone. Ted’s is strangely conducive to chatting with strangers – you might end up in a random game of pool, sharing a candle with a couple you’ve never met before, or in a pinball contest with your new best friend.
Done Right Inn, 861 Queen St. W.
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Main Seller: The back patio, wrapped around a tree, is perfect for giant groups of friends. The staff are incredibly friendly.
People Watching: Cool Queen West types.
The Hen House, 1532 Dundas St. W.
Neighbourhood: Dundas West
Main Seller: The kitschy decor feels bright and laid-back, the jukebox rules, and the babes are hot.
People Watching: Foxy lesbians with amazing haircuts.