Summertime in Toronto is near and that means two things for the urban-inclined: more biking and more bars. Hogtown boasts a buffet of fine drinking establishments, all of them connected by the city’s unique cycling landscape.
Now, let us be clear: Regal does not advocate drunk cycling. If you are biking, drink responsibly, wear a helmet, familiarize yourself with the roads, and equip your machine with the proper safety equipment. Having said all that, we do advocate fun!
From dives to cocktail joints; hipster haunts to sports spots—we’ve listed Toronto’s Top 10 bar-hopping bars in the west end, and the bike routes that will have you hopping to them in a hurry.
1. Parts and Labour (1566 Queen St. W.)
We begin our libatious evening at this Parkdale staple. Inspired by the New York nightlife, Parts and Labour has something for everyone: communal seating, great music, a downstairs dance floor, an extensive drinks menu, and a kitchen run by the renowned Chef Matty Matheson. You might even end your night here.
2. Motel (1235 Queen St. W.)
About a five minute ride east of our starting point is the lesser known, but equally fun, Motel. This quirky Queen W. spot often features live music and a live piano with built in beer taps. Motel also shows every Winnipeg Jets game. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
3. Get Well (1181 Dundas St. W.)
Keep biking east on Queen, turn north on Dovercourt Rd., make a hard right on Dundas St., and you’ll find yourself at the nerd paradise Get Well. This wide-open space places an emphasis on microbrews, but its real attraction is the arcade. They’ve got classic pinball machines, shooters, and the all-important Ninja Turtles video game. At Get Well, socializing might not be the point.
4. Communist’s Daughter (1149 Dundas St. W.)
Walk your bike a few paces east and you’ll be at the foot of our next destination. The sign says, “Nazare Snack Bar,” a nod to the joint’s previous life, but this bar is really Communist’s Daughter. You won’t want to bring a big crowd here—it’s a very intimate space and seats are hard to come by. However you will want to order some pickled eggs and feed Communist’s Daughter’s most excellent jukebox. Cocktail Bar (923 Dundas St. W.) Cycle a few minutes east along Dundas and gaze upon Cocktail Bar, the Black Hoof’s wonderful alcoholic sister. You may recognize this bar as that place where Anthony Bourdain (and just about any Torontonian who likes a fine drink) once visited. You may also recognize this bar as that place with incomparable snacks and damn good cocktails.
5. The Dog’s Bollocks (817 Queen St. W.)
Backtrack west a smidgen and cycle south through the lovely Trinity Bellwoods Park, past the dog bowl, and back down onto Queen W. Turn east, and behold, the bar with the best name on this list, the Dog’s Bollocks. This is a British inspired pub that shows all the greatest sports matches. Watch the Leafs lose, and the Jays lose, and Toronto FC lose, and—well, at least the wings are good.
6. 416 Snack Bar (181 Bathurst St.)
Keep pedaling a couple of minutes east to Bathurst and you’ll find yourself at 416 Snack Bar. Of all the stops on this list, this is the go-to food destination. Prolong your drink night with Korean Fried Chicken, an assortment of steamed buns, and the All-Canadian Cheeseboard. This is Toronto on a platter and the drinks are plentiful, too.
7. Ronnie’s Local 069 (69 Nassau St.)
Ride north on Bathurst and turn east on Nassau and you will find what is probably Toronto’s best dive bar and patio. Ronnie’s: it’s not clean; it’s not friendly; it’s just real. Fill your pint with craft beer and make your way outside—we guarantee that you will immediately be engaged in a great conversation with a Kensington weirdo, bohemian drunk, or foreign adventurer.
8. Cold Tea (60 Kensington Ave.)
Turn south on Augusta Ave., east on Baldwin St., and south again on Kensington Ave. Welcome to the biggest secret on this list. Never mind the lack of signage, or the strange mall that you have to traverse on the way there, or the lady selling Dim Sum outside of the bar’s entrance (actually, you should mind her, the food is great), this is Cold Tea, like it or not. Great booze, great patio, and a million miles away from the “popular kids.” Wide Open We’ve come to the final stop of our bike and bar hop night. Ride your fixie bike north back to Baldwin, turn east, and then turn south onto the sharrows of Spadina. Coast down to the oft-overlooked Wide Open just south of Richmond St., and find the finish line of the evening. Wide Open’s slogan is, “A great place to start; a better place to finish,” and nothing could be truer. Order a pint, sit down, and reward yourself for the Toronto adventure you just experienced.