Party Time in Toronto!
Weekday Nightlife And The Legendary Sunday Pick-up Bar
Toronto's friendly bartenders welcome you in to enjoy the lively nightlife scene.
Get ready to rock. The bars and pubs of Toronto are great hangouts, perfect places to meet people and go out with friends. The diversity is incredible, as one would expect in a lively world-class city.
This guide divides the pubs, bars (including down-to-earth and upscale) and key live music venues into six different areas. A seventh highlights where to go when the lights come on in these places.
Read on, and know where to be in "T.O." and when to be there.
Toronto's great bars and friendly people
make going out a blast in T.O.
• The University
• Downtown Pubs & Bars
• College Street
• Yonge and Eglington
• About Town
The Maddy is a multi-level bar that's like a college house party Thursdays.
Thanks to the University of Toronto, the city has a large college population. Most head to the Madison Ave. Pub (14 Madison Avenue), a large, six-level bar that resembles a well-kept fraternity house (actually, it's three Victorian houses joined together). Locals simply refer to it as "The Maddy" and when the weather is good, the multi-level outdoor patios are packed.
As one might expect, the atmosphere is casual, the prices reasonable and the food basic; the hot wings are a popular item. It's hardly a hideaway for college students, either; most of Toronto has visited The Maddy at one time or another, and quite a few in the business community are regulars. Thursday evenings, from about 7-10 p.m., it's where it's at in Toronto.
Also in the area is the Duke of York, an English pub of fine distinction, a small sun-soaked patio in the front and a larger deck in the back.
Toronto's hot bartenders, like Tara, give service with a smile.
Downtown Bars & Pubs
There's always smiles – and often cute girls – at Toronto's nightspots.
There has been a change in Toronto's bar scene nightlife, once the
mecca of T.O.'s nightlife.
No longer is John Street, with it's dynamic punch of Al Frisco's, Motanta's and Milestones steps from one another, and Upstairs Al's once PubClub's favourite bar in the city, happening. Al Frisco's is now Jack Astors and Montana's is gone. Milestones is still there and while it has some good potential mingling at the bar, it's more of a restaurant.
Downtown is the place to find many of Toronto's dance clubs.
In its place are a number of thriving dance clubs. For specifics on those clubs, click here.
Plus, there's The Croc (Crocodile Rock, at Adelaide and Peter). Also known as the 'Rock, is a let-the-hair-down bar that pumps out the rock 'n roll and popular dance tunes. Most of the action occurs downstairs, but upstairs provides an eagle's-eye view of the dance floor, has a bar that is less crowded and is more inviting for conversation. It's still alive, one of the few downtown bars in this area that continues to be a good, reliable party place.
On Wednesdays it used to be essential to arrive before 10; otherwise, you would be stuck outside looking in at the other people having all the fun inside. Now, the place doesn't pick up until about 11:30 or even midnight. $5 cover.
Grace O'Malley's – or just Gracie's to locals – is one more bar in the area (Duncan, just down from Adalaide). Weekends have a $9 cover – even at 1:30 in the morning – "and that's non-negotiable" according to the doorman. We will allow the fact they have a band.
The after-work crowd likes to start out at The Keg. In the heart of the financial district downtown, it's the place to forget about numbers and focus on more pleasant topics.
Sports fan head to Front Street for a lineup of bars and pubs Jack Astors, Loose Moose and the Over Draft Pub. They are all paked on sporting event nights.
The patio at Gretzky's is a true Oasis on sunny days and Thursdays.
Hockey fans – of which there are plenty here – know Gretzky's, a restaurant/bar owned by the famous #99 (in fact, the address is 99 Blue Jays Way).
It has a classy restaurant (with great food) and bar inside and a large outdoor patio on the third floor with an elevated view of Toronto. It's called the Oasis and it's a Vegas-style lounge with an elevated view of Toronto without the hassles of getting into such a place in Vegas. It's good any sunny afternoon and absolutely off the hook on Thursdays; they put a DJ up there and if you're not in by 9, you're waiting in line.
The Black Bull on Queen Street has a popular patio.
Perhaps the best patio in Toronto is the Black Bull on Queen Street. This is a dive bar with a large patio on the side that is a destination on sunny weekends, so popular there is often a line to get at a table. The pizza is good and the burgers tasty enough (though the top bun is too over the top and hides the meat's true flavor). Nothing fancy here, including the crowd, but a it's a good place to find a crowd.
When it's not patio weather, the kind of dive-ish bar inside can be fun. It sure is kicked back, a blue jeans bar if ever there was one.
College Street is cool because it has small restaurants that become bars.
Though the college is elsewhere, College Street is quite an education for people visiting Toronto.
Away from the high-energy of downtown, College Street is a collection of small restaurants and cafes (mainly Italian, as the area is also known as Little Italy) that transform into bars at night. A few specialize in the latter, like the funky Lava (507 College Street), a retro-style club featuring live and DJ music seven nights a week.
A much better-kept secret is The Midtown (552 College Street). Hip twentysomethings come here for the large outdoor patio in front and pool tables in the in back. The fact it serves late-night munchies is a plus.
El Convento Rico (750 College Street) is hot on weekend nights. It used to be a gay/transvestite bar, but now is about 50/50. A lot of straight people go here because it's such a fun place. It's cheap to get in and the music is a mix of Latin and modern dance. Each Saturday at midnight, the bar puts on a transvestite show.
College Street is where Montreal meets Toronto – fashionably dressed good-looking people, out for a late dinner and drinks.
Yonge and Eglington
We don't mean to imply that this part of town has a lot of singles living in the area, but locals refer to it at Young and ELIGIBLE.
Since Toronto has a beach without an ocean it must also have sharks. Shark City (117 Eglington Ave. E.)is an upscale pool hall with two levels of blue tiling, fish bowls and shark silhouettes. It's full on weekends with land sharks, both at the pool tables and swimming around the bar area.
The Irish Embassy is at Yonge and Adelaide, a top spot that's packed every night with a good crowd.
The Chick 'N Deli is one of the city's notorious haunts. It's known as the "Last Chance Saloon" on Sundays, which means it's where people go who failed in their quest to find love the other weekend nights. It's down and dirty, full of cougars and has a decent band. Yeah, it's dated but it sure beats sitting around on an otherwise slow evening.
Power people hang in an area near the Hockey Hall of Fame. It's called the Esplanade, and it's a bit of a scene for the uptown types.
The Belgium Beer Market is the most popular placed. Nearly always packed, it features beers of the world. But the real attraction is the dance floor playing today's tunes to a mostly mid-20s/mid-30s casual crowd. It's too loud and packed to carry on much of a conversation in that room; the front two bar areas are much better suited for mingling. One major plus to the place is that one of the managers is former Team Red diva Tracy.
Fionn McCool's is much more cool, an Irish pub with a rockin' patio and Irish band.
In the same general area is Jump, where stockbrokers, wanna-be stockbrokers and stockbrocker gropies meet out after work and into the night.