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Toronto: Best Dive Bars?

Awesome; thanks, all!

These are some really solid suggestions. Duggan's looks great, and the link to the pub crawl also had some good options for us.

(and sorry JamieK for any confusion: I guess I was looking for both recs for pubs/brewpubs as well as true dives. The thread delivered...thanks!)

Toronto: Best Dive Bars?

Hi all,

Five of my friends are meeting in Toronto at the end of this month for a few days. Three of them have never been to Canada before, so I feel additional pressure to make sure that they have a great time!

Although the visit falls over New Year's (hopefully this won't affect us too much), the group's preference is to dodge the holiday crowds and head to pubs / dive bars.

We'll be staying at King and Yonge, and an ideal chilly day would be hopping from watering hole to watering hole.

Do you have any recommendations for low-key drinking spots? I've been to Allen's on the Danforth (a little far in this case, maybe?), am sure some Sneaky Dee nachos will feature, and love The Victory on Markham (that's the perfect vibe). Does Toronto have any notable brew pubs or chill bars? Solid options for somewhere not too far from where we're staying?

Thanks in advance (and an appreciative life of the pint glass!)

Soft -Shelled Crab Resto Rec?

Just had the softshell at APdC this week; I had it served tempura-ed with a fish/soy sauce dipping sauce. Delish!

Looking for Carrot Cake - Homemade style

Cocoa Locale has carrot cake today! I didn't get it, but based on how much I love everything coming out of Reema's kitchen, I'd be willing to bet it fits the bill for "good" and "homemade-style".

Cocoa Locale cakes?

I agree; cute but tuff...there's clearly some edge and business savvy under those colourful aprons (perhaps also caused by a busy baking schedule: no time to chitchat when there is deliciousness to create!)

For what it's worth, I love the cakes, cupcakes and spicy chili brownie, but was underwhelmed by the red velvet (esp in light of how much it had been hyped on the board). Maybe we both bought from the same batch?

Key lime cake, though = sublime, and every variation of chocolate (lavender and orange are our favourites) cannot be beat.

inexpensive places not to miss

Campofiorin,

Thanks for the correction! (at least I was consistent with my mistake...eh) Further confirmation why no one ever trusts my directions :)

Sorry for any confusion...

inexpensive places not to miss

Inexpensive:

Chicken: I'd go for Romados on Mt. Royal for Portuguese chicken; you can get it take-out and go sit in the park. Get some spicy oil for your fries! Also recommended: Roi du Plateau at Clark and (? Someone can help me out here?); serves great inexpensive filling chicken plates.
Fries (or, more special yet) poutine: Patati Patata on St. Laurent, the 24-hour favourite Banquise on Mt. Royal, or even Frite Alors (several locations; they have a great selection of sauces)

Some would say Schwartz' (smoked meat) should be on the list for inexpensive "not to be missed!"(St. Laurent)

A little pricier, but brunch at Olive & Gourmando in Old Town is something I've been doing with my guests recently and I think it's worth it for not only the great food (yes, cubain panini, I'm talkin' 'bout you!) but the ambiance of the cafe just off the cobblestoned street.

There are plenty of inexpensive food options in the city, and you can definitely bring some bagels (the debate rages on: St. Viateur vs. Fairmount) or some other baked goods back. When I visit family I usually am requested to bring some things from:
Le Fromentier on Laurier (tarts, stuffed bread, great nutty baguettes)
Patisserie Gascogne (my Mom is obsessed with their pecan tart)

Also inexpensive - and warm-weather appropriate - icecream! Les Havres de Glace at Jean Talon Market, Meu Meu on St. Denis (my favourite, and thankfully also the closest to home for me!), Bilboquet (one in Outremont, one in Westmount...others?)

Enjoy your visit!

(apologies for my butchering of some of these spellings!)

Places to watch sports (soccer & hockey)

This might be (at least at first read) a less appealing option but...a friend took me to the St. Hubert on St. Denis (just south of Mt. Royal) for the last hockey game and I actually really enjoyed it, despite myself :). I don't know if it's a new direction for the chain, but the part we sat in was lounge-y and seemed recently re-done (and not like a St. Hubert from my childhood!). The vibe was good, people were loud and excited (but not annoyingly so) and, well...I hadn't been to St. H for years and I re-developed a love for the spiced fries.

Best boulangerie / patisseries in Montreal/Quebec City?

I love Le Fromentier on Laurier (almost at Papineau) and wanted to call it out specifically.

I've had their quiches (I love their savoury apple), and highly recommend their stuffed bread and nutty baguettes. The stand-out purchases from last time were the lemon / mint tart and a danish-style pastry that was perfectly done, and not overly - cloyingly - sweet.

Authentic, casual dining for 30th bday visit

For cafe sitting patio/curb-side: patisseries Premiere Moisson and La Gascogne in Mile End / Outremont as well as Juliette et Chocolat on Laurier have chairs out already. In the spring sun yesterday the outdoor seating at the Premiere Moisson on Bernard (I think it's Bernard/Durocher) was packed! It's a nice place for a soup/salad/sandwich or a quick pastry + coffee in the a.m. I love that - during this maple syrup season - they use the ingredient in so many of their offerings. Yum!

Also, for what it's worth - and if you're in a salty state of mind - the Frite Alors on Av de Parc had picnic tables out yesterday and had quite a few people outdoors munching and enjoying the sunshine...

For the Old Montreal vibe, I really like going to Olive et Gourmando for paninis (I love the cubain!) / great coffees / baked goods / etc. Not open on Sundays, though, I think, but a great daytime stop (or Saturday brunch).

For bistro: I recently went for the menu de degustation at Bistro L'Entrepont in Plateau. I had a delicious vegetable soup with fried leeks, delicious bread, smoked trout, trou Normand with apple sorbet, in-house duck confit and duck breast with 7 (count 'em 7!) vegetables, and creme brulee for a very reasonable $40 (I think). It's a BYOB, very small, and there were only 7 guests! I loved the feel of it, the host was wonderful, price was definitely affordable for the quality/quantity, and it felt like a neighbourhood secret that I had unearthed. (also, I was impressed with how many things were locally sourced. My friends had deer sausage, Quebec cheeses, foie-gras-stuffed deboned quail, homemade cheese torte and the other options looked equally tempting. It's not flashy or avant-guarde, but low-key and intimate; the cuisine certainly translates in my stomach as "authentic" food in both feel, preparation, presentation, and taste!)

I'd also recommend Au Cinquieme Peche on Mt. Royale and O'Thym on Maisonneuve...

Au Pied du Cochon: bread

Thank you!

I picked up a lovely lemon with fresh mint tart at Le Fromentier today; hurrah for chowhound!

Au Pied du Cochon: bread

I'm still licking my lips post-meal at APdC tonight, but a quick question for the savvy:

...is their bread baked in-house? It was delicious, and I wish I wasn't so full from the other things to scarf down a few more slices! Does anyone know if it's possible to buy a loaf? Or, if not baked in-house, where it's baked? A Google search doesn't yield any results...

My carb-loving self thanks you!

Au Pied de Cochon Suggestions?

I definitely second the vote for the plogue; it is delectable (I chuckled at its description as the McGriddle of the Gods!). I also like the duck carpaccio. And the PDC mashed potatoes with garlic and cheese. And the lamb shank confit.

When I went this week the special was arctic char and it was *fantastic*; the warm bacon/crouton/potato/roasted tomato/pea shoots (?) salad that accompanied the fish was something I'll be dreaming about for a while...

Itsi Bitsi cupcake shop

I, too, was disappointed with Itsi Bitsi (maybe because I've become such a Cocoa Locale loyalist since moving to Montreal!). I liked the design of Itsi Bitsi, and the staff was very friendly, but the cupcake of the day (mojito) was almost inedibly dry considering I didn't buy a drink. There was thick lime rind in the cake which was awkward, and - although the consistency of the icing was nice - I found it too much and not sufficiently flavourful. I definitely wouldn't pay for another full-sized cupcake again (they have smaller cupcakes, too, which could change the proportions maybe?).

In sum: I tried really hard to like IB, but I'm sticking to Cocoa Locale from here on in!

Kindasorta (definitely!) last minute request...

Thanks, all! We ended up going to a Vietnamese place on Av du Parc; good - not great - but really a warm and attentive host (with his wife cooking in the back and their son doing homework at the neighbouring table!)

Kindasorta (definitely!) last minute request...

...I have (recently) moved to Montreal myself, and just found out that a friend will be flying in to MTL tonight for a meeting and has time for dinner. I have no idea where to suggest, especially as I'm hoping to give her a taste of the city vibe.

I live in the Plateau, but would be open to other neighbourhoods, too (say if there were a place in Old Montreal that really stuck out; I have only tried O+G myself, to date, and they'll be closed by the time she makes it in)

Also: she's a vegetarian, but not very picky (i.e.: happy to eat cheese nachos, quesadillas and side dishes) if the environment's great.

I'm guessing she'd want to pay between 10-15$ / main course.

My insta-thoughts were:
Reservoir (?)
Baldwin Barmacie (I've heard they make killer grilled cheese sandwiches, but went online to check and there was no mention of food on their website...)

Many thank yous in advance!

Best Places for Relaxed Beer-sluggin'?

I am totally willing to travel...so thanks for the suggestions! This week I've hit up Dieu du Ciel and Cafe Propolo; both GREAT suggestions, and in easy stumbling distance home.

And, not that it matters, but...this "he" is a she! :)

Best Places for Relaxed Beer-sluggin'?

Thanks, all!

I relish the opportunity to try out each and every suggestion (though not in rapid-fire succession; that would prohibit me from reporting back coherently)...

Best Places for Relaxed Beer-sluggin'?

I've just moved to Montreal from Ontario and have yet to find a place where I can go, sit, and swill some beer - or non frou-frou drinks - in an atmosphere that doesn't feel rushed, or overly 'scene-ster'. Places that I love often have a local pub feel, with comfy couches, great staff and an eclectic mix of locals and brew-lovers...

I live in the Plateau and can't imagine that there isn't something that could fit the bill nearby.

However, to find my relaxed - and relaxing - beer-spot I'm willing to travel (by foot, by Metro) so all suggestions are most welcome!

(sidenote: I've heard positive things about Barmacie, Dieu du Ciel and Brutopia but don't know if these would be good spot...any insight?)

My liver and I thank you!