Queen Street West is one of the most colorful and unique neighborhoods in Toronto. A melting pot of different cultures, Queen Street has evolved into a modern living space that now serves as a center for the arts.

Located between University and Spadina, it is immediately noticeable that the neigborhood is a haven for artists. The street lives up to its name as queen and has a nice combination of restaurants, upscale fashion boutiques, and artist’s studios. Being a center for artistic activity in Canada, Queen Street is touted as one of Canada’s coolest neigborhoods.

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Adding to Queen Street’s local flavor, are its bars and pubs. Being hip and trendy are synonymous with Queen Street’s night life. Bars like Cameron, The Horseshoe Tavern and The Rivoli, are institutions in the area that serve as a reminder of why Queen Street is a favorite joint amongst artists and musicians. Here is a little background on the three quintessential pubs that are worth visiting when in Queen Street.

Cameron

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The Cameron House is a bar, hotel and cultural center. It has been a venue for many top musical acts and is comparable to the Chelsea Hotel in New York. It is home to a record label called the Cameron House Records which produces indie music from home grown talents. It has a front lounge and a back room, covered from ceiling to wall in memorabilia. The Cameron House is cozy, with no more than a 60 person capacity each for the front lounge and the back room. Performances are up close and each guest is treated to the unique experience of being a part of the musical performance. The architecture of the venue is befitting of its status as a space where musical concerts and visual art showcases are given a personal touch. Among the bands who have played here are Blue Rodeo, Jane Siberry, Ron Sexsmith, Molly Johnson, Gordie Johnson, Holly Cole, Barenaked Ladies, and The Meligrove Band.

The Horseshoe Tavern

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The Horseshoe Tavern is a long-standing local bar that doubles as a concert venue. The bar is home to a variety of musical genres including reggae, rock, ska, folk, new wave and alternative country. The Horseshoe Tavern is a legend in itself and this popular establishment has enjoyed a number of media mentions. It has been the setting of many documentaries about music. Among the films to have featured this venue is “Across this Land”, a concert film with Stompin Tom Connors and “The Last Pogo”, a punk rock documentary. The Horseshoe Tavern was also mentioned on “Live on MTV” during their coverage of The Rolling Stones’ “Bridges to Babylon” tour. It continues to support local talent and has been active in promoting promising Canadian musicians like The Tragically Hip, Great Big Sea, Blue Rodeo and Bryan Adams. The more popular bands that have performed here include The Rolling Stones, The Police and The Ramones.

The Rivoli

The Rivoli is yet another stand out bar in Queen Street West. It has a Restaurant which serves an international menu of what they call as “eclectic global comfort food”. It has a Side Bar where guests can enjoy cocktails in a cozy atmosphere. Going up the stairs, one is treated to a Pool Hall filled with vintage decor and a Patio overlooking Queen Street. The Back Room is a venue for stage quality performances from comedians and musicians. A landmark in itself, the Rivoli is not only a bar and restaurant but is also a great performance space for notable Canadian acts like The Kids in the Hall, Gordon Downie, The Frantics, and Sean Cullen.

The bars mentioned above are just among a few of the stellar examples of what nightlife is like in Queen Street. Walk further along the street and one is greeted by the most interesting establishments in this art district. Queen Street is a must see for arts and culture aficionados. Visit soon and get to be a part of the magic that makes Queen Street, the coolest neigborhood in Toronto.