Food & Drink

The 6 best (mostly) hidden spots in Toronto

Published On 02/05/2014 Published On 02/05/2014

We learn when we’re young that hiding in secret spots is a lot fun. As we grow older, we learn that drinking beer in those spots is even better. Here are some of the best, offbeat bars in Toronto.

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Cold Tea
Kensington
What you're drinking: Literally whatever the barkeep recommends.
To find this spot, cut through the discreet Kensington Mall and keep your ear close to the wall. You’ll come across a secret doorway with muffled music and chatter behind it. Open it up and enter the promised land, wherein beer & cocktails can be had. There are no menus, so tell the bartender what you like, and they'll rustle you up something tasty. 

Sam Riches

Smiling Buddha
Little Portugal
What you're drinking: A sub-$5 bottle of beer (!)
Smiling Buddha looks anything but smiley from the outside. It’s a run-down dive. But it’s wonderful. Go there for cheap drinks, and talk to the friendly owners about renting it for a night and hosting your own little soiree.

The Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall
Annex
What you're drinking: Something from the craft beer list -- Flying Monkeys, or Beau's All Natural are recommended. 
This place literally is just a hole in the wall along Dundas St West. You’ll find a huge drink list and great food here. It’s a long, narrow, dimly lit bar -- and inescapably comfortable. They also bring in live music that fits right in with the mood.

Sam Riches

Unlovable
Little Portugal
What you're drinking: One of the tallboys -- the PBR is only $5.
An unmarked basement bar in the west end, Unlovable is actually quite lovable. It’s underneath a travel agency and even if you’re standing in front of it, you might miss it (just look for the stairs). Inside you’ll find a good, dependable beer list and a mid to late '20s hipster crowd.

Green Room

Green Room
Annex
What you're drinking: A pitcher of Steam Whistle.
Existing in a back alley off Brunswick Ave, Green Room is a cheap place to start or end your night. Don’t eat the food, this is strictly a beer chugging affair -- the crowd is mostly students usefully exploiting their loans.

Sam Riches

Communist's Daughter
Little Portugal
What you're drinking: Creemore Springs.
Granted, Communist's Daughter has blossomed into one of the more popular bars in the west end of the city, but it’s still a great retreat to mingle with a laid-back crowd, and it's still basically hidden. Don’t let the "Snack Bar" sign fool you, follow the smell of the booze.

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1. Unlovable 1415-b Dundas St W, Toronto, M6J1Y8

Located on Dundas St W, Unlovable is actually a pretty lovable dive bar, featuring decently priced drinks and live entertainment.

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2. Cold Tea 58 Kensington Ave, Toronto, M5T (Kensington Market)

This Kensington Ave spot certainly isn't the easiest to find. You must enter through a discreet Kensington Mall doorway through which you can hear faint music. But once you make it inside, it's a quality speakeasy with plenty of 'tails and beer options.

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3. Smiling Buddha 961 College St, Toronto, M6H 1A6 (Little Portugal)

It's a little run down and divey, but don't let that scare you. It's fantastic for cheap drinks and even available to rent for a night for your own private party.

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4. The Hole in the Wall 2867 Dundas St W, Toronto, M6P 1Y9 (The Annex)

So much more than its name suggests, this place may be long, narrow, and dimly lit, but it also has a massive drink list and a loaded menu of delicious bar food.

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5. Green Room 296 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, M5s 2m7 (The Annex)

GR may look a little divey from the outside, but once you're through the doors, it's a bustling cozy place with dim lighting, cold drinks, and a friendly crowd. And they've got drink specials nearly every night of the week.

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6. The Communist's Daughter 1149 Dundas St W, Toronto, M6J 1X4 (Little Portugal)

Although this has become a relatively popular place, it still features a laid-back atmosphere in the west end of the city. And the "Snack Bar" sign out front? Pay no attention, that means you've found it.

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