We count down the 12 Days to Christmas, why not the 17 Days to St. Patrick’s Day? If there’s one holiday that should be a season of cheer, it’s this one, we say. Here’s Edition 10 of the Vacay.ca St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown — where we name 17 of the best Irish bars in the land!
Day 10: Dora Keogh, Toronto
Story by Janine MacLean
Vacay.ca Food Columnist
TORONTO — Walking into the Dora Keogh Pub in Toronto is like walking back in time … ahem, Irish time. In one corner a fireplace is blazing and in the other friendly Celtic musicians are tuning their instruments in preparation for their Saturday afternoon performance (in between sips of Guinness). The staff are mostly Irish transplants and the feel of the pub is just so darn comfortable you could literally stay in the same spot all afternoon and evening drinking pint after pint of the black stuff.
Open since 1997, this pub has been a great installment for not only the neighbourhood, but Toronto’s Celtic community. One of the owners, Dora Keogh herself, gave us a bit of background on how the pub ended up in her name.
“There are four of us in the business and we all put our names in the hat and you can say it was the luck of the Irish because mine was the one that came out.”
If you’re craving a party, however, you need to come to Dora’s on Thursday nights for their weekly seisun featuring Celtic musicians from all across Toronto and, indeed, Canada. These guys know how to throw a proper ceilidh and patrons can’t help but join in the dancing and shenanigans.
If you’re as interested in eating as you are in drinking, Yer Ma’s Kitchen offers dinner parties for groups of up to 14 people. The Irish chef, Anthony Walsh from County Kildare, prepares the home-cooked meals you’d expect while visiting your Irish Granny — the kitchen/dining room kind of looks like hers would, too. Expect to leave the kitchen feeling as stuffed as an Irish pudding.
Quote from an Irishman: “Canadians really go all out. Back home it’s just another day at the pub,” says bartender David McConvey of Dublin.
You know it’s authentically Irish because: Are you kidding? Everything about this place is Irish! From the food to the patrons, Dora Keogh is as authentic as you get without having to get on an airplane.
Cost of a pint of Guinness: $6.95 plus tax.
St. Patrick’s Day plans: These guys plan to be packed to the brim from open (11 am) to close. They have live music all day and night, and if you want to fork over 10 bucks you can wait in the faster line. You should probably get a ticket. Three different bands will be playing throughout the day, starting with Debbie Quigley and Patrick Orceau from 11 am til 3 pm, followed by The Julian Taylor Band from 3 to 7 pm. Celtic rock band Nisha will finish up the night from 9 pm-1 am.
Contact Info: 141 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON. Telephone: 416-778-1804; www.allens.to/dora