Put Down your Two-Four: Best Gastropubs in Toronto

Photo credit: "The Queen and Beaver Public House" © 2012 by Julie Corsi (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: “The Queen and Beaver Public House” © 2012 by Julie Corsi (CC BY 2.0)

Toronto is quickly becoming a travel destination for foodies as the amount and diversity of restaurants both continue to increase. In fact, a short two-hour flight from Minneapolis to Toronto could have you chowing down in no time. Offering everything from Polish to Pakistani to Portuguese cuisine, the city – Canada’s most populous – has something to please everyone.

But in spite of all the fancy food out there, there’s still something super satisfying about sitting down to a simple meal of hearty comfort food and a refreshing pint of beer. Luckily, Toronto has a ton of gastropubs to fulfill those cravings without having to forgo quality or reach for a “two-four” (the Canadian nickname for a case of beer with 24 bottles).

In honor of Victoria Day (the official Canadian celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday and a holiday weekend famous for the amount of libations consumed), we put together a list of just a few of the many fantastic pubs that locals and tourists alike call favorites:

  • The Queen & Beaver Public House – In line with its name, The Queen & Beaver serves up traditional British fare that’s neither fancy nor expensive, but certainly delicious. If you prefer a relaxed environment, but aren’t willing to sacrifice quality, this is the pub for you. With a British chef behind the counter, you can be sure that whatever ends up on your plate will be authentic and delectable.
  • Habits Gastropub – Voted the best pub in Toronto, Habits has an ever-changing menu of fresh comfort food made in-house, and showcases live performances 2-3 times per week. The restaurant works hard to maintain its local focus, with Ontario craft beers on tap and house-infused liquors. While you’re there, make sure you check out their Whiskey Wall stocked with more than 300 varieties!
  • House on Parliament – Located in the Cabbagetown neighborhood, this pub pours both local and global beers, while also providing guests with sophisticated food – Care for a Tourtière? How about a maple rosemary crème brûlée? – that one can’t find at just any old dive bar. On the weekends, you can stop in for their brunch, featuring fanciful versions of standard dishes such as Eggs Benedict and French toast.
Photo credit: "Village Idiot Pub" © 2008 by George Kelly (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: “Village Idiot Pub” © 2008 by George Kelly (CC BY 2.0)

  • Village Idiot Pub – Don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s moniker; you don’t have to be the “village idiot” to go there – indeed, you’d be foolish to miss this place. With nearly 40 drafts ranging from local favorites to German and Belgian imports, and classic pub fare like the Shepherd’s Pie, you’ll be feeling pretty smart for choosing to drink and dine at the Village Idiot, conveniently located across from the Art Gallery of Ontario.
  • Piper’s Pub and Grill – A favorite hotspot for locals, this down-to-earth eatery offers a “true across the pond experience,” specializing in British dishes such as beer-battered fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding, and the notorious bangers and mash. It even earned the distinction of representing Toronto as the official England House for the upcoming FIFA World Cup. You’ll want to leave your airs at home and bring your family along to join you at this great neighborhood joint.
  • C’est What – The playful name is intriguing enough to get you in the door; the diverse menu of food and drinks (42 craft beers on tap!), as well as diversions such as board games and pool tables, are what make you delighted to stay. Featuring live entertainment and local gastronomic favorites like the lamb burger and jambalaya, this should definitely be on your to-do list while you’re in Toronto.

Obviously, these are just some of the countless gastropubs in the Toronto area; there are tons more we didn’t have room to list here. Know of one we missed? Leave your favorites in the comments section!