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The best live music bars & lounges in Toronto

Updated Fall 2023

No matter what genre of music gets you moving, Toronto is the place to enjoy it. Experience the hottest local and touring international acts at these top live music venues.

The Cameron House

Located in a historic hotel building on Queen West, the Cameron House is full of character and one of the best places to see live music in Toronto. Soaring, mural-ed ceilings and carefully curated wall art give the popular venue a distinctly bohemian feel. Some of the biggest Canadian acts have played on its multiple stages, including Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith. Building on the success of its live shows, the venue recently launched its own independent record label Cameron House Records. It’s a move that will widen its influence in the music scene (the label is connected to industry giant Warner) and reflects the eye for budding talent the Cameron House is known for.

Dakota Tavern

The Dakota, as it’s known to regulars, attracts serious music lovers with its rock, roots, bluegrass and country shows and old-time saloon vibe. The Ossington Street hotspot is styled as a typical hometown bar with kitschy memorabilia and a long wooden bar. Although it has only been around for a few years, the venue is already a mainstay on the Toronto live music scene. The bar list is refreshingly simple and priced accordingly — it’s a place for pints rather than complicated cocktails. The kitchen serves up tasty southern-inspired cuisine until late, or you can come in for the popular all-you-can-eat “Bluegrass Brunch” on the weekends.

Mod Club

The Mod Club theatre is a popular live music venue in Little Italy, hosting concerts, DJ nights and other performances. With a capacity of 600, the venue falls in the “not-too-big, not-too-small” category; it manages to feel spacious yet intimate with its unique layout and comfortable lounge area. You can watch the stage from the floor or the balcony, and great lighting, pro acoustics and clear sightlines throughout make it a great place to see a show. Quick, professional bar service and sleek décor with huge chandeliers over the main area bring it all together.

The Hideout

One of the city’s premier live music bars, the Hideout hosts live shows every night of the week and is a longstanding venue for several Toronto music festivals. Artsy rock ’n’ roll décor draws in passersby from the street, and a solid musical lineup keeps locals and tourists alike coming back for more. The bar boasts a sophisticated cocktail menu that perfectly complements the edgy indie vibe. With one of the best “small music” stages in the city, it’s a place where you’re sure to get up close and personal with your favourite local bands. Two bars and an outdoor patio, plus great brunch and pub fare, make The  Hideout a year-round destination for music lovers.

These legendary live music bars are more than great venues — they’re integral to Toronto’s thriving cultural scene.

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