Pretty Ugly Bar is one of Toronto’s most laid-back cocktail bars. Put your trust in their award-winning bartenders and snack-style menu to cap off a hazy night in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Pete Whish Contributing writer
Before you visit a bar in a new city, how often to do you check it out online first? The answer is likely more often than not (how about right now, for example?). Truly ‘discovering’ a local bar can be tricky, especially if you’re short on time, and so we often find ourselves searching online for a destination that checks all of the boxes you need in a bar.
This place is different. If you need the safety net of a bright and informative website before you make you make a decision, you won’t be interested in Toronto’s Pretty Ugly Bar.
As you work your way through the well-balanced cocktail menu and nod along to the Wu-tang centric playlist, the randomness of the space starts to make sense.
If you attempt to research the food or cocktail menu online, you’ll be greeted with cryptic messages that blend Lionel Richie, The Matrix and fortune cookie-esque pieces of wisdom. This bizzaro imagery feels like the puzzle pieces and spotty memories that combine to make the story of an amazing night in Toronto’s West End.
The bar itself is able to maintain the same feel of the website – Pretty Ugly Bar the exact point where randomness juxtaposed with rare Mezcal and high-grade sushi meet. As you enter into what looks like a roadside shop you may find on a desolate street outside of Mexico City, you’re surrounded by pottery, hand-woven rugs and a wall of Mezcal (all of which are for sale). This faux storefront is only a distraction to what waits beyond.
You pass through the front shop and enter into an impossibly dark space, lit only by candles and the dim light underneath overstocked bar that lines the wall. Mezcal is the drink of choice here, with dozens of varieties available for the choosing. If you’re new to Mezcal, let your bartender be your guide as you embark on a journey to discover tequila’s more refined and complex older brother.
Disclaimer: it may take more than one Mezcal until your eyes adjust to this dimly lit space. But, once you’re able to regain your sight (and before you blackout), browse the menu for high-grade cuts of some of the west end’s best sushi and sashimi.
As you work your way through the well-balanced cocktail menu and nod along to the Wu-tang centric playlist, the randomness of the space starts to make sense. All of a sudden, the 5-foot velvet mural of a panther and taxidermied birds both seem totally normal, you order another plate of sashimi, and you find yourself contemplating the purchase of a handwoven rug. Everyone’s interpretation of the randomness of Pretty Ugly Bar will differ, and this is exactly why the bar works so well.
They’ve got an extensive selection of Mezcal, so, get ready for that kind of night…
The bar has large punch bowls available for big parties, so don’t forget the squad
Bar snacks and a simple sushi menu is also available. Hangry isn’t happening here
Please, God. Never let their website change
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