The Black Bull
298 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M5V 2A4 (on the northeast side of Soho Street and Queen Street West, the major intersection is Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue) 416-593-2766
Probably the best patio for blocks! Certainly on Queen Street West.
Laying claim to being the oldest pub in Toronto, the Black Bull is an institution on Queen Street West. (In my humble but historically trained opinion, the Black Bull isn’t really the oldest as it closed for several decades at one point, so the real honour goes to the Wheat Sheaf.) The Black Bull is basically the only pub on Queen Street West since The Bishop & the Belcher up and left for Church and Bloor. Yes, there’s the Duke of Richmond and the Friar and Firkin, but they are off the beaten path.
Anyway, I’ve walked by the Black Bull more than a hundred times as I was an aspiring goth (I wasn’t allowed to dye my hair black and I wasn’t as pissed off at my parents as my other goth friends were at theirs) who tried her damnedest to hang out on Queen Street West as much as possible in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I, however, always felt that the Black Bull was a bit of a biker bar, and as a result, I haven’t spent my drinking money there very often. The Black Bull is a rather nice looking pub, despite the stuffed bull’s head over the Queen Street door, with wide aisles, high ceilings, personal coat racks, and retro-booths that seat four comfortably with a relaxed atmosphere with no frills whatsoever. The back of the pub has a pool table and karaoke on Sundays. Note, they do not provide separate bills.
Number of visits by yours truly: my fourth or fifth, most recently on a weekday afternoon in July 2012
TTC information: a five-minute ride west to Soho from Osgoode Station on the Queen Street West streetcar
Booze selection: 25 beers including Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: lots of burgers — grease is my word du jour
Service staff: good
Toilets: no hot water, no paper towels, and a smell that lingers
Patio: one of the best in the city and certainly the best in the neighbourhood. Perfect for people watching, lots of sun, and you too can look hip
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: early ‘8os
Rating: three and a half pints (out of five)