Best Barrie Bars & Pubs

With its fantastic location on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay and its proximity to Toronto – less than an hour away by car – the city of Barrie is a tourist hotspot in its own right nowadays, and of course the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors need to quench their thirst just as much as the residents of this terrific Simcoe County metropolis. Luckily then, Barrie has a huge number of watering holes to choose from, ranging from uber-trendy craft beer emporiums to outdoor patios with stunning views as well as some of the hottest live music venues around. So here is a taste of some Barrie bars and pubs to visit next time you’re in the city.

Barrie bars and pubs

Looking for just a regular pub, to get some food and some beers? Here are two choices that aren’t too noisy and the food is good.

  • Bull & Barrel Pub In business for over 20 years, the Bull & Barrel Pub is an authentic English-style tavern with a classic pub interior complete with a roaring fireplace. The Bull features an impressive selection of both local and imported beers and ales complemented by hearty pub grub fare. On weekends, drop by for live music and weekend specials, but get there early as it’s quite popular.
  • The Local Gastro Pub Riffing on the traditional English tavern theme, The Local Gastro Pub offers a high-end twist on ‘pub grub’ classics such as fish and chips or curry of the week, while serving some excellent local craft ales on tap. Throw in beer tasting events, bar games, plus a location right next to Barrie’s waterfront for a post-pub stroll and the Local Gastro ticks all the boxes.
  • Honourable mentions: Donaleigh’s, Mcreilly’s Pub, and Kenzington Burger Bar are also in the downtown area and are pretty solid choices for a pub night.

Live Music and Entertainment

Barrie has a few places offering live music and stand-up shows. Up until the early ’00, Yuk Yuks Comedy had a club in the Mansion Bar downtown, while that’s long gone, there are still two solid choices.

  • Donaleigh’s Irish Public House a traditional Irish pub, Donaleigh’s can be found in the historic Five Corners area of the city and boasts live music, great food, two outdoor patios and the warm hospitality you’ve come to expect from this type of venue. All this and Heritage Park and Barrie’s marina are just a stone’s throw away.
  • The Foxx Lounge – or to give its full title, The Foxx Lounge Rock Bar & Hotdoggery – is one of a host of entertainment venues crammed into downtown’s Dunlop Street East, and it manages to do everything under one roof. With the closing of Yuk Yuks a few years ago, we give you the Foxx. At The Foxx you will find ‘Laffy Taffy’ stand-up comedy nights, brilliant music from local musicians, tasty homemade food and, in their words, ‘kick-ass hotdogs’. Fun, welcoming and relaxed, the Foxx is just the ticket for a night out with friends or a loved one.

Barrie’s Downtown Brewery

  • Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Another Dunlop Street East establishment near the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, the Flying Monkeys’ motto is ‘Normal is Weird,’ and this brilliant spot goes out of its way to prove it. Brewing award-winning beers in Barrie since 2004, the Flying Monkeys Tap Room reflects the Brewery’s culture with eclectic décor, enthusiastic staff, live local music, and a cool atmosphere that will make you want to return again and again.

Sports Bars and Pool Halls

  • The Locker Room Out in the suburbs in the middle of a small shopping plaza but worth the short trip, the Locker Room Sports Bar and Grill is an unfussy but enjoyable venue with no airs or graces. What it does deliver, though, is plenty of beer – there are eighteen drafts on tap – and lots of filling food, including ‘Barrie’s Best Chicken Wings’, as well as a host of televisions blaring sports around the bar, plus – and this should be a clincher for anyone – free fresh popcorn for its patrons. For the latter alone, The Locker Room is not to be missed!
  • The Penalty Box Described by its new owners – it changed hands in 2017 – as ‘Barrie’s finest sports bar’, The Penalty Box can be found a mile south of the waterfront and is an ideal spot for get-togethers with family and friends. Its large interior coupled with a whole host of flat-screen TVs showing the latest games means a great night out is in the offing for those willing to drive out to the plaza it is situated in, while live music, karaoke nights, lots of food choices and a large patio only add to the draw of this venerable city watering hole.
  • Alliance Billiards Old school and proud of it, Alliance Billiards is a little out of the way on a business plaza in the city’s north end, but for unreconstructed pool hall vibes, it is hard to beat. Simple décor, plenty of tables to rack and play, plus great food, drinks and service make Alliance Billiards an excellent, no-frills place to spend an evening with friends. Occasional live music, dart boards, themed nights and a colossal ten feet square projector screen showing all the sports events mean a fun time is guaranteed here.

If these aren’t to your tastes, there’s also currently 4 St. Louis Bar and Grills in the Barrie area. If you’re staying at the Best Western, Quality Inn or Monte Carlo Inn near Hyw 400, Tiff’s Restaurant & Sports Bar is a 5-minute walk east of them.

Barrie Patio Bars

  • Hooligans Yet another Dunlop Street East haunt, Hooligans outdoes most of the competition in the downtown area with its rooftop patio that affords patrons a spectacular view of Kempenfelt Bay – not to mention the city itself – that is simply unmissable. Inside is all about the fun, with the bar’s motto of ‘Eat, Drink, Cheer’ followed to the letter by visitors and staff alike – there is much to enjoy here, with the sports bar offering a twenty-foot high HD TV for all the games, varied menus across lunch, dinner and the rooftop area, a fine selection of beers, wines and cocktails, plus, of course, that patio with its staggering views.
  • Honourable mentions: Donaleigh’s, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Mcreilly’s Pub, and Kenzington Burger Bar are known for their patios too.

Guys Night Out

Our list would be incomplete without mentioning Lakeside Upper Deck, Barrie’s newest LGBT bar, and of course, Crossover’s Entertainment Lounge, Barrie’s last remaining strip club, after Silver Star and Misty’s Cafe (“Non-Stop Adult Entertainment”) stopped a few years ago. Apparently, the food is good.

Next time you’re up in Barrie looking for a new watering hole, try out some of these Barrie bars and pubs, you might become a regular.

Top 5 Best Restaurants in Hamilton

Are you a self-proclaimed foodie? In recent years, Ontario’s hidden gem Hamilton has seriously stepped up its culinary game, boasting tonnes of impressive eats.

However, with so much choice, maybe you’re not sure which Hamilton restaurants to try?

Ask a local in Hamilton for advice on where to eat and their suggestions are likely to lead to you James Street or King William, the hub of the city’s thriving food scene. Alternatively, you might be sent to food-frenzied areas like Locke and Ottawa Streets, both of which boom with a string of independent restaurants.

While there’s so much option, it can be difficult to know where to start. Let us help you navigate this foodie haven with our list of the top five restaurants in ‘The Hammer’ to start off your culinary journey in the city.

From sophisticated fine dining restaurants to more casual bargain spots, there’s something for all to enjoy. Whether you’re a local seeking some diversity in your restaurant choices or whether you’re a visitor new to the city, we’ve got you covered!

Why not make it your mission to try them all? And remember, there are plenty more fabulous restaurants to visit, so save room for next time! Bibs at the ready, people.

Quatrefoil

Proud winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2014, Quartrefoil was also listed as one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in Canada by enRoute Magazine and as one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants by Toronto Life.

Opened in 2010 by husband and wife duo Fraser Macfarlane and Georgina Mitropoulos, this multi-award-winning restaurant is run by international chefs sharing a global mindset. The couple actually met while both cooking at Toronto’s Scaramouche and the pair went on to train in some of Europe’s top Michelin-starred restaurants.

The stunning French-inspired menu includes seared sea scallops dished up with asparagus, fennel, nasturtium and strawberry vinaigrette and confit spring salmon served with sea asparagus, beet, cucumber, lovage, shrimp salad, citrus yogurt. Keep in mind that this changes seasonally, though.

It’s not just the food that shines either. The restaurant is located inside a beautifully restored heritage home in Dundas, creating a dining experience that is sophisticated and memorable.

Teamed with unparalleled high-quality service, this all makes Quartrefoil one of the best restaurants in Hamilton and a top fine-dining destination. Visit in the summer to truly enjoy the gorgeous scenery at its best.

Though a meal at Quartrefoil won’t blow the bank, it’s not cheap either. We’d recommend saving this one for a special occasion, perhaps.

HAMBRGR

With two joints in the city, you’re guaranteed a finely crafted burger whether you’re Downtown or at Crown Point thanks to the talented crew at Hambrgr.

This lot source their meat from local farmers and have a serious passion for beef patties!

Run by another husband and wife team, Michael and Paula Cipollo wanted to design an exciting burger brand that stood out from the crowds. And it looks like that’s exactly what they’ve achieved! Locals and visitors alike adore the mouth-watering menu that boasts over a dozen burger combos and frothy pints of local craft beers.

But with so many creative choices, which to go for? Certainly not a classic burger, that’s for sure. Now’s the time to be adventurous!

The Maui Wowi burger of spiced pulled pork and tangy pineapple jam is a great option, or you could go for the ‘Weekly Chef Smash’ which is basically the catch-of-the-day equivalent for a burger.

The 3 AM in Venice is a popular option with the crowds too, and it includes smoked mozzarella, balsamic glaze, and marinated vine ripe tomato with your beef patty.

Not a meat-eater? Don’t worry, as the vegan options are scrumptious too. Opt for the Nut Job which includes a walnut and black bean patty, or the Californication – a roast beet and quinoa patty.

So, whether you’re a self-proclaimed carnivore, or a vegan avoiding any ingredients derived from animals, there’s something on the menu to accommodate your needs!

The prices are reasonable too, so this is one of the restaurants Hamilton you can pop by on a whim while out in the city. Just prepare for the queues – Hambrgr’s lineups are infamously long! That says it all though really, doesn’t it?

Ancaster Mill

Perfectly located in Ancaster, Hamilton’s beautiful historic area, Ancaster Mill is a fine dining restaurant built with 19th-century limestone blocks on the pretty site of historic flour mills.

It sits beside a streaming waterfall and offers panoramic views over the rugged Niagara Escarpment, making it a stunning location for guests to dine in. Guests will love the large windows that reflect the gorgeous views of the surrounding historic architecture and charming waterfalls.

Ancaster Mill has been delighting guests as an icon of the local culinary scene for over four decades. Even with all the local foodie competition today, it continues to be a favourite among locals and visitors alike.

The delicious menu is based on contemporary Canadian cuisine, with a focus on fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Expect to find dishes like the burrata cheese starter served with garlic scape pesto, piccalilli, saba vinegar, and a grilled baguette and craft cut beef dished up with roasted bok choy, charcoal-grilled maitake, confit fingerling potatoes, and anchovy vinaigrette. This all depends on the time of year, of course.

There are plenty of delicious vegetarian options too, such as the charcoal-grilled portobello mushroom teamed with braised kale, cumin roasted carrots, toasted brown rice, and salsa.

While this stunning restaurant is a pricy one, the Sunday Supper deal may be a more affordable option if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a single meal. At $55 per head, you can sample a high-quality three-course meal served up family-style on a Sunday evening.

The Burnt Tongue

With two locations in Hamilton, The Burnt Tongue is a local’s favourite. If you happen to love soup, this is one of the best restaurants in Hamilton for you!

If you’re seeking comfort food when you’ve got a pounding Saturday morning hangover, head to one of The Burnt Tongue’s speciality soup joints. These creative soups are made even more delicious with grilled cheese to dip in them and a side order of crispy fries.

As they’re constantly switching up their soups, check online on social media for a revolving daily roster of the hearty, house-made soups with crunchy and fresh garnishes. Impressively, they’ve actually dished up over 700 nourishing blends!

Some popular past options have included the Moroccan lamb, the chicken mulligatawny, and cream of broccoli, so if you spot anything similar, snap it up quick.

If you’re not a soup fan, there are plenty of other options too. Offering sandwiches, salads, burgers, and loaded fries, there’s something for everyone to love on the menu.

Pretty much anyone can eat here too. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, celiac, or lactose intolerant – there will be a tasty soup or alternative dish to satisfy your dietary requirements.

We can guarantee that after a visit, you’ll end up craving soup. After all, this is the kind of food that warms your soul from the inside – quite literally and figuratively.

It’s a bargain option too so you can feed your fix whenever you wish – expect to pay around $8 for a medium-sized bowl of soup. Just prepare for the queues – we promise it’s worth the wait!

Edgewater Manor

If you fancy dining in an award-winning meat and seafood restaurant with a breath-taking backdrop, then Edgewater Manor is one of the best Hamilton restaurants for you.

The Gatsby-like manor building was constructed in 1921 and features a sweeping marble staircase dating back to the 1800s, wooden floors, impressive stonework, regal chandeliers, and is complete with landscape views of Lake Ontario.

The menu isn’t too shabby either. Start off a special meal with fresh oysters or tasty crab cakes before enjoying an entrée such as a delicious hunk of steak or freshly seared halibut. Pair your meal with fine wine from the carefully curated wine menu which boasts delicious tipples from all around the world.

As you can imagine, a meal at Edgewater Manor can be a little on the pricey side. So, this is another great option for a special occasion – one where you’d be happy to push the boat out!

Ready to Visit These Hamilton Restaurants?

While these are some of our favourite Hamilton restaurants, when it comes to eating out the city is your oyster! With the emerging culinary scene growing bigger and bigger, there are simply tonnes of incredible restaurants to visit in the area to suit all budgets.

Exploring more of Ontario? Why not check out our Barrie restaurant guide if you’re heading to the area to discover more top restaurants in the province?

Best of Locke Street Restaurants in Hamilton, Ontario

Hugging the western fringe of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is a formally bustling port city. In recent times, it’s become something of a magnet for entrepreneurs, foodies and artists who have succumbed to the natural beauty of the surroundings, and its new-found energy. This week we’re coving some of the Hamilton restaurant scene there, specifically Locke Street restaurants.

Locke Street, running roughly north to south through the city’s downtown, is a prime example of how Hamilton has exploded in popularity in the last few decades. What was once simply a ‘street of churches’ is now a vibrant hub of restaurants, bars and shops that offer something a little different. It’s a place where window-gazing and wandering amongst the hubbub of other people is thoroughly enjoyable. Locke Street boasts brilliant holiday and summer festivals, bespoke stores and shops where you can find all sorts. It’s also a short walk to Hamilton’s entertainment district, Hess Village.

So if you’re meandering along and need refuelling, or a quick bite to eat, or just a coffee and cake, where to go on Locke Street? Here we select some of our favourite Locke Street restaurants to grab something on one of Hamilton’s most popular destinations.

The Restaurants

  • Brux House Or to give its full title, Brux House Craft Beer and Kitchen. Located almost at the midpoint of Locke Street, Brux House is a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner and a sleek, welcoming gastropub that is one of the top ten eateries in the city. Classy, upscale yet relaxed, the food is great, they match craft beers with your eats and the atmosphere – even on the outdoor patio – is excellent.
  • Earth to Table: Bread Bar Another Certificate of Excellence award winner, Earth to Table: Bread Bar is not the biggest, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best on the street. As its name suggests, as many ingredients as possible are fresh, seasonal and locally produced in Earth to Table’s dishes. This includes a mouth-watering selection of stone-baked pizzas, burgers, shared plates, soups and salads, and a good selection of sandwiches and mains. Cosy, friendly and with great food – there’s not a lot more you could ask for.
  • The Burnt Tongue At The Burnt Tongue they keep it simple yet bursting with quality, so while their menu is restricted to a handful of choices – burgers, soups, fries, sandwiches – those choices are uniformly superb. Featured on the TV show ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’ and with its soups described as ‘stellar’, The Burnt Tongue is one of those small but perfectly formed eateries that becomes a firm favourite as a place to drop by and eat when on Locke Street. They also have a second location on Cannon St.
  • Democracy* A place of exposed timbers, ink-black slate and raw metal giving it the vibe of an ultra-cool office space or high-end loft, Democracy* – as its moniker suggests – prides itself on open minds, conversation – there is no Wi-Fi – and excellent vegan eats washed down with coffee or craft beer. Tasty shareables and appetizers, warming bowls and healthy salads, plus a nice compliment of crowd-pleasing mains make up the menu at Democracy*, but the great food is just a small part of the overall atmosphere here – the focus is on coming together, and using it as a place to meet and engage, and in that it succeeds admirably.
  • Alirang A stone’s throw from the sloping lawns and lovely greenery of Victoria Park, Alirang sits at the junction of Locke Street South and Main Street West. A Korean eatery serving a huge variety of classic dishes, but with a handful of Japanese choices also on offer, this restaurant is basic yet the food plentiful and very reasonably priced. Popular with groups, it has a tendency to get very busy during peak times, a sure sign that they are doing things right.
  • Mattson & Co. With an elegant interior, an extensive menu and a cool jazz lounge, Mattson & Co is a high-end eatery that’s perfect for date nights and special occasions, be it with family, friends or business associates. Found amongst a clutch of other restaurants on Locke Street South, Mattson & Co offers something a little different with its upscale décor and contemporary cuisine made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients – and with regular live music to further improve the already lovely atmosphere, an evening spent dining here is hard to beat.
  • NaRoma – a portmanteau of Napoli and Roma – is the brainchild of owner Mario Spina, who wanted to bring a special taste of Italy to Hamilton. At his pizza place on Locke Street he has done just that – even though here you will find an almost spartan menu where there is little other than pies to choose from, bar a handful of sides,, don’t let the relatively small selection put you off: NaRoma consistently serves up terrific pizzas, with a choice of meat or veggie options such as calabrese, siciliana and funghi. No frills, but you don’t need them when the food is so good.

…And Finish Your Locke Street Restaurants Tour With Dessert

  • Donut Monster A newcomer to Locke Street – it opened its doors in 2018 – Donut Monster’s owners were originally the suppliers of fresh donuts to many of Hamilton’s indie coffee shops. The next logical step, of course, was to open their own place and sell their product direct – and that’s just what they have done, and very successfully too. Serving their exceptional donuts seven days a week, and with great coffee, steeped teas and even milkshakes to wash them down, Donut Monster is a simple concept executed with love, care and a desire to make their customers very happy indeed.
  • Amo Gelato Caffe When all you want is a couple of gelato scoops to feast on as you pause to watch the world drift by, there’s nothing better than the cones, cups and even donuts served up in this Locke Street favourite. Opened in 2016 by Ally Amato and going from strength to strength ever since Amo Gelato Caffe is colourful, inviting space where you can eat in or take out, and choose from a wide selection of hugely flavourful gelatos, as well as coffees, cakes, waffles and pastries. For those of a sweet tooth – and even for those who aren’t – Amo Gelato Caffe is sure to hit the spot.

Next time you are in Hamilton, come and try some of these Locke Street restaurants, you might find a new favourite spot.