—by Andrew Brawley
I love Toronto. Hard to believe, I know, especially given my past rants about both Vancouver (cuddly-but-rival town) and Montreal (French people). I’ve been to Toronto a few times, and each time it just got better. It’s clean. It’s full of nice people. It’s the Canadian stereotype I’d always envisioned. However it has been a while since I’ve set foot in my favorite provincial metropolis, so I’ve enlisted some help.
But first, some backstory. I used to work for a punk band. While working for, and touring with, said punk band, I’ve managed to meet and become friendly with a few other punk bands. One of those bands was Sum 41. On Warped Tour 2001, my employers and Sum 41 hung out together way too much. As a result, I learned they were probably the nicest kids playing in a band at that time, despite the fact they had the number one single on the Modern Rock charts that summer. They didn’t let success go to their heads, they were total pros, and as a result, I’ll never have anything but nice things to say about them.
Dave Baksh (a.k.a. Dave Brownsound, a.k.a. Hot Chocolate) was the guy I clicked with the most. Killer sense of humor, loved heavy metal, and somehow was the nicest in a group comprised of nothing but nice guys. Dave left Sum 41 in 2005 and ventured out on his own. Currently he leads a mostly normal life around Toronto and plays guitar in The Organ Thieves. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Dave, but since he’s one of maybe three people I know that are familiar with Toronto, I figured I’d aim high and reach out. Unsurprisingly, and without hesitation, he replied with a robust list of places you might want to check out while in Toronto. Big thanks to Dave for helping out.
The Bovine Sex Club: Rock
Great atmosphere clientele and drinks, bartenders are very nice and very easy to look at. Don't be a creep, wipe the drool off your mouth and order.
College Street Bar: Reggae
Wednesday night is the night to go, as Lennie Far I throws a reggae night usually accompanied by a live band.
The Caribbean Dutch Pot: Food
Located by Chuck Cole's house on the Danforth, I just bought one of the best hot sauces I've ever tried there. Drive past the Danforth DVP entrance, turn right, park and live like you should with some curry.
Sneaky Dee's: Booze and food
The food is excellent, quick and the booze flows forever here as well. Though the atmosphere like many places nowadays looks like the holding room for an EMF video for "Unbelievable," this place has been around longer than the second wave of the tank top and ironic moustache. In other words, don't blame the plate of food, blame the power moustache that the food gets caught in. You're so unbelievable.
Cosmos Records: Record Shop
Two locations and a slew of rare vinyl. If you collect music or need to locate a record these are your guys. They have been in the business for over 1,000 years and still treat their customers with respect. I'm pretty sure it's 1,000....
Hits And Misses: Record Shop
Great punk, rock, metal record store. Owner is awesome and doesn't mind having customers ask questions. Ordering records is easy as well.
Hibiscus: Vegan Cuisine
Our cousin Kerrick took my wife first, and then wife took me. We ate a salad bowl and it was some of the best Veggie cuisine I have ever had. If it's hot and you are tired of eating the fear, go to Hibiscus.
Magpie Taproom: Best Bartender in Toronto
You've seen "Cocktail" right? Well Chuck doesn't do any of that sh*t. He pours drinks and keeps the party going. 90's hip hop nights, Toronto's finest keyboard player and a steady diet of Toots and the Maytals make this place the destination for the lover of a bar with soul.
Odile Chocolat: Amazing Choclatier
I believe the original lyrics went "God make Chocolate for the queen..." until Johnny Rotten realized she was a dick. Ms. Odile believes in the royals however and her chocolate is so good that she made all of the chocolate for Ol' Prince 'Arry's visit to Canada. It is unknown if the queen has eaten chocolate since hearing the news of the Sex Pistol's lyric change.
Horseshoe Tavern: Great venue
I have been playing here all of my life and it's great place with great atmosphere. Tuesday night is usually new music night with Dave Bookman of 102.1FM. It's legendary and the drink is fairly priced.
W Burger Bar: Late Eats
Just went here after a show with The Penske File and the burgers were amazing. Kitchen open late, we ate our burgers while strobe lights, bad top 40 and the 2012 Olympics enhanced our experience. The spot for late night Bison. (Warning: Strobe lights and Bison not recommended for those prone to seizures)
TCB Tattoo: Tattoos
In the famous words of someone famous: "Let's get a thugged out ET on our bodies! No, let's get a Space Jam tattoo!" This place will not do that sort of crap work. Quality artists hand picked by Scot McEwan have taken the shop and made it into a great place to be tattooed. No egos or Asian lettering that doesn't mean what you thought it did after it's on your body. Be sure to ask for Wes Dix.