1. Bellwoods Brewery
124 Ossington, at Argyle, 416-535-4586, bellwoodsbrewery.com.
As you'd expect from the name, the focus at Mike Clark and Luke Pestl's bustling west-side pub is the artisanal suds they brew on the premises, specialty ales with names like Muggleweisse and Witchshark Imperial IPA. To go with them, former Bar Mozza chef Fab DeCicco offers a short, shareable carte that ventures well beyond pickled eggs 'n' pork scratchin's.
Informed servers steer newbies to starters like slices of porous Woodlot sourdough made from leftover malt, spread with garlicky foie gras pâté and grilled izakaya-style duck hearts drizzled in charred jalapeño oil. Generous vegetarian platters come piled with black Kalamata olives, pickled beets and buttery lima beans, while barbecued house-stuffed pork sausages arrive on ciabatta buns spread with Dijon-spiked mayonnaise, porter-braised sauerkraut on the side. Dessert? Chocolate ice cream sandwiches!
Monday to Wednesday 5 to 11 pm, Thursday 5 pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday 2 pm to midnight, Sunday and holidays 2 to 11 pm. Bar nightly till close. Closed some holidays. Average main: $12. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.
2. Queen & Beaver Public House
35 Elm, at Yonge, 647-347-2712, queenandbeaverpub.ca.
If any local ye olde English boozer deserves the name gastro-pub, it's this historic two-storey Victorian on downtown's touristy restaurant row. Not only do they keep Beau's Lug-Tread Lagered Ale and Durham Brewery Black Katt Stout on tap, but they rotate two new cask ales every two weeks, too.
On the gastro side, imagine bar snacks like peppery house-smoked mackerel on toast, and curried mussels steamed in cider sided with proper chips, or larger plates like one of the better burgers in town. And who can resist sticky toffee pudding for dessert?
Still not convinced? Sunday evenings, chef Andrew Carter offers feasting menus - prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, or venison stew with dumplings, say - for five or more in a private upstairs snug.
See also: The Oxley, 121 Yorkville, at Hazelton, 647-348-1300, theoxley.com
Lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 3 pm, dinner Monday to Saturday 3 to 11 pm, Sunday 3 to 10 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm, breakfast both days from 9 am in footie season. Bar till close. Average main: $20. Licensed. Access: five steps at door, washrooms on second floor.
3. Bristol Yard
146 Christie, at Pendrith, 647-716-6583.
Though Davey Love's reverently curated Brit-style caff certainly looks the part - the only things missing the net curtains on the windows - until this week it didn't have a licence to serve booze. But what goes better with Lulu and Tom Jones on the jukebox than a pint of Tennent's Lager or Fuller's Black Cab Stout.
From the UK-centric carte, house-baked meat pies sided with chunky chips and mushy peas come stuffed with the likes of Melton Mowbray-style pork or chicken tikka masala. Mixed grills include thick locally raised pork chops, house-made Cumberland sausage and their "secret" sausage.
Saturday night is curry night - of course, it is! - while Sunday night calls for a traditional British roast dinner of prime rib with both Yorkshire and sticky toffee pudding. There's even a vegetarian shepherd's pie. A bit of all right, wot?
Dinner Wednesday to Sunday 6 to 10 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Bar till close. Closed Monday, Tuesday, holidays. Average main: $12. Licensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor.
372 Bay, at Richmond W, 647-352-3211, thegabardine.com.
Out in funky Leslieville or on the furthest reaches of Queen West, Katherine Rodrigues and Alison MacKenna's two-year-old bistro wouldn't raise an eyebrow. But here in the heart of the financial district, it's a culinary oasis in a sea of corporate meat markets. Little wonder the 50-seat room packs them in like sardines from noon till late.
Ex-Citizen chef Graham Pratt keeps the suits happy with comfort food mains like maple-glazed pork chops with a hash of Brussels sprouts and ham, while pan-seared Kolapore Springs' speckled trout comes plated island-stylee over rice, beans and mango slaw. Better yet, the notoriously closed-weekends spot is now open for dinner Saturday night.
What next, Sunday brunch?
"Ha! I'm still clinging desperately to my one day off," says the Gab's McKenna.
Monday to Friday 8 am to 10 pm (breakfast to 10:30 am, full menu from 11:30 am). Dinner Saturday 5 to 11 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Average main: $20. Licensed. Access: one step at door, tight entrance, washrooms on same floor.
1154 Queen W, at Beaconsfield, 416-516-2550, thebeaconsfield.com.
Despite its location on the super-hip Queen West strip, this low-key Manhattan-style saloon is the least sceney boîte of the bunch, the kind of after-work spot where you can loosen your tie, sip a pint of Amsterdam Wee Heavy and let the worries of the day slip away.
Show up weekdays from 5 to 7 pm and take advantage of chef Carlos Fernandes's $9 supper specials, old-school classics like house-made macaroni 'n' cheese (Tuesdays), fab skinny frites topped with meaty chili, diced tomato and avocado (Thursdays), or generously portioned fish 'n' chips with a curry twist (Fridays). Not bad, considering the meal deal includes an unironic bottle of 50.
Daily 5 pm to 2 am. Average main: $18. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.