Check out NOW's Bar & Club Guide 2008!
Annex [ view list ]
Dance Cave 529 Bloor W (2nd floor) at Albany 416-532-1598 www.leespalace.com Sunday, Wednesday
Drink 'n' dance with up to 250 sloshed students from nearby U of T while DJs crank retro hits and nouveau-wave bangers in a space that looks like an aircraft hangar.
Green Room 296 Brunswick at Bloor 416-929-3253 daily 11 am to 2 am
First-timers have a hard time finding this obscure boozer hidden down the alleyway behind the Poor Alex Theatre. Eventually, they discover a two-storey warehouse full of Goodwill furniture and shelves of books that provide distraction when conversation dies amongst the literary set. Cheap all-day breakfasts too.
Insomnia 563 Bloor W at Bathurst 416-588-3907 www.insomniacafe.com Monday to Friday 4 pm to 2 am, Saturday 10 am to 2 am, Sunday and holidays 10 am to 2 am
This Annex mainstay has the multiple appeal of being an Internet lounge, a trendy, eclectic restaurant and a nightclub offering themed nights seven days a week like funk, Britpop and drum ’n’ bass.
Labyrinth Lounge 298 Brunswick at Bloor W 416-925-7775
This cozy, quiet, out-of-the-way spot tucked behind Future Bakery makes a great stage to while away the afternoon over a book or secretly meet an art student for a late-night snog. Cheap drink specials.
Lee’s Palace 529 Bloor West at Croft 416-532-1598 www.leespalace.com
A fail-safe destination for superlative rock 'n' roll action. A raised stage, high benches along one wall and a relocated bar mean that the erstwhile movie theatre provides an even better show-going experience than it did when Kurt Cobain smashed beer bottles during Nirvana's inaugural swing through town.
Madison 14 Madison at Bloor 416-927-1722 www.madisonavenuepub.com daily 11 to 2 am
A maze of interconnected rooms spread over three Victorian row houses, this popular boozer has a Brit pub look, all red velvet banquettes and some 150 brass draft pumps with 20 beers on tap. Pool tables and gas fireplaces, too.
Paupers 539 Bloor W at Albany 416-530-1331 www.pauperspub.com daily 11 to 2 am
Once the local branch of the CIBC, this converted three-storey bank is now one of the most popular pubs on the strip. Great rooftop patio with a skyline view, too.
Pour House 182 Dupont at St. George 416-967-7687 www.pourhouse.sites.toronto.com Monday to Friday 11 am to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am 2 am
Unquestionably a beautiful homage to the classic Irish pubs of, well, Ireland, the Pour House offers an unpretentious, hospitable setting perfect for tying a few on while watching TV or taking in live music every Saturday evening.
Rowers 150 Harbord at Major 416-961-6277 daily noon to 1 am
With its proximity to U of T’s gymnasium, this sports bar in a small house salutes all things jock. Walls hung with Ned Hanlan paraphernalia and a racing scull hanging from the ceiling make this varsity party room the spot to unwind after the game.
Tap 517 Bloor W at Borden 416-533-5321
A comfortably grungy joint where the beer is always warm and cheap and the game’s always on TV. DJs play hits both new and nostalgic, but the Tap’s claim to fame is that beloved Canrock icon Moe Berg mans the decks Saturday nights.
Trane Studio 964 Bathurst at Follis 416-913-8197
Functioning as both a Cajun/Caribbean resto and a jazz club, this place looks pretty much like a beat poet hangout from the 50s, so that’s cool, and nightly live performances also give it plenty of hep-cat cred. Snap snap.
Tranzac 292 Brunswick at Bloor 416-923-8137
Officially the Toronto Australia New Zealand Club, this sprawling space is one of the city’s hidden gems. A number of musical communities – experimental/improv jazzers, the Flying Cloud folkies, indie rock kids – have adopted the warm space as their headquarters.
Victory Café 581 Markham at Lennox 416-516-5787 www.victorycafe.ca Monday to Friday 4 pm to 2 am; brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm
This rambling student-friendly Victorian attracts the literary crowd for Tuesday’s poetry slams and those with a more boho bent Wednesdays for the Hot Jazz String Quartet.
Ye Olde Brunswick House 481 Bloor W at Brunswick 416-964-2242
Long an Animal House of collegiate hijinks, the new Brunswick has been restored to its former Victorian splendour. On the weekends, the rear party space where Rockin’ Irene once rocked on is now a dance space spinning top 40 hits.
Bloor West [ view list ]
Ciro’s House Of Imported Bier 1316 Bloor W at Lansdowne 416-533-4914
As its name suggests, this pub is home to more than 100 varieties of imported suds. Out back, find a heated deck shaded by an overhanging canopy of trees where regulars devour better-than-average pub grub in between shots of absinthe.
Clinton’s 693 Bloor W at Clinton 416-535-9541
One of Toronto’s oldest alternative venues – Cowboy Junkies got their start here back in the 1980s – this log-lined multi-storey tavern features comedy Sundays and Mondays, live bands most nights and karaoke upstairs every night.
Gem 1159 Davenport at Ossington 416-654-1182 Monday to Saturday 5 pm to 2 am; brunch Sunday 10 am to 4 pm
Casual, funky and fun (vintage jukebox, eclectic bric-a-brac and lunch counter complete with stools), think of the Gem as a diner where, instead of malted milks, regulars chug single malts and microbrews.
Whelan’s Gate 1663 Bloor W at Indian 416-531-1311
A friendly-looking pub with tons of Old-World charm. Only downside is its tiny size, but the equally nice second floor and separate party room kinda make that a non-issue.
Cabbagetown [ view list ]
Big Mamma’s Boy 554 Parliament at Amelia 416-927-1593 www.bigmammasboy.ca for dinner Monday to Thursday 4:30 pm to 1 am, Friday and Saturday 4:30 pm to 2 am. Brunch Sunday 11 am to 4:30 pm, dinner till midnight five steps at door, washrooms in basement
Heather Mackenzie – Slack Alice, Looking Glass – brings the Church Street scene to bucolic Cabbagetown in this shabby-chic Victorian townhouse. Pizzas named for Doug Flutie and Cher, plus comedy nights every Tuesday in the upstairs lounge.
Cobourg 533 Parliament at Carlton 416-913-7538
Anyone in or near Cabbagetown not taking advantage of this hip and beautifully decorated bar should feel damn ashamed of themselves. With live jazz on Sundays and techno DJs every Friday, this place is pretty much perfect.
Grasshopper 460 Parliament at Carlton 416-323-1210
Not flashy, fancy-pants, well-lit or pristine, this downstairs Cabbagetown joint makes no bones about being anything other than a typical watering hole with a regular and decent smattering of live performers and a Wednesday open stage.
House on Parliament 456 Parliament at Carlton 416-925-4074 daily 11:30 am to 1 am, bar till 2 am three steps at door, washrooms on same floor
The site of a major fire a while back, this inviting below-street-level boîte has been completely restored: tin ceilings, damask banquettes rung with round tables, brocade carpeting. Inexpensive plonk by the glass, and on Sundays a traditional Brit prime rib dinner goes for $13.95!
Laurentian Room 51A Winchester at Parliament 416-925-8680 www.geocities.com/salonnoir Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 pm to 2 am Sunday and Monday
This stylish restaurant and lounge feels like an oasis of nightlife fun hidden in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood above the former Winchester Tavern (now a Tim Hortons). It’s retained many aspects from its original heyday in the 30s that give it a different kind of class than the average lounge. DJs and live acts, from house to jazz to Latin, are featured, and dancing does go on wherever people can find space.
Left Door 424 Parliament at Spruce 416-961-9425 weekdays 11:30 am to midnight, bar till 1 am; brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm, dinner till midnight, bar till 2 am 11 steps at door, washrooms on same floor
Depending on which way you’re facing, this very edgy watering hole may be to the left of its sibling Ben Wicks Pub. Old couches, thrift store lamps and shelves groaning with reading material, not to mention a retro 80s soundtrack, make this the nabe’s quintessential too-cool zone.
Phoenix 410 Sherbourne at Carlton 416-323-1251 www.libertygroup.com/phoenix/phoenix.html
In terms of size and scope, the Phoenix is a stepping stone for bands who’ve outgrown Lee’s Palace and the Horseshoe but aren’t quite ready for stadium-sized success. Along with regular weekly DJ nights, the concert venue also features all-ages and 19+ rock shows.
Chinatown [ view list ]
Comfort Zone 480 Spadina at College 416-975-0909
In the dingy basement of the Waverly Hotel, this sweaty dive hosts Sunday’s 9 am – yes, in the morning – Devine Sunday Wake-up, an après-clubbing chill-out. And yes, it gets very messy by noon.
El Mocambo 464 Spadina at College 416-777-1777 www.elmocambo.ca daily noon to 2 am
The once grungy El Mo used to be a dive where the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello recorded live albums. Today it boasts a posh Moroccan-themed interior and two floors of rock-, rap-, pop- and metal-ready stages. Great for seeing bands on the verge and awesome local hiphop.
Grossman’s 379 Spadina at Cecil 416-977-7000
Since the 60s, when it was draft dodger central, this extremely low-rent watering hole has appealed to musicians and artists alike. The old girl's had something of a makeover – her infamous basement washrooms are now panelled in galvanized sheet metal.
Silver Dollar Room 486 Spadina at College 416-975-0909
Located above the notorious Comfort Zone and next door to a homeless shelter, this retro boozer is the ideal place to weep into your dirt-cheap beer while international blues grandfathers belt out the trouble they've seen.
Village Idiot 126 McCaul at Dundas 416-597-1175 Daily 11 am to 2 am
Directly across from the AGO and just up the street from OCAD, this laid-back local grooves to a soundtrack of 40s, 50s and 60s jazz and R&B while pouring 18 domestic and European draughts. Bonus: no TV!
Church Street [ view list ]
Alibi 529 Yonge at Maitland 416-964-9869
There’s tons to do for the young, hip gay crowd here, including Underwear Party Sundays and Men At Work Wednesdays. And with two dance floors, two levels, three bars and a cruise maze, what the hell isn't to like?
Bar Volo 587 Yonge at Gloucester 416-928-0008 www.barvolo.com Monday to Wednesday 4 pm to 1 am, Thursday and Friday 11:30 am to 1 am, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 10 pm barrier-free, washrooms in basement
People come here for the well-priced excellent selection of regional craft beers – more than 100 different bottled beers and more than a dozen local micros on tap. Artisanal cheese, too.
Black Eagle 457 Church at Maitland 416-413-1219 www.blackeagletoronto.com
Even in the middle of the day, this leather bar is dark as fuck. As tough guys gaze blankly at hardcore porn videos, muscle-bound daddies stand and pose upstairs under camouflage netting. Free pool Mondays 6 to 11 pm. Bonus: year-round barbecues on the rooftop every Sunday. Double bonus: Sunday is also Underwear Night.
Byzantium 499 Church at Wellesley 416-922-3859 for dinner nightly 5:30 to 11 pm, bar till 2 am; brunch Sunday 11 am to 3 pm barrier-free, washrooms in basement
Big glass doors on this upscale lounge and dining room open to the street so you can just grab someone you fancy as they’re strolling past. Still known for serving some of the best food in the nabe (faint praise), and the lengthy martini lineup remains timeless.
Crews/Tango 508 Church at Maitland 416-972-1662 www.crews-tango.com
Drag shows happen nightly at Crews on the first floor, while upstairs at Tango dykes get down to DJs.
Fly 8 Gloucester at Yonge 416-925-6222 www.flynightclub.com Sunday to Friday
Sweaty Muscle Marys coat-check their shirts every Saturday night and dance till dawn on the club’s massive laser-strafed dance floor, occasionally to big-name NYC DJs. Queer As Folk viewers may recognize Fly as Babylon.
Fuzion 580 Church at Dundonald 416-944-9888 www.fuzionexperience.com for dinner Tuesday and Wednesday 5 to 11 pm, Thursday to Sunday 5 pm to 2 am Monday seven steps at door, washrooms in basement
This cozy second-storey lounge over the resto helmed by Oprah Winfrey’s ex-personal chef makes the perfect spot for after-dinner relaxing. Do try not to fall asleep on one of the room’s many low-slung chaises. Warning: unisex washroom!
George’s Play 504 Church at Alexander 416-963-8251 www.playonchurch.com daily 11 am to 2 am
George Pratt’s ornately decorated playroom is home to a number of drag residencies – Fontaine, Chris Edwards and Michelle Ross all hold regular nights – as well as the Spartan League volleyball team. Shemales and bingo seven days a week!
Goodhandy’s 120 Church at Lombard 416-760-6514
It calls itself a pansexual club, so it shouldn't be a massive shocker that this place is good for drinking, dancing, theme nights and generally not being too concerned about your inhibitions.
Hair of the Dog 425 Church at Wood 416-964-2708 daily 11 am to 2 am
At the south end of the Gay Village, this friendly watering hole sports an upstairs dining room that serves upscale takes on nachos ’n’ veggie burgers as well as a cozy downstairs pub with an extensive cocktail card.
Living Well 692 Yonge at Isabella 416-922-6770 daily 11:30 am to 2 am short, steep ramp at door, washrooms in basement
God bless this place. Two floors. Dirty Bingo on Mondays. A second-floor bar/dance area with billiards. Fantastic wait staff. Did we mention Dirty Bingo?
Local 4 4 Dundonald at Yonge 416-915-0113 Monday to Friday 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday noon to 2 am. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am to 4 pm 10 steps at door, washrooms in basement
Once foodies’ beloved Youki, this modishly appointed space attracts a neighbourhood crowd doing their best to ignore the chaos of nearby Yonge and Church Streets. First-rate weekend brunch, too, and one of Pride weekend’s primo patios.
Lola 7 Maitland at Yonge 416-920-0946
Another hot destination for the predominantly queer crowd, Lola looks lush and lavish inside and plays home to a Saturday-night drag queen show.
lub 487 Church at Wellesley 416-850-1209
Church Street's most stylish space attracts Prada preeners who sip martinis and tap their Guccis to house muzak played at a discreet volume. Upstairs, a rooftop patio overlooks the street scene below.
O’Grady’s 518 Church at Maitland 416-323-2822 Monday to Thursday 11 am to 2 am, Friday 11 am to 3 am, Saturday 10 am to 3 am, Sunday 10 am to 2 am
Formerly Oscar’s, the bar that dared not speak its name, this student-friendly suds parlour has a kitchen serving above-average pub grub until 2 am every night. Great multi-level curbside patio come summer, too.
Pegasus 489B Church at Wellesley 416-927-8832 www.pegasusonchurch.com
This relaxed second-storey space features four pool tables, as well as a number of video and pinball games. Fans of Miss Piggy will want to check out the Shrine of Swine, a display case of stuffed toy pigs.
Pinnochio 502A Yonge at Grosvenor 416-961-5808
The official logo of the former notorious Snakers is a dude with a raging hard-on, presumably acquired from telling too many lies. Anything goes here, including "Strip Idol" performances and regular drag shows.
Slack’s 562 Church at Wellesley 416-928-2151 www.slacks.ca for dinner Sunday to Tuesday 4 to 10 pm, Wednesday to Saturday 4 to 11 pm. Brunch Sunday 11 am to 4 pm; bar nightly till 2 am New Year’s Day one step at door, washrooms in basement
Once a slacker named Alice, this neighbourly gastro-pub attracts a mixed crowd for its better-than-most bar food (half-price appetizers Monday to Thursday 4 to 7 pm), Monday movie nights and Wednesday martini madness. Live bands most Sundays.
Spirits 642 Church at Hayden 416-967-0001 www.spiritsbarandgrill.com daily 11 am to 2 am
At the tippity-top of the Church stretch, this two-room sportsy-type bar is hella casual. It’s known for its open jam and comedy nights, of which there are plenty.
Statler’s 471 Church at Maitland 416-925-0341 www.statlers.ca
More of a College-style lounge than the usual booze ’n’ cruise joints found in Boystown, this small elegant boîte hosts regular sessions with warbling jazz thrushes who broadcast to the street.
Tallulah’s Cabaret 12 Alexander at Yonge 416-975-8555 Sunday to Thursday
Claiming to be where “art meets dance culture,” the basement cabaret space of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre morphs into a retro-themed dance party weekends. The “incomparable” Donnarama hosts Saturday night’s bash, while DJ K-Tel spins period vinyl.
Vice 501 Church at Wellesley
A 20-something vibe rules in this hip lounge that also serves up plenty of room for dancing to upbeat techno. Decor is at a minimum, which is fine – it’s just a backdrop for all the eye candy hanging out there.
Voglie 582 Church at Dundonald 416-929-9108
In this wonderful converted Victorian house – formerly Spiral and Looking Glass – the main floor acts as a setting for intimate, casual fine dining, while the second floor is known for its slick cocktail-bar appearance and cool lighting.
Wish 3 Charles E at Yonge 416-935-0240 www.wishrestaurant.ca Daily 11 am to 2 am
Divided into two diminutive halves – one an upscale cantina, the other an haute lounge – Wish has a high wow factor. Whitewashed walls, ceiling and floors provide a neutral backdrop for low-slung overstuffed sofas piled with pillows and cashmere throws.
Woody’s 467 Church at Maitland 416-972-0887 www.woodystoronto.com Monday to Friday 1 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday noon to 2 am
If you ever watched Queer As Folk, you know what Woody’s looks like from the street. Unfortunately – or fortunately – inside, the real thing is nothing like the TV version. Instead, this rambling room has several stand-up bars, areas for reposing, pool tables and stuffed faux rhinoceros heads.
Zelda’s 542 Church at Maitland 416-922-2526 www.zeldas.ca Monday to Wednesday 11 am to 11:30 pm, Thursday 11 am to 11:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 12:30 am, Sunday 10 am to 11:30 pm; brunch Sunday 10 am to 3 pm
You don’t go to campy Zelda’s to hide in the corner when you can sip potent potables in a series of madly decorated rooms to the soundtrack of 70s disco instead.
Clubland [ view list ]
Afterlife 250 Adelaide W at John 416-593-6126
Made for that crazy, nutty young crowd all full of beans, Afterlife is pretty freakin' big, with four floors good for dancing, all featuring different types of music. Fridays are university and college nights.
Alice Fazooli's 294 Adelaide W at John 416-979-1910 www.alicefazoolis.com Monday and Tuesday 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Sunday 11:30 am to 9:30 pm
A venerable Italian resto-cum-lounge, this converted garage attracts an upscale crowd of suits after work on weeknights and an older, better-dressed clientele on weekends to its several in-house bars.
Bar Wellington 520 Wellington W at Portland 416-341-8880
This offshoot of the Annex’s Bedford Academy occupies a converted three-storey Victorian. Despite its location in condo-land, chi-chi it ain’t. Instead, find ye olde local atmosphere, serviceable pub grub and a warp-around patio on a park, weather permitting.
Black Betty 225 Richmond W (rear) at Duncan 416-979-3000
Possibly inspired by an old song that wasn't very good, this place is a haven for the Queen West crowd looking to rock out to beer-guzzling tunes in an ultra-casual environment.
Brant House 522 King W at Spadina 416-703-2800 www.branthouse.com Wednesday to Friday 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday 7 pm to 2 am Sunday to Tuesday
A fancy bottle-service-oriented lounge with a certain meat-market sensibility, Brant House encourages you to share snacks from the upscale selection of finger foods.
Budo Liquid Theatre 137 Peter at Richmond 416-593-1550
An exceptionally well designed/decorated club, one of many consistent hot spots in the area, Budo expects an upscale, if not slightly skeezy, clientele. Worth seeing just for the large indoor waterfall used as projection screen.
Butterfly 422 Adelaide W at Spadina 416-366-7399 Monday to Thursday
The newest incarnation of Una Mas, it features two floors of dancing and chilling, with DJs on both levels Friday through Sunday. Music ranges from retro to house to rock, with a lounge feel on the top floor and a clubbier vibe below. Booths are available for reservation (and of course bottle service), along with a more private champagne lounge on the second floor.
C Lounge 456 Wellington W at Spadina 416-260-9393 Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday
Modestly advertising itself as “the next generation of chic,” the spa-like flagship of the Liberty Group (which runs the Courthouse, Liberty Grand and Velvet Underground) should be located in Miami’s South Beach rather than opposite the loading docks of the Globe.
Cantina Charlies 287 Richmond W at Peter 416-340-2582
A divine blessing for frat boys and their vapid ilk, Charlies is kinda like Coyote Ugly, with something called a dance-floor shower, two rooftop patios and three dance floors pumped full of R&B and pop. Like spring break forever, brah.
Century Room 580 King W at Portland 416-203-2226 www.centuryroom.com Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9 pm to 2 am Sunday to Thursday
New owners have ditched the former Mockingbird’s raw warehouse look in favour of an upscale club vibe. The mid-20s to mid-30s crowd tends to dress up for the occasion. Reserve a bottle-service booth if you want a spot to sit.
Charlotte Room 19 Charlotte at Adelaide W 416-598-2882 www.charlotteroom.com Sunday to Thursday 3 pm to 1 am, Friday and Saturday noon to 2 am
Named one of the top 10 pool rooms in North America by Billiards Digest, the Room resembles an olde English gentleman's club. With seven tournament-quality tables, four poker tables and an upscale pub-grub menu, this inviting space is popular with the condo crowd.
Club Menage 333 King W at Peter 416-971-3332 Sunday to Tuesday, Thursday
Located above Bistro 333, this is a relaxed mainstream bar with a small dance floor and a patio overlooking clubland.
Crush 455 King W at Spadina 416-977-1234 www.crushwinebar.com Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturday 5 to 10:30 pm Sunday
A pretty, if pricey, New York loft-style French bistro in a warehouse conversion with sandblasted limestone brick and bare hardwood floors, Crush also contains an attractive wine bar up front that features a rotating roster of regional plonk.
Devil’s Martini 473 Adelaide W at Portland 416-591-7541 $35, adv $30
This simply massive two-floored club for the 25-and-up crowd plays house, top 40 and hiphop. An expansive meat market.
Distrikt 134 Peter at Richmond 416-597-8777
Vying to attract the upscale club-goer, this classy-looking spot does its best to rock a crowd, especially on Saturdays that feature hiphop and reggae.
DNA Lounge 328 Adelaide W at Peter 416-591-8885 www.dnalounge.ca Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday
Formerly the Living Room, this medium-sized dance club plays the usual mainstream mix: a bit of top 40, some urban and some commercial house.
Duke of Argyle 86 John at Pearl 416-340-9700 www.thedukepubs.ca Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to 2 am, Friday 11:30 am to 2 am, Saturday noon to 2 am, Sunday noon to 11 pm
Yet another pub with decor somewhere between trad Brit and down-home East Coast, probably known more for its exceptional food than anything else. A nice change of pace in the rowdy Entertainment District.
Embassy Nightclub 117 Peter at Richmond W 416-585-2111 Sunday to Thursday
Not to be confused with the much smaller and humbler Embassy Bar, this one used to be the infamous grimy after-hours club System Soundbar. It's now a much tamer upscale club, with lots of booths to reserve if you enjoy drinking Grey Goose straight from the bottle.
Fifth Social Club 225 Richmond W at Duncan 416-979-3000
Lots of room for drinking and dancing makes this club a regular destination for the slightly well-to-do 20-something crowd who get all hard in the pants at the idea of VIP exclusiveness and watching DJs mix beside the bartenders.
Fluid 217 Richmond W at Duncan 416-593-6116 Monday, Tuesday
One of the last remnants of the original club district, Fluid has somehow survived more than a decade in this highly volatile neighbourhood. Medium-sized mainstream club, with two rooms of dancing.
Foggy Dew 803 King W at Tecumseth 416-703-4042 www.thefoggydew.sites.toronto.com daily 11 am to 2 am
Sibling to the Pour House and Murphy’s Law, this upscale Irish pub in condo-land features live Celtic musos every Saturday night once the Leafs game is over. Decent Irish-themed pub grub, too.
Footwork 425 Adelaide W at Brant 416-913-3488
The last two attempts at running a bar in this space floundered after short runs, but the third time seems to be the charm for this boutique club, which has helped fill a void of decent small clubs. It feels like a scaled-down version of a large underground dance club and generally focuses on variations of house and techno.
Hotel 77 Peter at King 416-345-8585 www.hotelboutiquelounge.com Sunday to Wednesday
Yet another small mainstream dance lounge in the heart of clubland. Not so upscale that it’s intimidating, but fancy enough that you should leave the track pants at home.
Inside 218 Richmond W at Duncan 416-591-0009
A lame duck conceptually speaking, Inside is a multilevel club that appears to thrive on pretension. Special event Fridays are a substantial draw, though, as is the decor and varied music.
Joe 250 Richmond W at Duncan 416-971-6563 Sunday to Wednesday, Friday
Once known as Whiskey Saigon, this massive four-level club (including the rooftop patio) still caters mainly to the college crowd, with mainstream tunes and cheap beer.
Krave 240 Richmond W at John
Another one for the kids, this is a two-roomer that hosts house/top 40 and hiphop/reggae respectively. Not as eye-poppingly gorgeous as some other local spots, but the prices here aren’t too steep.
Level 102 Peter at Adelaide W 416-599-2224 Monday to Wednesday
Level is actually three clubs in one: the large rooftop patio WetBar, the upscale lounge Suite 106 and the larger main club, Level. This is a mainstream dance club with all the trimmings.
Loose Moose 146 Front W at University 416-977-8840 www.theloosemoose.ca Monday 4 pm to 1 am, Tuesday 4 pm to 2 am, Wednesday 4 pm to 1 am, Thursday to Saturday 4 pm to 2 am, Sunday 4 pm to midnight
It may be a painfully predictable sports bar with a questionable interest in women’s breasts, but the Moose also has local DJ Vinyl Ritchie, one of the city’s best-kept secrets. And really big TVs, too.
Lot 332 332 Richmond W at Peter 416-850-6821 Sunday to Tuesday
An upscale mainstream dance club best known for the retractable roof over the main room, which means you can dance under the stars most summer nights. The music's mainly R&B and mainstream house, with a bit of hiphop here and there.
M Lounge 241 Richmond W at John 416-595-5559
Employing plenty of funky, high-concept installation art and a dance-ready floor, M, designed to look super-classy with its rich wood tones, plays somewhat predictable club music.
Machine Head 199 Richmond W (rear) at Duncan 416-534-4569
Trying to keep it dark and dangerous with a back-alley entrance, this downtown rock bar is ideal for fans of really loud music and getting all loose and crazy with a built-in stripper pole. Kinda like where Mötley Crüe should live.
Metro 296 Richmond W at John 416-977-8747
Looking pretty dang sexy but not too meat-markety, Metro's biggest draw is its laid-back vibe and casual attitude, which separate it from the big-money clubs in the ’hood.
Mink 150 Pearl at Duncan 416-977-4446
Super-classy joint boasting a gorgeous interior and a summer-ready rooftop patio. Good for people who try way-y-y too hard to look sexy, it features dance, hiphop, R&B and Latin among other kinds of music.
Monsoon 100 Simcoe at King 416-979-7172 www.monsoonrestaurant.ca for lunch Monday to Friday 11 am to 2:30 pm, dinner Monday to Saturday from 5 pm Sunday
Winner of the prestigious James Beard Award for best bar/restaurant design in North America, this Yabu Pushelberg creation evokes gasps. Even if you don’t have to go, the washrooms alone make a visit to Monsoon worthwhile. They’re bigger than most condos!
Old York 167 Niagara at Wellington W 416-703-9675
This old-man beardo bar near the abattoir is wood-panelled, with lights turned low enough that you don't notice the residue of years of spilled beer. There are rough-edged singer/songwriters on a tiny stage, and a soundtrack that's all barfly classics all the time.
Opium 222 Richmond W at Duncan 416-971-4222 Sunday, Monday, Wednesday
Straddling the mainstream and underground scenes with techno or drum ’n’ bass one night and top 40 another, this small dance lounge has a large rooftop patio overlooking clubland. It has plenty of booths, but a fair amount of space is devoted to the dance floor.
Picadilly Circus 184 Pearl at John 416-599-4687 www.piccadillycircus.ca Thursday to Saturday 9 pm to 1:30 am Sunday to Wednesday
A slightly kitschy British theme makes this pub/club a casual place to dance or hang out in the games room or stare in perplexed awe at the authentic double-decker bus as you ask yourself, "What the hell is the point of that?"
Pur 365 King W at Peter 416-205-9696 www.pur.to Monday and Tuesday 11 am to 11 pm, Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 2 am Sunday to Thursday
This narrow three-level club is topped by an impressive patio with a great view of the downtown. The VIP room resembles a hotel room with its own sound system, fridge and TV (as well as a hideaway bed folded into the wall). Expect DJs playing mainstream house, hiphop, R&B and retro while an upscale crowd gets down on the dance floor.
Republik 259 Richmond W at Peter 416-598-1632 Monday to Thursday
THis big, shiny mainstream dance club has a small VIP lounge upstairs and two rooms on the main floor. The lighting system is impressive, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Rockwood 31 Mercer at Peter 416-979-7373
Rocks and wood inspired the decor at this club designed for the older, cooler crowd into house music; some semi-private areas.
Shmooze 15 Mercer at John 416-341-8777 www.shmooze.ca Friday 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday 4:30 pm to 2 am, dining 7 pm to midnight Sunday to Wednesday
For the mature, high-rolling or wannabe high-rolling crowd, the tasteful interior design makes the club’s concept almost palatable – that being, of course, to schmooze with the city’s young, hip movers and shakers.
Smokeless Joe’s 125 John at Richmond W 416-591-2221 daily from 4 pm seven steps at door, washrooms on same floor
With a constantly changing roster of over 275 beers from around the world, this cozy subterranean rock-lined room is a global suds guzzler’s paradise. Just check out the joint’s encyclopedia of brews. FYI: the name comes from back in the 20th century when it was one of the few weedless saloons in town.
State Theatre 69 Bathurst at King W 416-603-8188 www.statetheatre.ca Sunday to Thursday
This medium-sized club doubles as an event space for the occasional live show. Lots of seating for those who prefer to party on couches.
Suite 106 106 Peter at Adelaide 416-599-2224
Billing itself as Toronto’s sexiest party – outside of marathon 500-person orgies, we suppose – the club attempts elegance and debauchery all at the same time while spinning top 40, R&B and house.
Tangerine 647 King W at Bathurst 416-258-8190 Tuesday to Saturday 9 am to 3 am Sunday to Thursday
Less chi-chi than its immediate competition but hardly a hole-in-the-wall either, this smallish dance lounge sits at the edge of the strip of fancy clubs along King West.
Therapy 203 Richmond W at Duncan 416-977-3089 Thursday and Friday 4:30 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday 9 pm to 2 am Monday to Wednesday
This small, busy mainstream club has a VIP lounge on the second floor for those who want to avoid the crowds.
This Is London 364 Richmond W at Peter 416-351-1100 Sunday to Thursday
The entrance behind the building in the alley might suggest a seedy after-hours, but it’s actually a fancy, upscale kind of place, with mainstream tunes on Saturdays and big-name underground DJs on Fridays.
Tonic 117 Peter at Richmond W 416-204-9200 Sunday to Thursday
This large mainstream dance club in the middle of the district tends to attract a younger up-for-it crowd. Not particularly upscale, but be prepared for the standard clubland dress code on the weekends.
2 Cats 569 King W at Portland 416-204-6261 Sunday to Wednesday
Spread over two floors (the second may be closed on slower nights), this narrow lounge gets crowded easily, but the close quarters encourage a friendly vibe. Though DJs spin everything from house to rock, there's barely room to stand, let alone do any fancy footwork
Underground Garage Urban Saloon 365 King W at Peter 416-340-0365 www.undergroundgarage.ca
Bucking the ultra-lounge trend, this no-nonsense subterranean headbangers’ ballroom rocks to the classics – Zeppelin, Ozzy-period Sabbath, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, if you didn’t know.