With Toronto’s rich sporting history and the fact that Ontario’s capital city has professional teams – think the Blue Jays, the Raptors and the Maple Leafs, to name just three – in almost every single major league in North America, it is no surprise that there is a wealth of choice when it comes to sports bars where you can camp out for an evening and support your side.
And when it comes to the downtown area, in particular, you can barely move for establishments featuring multiple televisions, beers on tap, and hearty pub grub to keep you going while the games keep playing on the screen.
So here – in no particular order – are a selection of our favourite places to enjoy a few drinks with friends while taking in a game.
331 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto (416) 785-2123
Right on the western fringe of downtown Toronto is Round the Horn, a sports bar that isn’t an ‘in your face’ sports bar whatsoever.
What Round the Horn offers is something a little more subtle: it’s definitely geared for sports – it has a ‘man cave’, pinball machine and televisions aplenty, after all – but whereas other watering holes tend to have the latest live game-playing loud and proud, here it almost becomes part of the décor.
There are trophy displays, the man cave boasts PlayStations and board games, but the overall vibe here is of a friendly local bar that you will just love to spend time in – and you can catch the game while you’re here if you want to.
The drinks list is excellent – mostly local beers available on tap or in cans, with a smattering of cocktails too – while there is a light menu dominated by hot dogs and nachos, and a great outdoor patio to hang out with friends. And did we mention the free candy at the bar? We told you this was a place you’ll love to spend time in…
146 Front St W., Toronto (416) 977-8840
Thirty years in the bar trade is no mean feat, so there’s a very good reason The Loose Moose has remained one of the top drinking venues in Toronto for three decades: it’s simply a fantastic place to go for a night out.
A staple on downtown’s Front Street and recently given a spit and polish – described as ‘putting lipstick on a moose’ – to add yet more slickness to the operation, this second floor bar-cum-restaurant peppered with vintage signs, rustic tables and an excellent vibe remains a true favourite and now offers even more to its patrons. Boasting an eye-popping liquor collection – nudging three hundred bottles of some of the finest or on-trend spirits available – as well as an array of draught beers, you are well looked after in terms of drinks, while the revamped, extensive menu has a mouth-watering selection of Epic Burgers with a supporting cast of the usual belly-filling favourites such as nachos, shareable slider platters, ‘Big Ass’ sandwiches and much more.
Throw in multiple screens above the bar area to catch whatever game you want, a huge interior to hang out with friends, plus The Antler Room housed below The Loose Moose for live music and events, and this place comfortably has at least another thirty years left in its tank…
31 St Joseph St, Toronto, (416) 929-9595
Opened in 2016, Striker Sports Bar is located a short hop from the city’s gay village and is the only LGBTQ bar in Toronto. With its motto of ‘All inclusive, All the Time’, Striker’s owners Vince Silva and Oliver Douglas have established a thriving mecca for people wanting a place where judgement is left at the door and where they can simply be themselves.
The bar is modern and welcoming, with super-attentive – not to mention sports-knowledgeable – staff, and there is ample space for large groups to get together and enjoy myriad sporting events across the venue’s sixteen large screen televisions – on which Toronto games are always given precedence.
Proudly boasting the first ‘Frost Rail’ (where drinks are kept cold on a line of shaved ice that runs the length of the bar) and a good selection of beers available in cans, pitchers or via draught, plus signature cocktails – Maple Leaf Dreams, anyone? – and a raft of wine choices, there is plenty to sip and slurp on while you catch the latest NFL match.
Add to this a small but perfectly formed menu containing classics such as wings, sandwiches, flatbread pizzas or shareable platters, and Striker Sports Bar is a perfect spot for a relaxing, hassle-free night out.
277 Front St W, Toronto, (647) 340-6395
Located within spitting distance of the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto, The Pint is a good old down-to-earth beer and pub grub chain bar with little pretentiousness but a whole lot of easy-going atmosphere.
Stuffed with dark woods, acres of lamp-lighting and enough levels within its walls to hold more than eight hundred people, The Pint is something of a tourist trap and boasts two dance floors offering weekend DJ sets, an impressive outdoor patio space, and enough sports entertainment to satisfy even the most demanding of fans.
‘The bar’s ‘Upper Deck’ – or second floor – has an array of games including billiards and arcade games, along with live music nights on Wednesdays and Fridays, and is a further massive area that can be enjoyed during an evening out or as a rentable space for private events.
With a great menu of award-winning ’40 way wings’, tacos, shareable plates and much, much more, there is something for everyone at The Pint, and the large selection of big screen wall-mounted televisions means none of the action will be missed during game-time.
15 York St, Toronto (416) 815-7325
The very definition of huge, Real Sports Bar & Grill is a cavernous space boasting the Daddy of sports screens that dominates the colossal room and easily dwarfs the large amount of televisions that dot the walls everywhere else you look.
Almost a mini-stadium in itself, Real Sports draws Raptors and Maple Leaf followers in equal – and very large – number, meaning the atmosphere inside the venue is frequently loud, enjoyable and a whole lot of fun. Multiple beers, shots, coolers and cocktails make up the lengthy drinks list, while for those who need to demolish some hearty favourites while watching a game are well-served here: the menu isn’t massive but what is on offer is classic and very tasty.
Think wings, nachos, a choice of burgers, ‘greens’ and an array of dishes from the smoker and you’ll know what we mean – this is finger-licking stuff to enjoy while you pan from screen to screen to watch all the sporting action Real Sports has to offer.
1280 Dundas St W, Toronto, (416) 792-8472
As with the aforementioned Round the Horn, The Dock Ellis – named after the infamously perma-stoned baseball pitcher – does sports-bar-but-subtle very well indeed.
Essentially a relaxing, no-frills entertainment spot for all-comers, The Dock Ellis has its televisions mounted behind the bar and a neat ‘play area’ tucked away towards the back of the venue, so the games are there if you want them but it’s not so up in your grill as to be off-putting.
The place offers low lighting and plenty of stark, wooden furniture to drape yourself across, and while not a huge drinking hole it has enough room to cater for large groups of patrons and even crams in pool tables, foosball, darts and ping pong, should you be inclined to play sports rather than watch.
The real stars of the show here, though, are the food and drink: draught beers are plentiful with an impressive selection of brands and a rotation of craft choices, while the food is uniformly excellent, considering it’s ‘just’ pub grub on offer.
Brunches, nachos, wings, briskets, sandwiches and poutine abound, so there’s plenty to get your mouth around while you catch a live game.
100 King St W, Toronto, (647) 361-2025
Rocking an upscale industrial diner vibe with décor consisting of exposed redbrick and spartan wood furniture, King Taps is, to say the least, spacious. Set over two floors – Dougie’s bar downstairs, Maria’s above – and a number of levels within each, with multiple seating areas and exterior patios, it can comfortably fit close to five hundred people at a time and at peak hours does just that: there are occasions when you’ll struggle to get in, never mind grab a table, so popular is the venue.
Tucked in between a warren of offices in downtown’s First Canadian Place, it’s a go-to drinking spot for staff looking to lunch or blow off post-work steam and catch a game on one of the myriad television screens bolted to walls behind bars or hanging from the rafters and pillars.
A massive selection of beers – at least fifty at the last count – along with some high end pub meals prepped in an open kitchen as well as superb pizzas make a visit to King Taps something to add to your to-do list.
164 Bathurst St, Toronto, (416) 368-4625
No, not that football – this is soccer football we’re talking about here. The Football Factory is a niche bar within the sports bar staple, as it is one of few solely dedicated to the spherical ball game of English origin, but it’s none the worse for it.
Just because it’s soccer, however, don’t assume it’s going to be loud and stuffed full of rowdy, drunken footy (to use the British slang) fans – this place is actually pretty high end, with an upmarket vibe and some fabulous food on offer.
The regular haunt of Toronto FC followers during season-time, The Football Factory isn’t the largest but its interior is a sleek and modern mix of black wall tiles and matching leather seating, complemented by an outdoor patio area and stuffed with more than a dozen large wall-mounted televisions to watch the various sports on offer, plus four private booths where you control the viewing.
Drinks are extensive and the food is pub grub staples but done with real panache; oysters feature in a plate of ‘Angels on Horseback’, while the rest of the menu contains similarly grand plates along with market-fresh ingredients and a raft of upscale bistro dishes to enjoy.
Also, if you’re at Exhibition Stadium on game day, there are a few bars in Liberty Village, across from the stadium, that are popular with fans. Check out The Craft Brasserie, Local Public Eatery, and Liberty Commons, if you’re looking for pre-game bites, or celebratory pint afterwards.
10 Dundas St E, Toronto, (416) 506-0753
If you’re looking for TV screens, Shark Club at Yonge and Dundas Square is the place to go in terms of sports bars in downtown Toronto.
Like Real Sports Bar, Shark Club has an enormous fifteen footer of a viewing screen that dominates the bar area, and if that wasn’t enough then there are fifty-seven smaller LED televisions dotted around the venue just in case you’re the type who likes to watch multiple games at once.
The pièce de résistance though is the ace ‘ticker-tape’ that stretches for ninety feet, with constant scores and updates rolling past your eyes as you sup on your drink or chew your food.
Shark Club is part of an ever-expanding chain, with venues across Canada and the UK, and its owners consider it ‘Sports HQ’. The atmosphere in the Toronto bar is lively and great fun, with a hugely impressive drinks selection – from draughts to cans to ciders, excellent cocktails and wines – and a menu that offers everything from pizzas, jambalaya and ‘handhelds’ (think burgers, sandwiches and wraps).
255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, (416) 815-0086
Huge, high-ceilinged and airy, Rec Room is a big (and little) kid’s paradise, set in a truly stunning forty-thousand square foot space in downtown Toronto, right next door to the CN Tower.
A quite breathtaking mash-up of industrial piping, acres of wood, floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views and enough seating, nooks and crannies to lose yourself for many hours – and that’s before we start on the entertainment – this venue is quite exceptional and well worth a visit, set as it is in the old John Street Roundhouse.
A mixture of an amusement park, restaurant, sports bar and enormous play centre, Rec Room boasts a multitude of things to see and do, including dozens of arcade games, a live music stage and billiards, as well as the country’s only world-class virtual reality system dubbed ‘The Void’.
Sport fans are well catered for in terms of viewing with a huge projector screen at the rear of the stage as well as a number of impressively big TVs, but if you long for some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the interior Rec Room has lots of outdoor seating areas for you to enjoy, while Three10, the in-house restaurant, serves up a host of filling classics such as wood-fired pizzas, lasagne and even pretzels with beer cheese.
As you would expect given its size, there’s something for everyone at Rec Room to enjoy.
Well there you have it, ten of the best places to watch some games when you’re in downtown Toronto.