5 classic bars you gotta hit on Queen Street West this summer!

By: Jim Bamboulis

Even if you’re reading this on a Tuesday, odds are you’re still in the mood for a drink, with great music playing in the background all while sitting on a beautiful patio on a summer day.

Between Simcoe Street and Bathurst, Queen West is LOADED with bars. Some are better than others. Some are new and generic while others, thankfully, are classics that have been pulling people in for generations.

If you’re one that loves the nostalgia of a great bar, the classic feel and special energy in the air to go along with live jazz, blues, rock and funk then all of these bars will bring a smile to your face and satisfaction to your soul.

These are the 5 go-to’s that you must experience on Queen West. These are the bars with longevity with no sign of slowing down. Here we go!

The Rex 

You want to eat, sleep and breathe jazz and blues? Hit The Rex (map). For the past 40 years, this spot has been one of the main performing venues for many world-renowned jazz musicians on this awesome planet. 19 shows per week go down at The Rex. It’s hard not to walk by and hear the smooth sounds coming out from the inside. A must-visit if you haven’t already!

Cameron House 

Side facade of Cameron House.

The side facade of Cameron House (map) tells you everything. Well, it tells you that paradise is right here. Amazing place that features 2 stages where booked bands can perform. Their love of music recently took a turn for the bigger. Cameron House Records was established in the bar. Record company, stages and a bar. Natural fits.

Bovine Sex Club

A hot spot since Nirvana grunged Teen Spirit, The Bovine (map) illustrates the essence of QSW perfectly. As for the music, you can hear everything from rock and punk to glam, metal and 70’s funk.

The Paddock

The Paddock opened in 1946. It’s Toronto’s 3rd oldest bar (map) . This place is legendary with every type of person coming in over the years. It has hosted incredible musicians, raves, dinners, high rollers and even Frank Sinatra. But when there were dry areas in Toronto, it also attracted some seedier people, including criminals, drug users, hookers, bikers and escorts. There’s even a rumour that the place is haunted by those who were murdered on the premises. Trust me, you have to go here!

Horseshoe Tavern

In 1861, this property was a blacksmith shop. In ’47, it became a restaurant-tavern with the hopes of adding some live music. By the 50’s that’s what happened. The Horseshoe became a big time musical venue hosting the likes of Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lyn and Charlie Pride. Established Canadian Artists and Indie musicians still grace the Shoe’s stage.

There you have it. Have a spot on Queen Street West that we missed? Tell us about it. And then we’ll tell the world about it.

Thanks everyone and happy travels!


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