TorontoPubs’ East Danforth Pub Crawl

https://goo.gl/maps/mRBi3bTJRCM2

Updated 2017.01.17

Notes on this pub crawl: the walk (1 km) takes about 12 minutes in total taking into account traffic signals. Keep in mind that all five pubs are small and you might have difficulty getting a seat. Local 1794 is a little further east than the other four pubs, but worth the walk.

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.

Printable PDF of this TorontoPubs’ East Danforth Pub Crawl with map.

Morgans on the Danforth (TorontoPubs review)
1282 Danforth Avenue

The Borough (TorontoPubs review)
1352 Danforth Avenue

The Wren (TorontoPubs review)
1382 Danforth Avenue

Sarah’s Café and Bar (TorontoPubs review)
1426 Danforth Avenue

Local 1794 (TorontoPubs review)
1794 Danforth Avenue

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.

The Borough

The Borough Toronto

The Borough (website, Twitter)
1352 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1M9 (on the north side, between Linsmore Crescent and Monarch Park Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Greenwood Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-901-1429
Google Maps

Another excellent addition to the Danforth’s growing number of decent pubs! 

Fittingly named after Canada’s last borough, East York (1967-1988, requiescat in pace), and location of said pub, the Borough is putting the pub into gastropub. This is a touch ironic given that the borough of East York was dry for several years. The pub does have a focus on locally sourced food and takes part in the nearby East Lynn  Farmers’ Market. Like the nearby Wren, the Borough is child-friendly, but it doesn’t have a kids’ menu. It does serve Sunday brunch, but it doesn’t open until five during the week and on Saturdays. We found out twice the hard way.

The Borough has black-and-white pictures of said old borough on the walls, along with a three-dimensional miniature fairy door of 11 Downing Street, home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the sign for the pub looks very much like the street signs in London, itself full of boroughs. It’s a very bright establishment, despite the greys everywhere. Our welcome last-minute addition to the pubbing experience said that the Borough was, “Life in greyscale,” with flashes of red cushions and napkins. I should have replied with, “It’s fifty shades of grey on the Danforth,” but I didn’t and it’s not really that funny anyway.

A note on the picture, I took the picture at Christmas time last year as I had a camera with me and no-one was walking in front of the pub. They don’t usually have Christmas decorations up.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday evening in August 2015
TTC information: Greenwood Station, mere metres on the Danforth from the station
Booze selection: a selection local craft beers, with Thornbury and Duxsbury ciders (they don’t have Pimm’s because it’s not local)
Food selection: the food is local and organic, with a focus on British comfort food. Be warned, it’s spicy — my note says “perfumed by a manifesto”. It’s in my writing, but I’m not that poetic even after a pint or two
Service staff: great
Prices: expensive
Toilets: the ladies’ was nice, but the men’s apparently left something to be desired 
Patio: south-facing
Wheelchair accessible: has steps to the toilet, so no
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: no
Piped-in music: modern and electronic, could hardly hear as the volume was low

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

The Wren

The Wren Pub Toronto

The Wren (website, Twitter)
1382 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1M9 (on the north side, between Greenwood Avenue and Monarch Park, the nearest major intersection is Greenwood Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 647-748-1382
Google Maps 

Hope for the Danforth! 

Regular readers of my blog (if there are any) will know that one of my greatest laments is that I live in an area devoid of pubs. However, I have hopes that this is changing as the Wren has opened. The Wren arrived earlier this summer (2013) and it was discovered by us one weekend on the way back from a visit to Sarah’s. With the opening of the Wren and Morgan’s on the Danforth, I feel that there is change in the air for my neighbourhood. We decided to go to the Wren the following evening and we were not disappointed.

The Wren looks more Western saloon than English pub, which certainly is not a mark against it. The Wren has a distressed brick wall with an original Coca-Cola advertisement (c. 1920s), tapestry woven pictures, wooden floors, and two long tables with benches that can each seat four, in addition to tables, booths, and a small snug at the back. The dining plates are mismatched, but that is no distraction from the food, which was very spicy, but good. One thing not in favour for the Wren is its policy of being child-friendly. Apparently they encourage snivelies! They will learn in time.

At this time, the Wren does not take reservations and they only take cash.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last visit, on a weekday evening in August 2013
TTC information: Greenwood Station, mere metres on the Danforth from the station
Booze selection: 12 local craft beers, which changes now and then, including Thornbury cider (they do not have Pimm’s)
Food selection: a rather small selection of Tex-Mex, which was spicy for both my dining companion and myself
Service staff: quick!
Prices: not bad
Toilets: very nice
Patio: south-facing, but very small
Wheelchair accessible: yes!
Televisions: none (huzzah!)
Live music: nope!
Piped-in music: Mr. Bowie and the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”

Rating: four and half pints (out of five) 

Morgans on the Danforth

Morgans on the Danforth Toronto

Morgans on the Danforth (website, Twitter)
1282 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1M6 (on the north side, between Greenwood Avenue and Linsmore Crescent, the nearest intersection is Greenwood Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-461-3020
Google Maps 

Another diamond in the rough. 

I live in East York and my neighbourhood is bereft of pubs. One can swing a multitude of dead cats without hitting anything coming close to a pub (as a cat lover I use that only as a phrase, and certainly not as a suggestion). As a result, this review might be coloured by my enthusiasm for finding a watering hole of a calibre above that of “dive” or “rib house”. Morgans on the Danforth was recommended by someone who knows of my weakness from where the fount of this blog was launched. Fortunately we erred towards hope, instead of experience, and decided to check the pub out one evening. We liked it so much that we went back for our wedding anniversary meal a few weeks later.

On our most recent visit, Morgans on the Danforth was so popular that we were lucky to get a seat and it was a Monday evening, not the most popular of evenings for a pub visit. The pub features exposed brick and plush leather seats. One might be lucky enough to score one of the booths, which according to its website, have their own air-conditioning outlets, but slow-turning fans aerated the rest of the pub. There is a raised area at the back, which affords some privacy, so you might be lucky enough to reserve that for your group. The only drawback to the pub is the square plates; my utensils (yes, I do use them) kept falling into my food as they slipped along the edge.

Number of visits by yours truly: my second, most recently on a weekday evening in July 2013
TTC information: Greenwood Station, mere metres on the Danforth from the station
Booze selection: 12 beers, including Waupoos cider (they have Pimm’s). They also have a wine list
Food selection: the fancier and eclectic end of pub grub, such as cheese platters and charcuterie. Be warned that brunch at Morgans is popular with the older set. Apparently, Morgans also does catering. The menu is also online
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: expensive
Toilets: not bad
Patio: tiny one to the south of building on the Danforth, but the front window features an up-and-over door
Wheelchair accessible: toilets are certainly not accessible
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: sometimes
Piped-in music: nondescript

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

Sarah’s Café and Bar

Sarah’s Café and Bar (website, Twitter)
1426 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1N4 (on the north side, at the corner of Monarch Park Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Coxwell Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-406-3121
Google Maps 

A diamond in the rough. 

Similar to our odyssey to the Gull and Firkin, my husband had hurt his Achilles tendon and was having difficulty walking. A friend had recommended the One in the Only Cafe on the Danforth to us, so we decided to check it out. We walked out after five minutes of sitting in the dark and being ignored by the staff. Perhaps we weren’t hip enough? We then went east to Seanachai, which used to be The Hargrave, which was closed that Sunday afternoon. We pressed our faces against the dirty windows and it looked like it was no longer in business (it’s now Rails and Ales). The one time we had been there, they weren’t serving food, even though it was dinnertime. On we trod and decided to go with something reliable.

Sarah’s is a diamond in the rough, near dives/greasy spoons/regulars-only places called Big Ronnie’s and Jane’s Happy Bar. Sarah’s follows the trend in that it has a person’s name in its title, but the similarities end there. Sarah’s is the type of place you could take your date or your mum. (Let’s put it this way, one of the times I was in Sarah’s, I was sitting beside a lesbian couple who were quietly dividing their assets post break-up.) I’ve been to Sarah’s a number of times over the years and it’s always a good time for me, not necessarily my nearby seating companions.

Sarah’s is very bohemian with big windows, lots of cushions, velvet-covered lampshades, and tables with fancy inlay. Strangely, it doesn’t look like the interior shots on the website, which seems misleading. The kitchen is front and centre, so you can try to see the progress of your dinner order. The place can get very busy late at night, but there is also a room in the back, so check that to see if there might be a spot for your group.

Number of visits by yours truly: five or six, most recently on a Sunday afternoon in early June 2011
TTC information: Greenwood Station or Coxwell Station. Looking at the map, it’s equidistant between the two
Booze selection: lots and lots to choose from, 13 on taps and 70 in bottles — with a Belgian focus — including pear cider (no Pimm’s). Like most places that boast a selection this large, be sure to have a back-up choice when ordering. They also have an extensive wine list
Food selection: the fancier and eclectic end of pub grub, such as cheese platters and mussels, but not a lot of selection. Apparently, Sarah’s also does catering
Service staff: very friendly, but can be slow
Prices: expensive
Toilets: two unisex and both leave something to be desired. The wheelchair-access toilet is better than the all-access one, in there my friend hit her head on the hand dryer as she was standing up.  My beloved grandmother would not have approved
Patio: two, one to the west and one to the south of building. The west one has a cover and both are of a decent size
Wheelchair accessible: one of the toilets is accessible with railings
Televisions: one in the back room that I have never seen turned on
Live music: open mic every Sunday afternoon
Piped-in music: The Smiths

Rating: five pints (out of five)