While Toronto’s teams haven’t been lighting up the standings lately — or in recent memory — Toronto is a great city to be a fan with its dozens of sports bars. Whether you are a beer belly-baring, face painted fan who fist pumps at every goal and flips tables when referee calls go against your team or the quiet type who dissects the footwork of Messi, the city is teeming with cool bars to watch your team!
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99 Blue Jays Way
As a general rule, I refuse to dine in restaurants that have a gift shop, but for fans looking to soak up all they can of the Great One, this hall of fame-meets-bar may be the perfect option. The bar houses the skates Wayne Gretzky wore as a two-year old, a game-worn jersey, and the stick he used in game two of the 1987 Canada Cup final, widely considered to be the best game he ever played. The bar tends to be rather tourist-y, with fans flocking to adore the memorabilia, but with its close proximity to the Rogers Centre, Gretzky’s is an ideal place for a pre- or post-game drink. There are over 20 screens around the bar to ensure a prime view of the night’s game’s action. Order the 99 branded burger and the double-chocolate puck for dessert. You may not be able to move for a while after your meal, but it’s well worth it.
11 Saint Clair Avenue West
You know a place is serious about sports when it posts a bi-weekly “international sports broadcast schedule” outside their front door. Scallywags is home to no less than four supporter groups of English Premier League teams. There’s not a bad seat in the house with over 30 screens. On the morning of this past year’s Champions League Final there was a line-up out the door and down to the corner of Yonge and St. Clair hours before the match started. For big soccer games, get there well in advance; the main floor usually attracts standing-room-only-crowds. And with 20 beers on tap you’ll be sure to enjoy the game and not notice the rather dull decor.
Real Sports Bar
15 York Street
Call it what you want, this MLSE-owned bar is a giant man cave. There are 199 flat screen TVs, an arcade section that includes table hockey and virtual golf, tables where you can pour your own pint, and just your everyday two-story flatscreen TV. The screen is the biggest of its kind in Toronto and rivals the new one outside of the ACC. In fact, no matter where you sit, including the bathrooms, you have a television in clear sight. Like a true sports bar, wings and hot dogs are a main feature on the menu. Chef Tony’s Ultimate Chicken Wings are crispy and meaty and come with 11 different sauce options, while the Bacon wrapped dog is a foot-long’s worth of bliss. With 35 draughts including unique blends like the Darth Maple, and tables made of pieces of the old court that the Raptors once played on at the Rogers Centre, this is a place that any true sports fan has to visit at least once.
The Football Factory
164 Bathurst Street
This is one of the best places in Toronto to watch Toronto FC and European soccer. The action starts early on weekends to accommodate soccer fans who come to watch matches rarely broadcasted in Toronto. Not a second of the action is missed with 13 screens and four private booths where you can control what you watch. The Football Factory has an excellent beer list, with an emphasis on rare European drafts, and an incredibly ambitious menu. Rather than your typical bar wings — which are not even offered — the menu features oysters and a venison carpaccio. This is the place to be for an intimate sports outing to catch the soccer match, but it’s also a hot spot for big UFC fights.
The Monarch Tavern
12 Clinton Street
The Monarch Tavern is one of Toronto’s older bars. Just south of College, it offers a homey refuge from the College Street lounge scene. The Monarch’s walls are adorned with sports paraphernalia dating back to the early twentieth century, and it’s a Maple Leafs haven. On game nights the seats around the TVs go fast, with fans clamouring for the best view. While its TVs are tiny compared to those in most bars, they add to the atmosphere, and besides, what other pub allows patrons to bring their own food? But with its now refurbished kitchen, the bar is serving some of the best smoked meat sandwiches in the city, so you may want to rethink that pizza.
330 Bay Street
This chic steakhouse and horse-betting hot spot is buried deep in the heart of the Financial District and is perfect for anyone longing to chow down on a $44 steak while putting down unheard of amounts of money on which pony will win. There are over 60 televisions showcasing races across North America. If your education has somehow failed you and you are not versed in the ways of horse race betting, no need to fear! A beginner’s guide to racing can be delivered by a member of the experienced staff, who will guide you over to the Live Tellers in the lounge. While betting is not mandatory and the bar is open to anyone over the age of 19, if you walk in there with anything less than a $100,000 annual salary, you are bound to feel out of place.
The Loose Moose
146 Front St W
If you’re downtown without a ticket, the nine-foot TVs and raucous atmosphere make the Loose Moose the bar to be at. The bar has a capacity of more than 800 on long beer hall-like tables that offer the perfect opportunity to meet new people or simply catch up with old ones. The Fan590 recently voted the Loose Moose, “The best place to be if you don’t have a ticket.” The relaxed, casual atmosphere makes you feel like you’re lounging in your own living room with 800 other people and over 65 TVs. Make sure to check out the massive chandelier made of old beer and liquor bottles extending down from the ceiling.