First Look: Pacific Junction Hotel, a new cutlery-free resto-bar from the team behind Betty’s
By Anna Silman
A trio of bison sliders (Images: Anna Silman)
King East’s eclectic new watering hole Pacific Junction Hotel, bills itself as “Coyote Ugly meets beach bar meets Storage Wars.” And believe it or not, that’s a fairly apt description. Opened by the owners of the neighbouring Betty’s, the new venture is already teeming with business after being open for less than a week in the space formerly occupied by Veritas.
The first thing that strikes us walking upon entering the bar is the décor. The vast, multi-level space (complete with a brightly-coloured back patio and an as-of-yet unused back room) was inspired by a reduce-reuse-recycle ethos. Almost everything in the bar involves a creative re-appropriation of pre-used items, from the Mason jars that hold the beverages to a converted bathtub serving as seating at one of the tables. Add to that a host of decorations salvaged from garage sales — such as plastic flamingos, leis, hula-hoops and tableside chalkboards to scribble on — and you’ll understand the Storage Wars comparison.
Just like the décor, the atmosphere itself is charmingly haphazard. The choice of name itself was random, apparently, and the use of ’70s Scientific American magazines as menus was a similarly arbitrary decision.
This lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek attitude pervades the entirety of the operation, from the writing on the menu (wines are listed as “cheap to f*cking expensive”) to the venue’s motto: “Asses are funny, follow the donkey.” (Don’t ask.)
Along with the Storage Wars vibe, the beach bar comparison is similarly apt. With a Caribbean-inspired drinks list featuring specialty rums and tequilas as well as Caribbean beers, Pacific Junction feels more Cayman Islands than King East.
Drinks are made with fresh ingredients, including coconut water and a specialty Caesar mix made with vine-ripened tomatoes. For $10.50, thirsty guests can order a Morning After: a Caesar with house-made Clamato and hot sauce, fresh horseradish and tequila. Those seeking to keep things tropical might find a Coronita margarita to be just the ticket: a margarita with a mini-Corona literally jabbed into it from the top (around $10.50, depending on the tequila).
The food operates on a small-plate concept and is made for sharing, with the menu divided into meat, fish, starch and vegetables (specials from each branch are offered daily). And Pacific Junction is staunchly committed to the concept of finger food: it is a completely cutlery-free establishment, with patrons chowing down on sloppy handheld favourites like oyster po’ boys ($13), bison sliders ($14) and buffalo tofu (breaded tofu balls with buffalo sauce and a blue cheese dip, $9).
And for the whole Coyote Ugly thing?
“It’s definitely mainly a drinking venue,” says bartender Erin Park.
Finger-food, tequila and – fingers crossed — table-dancing? Sounds like a party to us.
Pacific Junction Hotel, 234 King St. E., 416-363-8447