The 9 Best Live Music Bars in Toronto [2024]

Best Live Music Bars in Toronto

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There’s no shortage of fun activities to do in the 6ix, but visiting live music bars is arguably, one of the best. From blues clubs to jazz lounges, here is our list of the best live music bars in Toronto. 

And for more great nightlife options in Toronto, be sure to check out our list of:

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The 12 Best Late Night Food Spots in Toronto

So whether you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy some jazz or a high-energy environment to rock out, there’s sure to be a venue on this list that’s perfect for you.

Summary

What to Expect at Live Music Bars in Toronto

When you’re planning a night out at a live music bar, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, most music venues will have a cover charge, so be prepared to pay as you walk in. Cover charges can range from $5 to $20, depending on the venue and the performers.

Also, many music bars will have a dress code, so be sure to check the venue’s website or give them a call before you head out for the night. Generally speaking, the dress code will be “neat casual” – meaning no sneakers, t-shirts, or hoodies. And finally, remember that live music can be loud, so if you’re looking for a relaxed evening, it might be best to choose a different type of bar.

Now that you know what to expect, let’s take a look at some of the best live music bars in Toronto!

The Top Live Bars in Toronto

Now that you know what to expect at a live music bar, it’s time to start planning your night out. With so many great options to choose from, you’ll be sure to find an option that suits you. Now let’s dive into our list of the 9 best live music bars in Toronto!

1. DROM Taberna

Neighborhood: Queen Street West
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: A vibrant celebration of global beats and Eastern European flavors, offering an array of live music that crosses cultural boundaries.

DROM Taberna offers a unique blend of sounds and tastes, taking patrons on a musical journey across Eastern Europe and beyond. Its lively atmosphere, coupled with an eclectic lineup of performances, makes DROM Taberna a cultural melting pot where music transcends language and tradition, inviting everyone to partake in a celebration that stretches across the globe.

Business Information:

Website: dromtaberna.com
Email: drom.taberna@gmail.com
Telephone: +16477482099
Address: 458 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A8, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ Was my first time at DROM Taberna, and I enjoyed the live music and atmosphere. I loved the cevapi (5pc pictured), and even the fries were nice (1 portion was enough to share with someone). Recommend a visit. It's also best to book a reservation (reservations by email only) as it's a popular place. “

Pros

Cons

2. Horseshoe Tavern

Neighborhood: Queen Street West
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: A legendary venue that has shaped Toronto’s music history with iconic performances spanning over seven decades.

The Horseshoe Tavern is not just a music venue; it’s a landmark of musical heritage in Toronto, having hosted a myriad of iconic performances since its opening in 1947. Positioning itself as a cornerstone in the city’s music scene, the tavern continues to attract a diverse array of acts, from emerging artists to well-established bands, cementing its status as a must-visit spot for anyone eager to witness live music history in the making.

Business Information:

Website: horseshoetavern.com
Email: shows@collectiveconcerts.com
Telephone: +14165984226
Address: 370 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A2, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ At 75 years old this place hasn't changed. And that's exactly what I love about a Tavern with the history of music it has brought to Toronto. With a larger patio due to COVID, people watching has become even more enjoyable! Staff is always fun, and the patrons are from absolutely every walk of life. What an amazing "Sunday" pub! Thanks “

Pros

Cons

3. The Emmet Ray

Neighborhood: College Street
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: An eclectic mix of live jazz, whiskey sipping, and a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere.

The Emmet Ray is where Toronto’s jazz aficionados gather to experience a curated lineup of live performances while enjoying an impressive selection of whiskeys and exceptional food. With its relaxed, no-frills environment and commitment to celebrating both local and visiting talents, it provides the perfect backdrop for nights dedicated to the appreciation of music and spirits.

Business Information:

Website: theemmetray.com
Email: info@theemmetray.com
Telephone: +14167924497
Address: 924 College St, Toronto, ON M6H 1A4, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ Cozy and has that old pub feel. I was there when they had a jazz quintet and it gave it an almost speak easy vibe. definitely keeping my eye out for anymore jazz nights, but would come by on just a Wednesday for a drink “

Pros

Cons

4. Poetry Jazz Cafe

Neighborhood: Kensington Market
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: A fusion of spoken word and jazz in Kensington Market’s eclectic cultural hub.

In the colorful, diverse streets of Kensington Market, Poetry Jazz Café stands out as a sanctum for spoken word and jazz fusion. With performances that blend poetry’s rhythmic verses with smooth jazz tunes, the venue offers an intimate setting for nights filled with artistic expression, cocktails, and musical exploration.

Business Information:

Website: poetryjazzcafe.com
Telephone: +14165995299
Address: 224 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L6, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ Love it!! Been here twice for the Kensington Jazz festival and it doesn't disappoint. Great service and great local talent. Small and cozy place! Will definitely be back for more. “

Pros

Cons

5. The Dakota Tavern

Neighborhood: Ossington
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: A deep dive into the roots of bluegrass and country within a cozy, subterranean space.

The Dakota Tavern is Ossington’s answer to Toronto’s thirst for Americana, offering a cozy, underground haven for fans of bluegrass, country, and folk. Known for its laid-back vibe and hearty brunch shows, the venue feels like a step into a different world—a rustic escape into the soulful sounds of Americana, right in the heart of Toronto.

Business Information:

Website: dakotatavern.ca
Email: dakotatavernshows@gmail.com
Telephone: +14168504579
Address: 249 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 3A1, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ This place is the bomb. Aside from the fact that it is literally a 10-second walk away from my friend's place, I really love the environment here. Saw Good Kid and Max the Band play and I can't imagine a better setting for that show than the Dakota. Good space. “

Pros

Cons

6. Mrs. Robinson

Neighborhood: Little Italy
Price Range: $$ – $$$
Shop here for: A soulful homage to the 70s funk and soul scene, with live performances that captivate.

Mrs. Robinson brings the soulful vibes of the 70s funk and soul scenes to modern-day Toronto. This Little Italy venue is as much about the atmosphere as it is about the music, with a decor that pays homage to the era and live performances that are both immersive and engaging. It’s the place to be for those looking to groove to heartfelt performances in a setting that feels both intimate and electric.

Business Information:

Website: mrsrobinsontoronto.com
Email: info@mrsrobinsontoronto.com
Telephone: +14169019717
Address: 574 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B3, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ If you're looking for either a very good quality classic stirred cocktail or an imaginative one that's unlike anything you've had before, this is the place for you. They specialize in cocktails, but on top of that, they are just very good at having a friendly and welcoming atmosphere with high-quality drinks. The music is always nice, but the live music Thursday is an added bonus to the visit. A must-visit spot if you're looking for a great night. “

Pros

Cons

7. Monarch Tavern

Neighborhood: Little Italy
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: A wide array of musical genres in one of Toronto’s most beloved historic venues.

Nestled in the heart of Little Italy, the Monarch Tavern is an emblem of Toronto’s rich musical tapestry, offering an intimate space where genres collide. From jazz to punk to everything in between, this storied venue has something for every music aficionado. With its laid-back ambiance and commitment to showcasing diverse talents, the Monarch Tavern remains a cherished spot for a genuine music experience.

Business Information:

Website: themonarchtavern.com
Email: contact@themonarchtavern.com
Telephone: +14165315833
Address: 12 Clinton St, Toronto, ON M6J 2N8, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ One of my favorite bars in the city. It may not be the fanciest but the staff are great, food is great, booze is reasonably priced, and the atmosphere is exactly what you want out of a neighborhood watering hole. That and there's big band jazz every second Monday of the month! “

Pros

Cons

8. The Piston

Neighborhood: Bloorcourt
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: Indie and alternative tunes in a retro-chic bar that doubles as a dance hotspot.

The Piston blends the allure of a retro bar with the energy of a contemporary music venue, offering an eclectic mix of indie and alternative acts paired with themed dance nights. Its relaxed atmosphere during the day transforms into a lively scene by night, making it a versatile destination for music lovers looking for the pulse of Toronto’s indie scene.

Business Information:

Website: thepiston.ca
Email: THEPISTONBAR@GMAIL.COM
Address: 937 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1L4, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“ The Piston is a hidden gem with an amazing space in the back of the bar. Perfect for shows and dance parties! Wax Candy on Friday nights draws a very cool crowd - awesome lights and even a smoke machine to set the mood. If you want a less pretentious place to party - The Piston is perfect! “

Pros

Cons

9. The Wheatsheaf Tavern

Neighborhood: King Street West
Price Range: $ – $$
Shop here for: A dive into history with Toronto’s oldest tavern offering live rock and alternative music.

Since 1849, The Wheatsheaf Tavern has been a cornerstone of Toronto’s live music and pub scene. Known as the city’s oldest tavern, it offers a nostalgic journey back in time, complemented by a roster of vibrant live rock and alternative performances. Amidst vintage decor and a lively atmosphere, patrons enjoy a musical trip through time in one of Toronto’s most storied venues.

Business Information:

Address: 30 Birch Ave, Toronto, ON M4V 1C8, Canada
Website: wheatsheaftavern.com
Phone: +1 (416) 968-2828

Customer Review Highlight:

“It’s the place to be on a Thursday night. Great atmosphere and live band karaoke by Good Enough Live Karaoke, makes you feel like a rockstar. Staff are friendly and there’s free parking on King street after 9pm.”

Pros

Cons

FAQs About Live Music Bars in Toronto

Yes, you will need to bring a valid form of ID in order to enter most live music bars in Toronto. This is typically done in order to ensure that only those of legal drinking age are allowed into the venue.
Most live music bars will have a dress code of “neat casual.” This means no sneakers, t-shirts, or hoodies. Be sure to check the venue’s website or give them a call ahead of time to avoid any problems at the door.
This will depend on the specific venue, but you can generally expect to hear a mix of genres. Popular options include blues, jazz, and rock.
No, drinks are not typically included in the cover charge. However, many venues will offer drink specials throughout the night.

Final Thoughts

Toronto is a city with a rich and vibrant music scene, and there’s no better way to experience it than by spending a night out at one of the many live music bars. From intimate spots featuring local up-and-comers to world-renowned nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. 

And with so many great options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your night out!

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Malaak Hamadeh

Meet Malaak Hamadeh, a Middle Eastern resident of Toronto with a passion for writing! Learn More About Malaak Hamadeh

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