The Artful Dodger
12 Isabella St.
Ambience: With a name pulled directly from Dickens’ Oliver Twist, it’s no surprise that The Artful Dodger is a British-themed pub.
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While it may lack some of the authentic touches of its main competitor the Duke Of Gloucester, located just around the corner (think rough-looking, soccer-loving regulars who seem to have been plucked from an East London council housing project) the Dodger has long appealed to middle-aged locals and the university set with its blend of pint-sipping familiarity and Wednesday jam-night excitement.
The bench seating is cozy and the juke box pumps out enough classic Brit pop, New Wave and rock hits to keep the clientele reveling in nostalgic glory.
Crowd: U of T and Ryerson students have long made the spacious Dodger one of their preferred haunts, but we can’t forget the regulars who prop up the bar on weeknights when the young and studious are busy cramming for exams or pulling all-nighters to complete papers assigned months earlier.
It’s probably impossible to find a more relaxed clientele, so don’t worry about trying to impress on your next appearance.
Dress code: You’ve probably read about the way the downtrodden dressed in Dickens’ time — improve on that and you’ll be fine.
Should I dance on the bar?: Upstairs, you might get away with it on a wild jam night, but the lower level is a bit more reserved.
Will I get lucky?: On a university pub night, anything is possible after about five pints!
Best accessory: A roll of loonies to better manage the paid music selections.
Cocktail du jour: Use the Twist line "Please sir, may I have some more," when asking for another pint and you’ll probably earn a dirty look from the wait staff — you really deserve a punch — but you’ll probably be inclined to drink at least a couple on your visit.
Yes, beer is the mainstay at this pub (like pretty much every other pub on the planet), but some venture into Scotch territory and a few shooters have even been known to flow across the bar on big nights.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.