Toronto’s Best Bars, Breweries, and Bites
It’s your first trip up to Toronto, and like any curious traveler, you want to know where to go. Lucky for you, as Canada’s most populous city, the T.O offers an impressive number of options. Boasting must-see historic sites like Casa Loma and the Hockey Hall of Fame, three major sports teams (NBA, NHL, and MLB), and stunning scenery on Lake Ontario, there’s a reason that Canadians and tourists alike flock to Toronto.
Regardless of where you spend your day, you’ll want to spend your night with a drink in hand. So whether you’re in town for the night on business, or all week for vacation, here are five spots where you can enjoy hand-crafted cocktails, world-class beer, and mouthwatering munchies to keep you going.
With 36 craft brews on tap, bottled selections from all around the globe, and a staggering whiskey list that would make any Canadian proud, Bar Hop is a stellar place to begin, or end your evening. This bar is small enough to feel intimate, but large enough to not feel crowded. The dim lighting and moderate noise-level create a very relaxed vibe, making Bar Hop a great place to kick back and talk with friends. The binder of a drink list can seem a little intimidating at first, but there is enough variety to ensure that everyone can find something they’ll like. And if you’re having a hard time deciding which whiskey to choose from – because let’s face it, they’re all going to be great – try a whiskey flight to sample a few different batches and find your favorite. No need to drink on an empty stomach, either. Barhop serves classic pub grub with an upscale twist, perfect for sharing or hoarding to yourself.
Let’s be honest, a guided tour isn’t always the most exciting way to learn about a new city. But brewery tours are an entirely different story. Interesting, affordable, and tasty, a tour of the Steamwhistle Brewery is a great excuse to have a beer in the middle of the afternoon. Tours run every half-hour, and include a complimentary bottle of Steamwhistle’s award-winning Pilsner. Find out exactly what goes into crafting this Toronto specialty, and then stop by the bar to appreciate a pint or two. Traveling with children? Steamwhistle is conveniently located just across from Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, making it a win-win for parents and kids alike.
Travel tip: If you’re interested in a unique variety you can’t get anywhere else, ask the bartender for a taste of the unfiltered Pilsner.
If you love beer, but want to expand your palate, look no further than Bar Volo. Specializing in rare and obscure brews, Bar Volo’s beer selection is dynamic to say the least. With a seasonal rotation, the only way to know for sure what is available is to check the massive blackboard at the front of the house which is updated daily with a new lineup. With rich and creamy stouts, crisp and hoppy IPA’s, and everything in between, there’s a good chance you’ll leave here with a new favorite beer. And if you still aren’t convinced, Bar Volo even brews its own English, American, and Belgian ales in-house. You’re bound to work up an appetite trying all that beer, so luckily Bar Volo’s kitchen, which serves up authentic Italian cuisine, is open until 11PM every night. Bon Appetit!
Founded as Amsterdam Brasserie and Brewpub back in 1986, this brewery/restaurant hybrid has a rich history in Toronto. Today, the Amsterdam Brewhouse occupies an old Pier 4 boathouse on the city’s waterfront, and boasts an on-site craft brewery, a retail beer store, and a full restaurant. The menu features traditional pub fare like chicken wings and soft pretzels, as well as burgers, wood oven pizzas, and smoked barbecue. While both the beer and the food here are excellent on their own, guests are encouraged to pair their beer with the food they order. Below each menu item is the letter “C,” “M,” or “H,” designating whether it is best enjoyed with a crisp, malty, or hoppy beer. Free guided tours of the brewery are also offered daily at select times.
Part dive bar and part concert venue, Sneaky Dee’s is a beloved hangout for music lovers in the Queen City. This punk rock inspired landmark is split between two levels: the downstairs restaurant specializing in Mexican favorites such as Sneaky Dee’s legendary homemade nachos, and the upstairs venue featuring a stage and a full dance floor. Dee’s hosts a variety of events including themed music nights, karaoke, trivia, and live performances by local artists and established acts alike (Arcade Fire rocked the house here long before they became Juno Award winners). Offering a variety of cocktails and shooters, Sneaky Dee’s is the perfect place to drink, eat, and sing until your lungs give out.
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Article written by Timothy Lawdan.