Toronto’s best sports bars
Our favourite places to watch the big game
484 Front St. E., 647-352-7837, aviarybrewpub.com
The Canary District, Toronto’s newest neighbourhood, has itself a new local. The Aviary, from the people behind The Dock Ellis and Longslice Brewing, is equal parts sports bar and brewery—but you can still get brunch on weekends. During the week, the menu is made up of everything you’d expect from a beer-brewing sports bar: burgers, wings, chili, tater tots, fried chicken sandwiches, house-made sausages—a bunch of salty, cheesy, greasy grub (but made with local ingredients). Six big screens play whatever important games are on. Between innings (or periods or halves or whatever), sports fans can busy themselves by playing foosball, pool or a vintage Maximum Hangtime arcade game.
145 John St., 416-597-2695, theballroom.ca
In 2010, 10-pin arrived in the downtown core, along with ping-pong, foosball and video games. The multiple opportunities to engage in sport make this clubland fixture less a bar and more a boozy athletic amusement park. Speaking of sports, you can watch them on TVs here—or, to be more specific, on 60-plus flatscreens and mega projectors. Yes. Mega projectors.
The Brazen Head
165 E. Liberty St., 416-535-8787, fabrestaurants.ca/restaurant/brazen-head
This Liberty Village local is part of a well-known pub chain, but the atmosphere doesn’t feel in any way cookie-cutter. That’s partly down to the hordes of TFC supporters who fill the place on match days to drain pints before marching over to BMO Field, or during an away-match viewing party. But no matter the sport, it’s a comfortable place to follow the action while feasting on pub grub, wings, nachos and tacos—and after certain games, they’re known to “burn the bill” for one lucky table, whose food and drink tab will quite literally go up in flames.
The Dock Ellis
1280 Dundas St. W., 416-792-8472, thedockellis.com
The Dock Ellis is a modern, hip interpretation of the classic sports bar: the walls are lined with obscure retro memorabilia, and the draft list is a constantly revolving selection from the best local breweries. Best of all, the menu contains many well-executed snacks. The deep fryer is used to particularly great effect for the fried chicken sandwich. The juicy, thick-crusted thigh, topped with house-made Russian dressing, a drizzle of Ontario honey and crunchy strands of pickled red cabbage, stuffed in a buttery milk bun, is the crown jewel.
The Dog and Bear
1100 Queen St. W., 647-352-8601, dogandbear.ca
Equal parts sports bar and English pub, the Dog and Bear promises to screen whatever Leafs, Raptors and Jays games are playing, as well as any big games without Toronto ties—say, for example, the Super Bowl. The grub here is of the above-average pub variety, and includes fish and chips, bangers and mash, and a flat-iron steak. If it’s classic bar snacks you’re looking for, there are wings, nachos and chili cheese fries, too.
100 King St. W., 647-361-2025, kingtaps.com
Of all the new beer halls in town, this 450-seat behemoth at the epicentre of the Financial District is where both sports fans and craft beer aficionados will feel most at home. The bar pours potables from 72 lines (most hyper-local beers, some hard-to-find international ones), and more than 53 screens play a combination of sports and music videos. An expansive food menu covers just about every fathomable craving, including all of the usual bar-food suspects (pizza, tacos, rib-eye steaks, burgers) and does it well.
682 Queen St. E., 647-346-1541, @kt_bar
The sister spot to the now-closed Aft Kitchen & Bar, Riverside’s KT (that stands for Kids’ Table, by the way) serves up southern comfort food alongside whatever big game happens to be playing on their three big scree TVs.
The Loose Moose
146 Front St. W., 416-977-8840, theloosemoose.ca
This Front Street mainstay actually opened the same year as what was then called the SkyDome, but it’s evolved quite a bit since 1989. The most notable update: the 30-plus Ontario craft beers available on tap–most of which didn’t exist five years ago, let alone 29—to go along with another 30 or so domestic and international macros. There’s even a design-your-own old fashioned menu, with a choice of bitters and aromatics.
The Pint Public House
277 Front St. W., 647-340-6395, toronto.thepint.ca
Stadium proximity makes this bar a can’t-miss pre- and post-game spot, but the 770-seat memorabilia-strewn man cave is an appealing place to hunker down even if you don’t have tickets (or if the game in question isn’t even being played in our fine city), thanks to a selection of 40 draft beers and 40 flavours of chicken wings. Ninety big screens play sports, sports and more sports.
15 York St., 416-815-7325, realsports.ca
A sports bar on steroids, Real Sports is a 25,000-square-foot amphitheatre of game-watching excess, with 199 high-definition flat-screens, including one that’s two and a half storeys tall. The beer menu is supersized, too. There are 126 taps, so everyone from the Steam Whistle devotee to the Belgian Früli enthusiast will leave happy and tipsy.
255 Bremner Blvd., 416-815-0086, therecroom.com
This 40,000-square-foot play place in Roundhouse Park is an amusement park, and arcade, a VR experience and a sports bar, all in one. Right across the street from the Rogers Centre, it’s a convenient place for pints before a Jays game—or you can just watch the game on the Rec Room’s seriously big-screen TVs (and avoid paying stadium prices for tallboys of mediocre beer).
Striker Sports Bar
31 St. Joseph St., 416-929-9595, strikertoronto.ca
This all-inclusive sports bar in the Village aims is the mecca for the LGBTQ sports fans (and their allies, of course). It boasts 16 HD monitors on which they screen everything from Jays games, special events like the Super Bowl and even WWE matches. On the food menu: nachos, mac and cheese, flatbread pizzas and seven different kinds of wings.
838 Bloor St. W., 416-535-7486, tallboyscraft.com
The civic pride is palpable at this Bloorcourt pub, with subway-station wall decals, a Blue Jays championship flag and a corkboard featuring local events. But the real draw is the beer. With more than 60 Ontario craft brews on the lineup—dozens available in the bar’s namesake size—anyone can find the right pairing for the kitchen’s smashed and seared burgers.