Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Top 5 Dive Bars in Toronto

Top 5 Dive Bars in Toronto (2014 Update)

A post by Ed Arsenault

2014 Update: I updated this list to reflect my personal preference change over the last year. Off the list from last year for various reasons are Two Bite Saloon and Sneaky Dees. I have been given a ton of suggestions on what should be included on this list and while most are excellent dives and true  to the spirit of a dive bar, they have become so popular that they miss the mark on catering to a local crowd. I want this list to be for tourists to use when they visit Toronto to have a chance to drink with the locals. As always I still love getting feedback on this list, so please feel free to shoot me your input. 

What is a dive bar? As best as one could try to define a dive bar; it is an informal pub that caters to a local community. Sounds perfect for a guy like me right? So whenever I visit a city I try to scope out a few of these places and keep a note of my favourites for when I return. 

So in no particular order here are my top 5 dive bars in Toronto.

1. The Done Right Inn – 861 Queen St West

What is there not to love about a bar that accepts Canadian Tire money? The Done Right Inn is located on the skirts of Trinity Bellwoods Park, one of the major parks in the downtown core. After an afternoon of playing tennis, soccer or just lazing under a tree in the park this bar is a short strut away to get hydrated and refreshed. Don’t expect to break the bank here either, beers are cheap if they even remember to charge you for them. For entertainment you can participate in epic matches of foosball or get your social on out on the large backyard patio. The type of crowd you can expect is that of typical Queen West culture; writers, musicians, artsy fartsy types and of course beards. If you’re ever in the Queen West area be sure to check this little dive out.

2. Mayday Malones – 1078 Bathurst Street
Street view of Mayday Malones

Referenced after Sam “Mayday” Malone from Cheers, you know you are going to be in a bar where everyone knows each other’s name. Unfortunately they won’t know yours for your first few visits. Located up near Bathurst and Dupont this bar is notorious for being a regular’s bar. That shouldn’t stop you from trying to become a known face though. With dart boards, TV screens showing all kinds of sports and a karaoke crowd that can actually sing this bar seems to hit the mark on multiple levels. Not to mention they have a quaint little patio out back that reminds me of being on a back deck. They carry the generic beers but have an atmosphere that is blue collar and fun. And the food ain’t half bad either.

3. Pour Boy Pub – 666 Manning Ave
Street view of Pour Boy Pub

This gem of a place is for the poor man. I don’t know how they get away with selling beer so cheap but they do and I love it. This is the place to go to with a few friends and grab some pitchers and snacks. Don't expect a five star treatment here, chances are they will forget about you, but that's to be expected at a dive. Pour Boy Pub has more of an intimate setting then the rest of the dives on this list because they have very dim lighting, close seating and chill music playing. There is no set crowd here as it varies nightly, but I guess you could define the crowd as economically savvy beer drinkers. The downstairs section can be easy to mingle in but the upstairs is more of a secluded area to sit with your friends. If you are lucky enough try to grab a patio seat and enjoy the sights and sounds just off Bloor St in Korea Town.

4. Tall Boys - 838 Bloor Street West
Street view of Tall Boys

Let's get serious about Ontario craft beer for a moment. If you are on a mission to try some of the best beer that Ontario has to offer, then this is where you will want to be. With over 70+ Ontario craft beers served up in tall cans and a handful of rotating draught lines, you will always have something to tickle your fancy. Expect great service during the day and sub par service at night and always expect great tunes. The food is exceptional considering it is just your run of the mill pub fare. A drink and food menu sourced locally makes this dive bar a celebration of Ontario, and this guy loves it!

5. Ted's Collision and Body Repair - 573 College Street
Street view of Ted's Collision and Body Repair

Blink while walking and you will miss this place. Unless of course you are walking by it at night, in which case you couldn't possibly miss the loud rock pumping out of this place. Dirty, dingy, candles in empty liquor bottles, mismatched furniture and a patio with graffiti decor; this is the very definition of a dive. Nothing special on tap here, just cheap beer and cheap shots. Service? what service? hit up the bar if you want a drink otherwise sit down, shut up and enjoy the atmosphere! Oh, one other thing, don't eat here...

So there we go, my top 5 dive bars in Toronto. If you think my choices suck and another dive bar should have made this list please feel free to comment and let me know! 


  1. You forgot two of the best!
    Cold Tea and Sweaty Betty's

  2. Keep your eyes posted, this list will be updated for the upcoming Summer season! Maybe one of those will make the cut :)

  3. We've had some strange weather lately. It has been unseasonably cool for the past week and it is late spring here in Toronto. But according to the weatherman, that's about to change - starting today in fact!rent a car Toronto airport