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Monday, September 10, 2007

McCarthy's Irish Pub: Toronto, ON

There are hundreds of faux-pas Irish pubs in this country but I think I've found one of the authentics.

"We're only real Irish pub in the East end of Toronto" exclaims Sinead McCarthy, who co-owns the pub with her sister Maeve. From what I experienced, she is right on the money.

The McCarthy sisters who hail from Countycork, Ireland, moved into the building five years ago and converted it into a quaint little pub on the corner of Gerrard Street and Bowmore Avenue just east of Coxwell. The pub is located in a residential area off the Gerrard street-car line and caters to many locals, soccer players(football to the Irish) and rugby players.

Well, I wandered into McCarthy's and immediately felt at home. I arrived at 2pm just as Sinead was getting ready to open and took a seat against the rear wall on the bench seating and right away I knew I loved the place. I glanced around and estimated that less than 30 people could fit in the place, which creates an intimate atmosphere.

Inside the pub you walk a mere 5 paces from the front door to the bar where you can choose between a pint of Guinness, Harp, Kilkenny, Carlsberg, Carlsberg Light, Mill Street Wit, Mill Street Tankhouse Ale, Upper Canada and Magners Irish Cider. Sinead confirms my guess that Guinness is the top seller followed closely by Mill Street's Tankhouse. I had a delicious Guinness that was poured nicely and tasted fresh served in the proper glass. It is a small bar with room to fit five stools around it to sit and chat with one of the sisters. Behind the bar is a bookcase with Irish travel books and Maeve's cookbook's for her side catering business.

The pub's indoor capacity sits at 20 people and 15 for the patio, making it hard to get a seat on busy nights but this gets people talking to each other that may not have otherwise. There are about a half dozen small tables scattered throughout the pub and some single chairs you can position wherever you like. Dog lovers we be happy to know that McCarthy's caters to dogs as they permit them on their patio. They even provide a bowl of water.

The decor of the pub consists of mostly Irish photographs such as the large image of the Blarney Castle and a framed copy of the famous Irish song "Danny Boy" lyrics. There are pictures of the McCarthy's hometown of Countycork along with a photo of IRA founder Michael Collins. There are some local pictures on the wall that were taken by a Toronto Police officer that cover the green paint on the walls and offer a view into a beautiful Toronto.

Every Monday night McCarthy's offers their customers a trip to Ireland as local musician's perform sessions of traditional Irish music complete with penny whistles, fiddles etc. This is the busiest night of the week as neighbours and Irish descendants make their way to the pub for the music. A jukebox plays Irish music and oldies when there is no band which is kept to a respectable volume. Sunday's are also busy as the Gaelic football team, that also happens to be sponsored by McCarthy's, comes in for some pints after their game. Sinead tells me that only "snacks" are offered and the odd time a catered meal is available for a group event. This fascinates me as I have never been to a pub where no food menu was offered.

It was a fantastic visit, and as mentioned, Sinead was a gracious host and even lent me a book to read called "McCarthy's Bar" written by deceased Irish author Pete McCarthy. It is a very homey pub, a great place to bring your father or some buddies for a couple of pints and good conversation.

As my time to move to Toronto approaches, I think I have found my local.

McCarthy's is open seven days a week from 2pm until 2am.
Publician: Maeve McCarthy

1801 Gerrard Street East (416) 778-7516


Black Dog said...

My local - best pub in Toronto.

You can walk in here not knowing a soul and leave having had twenty converstions.

Anonymous said...

The best IRISH pub in the city! You feel like you are in Ireland...Maeve is fantastic and they pour the best pints around.

Anonymous said...

the best irish pib in all of toronto maeve is great

Unknown said...

soccer is not football in Ireland. Football in Ireland is Gaelic football. Soccer is football in England

Anonymous said...

great craic!!! what a place! i love it; this is a true irish pub

Anonymous said...

best irish pub in the city

Anonymous said...

Best bar in Toronto by a mile! If your looking for a proper Irish bar with great "Craic" and friendly buzzing athmosphere this is it!

Anonymous said...

A Kerryman from Brampton...Magniers on Draught...I have to pay a visit

Wayne said...

Stopped by McCarthy's a couple times over the past few years, always felt welcomed, good selection of beer on tap, never had the chance to have some eats, I'm always in a hurry, just passing by (work downtown, live in Scarborough), but I will eventually make some time to go & eat. I have friends in a band that would be interested in playing here, I asked once, one of the owners asked for a business card, didn't have one at the time, will make it a point to call and talk to one of the sisters. Please get an email address set up soon. Thanks.
Wayne Morrison.

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