Chris Atchison/Metro Toronto


Barney’s Backyard, the suburban oasis at the back of the Black Dog Pub, is popular with regulars.

Black Dog Pub

87 Island Rd.

(Scarborough-Pickering border)


Ambience: With a pub credo that proclaims “You are a stranger here but once,” it’s easy to see why the Black Dog draws the bulk of its business from repeat visits. The venue has won numerous fan awards from publications across the GTA and is consistently busy throughout the week and then on weekends, when live music livens up the atmosphere. Why such a devout loyalty from those regulars? Staff ensure that familiar faces are treated as if they own the place, pints often sit patiently at the bar waiting to be sipped by their future owners who have just been spotted just outside the door, and families are welcomed into the cozy, traditional English pub atmosphere.

Crowd: Those regulars tend to be at least 30-years-old and up; many have been coming here for years and don’t plan on changing watering holes any time soon. Again, families with kids are welcome, and the Dog’s patio and dining room have even been known to attract a business crowd looking for a quiet place to deal with clients- — just don’t expect to find a raucous university pub crowd.

Dress code: Wear what you like, just try to keep the attire respectable.

Should I dance on the bar? The Dog would find that sort of behaviour deplorable.

Will I get lucky? Not a chance. You will, however, have plenty of access to some fine imports and good chicken wings, if that helps.

Best accessory: A group of friends and a clear schedule.

Cocktail du jour: The pint is the preferred drink, with most patrons opting for a brew from overseas. The list is extensive if your preference is for lagers and ales from the U.K. and Ireland, but they also have their own in-house brand called Dog. The pub’s main liquor specialty is scotch, with a solid range of price points on offer for casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike.

Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. or later (depending on business); Thursday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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