Eating and drinking, Toronto
5th time's the charm?
After dropping my bags at the hotel, we were to meet up somewhere in town. We were directed to the area near the place we had dinner. Our directions were 'go to the pub on the corner, we're downstairs' ...... try as we might, none of the pubs we entered even HAD a downstairs! So Saucey was dispatched to the curb to flag us down ........ believe me, had she not been there, we would have missed this little treasure ....
PJ O'Brien's pub is in the basement of the old Flatiron Building. This oddly shaped creation fills an oddly shaped corner lot near Church/Yonge/Front/Wellington intersection. Built in 1892, it has had many names, and many uses. Today it houses food houses and offices. The pub itself is in the basement - and reached from the pointy corner of the building down a curved set of stairs.Watch the doorstep though - it's hidden in the shadows :)
Upon entering, you are surrounded by dark, rich, pub-like decor, Friendly staff, and slightly drunken patrons (also friendly). This seems to be more of a locals hangout than a tourist spot - just right for our extended VT family :) We managed to kill enough time here to close the place down. We missed the live entertainment, but that was okay, we brought our own :)
I wrote this thinking it's name was PJ O'Brien's Pub, but I got an email today that it's actually Firkin at Flatiron. I'm not sure which one is correct since I don't live in TO. BUT just in case, I wanted to let you folks know the name(s). Regardless of the title, the pub is wonderful!
After our VT brunch, spgood and I set off the explore while waiting for Saucey to come to and join us .... we wandered the financial district and into the entertainment district by the time we received our summons to join her and shoman at the Irish Embassy. My first thought - "is it a REAL embassy? or is it a pub?" spgood let me know it was a pub (of course, why did I even ask?) So we set off back into the financial district!
A short walk later we were there ...... Shoman was watching a game, and nursing a Guiness. Saucey was happily munching on a traditional Irish Breakfast (complete w/ a little bit of blood sausage) with her Guiness. We visited there for a while, then decided the boys could stay and watch American Football while we wandered about town. The location of this pub made this totally workable for all of us :)
Upon our return, the boys were happily game watching, drinking and holding our original places at the bar ...... after another bit of a visit, we set off across town again.
During our time here, the bartender was helpful, friendly, and kind.... he didn't even make fun of me for being too short to easily get up and down from the barstool.
Espresso Rose is a cosy little cafe on Yonge Street, seemingly attracting a largely upmarket clientele.
It labels itself “The European Coffee House with an Art Deco Feel" and displays a sign outside stating that it serves "The Best Italian Coffee on Yonge".
At the time of my visit in February 2006, it was decorated with roses and pink hearts - but that may have been because Valentine’s Day was approaching.
The cafe offers a large selection of coffees, cakes, muffins, milkshakes and usual coffeehouse fare.
I had a large Irish Cream Flavoured Coffee (Cost: 2.10 CAD) and a rich caramel cupcake (Cost: 3 CAD).
I noticed that other flavoured coffees included vanilla and hazelnut.
Good coffee and cakes in an Art Deco surrounding!
Dress Code: None
Pauper's Pub is located near the University of Toronto hence is full of the student crowd and other locals. Though the food is only average the pub is huge and has a great roof patio with a superb view of the Toronto Skyline. There is also a piano bar on the second floor of the pub. I find the ground floor particularly cozy on a cold night.
Dress Code: Casual
Branches of Tim Horton’s cafe can be found all over Toronto, the rest of Canada and the USA.
As far as I could see, there was little to distinguish Tim Horton’s from the vast number of other chain cafes in Toronto. The items sold (coffees, hot chocolate, milkshakes, soft drinks, donuts, cookies and cakes) and the atmosphere (laid back and informal) were pretty much the same as at Starbuck’s, Coffee Time or Timothy’s World Coffee.
I visited various branches of Tim Horton’s during my stay in Toronto in February 2006 - usually late in the evening for a warm drink and some cake.
I particularly enjoyed the warm smoothies (available in hazelnut, orange and raspberry flavours), along with a maple syrup or chocolate donut. A warm smoothie and a couple of donuts cost in the region of 3.50 CAD.
Typical cafe fare...in a typical cafe!
Dress Code: None
Right in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Irish Embassy became quite the VTer hangout during the Sept '05 meet. If you're into Irish pubs, make it your hangout too. Let one of the friendly bartenders pour you a proper pint. Fine steady hand he's got.
They've also got great food, including a full-on Irish breakfast including blood pudding. Don't ask me how good the blood pudding is though. I can't touch the stuff. I can't. I just can't. :-D
A group of us VTers - Kymbanm, Shohman & Hotsauce28 (who LOVES her blood pudding, by the way!) spent a lazy Sunday afternoon here, just hanging out. Scott & Saucie had their Guinness. I stuck with the lager, thank you very much. Either way, delicious.
Hey, if you're into American football, check out the games here on Sundays (and the bar manager's a Giant fan, like me!). Great times at the Irish Embassy.
Dress Code: Casual. Like me.
It sometimes feels as though every city in the world has at least one Irish bar. Toronto is no different - I noticed several of them during my 8 day stay in the city.
The only one that I visited was McVeigh’s, a cosy pub located on Richmond Street East in between Yonge Street and Jarvis Street.
The staff were friendly (especially the lovely barmaid who explained where I could catch a bus to Niagara Falls) and the atmosphere was warm and “local”. Several people entered the pub while I was in there, each one greeted by their first name by the staff - and none of them sounded Irish. This is very much a local pub for local people - it is just far enough off Yonge Street to escape the attentions of tourists.
There is a large selection of Irish (Caffrey’s, Kilkenny, Guinness), Canadian (Molson, Labatts) and international beers on draft and in bottles. I had a pint of Caffrey’s - and at a price of 6.50 CAD, I only had the one.
A nice friendly pub with a good selection of beers!
Dress Code: Casual
Scruffy Murphy's is a typical Irish Pub (that is meant as a compliment) We stopped here for a pint and to watch a bit of the World Cup. I nice, toothless man was kind enough to tell us who was playing. :)
They have a patio also, always a bonus.
Dress Code: casual
One of the great things about this city is that most places are open very late (early), and even 24 hours. You never have to worry if you get hungry, or want a beverage at 2 in the morning. There are Chinese restaraunts open until 4 in Chinatown. There are pizza places open until 3 on Yonge Street. Plus, there are several 24-hour food stores.
On my first night in Toronto we went to a bar, and were served by eddie, the head barman, he became a good friend for my entire trip of 7 months last year. He serves amazing bellinis (with a special gift sometimes!) and can put on quite a 'tom cruise coctail' show if you are there late enough!
this is a relaxed but busy bar/restaurant, all the staff are friendly and it is righti n the centre of downtown toronto, so it has easy access to all the hot spots!
Dress Code: no dress code
I have included Victory in both restaurants and nightlife because those of us in the 'hood use it as both.
When I am heading out for a quick pint this is usually where I end up. It is a great kick back, mellow out, kind of place. In the summer the patio is often jammed until well after midnight.
The service CAN be a little slow (not always) but most of the regulars here are not in a hurry so it doesn't really matter.
The Victory Cafe is always always busy, even in terrible weather, of course most of the patrons probably live down the street!
Usually I sit at the bar and drink a beer, or two...
Dress Code: Casual, comfortable, you could wear whatever you want here!
When we first found this Pub we thought it was just that. Of course we later found that all Pubs must serve food. Walking down the stairs, (this was around 5pm), the place was very big with lots of tables. We asked if we could just have a drink. Yes we could and then having got a drink started looking at the menu. The items were different and really well priced. One item a day at a ridiculous $2.99Ca. I've just looked at the website and that's todays prices. We got a plate of Nachos for a couple of dollars and it did for the 3 of us. It may not be haute quisine but if your looking for a cheap meal and a beer this is the place. There's nothing on the menu over $10Ca.
They also sell beer by the glass or by the pitcher making that cheap too.
I remember talking to a guy in another Toronto bar and he asked where we'd eaten, I told him and he said oh dear. So it's not popular with locals. Ah well!
Back in 2000 when we were there there was only one of these in Toronto and one in Montreal. Now there are 2 in Toronto and 6 in total.
Dress Code: Just reasonable as far as I could tell
These are some of my fav patios during the summer! All located in the ever trendy Yorkville, they offer great food and drinks!
Dress Code: Casual trendy. I wouldn't recomment sneakers, but if you did wear them, I don't think you would run into many problems.
Once a railway hostel on the edge of town, the Drake Hotel has undergone a $6 million facelift to transform it into one of the sleekest places in town. It has a great patio, but the restaurant is really cramped (so I don't recommend dinning there!) One of the trendiest places in Toronto!
Dress Code: Casual, but trendy. Please, no sneakers (unless they are Diesels or those trendy bowling shoe types!)