Toronto Dives

Beloved Hogtown dives are disappearing. Not those places you dance and meet women. Working men’s taverns where you pour salt in your beer, play pool around cigarette burns on the slanted billiards table, and cuss. We proffer these dwindling few – for now. We recommend draft in each, and a sleep-in the morning after.

This week: west of Yonge Street.

The Monarch Tavern is the yardstick by which all over dives would be measured. (In its original form, it would have had a separate door for ladies.) Ask for a brochure and they laugh. Enjoy pinball, pool and a copy of the Toronto Sun. For 60 years, you’ve been welcome to bring your sangwiches upstairs from Little Italy’s finest spots nearby to enjoy with your draft. So civilized. (Canada’s Wonderland, take note.) 12 Clinton Place, (416) 531-5833.

For decades, it was up to Duffy’s Tavern to come to the succour of the Junction’s thirstier working men who couldn’t order a beer in their goody-two-shoes dry neighbourhood. The atmosphere is relaxed, provided you don’t look others in the eye. Breathe through your mouth. 1238 Bloor Street West, east of Lansdowne, (416) 538-1998.

Or if you’d actually like to see some young women?

Students and aspiring actors love The Green Room. 296 Brunswick Avenue is in fact in the alley south of Bloor. None of the tables or chairs are steady, and that’s before you’ve had your first beer. Hip waitresses in kitschy ’50s housewife-wear serve the city’s cheapest meals on mismatching dishes, while an ugly fountain burbles giddily on their hidden patio. An oasis amidst Toronto’s desert of slick neon and polished steel.

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