Sometimes it’s hard to beat the craic in a real Irish pub. Don’t get us wrong, every weekend should NOT be spent sitting in an exact replica of the local back home – Toronto is full of exciting nightspots waiting to be discovered – but every now and again, there is nothing better than a bit of banter in a cosy Irish watering hole.
It’s well-known that ‘Oirish’ bars are dotted across the globe and Toronto is definitely no exception to the rule. Unfortunately, a lot of Toronto’s offerings in this department are as authentic as Julia Robert’s accent in Michal Collins (poor Julia really didn’t master the brogue). So to help you avoid the abundance of plastic Paddy joints around the city, we’ve compiled this list of Toronto’s best Irish pubs where the Guinness flows, the welcome is warm and the laughs are plenty:
1. An Sibin Pub:
This pub located on Queen Street East does three great things – great food, great music and a great pint of the black stuff. Owners Rick Auiler and Scott Brockington pride themselves on bringing ‘a touch of Ireland to the riverside’ and their establishment certainly doesn’t disappoint. If you are new to the city and want to hear a familiar accent, Irish folks can be found eating and drinking here most weeknights so it’s an ideal spot for making work or social contacts. Also known as the house of ‘ceol’ the pub hosts live music several nights a week including an Irish trad session every Sunday afternoon.
Toronto’s oldest Irish pub has been a landmark on Richmond Street for over 50 years and owner Jimmy McVeigh has been the legendary character at it’s helm since first opening it’s doors five decades ago. In fact, the chance of a chat with Jimmy is often the main attraction for a steady stream of Irish lads looking for work in the construction industry. Many new arrivals have Belfast-born McVeigh to thank for their ‘start’ in Toronto and it’s not just fresh-faced emigrants who have frequented the pub down through the years. Bono, Billy Connolly, Brendan Gleeson, The Dubliners and Bob Geldoff have all stepped over the threshold to soak up the hospitality in this no-frills Irish pub.
3. PJ O’Briens:
Walk through the door of PJ’s and it feels like home. This is a real Irish pub at it’s very best – there is always a joke or a yarn being told at the bar, the atmosphere is warm & friendly and as an added bonus (perhaps not for the gentlemen) there isn’t a faux ‘Colleen’ kilt-wearing waitress in sight.
4. Ceili Cottage:
This quaint looking Leslieville ‘public house’ has many charms but is in our top 5 list for one main reason – the cute patio out front. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, there is no better place in Toronto to kick back and enjoy a cold Bulmers.
5. Dora Keogh:
This Danforth venue has a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere, extensive list of imported beers and live music every Thursday and Sunday night. Sure what’s not to love about it? But don’t just take our word for it – go check it out the next time your after a taste of home.
6. The Corner House:
You can walk into this Beaches bar not knowing a soul and leave after making a bunch of new buddies. Formely known as McCarthys, the bar recently re-opened under new ownership but the craic remains the same! Well worth a visit!