Toronto is a beautiful city, almost so beautiful that the presence of dive bars is easy to doubt amid what is a modern patchwork of walkable neighborhoods. But though many of Toronto’s ever-changing neighborhoods are populated by upscale food & drink options, there are always those links to the past, those suggestions of what the area used to be like before the investment money and chain restaurants showed up.
on the edge of the Dundas West and Queen West areas of Toronto is one such example, opened in 2004 when the surroundings were a bit rougher around the edges. The Done Right Inn
in West Queen West sings a similar song, opened in 1998 amid what founder Lisa Sevazlian referred at as a “barren wasteland.” Though their neighbors have changed over the years, both Toronto dive bars provide a glimpse of the past.
And then there are live music dive bar institutions like the attractively-named Bovine Sex Club
, a combination music venue, dive bar and rooftop tiki lounge that sits under a massive sculpture constructed out of discarded items collected throughout Toronto. The intriguing live music combinations continue with Sneaky Dee’s
, another pillar of Toronto’s music scene that combines punk rock roots with decades of graffiti and a strong food reputation built on elaborate plates of nachos.
The dive bars below represent just a small slice of the dive bars and affordable lounges found along almost every city street in the dense, neighborhood-dominated patchwork that is Toronto. Any of the recommendations below provide a great jumping off point to find a new, old option nearby.