While it’s certainly been a tough couple years for some longtime favourite local establishments that were forced to shutter operations, there’s no shortage of new-ish spots to get your fill of live music, fine fare, and beverages. We’re counting down our best of 2017, and today it’s all eyes on the best new bars and venues.
Have a gander at some of our favourites spots to open up over the past year and in late 2016.
Indie88’s Best of 2017 is presented with the Samsung Galaxy Note8
Live Music Venues
The Baby G
The Baby G is quite literally the baby brother of the well-established Garrison music hall and restaurant, just a few blocks west on Dundas West. The 170-capacity venue was designed with indie acts and smaller touring bands in mind, by creator of The Garrison and former Sneaky Dee’s booker Shaun Bowring. It’s also served as an intimate alternative for some major Canadian indie acts like Wolf Parade, who performed their earlier this year.
The Great Hall
Thanks to everyone who came out last night! Thanks to @indie88toronto , @thegreathall & @mrgconcerts for having us. @pineapplegirlsband , @knifeyband & @sureband were awesome, thanks boys. And, thanks to our weird uncle @johnsharkman for making us part of his birthday extravaganza. The show went so well, we’re driving to Florida.
The Great Hall has been one of those little hidden treasures in Toronto, perched above the corner at Queen and Dovercourt since 1890. It may not be a “new” venue, but after a massive two-year-long, $4-million renovation, we’ll give credit where credit’s due. Aside from putting on incredible music shows, the massive floor space allows it to frequently host extra-curricular activities like indie wrestling nights, and craft shows.
Formerly known as the Sound Academy, the sought-after Toronto venue went under the knife last year for a major overhaul. Now stands REBEL, a 45,000-square foot multi-level club complex. It features a “a fashionable black and gold colour scheme, high-gloss contemporary surfaces, unusual animalistic and vegetal patterns, and subversive graphics.” Oh yeah, and it kicks even more ass for live shows.
The Budweiser Stage
One of Toronto’s premier outdoor music venues swapped sponsors in 2017 as the Molson Amphitheatre became The Budweiser Stage. The venue also underwent some renovations, added cashless payment options on-site, and brought in more concession stands.
This super chill College Street spot opened in late 2016 and it features a variety of Belgian and German-style beer, hip hop tunes, snacks, and shareable plates. It’s a great spot to settle in and sip the night away.
Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery
Take a look Inside Toronto's latest beer pub that's merging food and beer culture.
Posted by Indie88Toronto on Thursday, March 30, 2017
Calgary-based Big Rock Brewery and restaurant partner Oliver & Bonacini opened a multi-level brew pub at 60 Atlantic Ave. in Liberty Village in the fall of 2016. The menu features some great BBQ options and, of course, Big Rock beer. Hit the bottle shop upstairs to pick up a growler of their namesake beer from their new brewery in Etobicoke, or enjoy all that and more in the lower level bar and patio.
Located across the street from its sibling establishment, Pinkerton’s Snack Bar, Poor Romeo offers great local and imported brews, unique snacks, and a rock n’ roll atmosphere on red-hot Gerrard Street in Toronto’s east end.
CRAFT Beer Market Toronto
The Financial District now boasts a two-level, 400-plus seat establishment serving over 160 draught beers. It’s literally the newest spot on this list, having opened on December 6, 2017. It’s the largest tap line in Ontario and they’re also serving “New North American Classic Cuisine.” Put it on your to-visit list now.
This might be Toronto's coolest cocktail: http://bit.ly/2kaBZYs
Posted by Indie88Toronto on Friday, February 3, 2017
This Queen Street West spot is a cocktail bar that specializes in culinary cocktails, which refers to the fusion of alcohol and food. Culinary cocktails often use a variety of foods to enhance flavours and aromas for an eclectic cocktail experience. Co-owner and bar chef Frankie Solarik first experienced the complexities behind alcoholic drinks and cocktails when he was 18-years-old and working at a cigar bar in London, Ontario.
The Broadview Hotel
The Broadview Hotel opened in 2017 after a couple years of renovations on the former Jilly’s strip club building. It’s given the east end its own boutique hotel, complete with a beautiful bar and lounge space and one of the best rooftop patios Toronto has to offer.
Hidden behind this unsuspecting shop is a secret cocktail bar
Posted by Indie88Toronto on Thursday, October 12, 2017
Mahjong Bar is a “secret bar” hidden behind a small snack shop on Dundas West. They’ve made a name for themselves behind the strength of their cocktails, which include delicious options like the Pink Panther and Tropic Thunder. The 1960s Hong Kong-inspired spot serves packaged snacks and beer out front in the Bodega, with some authentic Chinese small plate options in the “secret” room.
The Rec Room
The Rec Room is one of the city’s best destinations for arcade games and traditional pub fare. It’s housed in The Roundhouse, located at 255 Bremner Boulevard across from the Rogers Centre. With 40,000 square-feet, there’s enough room for everybody. It also doubles as a live music venue and will play host to Buzz Records’ A Very Special Krampus Party on Saturday, December 9.
Tilt opened in the Annex in late 2016 to much fanfare thanks to its outstanding selection of “expert-curated” vintage pinball and arcade games. The arcade bar also offers a great selection of craft beer and snacks. Keep up with Tilt’s games list by visiting their website.
Located near Keele Station, Cabin Fever is High Park’s place to be for pinball fanatics. You can test your mettle in either of the bar’s High Park Pinball or City Pinball leagues, or just drop in and have a go on some of the best machines ever produced. Their beer selection features both local and international craft cans.
Stay tuned to Indie88.com over the coming weeks for our entire Best of 2017 series.
Up next: The Most Overlooked Albums of 2017 (Friday, December 8th)