The best bars on Dundas Street West
Along Dundas Street on the west side of Ossington Avenue, the bar and restaurant scene has exploded with creativity and good vibes in recent years. We've been running tours in the Ossington and Dundas area since the very beginning (way back in 2017!) and we love the vibe of this thriving little neighbourhood. So here's our Top 5 places to visit for great food, wine, beer and cocktails... and good vibes. (Presented east to west, in case you want to wander to all five along the straightest route possible.)
1149 Dundas St. W.
This much-loved dive bar has been packing folks into its tiny space for more than 10 years. It's a bit like drinking in a thrift shop. Mismatched everything contributes to a decidedly casual vibe, but the cocktails are out of this world. A perfectly made dirty martini is just the thing when you hunker down inside and pretend the outside world doesn't exist. There's not much food on offer, but try the house-made pickled eggs. Drop a loonie in the excellent juke box, choose your three tunes, and order up another martini...
1161 Dundas St. W.
A relative newcomer to the 'hood, Paris Paris opened last year, bringing natural wines and unusual global finds to the area. Not that there weren't some very good wine bars around — calling out Archive and Midfield, just to name two — but Paris Paris has a unique thing going on. For summer, the windows swing open to the street, all the better to enjoy a spate of day drinking and people watching. The menu here is global and great — it's actually not very French, though you must have the tartare.
1214 Dundas St. W.
This gorgeous space is pretty much the definition of "neighbourhood bar." It is, in fact, a full restaurant, but might be considered a wine bar. Or cocktail bar. Definitions aside, it's a great place to hang out — and perfect for an intimate tête-a-tête — while exploring a menu of Italian delights with a pescatarian bent. Chef Ivana Raca helms the kitchen at this women-run spot. A small bar in the centre of the room is the perfect place for perching with a platter of oysters ($1 each on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and some crisp mineral wines. Just ask sommelier Theresa Detsikas to set you up right.
1282 Dundas St. W.
Declared one of the city's best new bars when it opened last year, Founder is a very serious cocktail bar that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's got a friendly, approachable vibe backed up by an equally inviting menu that ranges from small bites to medium-sized snacks to full mains. Try the green curry fried chicken, side it with a dandelion salad and a glass of Domaine Beau Blanc de Blanc. Then move on to the cocktail menu. Our favourite is called #goals, featuring Iris bianco vermouth, Giffard's créme de violette, lemon, raspberry and soda. Those are goals we can really get behind. Half price small plates every day (except Monday) from 5 to 7 p.m., along with $9 cocktails.
1369 Dundas St. W.
With a name like Gigglewater, you know it's got to good. And it surely is. A gorgeous, airy space with polished wood and lots of bright colours, this is a cocktail bar through and through. Owner Alfred Siu creates classic and modern cocktails with a keen eye to seasonality and the freshest local ingredients. Snacks are salty and tasty, including treats like truffle popcorn, olives all' ascalana and grilled chorizo. As summer gears up, Siu is preparing a new suite of offerings. Drop in Wednesdays for $9 glasses of wine.