- Watermark. Great location at Queen’s Quay Terminal with the best food of any Irish pub I’ve tried in Toronto. When it’s warmer, get a seat on the patio for a view of the activity on Lake Ontario and the bustle on the Harbourfront. For a late-night summer drink, the Watermark’s a terrific spot. Try the Lobster Club ($15). It’s my spot for St. Patrick’s Day this year. (207 Queens Quay West, 416-214-2772)
- The Roy Public House. It’s got a Deep-Fried Mars Bar ($6.95). With Guinness ice cream. How authentic is that? And it’s as gooey and sticky as you’d think. Although the Roy is pretty new, it’s décor in this old Leslieville building is antiquey, giving it some great ambience. For an Irish pub, it’s also got good service. (894 Queen Street East, 416-465-3331)
- Irish Embassy. Since the Real Sports Bar opened I haven’t been here as much, but the Irish Embassy is still a reliable place for a good pint and food that’s better than the usual pub grub. Aside from Thursday nights, when Bay Street jams in, you can usually find a seat right away or without too long of a wait. The best part is you can get food from the late-night menu until 1 a.m. (49 Yonge Street, 416-866-8282)
- The Unicorn. When I moved back to Toronto, one of the first places I wanted return to was the Uni. Although it’s showing its years, it still seems lively on the weekends, with some good music. There’s some nostalgia here for a lot of us who went to university in Toronto and that’s part of the appeal. (175 Eglinton Ave. East, 416-482-0115)
- Fionn MacCool’s at University and Adelaide. Toronto has five of these franchises and this one is nearest to where I live, which is why it gets singled out. The theatre and opera crowd fill it up when a show’s on, but otherwise it’s pretty quiet. Closing time during the week is often too early and sometimes it isn’t open for NFL Sundays. The good points are the staff are friendly, the food’s reliable and like the other Fionn MacCool’s the short beer list is solid, including Blanche de Chambly from Unibroue and Innis & Gunn’s Original Ale. They’ve been rotating feature bottle beers recently, too. (181 University Avenue, 416-363-1944)
Also worth a visit: Murphy’s Law (for the rooftop patio) and Brazen Head (for the music).
Next on my list to visit: The Ceili Cottage, The Pour House, Allen’s, Whelan’s Gate.
Got an Irish pub in town you like? Let me know.
Here’s a list of some favourite international Irish pubs that I visited last year outside of Toronto (and Ireland).