chris atchison/metro toronto
317 King St. W.
Ambience: Mixed among the chic restaurants and (not too far away) hip lounges of King West is Joe Mamas, a restaurant and bar that specializes in live Motown, rhythm and blues and jazz music. While everyone that crosses Joe’s threshold is first met by the smells of his southern cuisine, the warm crimson décor and the tunes of the many live bands who call the venue their home, this place opens its arms and welcomes music lovers, drinkers and diners alike. Those live bands play nightly, offering a nice reprieve from the typical drink-mingle-network scene that’s come to define King Street West.
Crowd: This section of King Street tends to draw a more mature crowd, so it’s no surprise that Joe’s people tend to be in their thirties and older. They’re typically a mix of soul devotees and casual diners and drinkers who enjoy the sounds, but prefer to focus on conversation rather than musical appreciation.
Dress code: Smart casual is the recommended attire. Bay Street power players may show up in suits, but most dress to look respectable, not necessarily to impress.
Should I dance on the bar? No. Joe’s mama would not be impressed.
Will I get lucky? On a good weekend maybe, but you don’t stand much of a chance during the week.
Best accessory: If you’re not an expert, bring a friend who can put the music in context to make a visit to Joe Mamas all the more enjoyable.
Cocktail du jour: Hard liquor always mixes well with good live soul and R&B, so don’t be afraid to look to bourbons, scotches and ryes to whet your palate. Martinis are also popular, as are the few wines by the glass they have on offer.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to close; closed Sunday and Monday.