The Thirsty Duck


The Thirsty Duck (website)
972 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4M 1K1 (at the north-east corner of Queen Street East and Carlaw Avenue) 416-463-2303
Google Maps

A welcome addition to Leslieville. 

I learned of The Thirsty Duck Pub a few months ago as I was speeding past it in a car. I noted down the intersection (I was a passenger) and made a mental note to return. I have been back to the pub twice so far and will likely return again. The pub has been around since the autumn of 2015 and is run by the same people who own Eastside Social, which is on the same block. The pub is apparently named after a Thirsty Duck Pub on the East Coast that the owners frequented.

The Thirsty Duck is one of the smaller pubs around, but it does have an effective layout with lots of booths and high-top tables (there are regular seats, but those are few and far between). Groups of five or more are going to have difficulty getting a spot together, however, the back room can be reserved, although it only seats about a dozen or so. The pub is decorated with paintings of Confederation and prints of long-dead monarchs on its exposed brick wall and is very dark. However, the atmosphere is great, so it comes recommended.

Note: They only accept cash or debit.

Number of visits by yours truly: twice so far and more to come, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in November 2016
TTC information: a 10-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar or take the bus from Pape Station (the 72), which will drop you after a 18-minute ride at Carlaw and Queen
Booze selection: about 17 beers, along with Brickworks cider and a number of wines and whiskeys. Yes, they have Pimm’s 
Food selection: a limited selection with some East Coast treats, such as loosely rolled donairs (according to my better half, they are supposed to be tight). They do serve duck!
Service staff: very nice
Prices: decent
Toilets: a bit terrifying — the ladies’ toilet was whiffy; there were no locks on the doors, which meant that one of my dining companions had a visitor while she was down there; the ceilings were low; and the toilets were very cramped (yes, I know they can’t really help the latter two)
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: nope as toilets downstairs
Televisions: four rather small ones
Live music: very likely not, they do have trivia on Tuesdays in the back room, known as the Green Room
Piped-in music: The Proclaimers, Black Crowes, Cat Stevens, The Cranberries, Echo and the Bunnymen

Rating: four and a half pints (out of five)


TorontoPubs’ Queen Street East Pub Crawl

Updated 2017.01.16

Notes on this pub crawl: the walk (4.6 km) takes about an hour in total or you can take the Queen Street streetcar and hop on and off. Keep in mind that Hitch and Castro’s Lounge are very small, so you might have trouble getting a seat unless you can make a reservation. TTC directions back to the subway are available on each pub’s individual review.

Notes on pub crawls in general: consider at least 45 minutes per pub visit and let your server know that you having just one drink and then moving on into the fizzy night so she/he knows that you’ll need your bill quickly. Pay by cash so you aren’t waiting for the credit card/debit machine and tip generously as you may be back one day for longer than just one drink. Check the pub’s website/Twitter (links in TorontoPubs review of establishment) in case they have an event that night. Also keep in mind the day and time, Saturday nights with the FIFA World Cup’s final on is not the best night for said pub crawl, but it is one of the best times to be in a pub.

Printable PDF of this Toronto Pubs’ Queen Street East Pub Crawl with map.

An Sibin Pub (TorontoPubs review)
709 Queen Street East

The Roy (TorontoPubs review)
894 Queen Street East

The Thirsty Duck (TorontoPubs review)
972 Queen Street East

Hitch (TorontoPubs review)
1216 Queen Street East

The Ceili Cottage (TorontoPubs review)
1301 Queen Street East

Murphy’s Law (TorontoPubs review)
1702 Queen Street East

The Gull and Firkin (TorontoPubs review)
1943 Queen Street East

The Stone Lion (formerly the Lion on the Beach)  
1958 Queen Street East

Castro’s Lounge (TorontoPubs review)
2116 Queen Street East

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.


Hitch Toronto

Hitch (website, Twitter)
1216 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4L 1C3 (on the north side, just steps from Leslie Street, the nearest major intersection is Broadview Avenue and Queen Street East) 647-352-7781
Google Maps

One more reason to move to Leslieville. Lucky bastards.

When Christopher Hitchens died in December 2011, I cried. The world lost a great writer and a great mind. So when a friend recently told me that a pub had opened here in Toronto named in his honour I had to go. (I also saw that Stephen Fry noted the pub’s existence.) Alas, we arrived at four in the afternoon on a Saturday and it wasn’t open yet! We returned when the pub was open and it was worth it. It would appear that Leslieville now has an unfair number of decent pubs in the neighbourhood — the child-free Roy, the charming Ceili Cottage, and, as of early 2013, Hitch. It’s not fair!

Hitch is tiny, there is seating for a maximum of 30 people and they didn’t sacrifice the kitchen space for the guests as there doesn’t appear to be a kitchen as all the snacks and appetizers are cold and likely prepared off site. In terms of décor, Hitch is minimalist, with grey walls and mason jar light fixtures. There is a long bench for a group of eight people and seating for four or five at the back, other than that you are looking at seating for two. The only drawbacks of Hitch are the small menu and a rather small selection of beers. That said, I will be back, at five.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a Saturday afternoon in February 2013
TTC information: a 12-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar
Booze selection: 15 beers, including Magners cider, lots of whiskeys, bourbons, scotches, and cocktails, not surprisingly given Hitchens’ fondness for the drink (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: just snacks and appetizers, such as olives and pâté
Service staff: very friendly and chatty
Prices: expensive, but worth it
Toilets: two unisex ones
Patio: small one to the north
Wheelchair accessible: not really, it too cramped and the toilets aren’t really large enough
Televisions: mercifully none, but apparently there is a projector and they might show TED discussions
Live music: very likely not as there is seating for 30 maximum in the pub (somewhere else says 40, but they miscounted)
Piped-in music: “hipster-ish”

Rating: four and a half pints (out of five)

The Ceili Cottage

Ceili Cottage Toronto

The Ceili Cottage (website, Twitter)
1301 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4L 1C2 (on the south side, between Leslie Street and Agnes Lane, the nearest major intersection is Queen Street East and Leslie Street) 416-406-1301
Google Maps

A tie with Dora Keogh for being the most authentic Irish pub in Toronto.

This is my 100th post for this blog. During the two years I have written this blog, I have only missed posting one review every week and that was for a three-day event that probably took up some 200 hours of my personal time to prepare for. (If you are counting and wondering why there are less than 100 posts before this one, I retire posts when a pub closes or reopens under a different name.) While researching for this blog I have sometimes suffered for you, my beloved readers, but I have also visited gems and hope that you have in turn enjoyed these establishments yourselves. That said, I am going into semi-retirement with this 100th post, in part because this has been an expensive blog to write, on average I have probably spent $70 a review if you count that my partner in crime was often also drinking and dining with me, so that works out to approximately $7,000 over the two years. I have not sought to monetise this blog as I wish to be impartial and, to be honest, would any publican or cider company care that much? From now on, I will now only post once a month or so. I do intend to update reviews as I go back to various pubs and to review new pubs (a dear friend told me about a new pub only three days ago). I have tried to be discreet and not let pub servers know that I was covertly taking notes on everything. I am sure some servers wondered why I wanted to know if they had Pimm’s and then declined it if they did, or if they had live music and then find out that I was glad that they didn’t (sorry, I like listening to my friends more than to some band). I have enjoyed researching and writing this blog and am proud of it. It has been a delight! Skål!

In honour of my 100th blog post, I wanted to go somewhere good, so after a bit of research, I settled on the Ceili (pronounced kay-lee) Cottage in Leslieville. After an onerous journey there (a 20-minute walk after the first snowfall of the winter from Broadview and Queen due to a downed Hydro wire and the streetcar couldn’t get through!) and not being sure of the exact address, my better half and I were in the mood to be impressed, and we were!

The Ceili Cottage is one of the most charming pubs in Toronto, the distressed walls (rustic was our word du jour) and tight quarters made for just the right atmosphere. There is a snug for eight or so, with curtains that can be drawn closed, stools and church pews (my atheist nature delighted in that realization) and regular tables in the front of the pub, which apparently dates back to 1884, and reserved for dining and drinking. While the bar room is for just drinking as there isn’t a lot of space for plates and dominated by stools and very cramped. A delightful pub worth checking out. I will be back.

Update 2017.02.19: We went to the Ceili Cottage yesterday and it was a disaster. They were out of most of their beers, the bread was stale, and we were served by four different people in the hour we were there. Granted they were busy, but they had more than enough staff to cover their customers. Hopefully, it was a blip, but we won’t be going back anytime soon.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but certainly not my last, on a weekday afternoon in December 2012
TTC information: a 13-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar
Booze selection: 12 beers, not including Magners cider, all on tap and a number of whiskeys (yes, they have Pimm’s!)
Food selection: fancy Irish pub grub with oysters, which were yummy — as good as Oyster Boy according to he who aspires to be acknowledged! I had the pork chop with maple-glazed beans, which was also delicious. A lot of cold plates on the menu
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: quite reasonable for the amount of food provided
Toilets: very nice
Patio: to the north on Queen and in the winter they have a licensed yurt, which was toasty warm!
Wheelchair accessible: not really, the entrance is too narrow and the toilet is not easily accessible either
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: on Tuesday evenings. There is an upright piano near the bar
Piped-in music: The Cure, The Pogues, Tom Waits

Rating: four pints (out of five)

The Roy

The Roy (websiteTwitter)
894 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4M 1J3 (on the north side, between Booth Avenue and Logan Avenue, just east of De Grassi Street, the nearest major intersection is Broadview Avenue and Queen Street East) 416-465-3331
Google Maps

One of my favourites and one of the classier pubs in Toronto.

My husband and I stumbled across this pub last year while walking westward along Queen Street East. We’d decided it was time for a pub visit in the course of the afternoon’s events and we started looking for a pub, and looking, and looking. We were practically dying of thirst by the time we saw the beautiful Guinness sign of The Roy pub ahead. The only reason we haven’t been back more regularly to The Roy is because it’s not near our home or any friend’s home. However, while doing the research for this post, I discovered we are only a 40-minute bus ride away, so there is hope.

In terms of décor, The Roy is one of the loveliest pubs in Toronto. There are booths, a snug (which isn’t very private), stools, and regular tables. They have the standard pub wallpaper – seriously, there is a wallpaper that all pubs seem to have in common – build-in bookshelves, brass plates on the wall, along with a lovely photograph of gravestones. I would recommend this as the place to go for a first date and for good food. I noticed that a number of people were eating by themselves, which I take as a good sign, and the clientele was diverse too. The only drawbacks were the lack of a patio and that it’s not wheelchair accessible; apart from those two points, it’s wonderful.

Update 2012.10.22: Apparently the Roy no longer welcomes poorly behaved minors. Unfortunately this does mean that they do accept children and their opinion of poor behaviour is different from mine.

Number of visits by yours truly: four times so far and more to come, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in November 2012
TTC information: a 10-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar or take the bus from Pape Station (the 72), which will drop you after a 18-minute ride at Carlaw and Queen
Booze selection: small selection of about 10 beers, including Waupoos cider (no Pimm’s, but our server did say that he might get it in for the summer)
Food selection: standard pub grub with a British Isles focus. Anyone for a Scotch egg? The nachos were layered and made with tortillas, and were very good
Service staff: very friendly and accommodating, I’d never had Wellington County Bitter (I’ve only been drinking beer for six months) and he got me a taster
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: a bit of an industrial smell, but clean
Patio: no, not enough room on the sidewalk
Wheelchair accessible: no, there’s a step leading into the pub
Televisions: mercifully none
Live music: no
Piped-in music: dance music (!)

Rating: five pints (out of five)