School's a bitch sometimes. You've got expensive, dull reading material, wanky professors and all that pressure to keep your GPA all aces. So go on, admit it: sometimes you just wanna throw your copy of Canterbury Tales in the garbage, go out and get trashed and act like a damn fool. Good thing you're in Toronto, cause we sure have a lot of bars here. And lucky for you, student, among the throngs of over-priced hipster haunts, seedy old man dives and faux-British pub chains, there are a few good places that'll be hard on your liver but easy on your wallet.
Staying central is a good plan. You'll save cash on transportation, and if you head a little west, you'll find College and Bathurst and the holy trinity of cheap watering holes.
On the southeast corner is the two-floored Tex-Mex bar/restaurant Sneaky Dee's (431 College, 416-603-3090). Inside it's dark, but the energy's great with rowdy kids drinking $10.50 domestic pitchers before catching a show upstairs. And the music is always pretty rad and just loud enough. It's like hanging out at some kind of punk/indie clubhouse with your own private table.
Just across the street from Sneaky's is Picadilly Bar & Grill (434 College, 416-923-1868). It's not really much to look at, but the real reason to hit it up is the patio action during the summer. It's always packed and often pours out onto the street with local punks and the like taking advantage of $9 pitchers. If you make it on the patio, the vibe is pretty much a "Hey, let's get fucked up and be really loud" kind of thing. And besides, after that fourth pitcher you can always line your stomach with grease from the kitchen.
Now comes the granddaddy of cheap and awesome places to get pissed: Bistro 422 (422 College, 416-963-9416) You descend to the basement-level entrance into a bit of a 70s-era time warp. Go straight past the bar and head to the big and very green patio. There are always people outside, and no one ever really cops an attitude, so if you're an asshole, maybe it's best to stay away. From Sunday to Tuesday pitchers are a measly $8 for the house brew, and you'd be surprised how easy it goes down. After a few, though, things'll start looking up when Joy Division gets piped through the speakers, and you and your peeps can talk and drink like sailors.
Then there's the Bagel (285 College West, 416-966-7555). It's been there a long freaking time and still has its retro charm, but lately it seems to be the go-to place to catch some great indie-rock shows. The place just oozes creativity and excitement when it's full of local kids sipping on $2.50 bottles. The music's cool and eclectic, and owner Greg Robinson always has something interesting happening.
If you feel hip enough to brave Queen West, you can side-step some of the busier bars and check out Gorilla Monsoon (372 Queen West, 416-591-2222) just beside the Horseshoe. It's definitely a more laid-back kind of place, and the inside's warm and friendly and not a little dark. Students are certainly welcome there, especially between 4 to 7 pm for $9.99 pitchers, but the real draw is the whole element of sanctuary it offers from loud and hectic Queen.
If you're feelng a wee bit more traditional, there's always the Duke of Gloucester (649 Yonge, 416-961-9704), where you can pretend to be a soccer hooligan while watching football matches from the UK. The back patio's big and accommodating, with some pretty damn friendly servers, too, and a jukebox that'll have you singing along to the parts from GnR's Estranged that you still remember. Spending a night at the Duke makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy, like you've just gotten pissed at that pub on Coronation Street.
So, yeah, Toronto's got some super great places to blow off steam after slogging through a book you still don't really understand. But attempt to drink responsibly, because waking up in a pool of your own vomit is definitely not cool, no matter what your major is.