Last night, ol' buddy Dave and I decided to do a little bit of bar-hopping along College Street. Mind you, this doesn't mean the Little Italy strip — for that we'd need to have shiny suits, more hair gel than the average-sized Shopper's Drug Mart stocks, and coke — I'm talking about a couple of other places, which happen to be my two favourite bars in all of this fine, frigid city.
It looks like a shithole, and it is. Somehow, a bar which looks like something you'd find near my hometown, which serves Molson Stock Ale, and has live blues music every night of the week found its way into the fringes of Chinatown, of all places. This makes it convenient to go on over to the New Ho King afterwards for a heaping plate of lemon chicken, with a side dish of health code violations (seriously, look it up on DineSafe). They recently remodeled the place a bit, taking out the superfluous extra bar in the back of the big room, which lets them put a few more tables in... don't worry, though, it still looks pretty rustic.
Fortified with some good blues guitar-playin' (and a couple of Stocks), Dave and I strolled across Kensington to my absolute favourite establishment in Hogtown for some kickass nachos, a pitcher of Red Baron, and solid tunes (they played The Clash's entire London Calling album all the way through). Toward the end of our stay there, the booze was beginning to take hold of the joint — so much so that, when Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" came on, the whole place seemed to erupt in a giant sing-along. This would be impressive in a place which has everyone intermingling on a dance floor-ish type of thing, but it was made doubly so by the fact that this was the main floor, which is laid out very much like a restaurant, with tables and booths and a bar and TVs and such.
In conclusion, Toronto doesn't have to be scary or pretentious. A lot of it is, don't get me wrong. But if you know where to look, it can be pretty damn cool.