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Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
488 College St
, M6G 1A4
phone: (416) 966-5050
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vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I stepped in Smokeless Joe's a long while ago when I was attracted to the "over 200 beers" underneath its name. There were lots of establishemnts to get beer in west Toronto (the part of town I stayed at), but I wanted something good. Happily, I found this.
My experience almost never happened. The place is as big as a crackerjack box and was rocking, yet there were no more seats in the house! I was almost forced to leave until a customer freed up a seat for me at the bar, and we soon started talking. He helped me select a few beers from the menu (Delirium Tremens and Mill Street Coffee Porter) at a time I was overwhelmed by the choices. Anyway, the beer menu is organized by the country of origin, with a handful of "guests" beer (one of them I fondly remember was Negra Modelo). Lots of imports here, especially Belgians. Also offered are some Canadian micros. But it's too bad they don't have much in the way of American micros here too.
The appropriate glassware is paired with the style of beer, both my beers were served in outstanding fashion, the service is well trained, and this place really is all about the beer, but which all comes at a price. Not terribly expensive by Canadian standards, but very pricey for an American used to paying less for dinner than one 330 ml bottle of Delirium. But don't let your wallet do the talking, you only live once. Come to Smokeless Joe and experience one of the best beer bars Toronto has to offer.
09-21-2007 22:24:25 |
More by DoubleJ
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$
NEW PLACE REVIEWED: Now a better than average bar in a city with a lot of bars getting into craft bar. Rebuilding his bottle menu. Main feature is the Sunday at 5 pm opening cask, a few veteran bartenders that know their beer and whose policy is to be very friendly, and a good location for me not too long a drive. Even a smaller main bar, with overflow welcome upstairs or on the outside patio. Decent though not exceptional tap list, I anticipate this will also change for the better. QUiet after work, this is a late hours club now. Appropriate glassware.
OLD PLACE NOTES:
For a long while, this was my place to go until Volo stepped it up a notch. Volo is also closer. Joe was getting in top beers in the world, and here it was to try them, at a price to make a profit. Opens only about 5 pm, small and gets crowded quickly. Staff spotty. Well known for its great chili. Had some great times here and waiting for a revival. Still one of the top 3 and essential on a visit to Toronto.
06-12-2005 18:41:08 |
More by northyorksammy
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
This pub is basement level, to the left of the Fat Belgian restaurant. The atmosphere is decent, a long bar dominates the room with many seats along it, also several tables sprinkled along the wall. The beers seemed on the pricy side ($7-8 CAD for drafts) but they were good selections. I had Denison's Weisse beer, a highly rated Canadian beer. The bottled list is about 50 beers deep and strongly influenced by Belgian craft beers, although there are some respectable American beers in stock too. The food was reasonably priced and VERY good. I had Mussels steamed in Blanche de Chambly, probably the best mussels I've had to date. There were 7-8 other methods used for mussels and I bet they were all good. The bottom line is this is a good pub to go to for dinner, and you can move on to C'est What or Beer Bistro afterwards for more selection of draft beers.
02-07-2009 22:11:55 |
More by TurdFurgison
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5
OK, let me give up a secret: there is a four-stool area in Toronto that is seriously the most "romantic" and perhaps "unique" setting for a quality beer. I would have to say I found C'est What, Beer Bistro and Smokeless Joe's to be among the most appealing beer-dedicated establishments in the northeast.
So without being able to discuss the various merits and selling the best bits of this place, since Toronto served me so well, I can say that I wish that I was right now sitting on a stool with a pint of dogs body in front of the small spotlights over the white stones under the stairs at Smokeless Joe.
BA Margaret and I took four pictures in the spot, which seriously you should all sit in: inside is a fine oyster bar set-up with a lengthy beer list, right up on the street is a tiny cafe set-up. The servers are top-notch: they know intimately what's on the menu, where it's from and whether it's worth the effort. But look under the stairs. There's a hideaway for beer lovers under there.
Couples who love ales: do not miss. Beer Bistro might be a more classy date dinner spot, but there's just something lovely about the under-stairs bar at Smokeless Joe.
08-19-2004 04:49:34 |
More by ecoboy
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$
What more can you ask for from any establishment, this place we found on St. Paddy's expecting it to be packed it wasn't at all. This place is such a relaxing homey little place that packs so many good characteristics it will be hard to fit em' all into this review.
Everything is done right here from the food, to the 250 bottled beers, to the chilled out jazz and blues played in the background, and most importantly the people make this happen. Rob, Joe's nephew was a great host to us for the first half of our dining experience and when Joe got there he came down and greeted us all. What followed from here was at least a 45 minute conversation about beer and life in Canada and the US. Joe Sacco is the heart and soul of this fine beer bar, and I will continue to go there when in Toronto. Definitely not an every day stop, but my advice to those worried about the marked up bottles is that you need to find a bargain on tap. I found some La Chouffe for four something canadian, and that was a nice little deal that I took advantage of thoroughly.
Smokeless Joe's carries a rotating selection of about 250 bottled beers along with a nice small selection of handpicked kegs of local micors, belgiums and other treats they get ahold of. For Canada it is amazing that they get the amount of Rogue productst that they do, and I was talking to Joe and they have to order each Amercian beer about 5 to 6 months in advance. That shows how much planning and care goes into this fine place.
For dinner I had my first experience with a Belgium specialty mussels steamed in beer (Unibroue Blanche de Chambly) was amazing. The mussels were mouthwatering and my friends who weren't into seafood ordered a couple sandwiches that were also delicious. We all agreed this was our favorite stop in Canada, and we got a picture with Joe before we left. Oh, yeah and right now I am drinking out of my complementery La Chouffe glass that after I asked to purchase Joe says you have been a good customer just take it. That was class!!!
03-19-2003 06:33:15 |
More by WVbeergeek
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Quite a small and cozy downstairs establishment, almost hidden from the street. There's a small seating area outside the front door, partially underneath the stairs. Inside it's quite long and narrow, with the bar running most of the length of one wall. Foldaway tables line the opposite wall and can be pulled out when things get busy and more places to set beer is needed. Service is quite quick and I've been somewhat impressed with the staff's beer knowledge. Although there are only a few beers on tap, they do keep a beer engine running most of the time and there is an extensive bottle list, at least for a bar in Ontario. Bottles include the best of that offered by the local LCBO plus a rotating line-up of US and foreign imports brought in through other importers. These are normally listed on the chalkboard and can disappear quickly. The menu consists of a selection of simple sandwiches and appetizers, as well as a focus on mussels, etc. Definitely a great place to grab a beer.
07-10-2005 00:32:47 |
More by DrJay
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Dropped by in Winter 2011 and I’m really impressed with the new space. Beer selection is 20 micro draughts, a small but carefully selected bottle list, and a different cask ale every Sunday.
Bar is probably about three times the capacity of the old place when you factor in the upstairs and patio. Had a Durham Black Katt Stout and Spearhead HSPA on tap, both in fine form.
It’s nice to see Colin and Steph at the helm again. Aside from Adam Grant at The Monk’s Table, you won’t find better servers in Toronto. Haven’t tried the food yet but fresh oysters and other beer-friendly items are always available.
Seems like Smokeless is back in a big way, and I’m looking forward to many more visits in the future.
11-11-2009 20:04:52 |
More by cratez
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
While its nothing much to look at from street level just wait til you see their beer list! This hole-in-the-wall crams as many as 250 domestic and imported brands into its cellar, including Canadian craft brews that youll likely never see in the States. Id heard good things about this place in the Great Lakes Brewing News, and after a plate of fresh bread and butter was presented to us prior to our order being taken I can see why great customer service, they really made us feel at home. I didnt feel the need to quiz them on their beer knowledge, but their keeping of the beer seemed to prove that they knew their stuff. Intimate is an apt descriptor of the interior (cozy works, too), although bigger / louder / younger folks may find that it cramps their style somewhat. Jazz music was playing lightly in the background, but apart from that I dont think there were more than two other couple is the place that evening, so it was quiet, relaxed, and very intimate atmosphere. When we visited* there were no televisions that I could see - WOW! This made for an extremely welcome break as well, as did the smoke-free atmosphere which was a true novelty at the time. No video games, Big Buck hunter, pool tables . . . its just you and your drinking companion(s), your conversation, and music played at a level that doesnt intrude on conversation I like it! Between the two of us we tried a regional specialty taps and a 750 of Duvel, paired with a salad and sandwich, both of which were very tasty. Minus the size of their outdoor deck, Smokeless Joe is about the size of the Contended Cow, including the kitchen area, and it impresses me what they can do in such a small kitchen! I am very happy to have visited. It made for a very welcome surprise during our* visit to Toronto.
(Note: I made this visit several years ago with an ex. Times change, eh? I reviewed SJ for a now-defunct webzine and the review went down the Memory Hole, but I was impressed enough with the place. I look forward to visiting Toronto again, both to re-visit Joes and try the newer -and reputedly better- places this town has to offer. I just hope the new gal is up for the trip!)
05-24-2007 21:19:28 |
More by Chaz
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
An interesting little beer bar in the heart of the entertainment district. They had a decent selection of local craft beer and European beer on tap. There were about 10 taps in total along with an extensive bottle list from all over the world.
Overall the selection was pretty good but I thought the choice of taps could have been better. I had a pint of Black Katt, which was very good but there was nothing else that really jumped out at me to stay for a second pint.
The service was very good. The bartender was EXCELLENT. She had a great knowledge of beer in general and knew the beer they had on tap cold.
The atmosphere was great too - very small and intimate setting. I will go back some time soon...
07-31-2010 01:47:26 |
More by TheSevenDuffs
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Smokeless Joes seems rather antiquated in Toronto now in at least name: as far as we could see, most everywhere was smoke free and the places that did have divided smoking rooms really advertised it. That said, having such a progressive attitude against the inhalation of carcinogens in light years ahead of anything Im used to in Bum-Fuck, er, Indiana so I was pleased.
This establishment is slightly hidden from the street, located in the bottom part of a converted old house. The place is cozy, or darned small depending on how you look at it. The bar and tables are gorgeous green and brown, with random bric-a-brac adorning the walls. A large beer menu screams out to you with new selections from Belgium. I found these Belgian beers to be a bit disappointing, more of the pedestrian ones you could get anywhere and no trappists. The prices seemed a bit high especially when you consider that those Belgians are the well-distributed ones, for the most part. Plus, why have the whole Koeningshoeven line and not have St. Bernardus Abt 12? We decided to go with the draft offerings from Durham County, which I have to say sucked.
The food and service were both very good. I had a sandwich which was reasonably priced and very tasty and the wifey had a nice salad that was also good and modestly priced. The atmosphere in this place was really where it shined.
I have to say Smokeless Joes was a bit of a disappointment as well talked up as it was.
07-01-2005 18:48:03 |
More by GreenWBush
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Smokeless Joe in Toronto, ON, Canada