Locals Only is a welcome escape from Toronto’s densely packed King Street West. Friendly staff pour cold beers late into the night 7-days a week at this popular bar. Locals Only is the ideal post-dinner drink spot for those looking to meet Torontonians and avoid the typical tourist traps.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Pete Whish Contributing writer
Are bathroom selfies overrated and played out? Of course. Are quotable neon signs a dime-a-dozen? Most definitely. Are fabricated dive bars on every corner? Hell yes. So, you’ve got to ask yourself: why does Toronto’s Locals Only work so well?
Firstly, it may be the menu curated by chef Jennifer Chung, who cut her teeth in the famous Toronto restaurant, Lee. The snack-centric menu hits every craving that one may have after crushing a half-dozen PBRs: Chicken nuggets – check, chicharrones – check, poutine – check (we are talking about Canada, after all). If you’re feeling like a hero and looking to make friends fast, order ‘The Whole Shebang’, which covers everything on the menu for a measly 70 bucks. Munchies be damned!
You can show up solo and find yourself among new friends before you finish your first frosty can of Coors Banquet
The cocktail menu at Locals Only is unfussy and short – in this bar, beers and classic bar rail are king. This is another reason why Locals Only works so well: they haven’t bought into the mixologist trend and don’t try to ‘out cocktail’ any of the hundreds of bars situated along Toronto’s King Street West.
To find what sets Locals Only apart, you don’t have to look any further than the name of this fine establishment – it’s the locals. It doesn’t matter what night of the week your visit to Toronto may fall on, there will always be Torontonians blowing off steam in this basement bar. You’ll find friends gathering for post-work drinks, first dates, best buds, and new friends all sipping on cold drinks and snacking on burritos.
You’ll enter underneath a ‘Locals Only’ neon sign designed with a font that may be a nod to the 6 God’s ‘if you’re reading this it’s too late’ album cover. The industrial-meets-back-alley feel greets you with a graffiti-laden stairwell that leads into the bar where you’ll find half of a shipping container fabricated along one of the walls. You immediately feel like you have discovered a spot that most visitors of the city may overlook.
Yes, the trendy bathroom wallpapers behind well-lit mirrors cry out for selfies but Locals Only seems self-aware of its fabricated dive bar clichés and succeeds in not taking itself too seriously. The staff is friendly and the tables are communal. You can show up solo and find yourself among new friends before you finish your first frosty can of Coors Banquet. Explore the city, hit the pavement and be a local, even if it’s just one night.
The dive bar food menu here is too on point. It’s a munchy centric haven for those who may crave a snack after throwing down some canned beer
Mixologist? What’s that? Match a beer with a shot and save the pretentious shit for another night
You want to know where the locals go in Toronto? It’s in the name
Thrasher magazine bathroom wallpaper? Check