Bars That Keep Hiding in Toronto — Hoods Guru
If you’re looking to play a game of drunken hide-and-seek, or maybe you’re in the mood for something unique, stop into some of Toronto’s most treasured hidden bars. These places are hidden for a reason, and that reason is simple: there is always something to be discovered. Whether that’s great drink specials, live bands, or you just walked into the wrong place at the right time — discover what’s behind those closed doors, underground, or up that sketchy walkway you’ve never been curious about until now.
Here are Hoods Guru’s recommendations for some of Toronto’s coolest, secret hidden bars in the city.
The Green Room
Open every night, this place is easy to miss, especially when you’re not familiar with the area or you’ve had a little too much tequila. The only entrance is in a back alley covered in graffiti running west of Brunswick Ave, just south of Bloor. It’s hard to find, but that doesn’t seem to stop it from being an Annex staple. The Green Room is an oversized dive bar, with dim lighting and a grungy feel that a couple drinks can fix no problem. This is the place you want to go if you don’t want to break the bank and still have enough money for an Uber ride home. It’s the perfect social spot, with great space, friendly staff and a cozy patio. They’re known for their cheap (tasty) drinks, which is why the crowd is filled with a mix of broke college students and ‘not quite sure what I’m doing with my life so I’ll just drink’ others. They have tasty Korean and Thai food that pairs just perfectly with cheap pitchers of beer. It’s a very down to earth, simple, Toronto classic bar with eclectic and crazy mismatched décor and velvet furniture. They have 2 floors and a cozy garden patio that is full of Christmas lights because why the hell not. It has a unique atmosphere, always filled with locals, and tons of seating space for newbies.
You’ll stumble (drunkenly) upon this place in Queen West, located up a kind of sketchy graffiti staircase. The name says it all, it’s a bar and lounge that looks like your apartment. No, not yours specifically — more that one friend whose apartment is beautiful and nobody really knows how they afford it, because they never go to work and they drink a lot but who cares, it’s a sick apartment. When you first arrive, you walk into the living room made to feel cozy and relaxed with comfy couches to sit down and take picture perfect snapchats, high ceilings and wood finishes. It perfectly transitions between the dining room, kitchen, and a games room (see, clearly not your apartment) that has free pool and arcade games. They have a good selection of drinks, a tad pricey but worth it. The atmosphere and décor is great, it’s very West Queen West, but the view is even better. Apt. 200 goes from sipping specialty cocktails in the living room table, to a crazy house party with people doing shots and DJ beats too loud that you’re screaming across the room because you lost your phone (or maybe that was just me?). But it’s always a great time, and people know that, which is why you’ll need to get on a guest list or head there very early. If not, you and your friends will be waiting in line trying to sweet talk the bouncer. So get there before 10pm or you’ll be in line waiting to pay the $10 cover. If never got invited to a lot of house parties and secretly wished you had, here’s your chance.
Hole in the Wall
Literally a hole in the wall, this is one of Toronto’s best kept secrets (hidden) in the Junction. It has a sunken-in entranceway, but don’t let the outside deceive this small cozy space. There is something mysterious about the lack of advertising, and if you’re into very old buildings (some might say, buildings with personality) then walk straight through the faintly marked door and down the stairs. The Hole in the Wall is narrow and long, with tall ceilings and a few booths littered around the long bar. Exposed brick and hip light fixtures add a flavour of modern, trendy, but not so much to make it feel done up. It’s casual to the core, don’t get me wrong. It’s an intimate crowd and friendly staff that serve tasty cocktails and beer specials. It is surprising the quality of tasty dishes they can crank out of their little kitchen, making some of the best spicy calamari and mac and cheese in the city. The menu changes regularly and they have daily specials that are written on chalkboards around the bar. The drink menu is huge with plenty of beer and wine to quench your thirst. They have live music on the weekends that play in a cramped corner at the edge of the room, playing easy-listening blues and jazz to punk-rock beats. The Hole in the Wall is a place that you fall in love because it’s inviting, casual, affordable and friendly. They don’t spend a cent on advertising, so the service speaks for itself.
Open 8pm — 2am daily, you’ll find this small basement bar near Dufferin on Dundas West. It has a retro look, with a jukebox on the wall, bright vintage seating (check out their fancy orange couch), and eclectic décor. This place is the hipster hotspot, filled (by filled, I mean to their maybe 30 person capacity) with a young and relaxed crowd sipping on cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys. They host DJ nights every Friday and Saturday, with the occasional Thursday night event, but if you’re too hip to dance they’ve got arcade games in the back like Star Wars Pinball and Pacman. They most often have 6 beers on tap, serving what they call “fine Italian cuisine” from Mr. Noodles, potato chips, and Chef Boyardee. When you’re a couple beers in, it’ll start to feel like that one high school friend’s house that had cool parents that let you booze in the basement (those nights were lit). If you dig cheap beer and vintage games, check out Unlovable…which I have to say is actually very lovable.
They say, secrets don’t make friends — that’s why I’ve shared these with you guys.
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Until next time,