Food & Drink

The eight coolest bars in Toronto

Published On 08/09/2013 Published On 08/09/2013

Despite the presence of the Great Lakes, Torontonians still find the need to quench their thirst elsewhere, and thankfully there’s no shortage of qualified whistle-wetting destinations. Taking on the boundless options, we bravely sifted through the dives, back alleys, suit & tie lounges, and endless patios to scope out the eight most awesome drinkeries in town: 

Sam Riches

1) SPiN Toronto 461 King St W; 416.599.7746
If you're into taking shots while you're taking shots, then hit up Spin. They've taken 12k sqft of space and filled it with a dozen ping pong tables and two bars, putting out cocktails, draft beers, and tallboys of Muskoka Cream Ale. Smack-dab in the heart of King West, the massive space frequently doubles as a DJ'd nightclub, too. 

Credit: Yelp

2) Panorama Lounge 55 Bloor St W; 416.967.0000
Packing one of the best views in the city from its 51st floor location on top of the Manulife Centre, Panorama throws out a sleek modern vibe with well-crafted cocktails (incl. a menu of frozens) and tap beers (like Hogaarden and Steam Whistle) that you can drink while looking out over Lake Ontario. 

Sam Riches

3) Horseshoe Tavern 370 Queen St W; 416.598.4753
The Horseshoe may sound like the perfect place to get lucky, but it's far more than that -- in fact, seniority alone makes this bar worth the visit, never mind the countless iconic acts that have graced the stage of this Queen West institution. Since its opening in 1947, the spot's seen Stompin' Tom Connors, The Police, Blue Rodeo (!), The Barenaked Ladies, Rheostatics, The Strokes, and Joel Plasket, to name a few. The relaxed front bar often hosts neighborhood regulars, with the back bar taking the big name acts. 

Sam Riches

4) The Drake Hotel 1150 Queen St W; 416.531.5042
A legendary landmark in the city, The Drake wraps up a café, resto, lounge, club, and the hotel itself into one package. The real gem, though, is the rooftop patio bar, serving up a great view of the Queen West district along with drinks like Shock Top Belgian ale, drafts from local micro brewery Mill Street, and a Negroni from their barrel-aged cocktail list. 

Sam Riches

5) Sneaky Dee’s 431 College St; 416.603.3090
Announcing itself as the iconic dive in TO, Dee's dark space is totally covered in graffiti and has two floors for live shows, DJ's, dancing, and $3 beers. They're extremely well regarded in the local music scene, their nacho plates are the stuff of legend, and they're totally featured in Scott Pilgrim. 

Sam Riches

6) Bier Markt 58 The Esplanade; 416.862.7575 
Proudly boasting one of the most extensive beer menus in the city -- over 150 brands from 30 countries -- Markt serves them all via a special three-gas blend used to push the brews from keg to tap, meaning it "never comes into contact with oxygen" (which is ironic seeing as you'll likely be inhaling it). The space itself has an old-world Belgian feel too, w/ brass fittings sitting alongside bentwood chairs, and a dark, class-laden atmosphere. 

Sam Riches

7) Spice Route 499 King St W; 416.849.1808
In the heart of King West, this Asian bistro bar offers a beautiful, lush, and shaded patio w/ impressive Asian-style stone & wood decor inside. Drinks range from the cross-pollinated Mango Tamarind Martini to their premium "Dragon Slayer" sake.  

Flickr / robinvanmourik

8) Get Well 1181 Dundas W; 647.351.2337
Get Well pairs the great advice imparted by its name with reasonable prices, lots of space & seating, quirky artwork, and old school arcade machines (Tetris, pinball, etc.) that're all free to play. The craft beer menu is extensive, and even includes a house cask number. Located in Dundas West, you're also surrounded by other bars which're also deserving of your attention, incl. The Communist's Daughter, Red Light, and The Garrison, all only steps away.

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1. SPiN Toronto 461 King St W, Toronto, M5V 1K7

SPiN is Toronto's premiere (and possibly only) ping-pong social club, offering numerous ping-pong tables, a great drink selection, and a variety of grub to munch on after burning away those calories chasing tiny balls around the room.

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2. Panorama Lounge 55 Bloor Street W, Toronto, M4W 1A5

Panorama Lounge offers breathtaking views of the Toronto skyline, while providing a sophisticated space for sipping handcrafted cocktails and savoring items from an award-winning menu created by Executive Chef Zach Jacobs.

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3. Horseshoe Tavern 370 Queen St W, Toronto, M5V 2A2

This legendary bar and music venue has been around since 1947 and has featured music legends like Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, The Ramones, The Rolling Stones and many more.

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4. Drake Hotel 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, M6J 1J3

The Drake is more than just a hotel. It features a dining room, lounge, Sky Yard outdoor space, cafe, and performance venue so you're bound to enjoy yourself no matter what venue you choose to hang at.

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5. Sneaky Dee's 431 College St, Toronto, M5T 1T1

More than just a quality Tex-Mex resto, Sneaky Dee's is also a premiere music venue that hosts a number of shows every week in their 200+ person concert hall.

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6. Bier Markt 58 The Esplanade, Toronto, M5E 1R2

With four locations, Bier Markt makes it easy to visit no matter where you are in the city. And you'll wanna visit after knowing they all feature a menu loaded with tasty meats and sandwiches, and of course, more than 150 kinds of beer.

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7. Spice Route Asian Bistro + Bar 499 King St W, Toronto, M5V 1K4

Spice Route features distinct Asian cuisine and decor, but the signature is their spiked hot and cold teas and extensive menu of cocktails for you to enjoy in their luxurious space.

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8. Get Well 1181 Dundas St W, Toronto, M6J 1X4

Featuring old arcade machines and a great selection of beers that are always changing, Get Well certainly helps you do so when you step through its doors.



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