What’s the vibe
An unassuming Queen West corner store evolves into a nostalgic bar by night. Convenience’s storefront sells take-out lunches and sweet treats like bubble gum tape during the day. But after dark, the bar proper opens to transport customers back to the 1980s, Pac-Man machine and all.
With an interior covered in neon lights, hanging greenery and hand-stitched video game-inspired wall art, stepping inside Convenience feels like entering a retro arcade. The fun theme is carried throughout the bar all the way downstairs to the “Party Lines” where people can pick up rotary phones and listen to music or amusing pre recorded messages while waiting to use the washroom. There’s no shortage of content for your Instagram feeds at this spot.
What to drink
Convenience’s cocktail list is broken down into a few fun sections, from neighbourhood-named signature cocktails (we enjoyed the boozy but well-balanced Cabbagetown) to candy shop-inspired drinks like the Bubble Gum Sour (a very sweet sipper that lives up to its name) and classics. All are affordably priced at just $10-$11 each, which we definitely appreciated.
The pocket-friendly pricing continues elsewhere on the drinks menu, with Ontario wines like Tawse pouring for 94 cents an ounce and cocktails on tap for just five dollars (negronis, pina coladas and daiquiris are among the options). A decent selection of draft beer and tall cans like Miller High Life, Lagunitas and Amsterdam round out the beverage options.
What to eatView on Instagram
Convenience sees themselves as “food first, drinks second.” Chef Pablo Robaina makes this evident with his unique twist on bar staples. Hints of Robaina’s South American roots are incorporated across the menu but are clearest in the Yuca Tots – snack-sized bites made of the Latin root vegetable topped with queso fresco and jalapenos.
Creative nods to Convenience’s nostalgic theme continue, with childhood classics such as Pogo Sticks and Twinkies on the menu and even through garnishes like Goldfish crackers on the mac and cheese and Pop Rocks (yes, really) sprinkled on a tray of olives, pickles and charred shishito peppers.
Dinner and drinks for two: about $60
1184 Queen St. W.; 647 340 3640, conveniencerestobar.com