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12 of the hottest gay bars in Toronto for steamy nights

Pride isn’t over after June 30 — celebrate your courage and connect with the LGBTQ+ community year-round at the most fabulous gay bars in Toronto.

Gay bars Toronto | Inside Melody Bar at Gladstone House

Historically, gay bars in Toronto have served as safe spaces where queer lives could exist unapologetically. Toronto's gay bars are intertwined with joy and acceptance, and many of them remain a fundamental part of the city's queer history. While these bars and restaurants are accepting of everyone, it's important for allies to remember that first and foremost, Toronto's gay bars are just that — a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community. 

It’s no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on the Village’s scene, as classic bar haunts have had to shut down (rest in peace the Beaver and Wayla). So here, we've rounded up some of the best bars in the city that cater to the queer community. Toronto's gay bars provide safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folks and a rip-roaring time for everyone. From live drag performances and viewing parties to amazing events, these gay bars in Toronto are brimming with good times.

While there are wine bars, restaurants and hotels that host special nights and pop-ups, there is nothing quite like finding community in Church-Wellesley’s Village. It is here you’ll find a plethora of gay bars, bookshops, and community spaces that have been the centre of queer history. That’s why we’ve made a list of some of the best gay bars in Toronto — a reminder that Pride is not over on June 30th, it is a key part of queer lives, and that you can find power from community every day.

1. Church Street Garage Resto-Bar

477 Church St.

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If you’re ever walking down Church Street and reach Maitland, this gay bar is hard to miss. With its large open windows and stage, Garage's drag shows may catch your eye. When the summer heat is too hot to handle, we recommend ordering one of their boozy slushies to go. Or stay for an evening drag show and a charcuterie board shared with friends.

churchstgarage.com

2. The Lodge

518A Church St.

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We’ve all had those dinners, where you find your meal to be a bit of a… drag. Fear not — if you’re looking to spice up your dinner, then stop by The Lodge, a well-loved gay bar in Toronto’s village. This little hidey-hole is located on top of O’Grady’s Restaurant and specializes in comfort food. Don’t be fooled by its appearance though, this bar has a sensational weekend lineup filled with drag performances. The Lodge also holds viewing parties for RuPaul’s Drag Race, with local queen’s hosting after-party shows.

@thelodgebarto

3. O’Grady’s Restaurant

518 Church St.

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For more casual fanfare, head downstairs from The Lodge to O’Grady’s Restaurant for sit-down dining. Split a family platter of wings with all the fixings, between you and your friends. O’Grady’s also has a wide range of craft drinks, with a little something for everyone. They host a Sunday drag brunch for those who would rather be in bed before the late night shows at The Lodge. Their Nutella French Toast will give your morning a proper — and delicious — start.

ogradyschurch.com

4. Lavender Menace

1062 Gerrard St. E.

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Located in Leslieville, this queer-owned cocktail bar caters to lesbians, queer-identifying women and non-binary folks. The bar has a gorgeous rooftop patio and its interior is adorned with strands of lavender hanging from the rafters. Enjoy delicious homestyle southern cooking paired with inventive cocktails, like the citrusy A Taste of Sappho, with Mediterranean gin, pear nectar, lime and ginger honey for a spicy finish.

lavendarmenace.ca

5. Woody’s and SAILOR

467 Church St.

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Here’s a fun fact: Woody’s was a principle location for the original Queer as Folk TV show. This gay bar is one of the most popular (and second oldest) pubs at Church and Wellesley. Sailor, the brother location to Woody’s, is right next door, leaving you with different drinks and vibes to choose from. With five smaller bars in its establishment, Woody’s is a community staple that you have to visit. If you're not into the drinks, then perhaps you’d rather compete in their weekly contests for best pecs and derrieres...

woodstoronto.com

6. Hair of the Dog

425 Church St.

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Don’t let the name fool you, this gay bar and restaurant is known for its upscale dining and patio experience. It’s the perfect place for intimate get-togethers. Choose to sit on their garden or rooftop patios and tuck into classic pub fare. Hair of the Dog has a plethora of cocktails and they offer sake and port on their drinks menu, too.

hairofthedogpub.ca

7. Melody Bar, Gladstone House

1214 Queen St. W.

We're proud patrons of Gladstone House, and we’ll always tip our hats to the hotel's cozy bistros. With a 132-year-old history, the Gladstone has built up a reputation for being a safe space for Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community in West Queen West. Their newly renovated Melody Bar is now home to their Sunday drag brunch, hosted by the likes of Miss Moco, Canada’s Drag Race contestant, and other local queens. Gladstone House is also home to cabaret and art exhibitions, making it a versatile venue for the arts and queer voices.

gladstonehouse.ca

8. The Drink

459 Church St.

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For the non-sports fan, it’s difficult to find a bar in Toronto that doesn’t have a Jays or Leafs game playing. If you would rather watch someone lip sync for their life than run the field, you can always sip on a refreshing cocktail at The Drink, a staple gay bar in the Village. Patrons at The Drink follow the four D’s: drink, dance, drag and dine. This bar is the perfect meeting spot for Drag Race aficionados — they host viewing parties when the show airs. Local drag queens keep visitors entertained by hosting trivia during commercial breaks.

@drinkatthedrink

9. Sweaty Betty’s

13 Ossington Ave.

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After 20 years on Ossington, it’s safe to say there’s something different about Betty's. This classic dive bar has had a change of ownership in the last three years, when manager May Brand took over. Now a queer-owned bar, Sweaty Betty’s is home to not only secret patios, but a sidewalk cafe for patrons to drink and dine with friends. Be sure to catch Bar Queen’s, Betty’s popular sidewalk drag show. You might even see a queen or two from Canada’s Drag Race.

sweatybettysbar.com

10. Queer Wine Night at Paradise Grapevine

811 Bloor St. W.

OK, we know this technically isn’t a gay bar in Toronto, but if you’re a wine lover who wants to meet with likeminded vino enthusiasts, Paradise Grapevine is the place to be. Started in 2021, Queer Wine Night has become a staple for LGBTQ+ Torontonians. Hosted at either Paradise Grapevine or Nice Nice wine bar in Parkdale, this pop-up event is specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. Queer Wine Night is a packed and boozy evening where old friends mingle and new friendships are made. Sit back, relax and sip on Paradise’s renowned catalogue of rare bottles like orange wine and pét-nat.

@queerwinenight

11. Pegasus Bar

489B Church St.

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One of the most iconic (and oldest) gay bars in Toronto’s village, Pegasus is the perfect spot for game night, especially if you’ve got a competitive streak. Looking to pick up pool or ping pong? Or maybe you want to duke it out old-school arcade-game-style? There’s something for everyone at Pegasus, and rest assured, you’ll be properly welcomed by their friendly staff. Check out their "Thursty Thursdays," a weekly drag show, with a special cocktail menu and incredible performances hosted by local queens like Van Goth.

pegasusonchurch.com

12. Storm Crow Manor

580 Church St.

To wrap up this list, we tip our hats to another community favourite. Although not specifically a gay bar, Storm Crow Manor is located at the corner of Church Street and has been known to be a safe space for LGBTQ2S+ Torontonians. This geek-chic restaurant draws in an eclectic crowd of movie fanatics and comic book fans. It’s the only place where you can order a Hulk Smash Sandwich or a Beetle Juice cocktail. Storm Crow Manor also switches up their drinks menu seasonally, so there's always something new to try.

stormcrow.com

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