I have been in Toronto for almost a decade. I love this city more and more every single day but I cannot deny the constant yearning for my home and culture that lies within. Here are the places I visit when I need a taste of home.
The Galway Arms feels like home. The Guinness is great. They have the perfect Irish roast beef dinner on Sundays. The gravy is just right. If you are Irish, you know that the gravy is a very important piece of this sacred Sunday meal. There is a very relaxed vibe here. It is a great resource for Toronto newcomers. This is by far the best spot in Etobicoke to make connections in the Toronto-Irish community.
Whelan’s Gate in High Park is the kind of place where you go for one but you end up staying for the day. All of the wood and benches create a cozy atmosphere where you will happily chat the evening away. Located at Keele & Bloor, Whelan’s Gate is famous for it’s Tuesday night trad session. This is the best spot for traditional Irish music in the west end of Toronto. They also have a great patio in the warmer months.
The Local was established in 2005 by a brother-sister team Rue and Melissa who are originally from Ireland, the Sextons knew they could transport the friendly atmosphere of the Irish pubs so deeply ingrained in their culture. This is truly a unique place in Roncesvalles village offering live music every night. It is worth a visit just to see the beautiful mural of Irish Rock God Phil Lynottt. I’m sure you will enjoy the great food and drink too though!
PJ O’Briens holds a special place in my heart. This is where I worked when I first moved to Toronto almost a decade ago. The amazing family who own and run this place were some of the kindest people I have ever met. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me a rock solid foundation in Toronto. PJ O’Briens is definitely one of the most beautiful Irish restaurants in Toronto. Located in the heart of downtown, the food is incredible. The service is second to none and the draught is always excellent.
Casual, comfortable and just like home. McVeigh’s is very authentic and perfect for a visit when the sting of homesickness is getting too much. The McVeigh family have been ambassadors of Irish music and hospitality in the downtown core for over 53 years. The moment you arrive you feel right at home among the pictures of great irish poets and paintings of bands like the Chieftans. They have live Irish music six days per week.
The Irish Embassy is a magnificently restored heritage site. It was one of Toronto’s first banks and is now home to a fantastic Irish pub with great service and an Old World ambiance. The Embassy is located in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. The setting is warm and inviting for the after-work crowd. It is also in a great location to wet one’s whistle before taking in an event at the Scotia Bank Theatre or the Rogers centre.
I hope you will enjoy a nice fresh pint of the black stuff at one of these great places soon. Feel free to reach out to me if you are Irish and new in Toronto. I have spent the past decade exploring this city and learning everything there is to know about being a newcomer here. I would also recommend visiting The Wheat Sheaf Tavern. This bar is definitely 100% Canadian but it has an important bit of Toronto-Irish history worth noting. It is one of the oldest pubs in Ontario. It was apparently the first pub in Toronto where Irish Catholics were aloud to go for a drink. I would also highly recommend Dora Keogh’s in the Danforth, great hospitality, traditional music and you have to ask them about their private dining in Mammy’s Kitchen.
Happy drinking, chatting & relaxing!