Photo cred - Okey Doke Tatoo
So you want a tattoo. But you don’t want whatever hideous one your roommate with the stick-and-poke affinity would give you. You want the best. Check out some of these places and see if anything strikes your fancy.
232 Queen St. West
Ahh, my one and only. When I was younger, I got my first tattoo here. It was stupid; don’t worry about it. The point is, this place is great. Handsome Mike used to work here, and his linework is incredible. He’s moved on, but the artists at New Tribe are some of the most enthusiastic and talented in the city. Being in a tattoo parlour can be intimidating, especially if you’re a baby-faced kid. I always feel super comfortable coming in there.
Okey Doke Tattoo Shop
506 College Street
Remember Handsome Mike from the last post? Well, when I say he’s moved on, he’s actually moved on here. That and the twee aesthetic of the Okey Doke should be enough to get you interested. Its reputation has it known as “your favourite tattoo artist’s tattoo shop.” I don’t doubt it. Okey Doke has walk-in Sundays, but the line often starts early and stretches-- better get there fast. Plus, there’s a dog.
Pearl Harbour Gift Shop
24 Kensington Avenue
Beautiful, nautical-themed Pearl Harbour is a bit on the pricey side, especially for walk-ins. But it’s absolutely worth it, with some of the best artists in the city creating gorgeous custom and flash-style work. Located in the heart of Kensington, you can get inked and then get drunk. But not vice versa.
Passage Tattoo Parlour
473 Church Street
Nestled right into the Church-Wellesley Village, word on the street is, it’s definitely one of the more hidden tattoo parlours. And one of the absolute best. Being so tucked away, it relies heavily on word of mouth to spread the word-- and it works. If you get inked here, you most definitely will not regret it-- what with talented artists and a cool environment and all the good work you can imagine.
2499 Yonge St.
Seven Crowns has a dope reputation for several reasons: people like the owners. Word on the street is, they’re good people. They’re still “small” (by small I mean secret) enough to not be a huge casual tattoo shop churning out the same few images day after day. They’re known for their custom work, which means everyone who goes to them actually went looking. And if they went looking, they must be worth it.
Yonge St Tattoos
602 Yonge Street
I have friends who have a lot of respect for this place. While I’ve personally never gotten a tattoo here, I do know people who swear by Yonge St. Tattoos. A laid-back environment right by Wellesley Station, this downtown core tattoo shop should fulfil all your needs-- from a butterfly stencil silhouette to intense custom work.
Chronic Ink Tattoos
2535 Yonge St. (Second floor)
Known as the best place to get authentic Asian tattoos in Toronto, this Yonge & Eg gem is not to be forgotten. Authentic Asian tattoos are not easy to come by, and this studio’s artists are committed to creating beautiful custom work that also shows their industry in a more positive light. Come out to midtown for some ink. You won’t regret it.
299 Harbord Street
Right in the Annex, Speakeasy is pretty easy to get to. Reviews suggest amazing staff, and the general consensus around the city is that this place is 'The Business.' With guest artists coming in, you’re lucky to book a spot, because they’re all usually top-notch situations.
Archive Tattoo Studio
1528 Dundas St. West
For still a relatively new tattoo studio, Archive have built up quite a reputation for themselves. Their artists’ work is brilliant and beautiful, and they work with the client to help you create a design that you are definitely going to be ‘bout. Remember, tattoos are pretty damn permanent. A friend of mine got a Harry Potter tattoo here about a year ago-- still looks good. As Katy Perry said, probably in reference to this place: No regrets, just love.