Food lovers lamented the closing of Toronto’s Museum Tavern back in late 2022 after a more than decade-long run. The classic American-style gastropub had built a fierce local following thanks to its Bloor West Village location, cozy yet lively two-story space, affordable prices, and a combination of elevated pub fare alongside quality craft cocktails.
Try as we might to bring it back through sheer will and online petitions, the former hot spot situated at 208 Bloor St West remains shuttered. However, that gap leaves an opening to highlight worthwhile restaurant and tavern alternatives capable of matching, even surpassing, what made the Museum Tavern Toronto such a long-time area jewel.
Why Museum Tavern Was So Loved
Before highlighting replacements, it helps to recap why the Museum Tavern garnered such devotion over its 12-year run in Toronto. Housed in a converted historic brick and beam building with eye-catching architectural details, the cozy location sat conveniently across from the Royal Ontario Museum. That prime position made it an easy gathering spot for meals before concerts, events, and exhibitions just steps away from restaurants near ROM Toronto and restaurants near Koerner Hall.
Once inside, urban cottage-style interiors mingled with copper accents, antique oil paintings, and brick walls emanated laidback warmth. The Museum Tavern menu carried on that welcoming spirit through crowd-pleasing starters, salads, sandwiches, and entrees prepared in-house using quality local ingredients. Signature items like the buttermilk fried chicken and cabbage rolls drew consistent praise. So, too, did museum brunch featuring cornbread pancakes, fluffy omelettes, and peameal bacon Benedict shining a southern spin on Canadian breakfast staples.
Of course, Museum Tavern further bolstered its neighbourhood pub bonds through an admirably curated, ever-evolving beer list prioritizing Ontario-brewed options on the 12 draft lines and other drinks, including Sorrel liqueur and Amore Di Amanti Prosecco. Knowledgeable bartenders also mixed inventive seasonal cocktails incorporating unique housemade syrups and infusions.
Ultimately that combination of appetizing cuisine, extensive drinks, and lively yet cozy ambience turned the Museum Tavern into a cherished haunt. Its final year, 2022, saw the enduring hotspot celebrate a bib gourmand designation in Canada’s annual restaurant rankings. But sadly, the doors soon closed for good, leaving devotees to seek out worthy local replacements among Toronto taverns, Bloor Street bars, Bloor St bars, Bloor and Avenue restaurants, and restaurants Bloor and Avenue Road for similar tavern lunch specials.
Thankfully, Toronto and beyond boast worthy replacements carrying on that hospitality torch to help fill the void left by Museum Tavern’s absence.
Beer Street Tavern
⭐ 4.5 Stars, 500+ Google Reviews
“Awesome pizza and atmosphere – our group had an excellent evening out at Beer Street Tavern. We’ll be back every time we visit Banff! Five stars.”
Beer Street Tavern translates the cozy, welcoming spirit of the late Museum Tavern into a lively Rocky Mountain setting in the resort community of Banff. Since opening in 2013, it has quickly become a cherished hub for tourists and locals alike thanks to the rustic timber-framed interior, year-round dog-friendly courtyard, and focus on quality comfort food alongside regional craft beers at reasonable prices.
While artisan brick oven pizzas like the spicy Sopressa or hearty Elk Sausage rate among top menu stars, Beer Street Tavern offers impressive variety from shareable apps to burgers suiting all preferences – including gluten-free and vegetarian. Quick to accommodate walk-ins with extra seating outdoors, the laidback vibe makes visitors instantly at home while taking in mountain views and friendly service. With cold craft brews, weekend Caesar brunches and daily food-drink specials drawing lively crowds, Beer Street Tavern channels that quintessential welcoming neighbourhood spirit.
- 🍽 Location: 211 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta
- 🕿 Contact: 403-762-2021; banffhospitalitycollective.com
⭐ 4 Stars, 134 Google Reviews
“From the unique cocktails and extensive wine list to melt-in-your-mouth dishes perfectly paired with amazing customer service – Sorrel never disappoints. A true Toronto gem.”
Tucked away along Toronto’s Yonge Street strip near Rosedale sits Sorrel, an intimate art deco-inspired sanctuary for elevated Museum Tavern-style experiences since 2015. Diners dress to impress for special occasions in the dining room, knowing Chef Ryan Thorimbert’s seasonal French-influenced tasting menus to come dancing with complex flavours.
Masterfully seared Nova Scotia lobster, peppered bison striploin carpaccio and salt-baked Yellowfin tuna bring culinary artistry to the forefront, equally matched by extensive wine selections and unique cocktails. Sorrel Rosedale’s sophistication merited Canada’s 100 Best Annual awards. Yet the lively lounge’s small plates and duck liver pâté also welcome more casual fine dining patrons or pre-show drinks in Toronto’s premier neighbourhood. Impeccable hospitality shines throughout, be it an anniversary splurge or a quick, refined neighbourhood solo stop.
- 🍽 Location: 1158 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario
- 🕿 Contact: 416-926-1010; sorrelrosedale.com
The Mugshot Tavern
⭐ 4.5 Stars, 50 Google Reviews
“Awesome pub food and a great craft beer selection! Super friendly staff and very welcoming vibe. The Mugshot Tavern has quickly become my local go-to hangout spot.”
Helping fill the void left by Museum Tavern’s closure, Mugshot Tavern fast became a Bloor West Village favourite upon opening along the bustling strip in 2017. The quirky southern-inspired gastropub quickly won loyalty through scratch-made sharing plates melding comforting southern flavours with Asian cuisine influences at wallet-friendly price points. Sweet chilli buttermilk fried chicken and shrimp po’boy sandwiches earn enduring praise.
Beyond the creative food recipes prepared in-house, Mugshot Tavern prides itself on supporting the local craft beer scene by dedicating 13 ever-rotating draught lines to regional microbrew stars. Inventive cocktails incorporating small-batch Canadian spirits complete the drinks program. Weekend brunches see the kitchen flexing via chicken n’ waffles, jambalaya omelettes and more southern comfort specialties. With space and seating for large groups yet a cozy corner pub atmosphere, Mugshot Tavern replicated that quintessential spirited neighbourhood gathering place ambiance so dearly missed across town.
- 🍽 Location: 1729 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario
- 🕿 Contact: 416-901-7468; themugshottavern.com
Raise a Toast
Food and drink gathering places come and go, but the loss of staples like Museum Tavern still hits hard. Thankfully, Toronto and beyond boast-worthy replacements are carrying on that hospitality torch to help fill the void. So give a warm welcome when you belly up to the bar or slide into a booth at our recommended spots: Beer Street Tavern, Sorrel Rosedale and The Mugshot Tavern. Their drinks will stimulate conversation, and cuisine inspires comfort. Most of all, the communities created within their welcoming walls endure thanks to dedicated owners, staff and cheerful regulars, much like Museum Tavern, cheers to that.