39 Colborne St.
Ambience: P.J. O’Brien is probably one of the most written-about pubs in the city, partly because of its staying power and owner whose name is the same as a former Irish-Canadian Toronto Maple Leafs head coach, but more importantly because this is about as authentic an Irish pub as you’ll find. White-jacketed bartenders, copper-topped bars, a healthy selection of Irish whiskies and some very comfy snugs make this one of the more popular destinations for Irish ex-pats and fans of the Emerald Isle. And (dare I say it?) the atmosphere is probably more welcoming here than at sister bar The Irish Embassy down the street.
Crowd: Some of the old-timers that venture here seem older than the bar itself, but there’s a healthy mix of younger faces to be found behind the regulars. Everyone’s here for a good time, and on occasion a hockey game, soccer or hurling match. Expect to hear Irish accents floating about the room for added authenticity.
Dress code: Keep it casual and enjoy your whisky.
Should I dance on the bar?: Only on St. Patrick’s Day.
Will I get lucky?: Irish eyes are smilin’, but unfortunately not at you.
Least realistic expectation: Scoring anything but a good pint.
Cocktail du jour: They’ve got plenty of Harp and Guinness on tap for lovers of Irish brew, not to mention a good selection of other imported and domestic kegs ready to pour. But then there are the whiskies. There are many to choose, so choose wisely — and space them out. The bar staff is helpful and will do their best to help make a choice that suits your discriminating palette.
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; closed Sunday.