The twisted patio tree trunk is worth a visit alone.
In a city as large as Toronto, it’s natural to wonder where the affordable drinking can be done given the amount of upscale bars and restaurants packed into what seems like every corner of the city. The Done Right Inn along the city’s busy Queen Street is the West Queen West neighborhood dive bar answer to that concern, home to a weathered bar and lower-than-Toronto-average prices that make for a welcoming combination.
Sometimes referred to as “The Dunnie,” The Done Right Inn opened in 1998 thanks to founder Lisa Sevazlian who took a chance on a part of Toronto that was a “barren wasteland” in her words at the time. The foresight of that decision has been proven solid as gentrification slowly swept through what is now one of Toronto’s seemingly countless well-stocked, walkable areas. But as the area has grown, Done Right Inn has done well to preserve its roots in a slightly less polished version of the neighborhood.
One eye catching first attraction within Toronto dive bar Done Right Inn is no doubt the bar itself, a long, weathered, deep brown wooden perch that runs nearly the length of the bar’s long, narrow footprint. What looks like some kind of dive bar waiting room commands the Toronto bar’s front window, a handful of ancient chairs around a small table making for prime people watching. Visiting this salon-style corner of the bar requires encountering the Done Right Inn cactus, now a floor to ceiling monstrosity of a plant just inside the front door.
The Done Right Inn has seen a bit of renovation and polish over the years, including some wood paneling and paint along what was once a mural-covered wall opposite the bar. A handful of framed photos dot the wood paneling that runs about halfway down the space before transitioning into pale blue paint. The Done Right Inn pops up on pinball-seeking lists from time to time thanks to a small carve out for a machine just at the end of the bar.
Behind the bar, decorations are a bit more chaotic, dark red paint serving as backdrop for pictures, stickers, a bust of Elvis and even a KISS bar mirror. The bar’s refrigerator and beer cooler are naturally covered in dive bar-friendly stickers. Drinking options are plentiful here, from easy-drinking, inexpensive domestic beers up to craft varieties and a handful of high-end liquor options. This isn’t a craft cocktail kind of spot, but when the mood strikes, they’ve been known to be offered on special.
One of Sevazlian’s reasons for purchasing this space to open Done Right Inn is perhaps the Toronto bar’s most underrated asset, its well-secluded back patio anchored by a massive tree. The trunk of the tree is gnarly, dark and impossibly large, a nice fit for a dive bar patio that is well-stocked with wooden benches and creeping ivy that make this very urban setting feel anything but suffocating. A few window frame-like partitions interspersed among the booths offer just enough separation from other drinking parties to make for a great small group, good weather layout.
Open 2 PM to 2 AM every day, there is no food for sale here, meaning Done Right Inn patrons are allowed to bring in food from outside, which of course only adds to the inviting, communal nature of the Toronto dive bar. Maybe the bar’s most divey feature, the bathrooms, can be found in the Done Right Inn’s basement after a somewhat perilous descent down a very dive bar-like staircase. The basement ambiance is a bit eerie and not always super pleasant on the nostrils, but these are the trade offs for a true dive bar experience.