Toronto bars keeping the pinball in play

Torontonians have whispered prayers and said RIPs to many of the city’s lost pinball machines over the years – whether it be for the Lord of the Rings themed table at The Only Café or the now deceased Pinball Café in Parkdale (the list goes on). But locals keep their chins up by frequenting the many watering holes fighting the good fight and keeping the pinball in play.


3030 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z3

This sprawling Junction bar stands out against boutique and quintessentially tiny cocktail spots on Toronto’s west side, making it an ideal party option for a larger group. Not to worry though, nothing in the way of cool, quality or party changes at this craft beer emporium, hefty on the high ceilings and square footage. Dance parties, live shows, and local microbrews define 3030, while a wall of pinball machines provide some playful entertainment or a break from the crowds.

Black Dice Café

1574 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1T8

Juxtaposition is the word at this punkie dive bar meets elegant cocktail house, where Japanese-American cocktail fusions complement a fully functioning 1950s jukebox. Hit this Japanese rockabilly bar with a pal or romantic and take turns sipping sake-based aperitifs and racking up a new high score on the surf champ pinball machine in the back corner.

The Monarch Tavern

12 Clinton Pl, Toronto, ON M6G 1J9

Pinball machines revolve monthly at this College and Ossington tavern, tucked away on a residential street and well known as a neighbourhood favourite. Past gems have included Sopranos-themed, Wrestlemania and Walking Dead pinball adventures. Double up on the fun by popping in for Tuesday’s bring-your-own-soul-record dance party or Thursday’s popular karaoke night.

Get Well

1179 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X3

Sip on a vast selection of craft beers from across the globe at this bar-meets-arcade on Dundas West. Bartenders are happy to suggest a local saison, a little-known German hefeweizen, or a specialty Scandinavian pilsner to accompany your pinball game on one of a few machines (including a Dolly-Parton-themed selection). If pinball’s not your thing, Get Well also hosts Pacman, old-school Tetris (although you probably won’t get a chance to use it, as I’m there working for that high score several nights a week), and a slew of other forgotten stand-up video games of the past, all free of charge.

Hi Lo

753 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H3

Riverside locals are passionately dedicated to this traincar-style bar on Queen East. It could be its industrial-romantic décor (complete with colourful overhanging lights, reminiscent of a backyard BBQ in the 90s), or a menu stacked with local and craft beer that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Pinball machines round off the specialty offerings of this beloved canteen, fit for a few rounds with friends or a little flirtatious banter on a first date.

The Unlovable

1415B Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y4

If you’re a regular, you’ve probably witnessed the spectrum of adult fun at the cozy tiki-esque dive bar, from 90s karaoke to comedy nights to their maybe-coolest-in-Toronto Star Wars pinball machine. You’ve probably unwittingly walked past this Dundas and Gladstone establishment hundreds of times without noticing it, and that’s because it’s one of the few sweet basement digs (read: neither mouldy nor the perfect setting for a B-class horror movie) on the Dundas strip. Cocktails, craft beers and daily specials reign at this Jamaican-inspired spot.

The Doneright Inn

861 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G4

There’s nothing hybrid about this charming dive-meets-more-of-a-dive bar at the foot of Trinity Bellwoods. The romantically dim, red-hued interior is home to cheap tall cans, local microbrews on draft, and an AC/DC pinball machine, making it the ultimate hipster paradise, but also a spot that just doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. The lovely patio in the back is a sweet spot to catch some sun while wetting your beak – alternatively, seek some cover in the shade provided by an enormous tree growing smack in the middle of the backyard patio.


159 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4

There’s no telling what kind of night you’ll be walking into at everyone’s favourite Kensington Market bar, named for a love of urban cycling. Bicycles hang from behind the bar and pinball machines line the walls (in May, these dudes hosted Toronto’s first ever beer and pinball festival). Local and international musicians and DJs take to the stage for everything from vinyl-only soul nights to a specialty electro pop Friday night jam.

Our talented brewmasters are among the most beloved makers in the city, having carved out Toronto’s status as a destination for award-winning craft beer. Although the culture is home-grown and goes way back, post 2011, a slew of new spots have popped up across the city. Here are the stories behind both our famed microbreweries and innovative newcomers on the scene. [Photo credit: Celine Kim]
From second-storey terraces to canopy-covered courtyards, 2016 has been a good year for Toronto’s patio game. We’ve got the goods on the brand-new brewery on Roncesvalles and the Lakeshore’s most recent party-worthy spot. East to west, these resto-bar newcomers have created inspired outdoor spaces so you can start patio season off right. [Image credit: Pavone] 
On Sunday May 1st 2016, the Artscape Wychwood Barns hosts TO’s largest festival for gluten-free foodies. With workshops led by gluten-free experts and over 65 food vendors to sample from, this event is a must-attend for wheat-sensitive Torontonians. From cupcakes to malt beer and cider tastings, the Gluten Free Garage is where to snack up and stock up this weekend. [Photo by Franco Deleo; courtesy of the Gluten Free Garage]
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