Best Board Game Cafes in Toronto

Like any major capital city, Toronto has a very healthy café culture with countless establishments peppering its streets and vying for your custom. Yet in recent years a new spin on the ‘coffee and chill’ vibe has seen the growing shift towards board games being available in your favourite latte haunt, with these places becoming somewhere to participate in some serious competitive gaming action with friends.

So here we take a look at some of the best board game cafés in Toronto, and what they gave to offer…

Snakes and Lattes

489 College St, Toronto (647) 342-9229

With currently four locations across Toronto, Snakes and Lattes is rapidly becoming a behemoth in the board game café world, and has recently expanded into the US as well as being credited with the rapid rise in popularity of similar establishments around the globe.

One of the first board game cafes in Toronto, since opening in 2010, owners Ben Castanie and Aurelia Peynet have grown the brand and it continues to be a top draw for game lovers: $5 entry gets you access to shelves filled with over 1,500 games (for play and many for purchase) along with baristas-stroke-instructors, while for drinks it’s a warming choice of teas, a specialist ‘drip coffee’ plus the usual raft of lattes and flat whites, while a small but perfectly formed menu includes in-house baked items. One of the leaders of the pack.

For the Win Café

3216 Yonge St, Toronto (647) 350-6700

For the Win can be found on Yonge Street, and offers a welcoming, casual atmosphere that owner and gamer Michael Chung works hard to maintain.

Here the games and refreshments receive equal status, with a huge choice of things to play – classics like Battleships and Monopoly jostle for space with crowdfunded one-offs and rarities – and an excellent choice of artisanal coffee, bubble tea, soft drinks and juices, as well as sandwiches, fries and tasty snacks such as muffins and cookies.

Throw in a whole host of beers, cocktails and slushies and For the Win is bright, roomy and fun – and for $8 per person, it’s all yours for the entire day.

Spielhaus

1187 St Clair Ave W, Toronto (647) 346-7060

With an enormous selection of board and card games – 2,500 and counting – Spielhaus Board Game Café offers more than enough to lose yourself for a few hours as you plough through Warhammer with a group of buddies.

Boasting a brilliant pop art interior melded with industrial-style painted brick walls and piping, it’s an enjoyable space to while away an evening at just $6 to ‘stay and play’. There are competitions and tournaments each Tuesday, trivia nights where prizes and awarded, and a weekly guild of Dungeons & Dragons adventurers.

For fuel, Spielhaus serves lunch, dinner and drinks throughout the day, including that all-important caffeine jag of coffee.

A-Game Café

797 Dundas St W, Toronto (416) 971-4263

Owned and run by uber-gamers Derek and Gary Fung, A-Game Café isn’t the largest of spaces – it seats just over fifty people – but it more than makes up for this with the incredibly warm welcome you will get from its knowledgeable staff.  A clean-lined, contemporary space with a host of games, the emphasis here is on fun and community spirit, with local artists’ pieces hanging from the walls and a great selection of crowd-pleasing food and drinks to enjoy as you play. Prices vary depending on the time of day, but $8 will get you unlimited time to sit and thrash out a Settlers of Catan strategy, or you can stay and play per hour for $4.

See-Scape

347 Keele St, Toronto (647) 853-9892

Described as ‘a place to celebrate geek culture’, See-Scape – located a stone’s throw from the Junction – is a hybrid hangout for art lovers, coffee drinkers, music aficionados… and gamers of all stripes. There’s something for everyone here, with a fab sci-fi themed interior, plenty of craft beers and cocktails, the chance to belt out some karaoke tunes, plus an array of board games. There are 200 to choose from, from classics to contemporary faves, and the venue hosts cosplay, special events, magic shows and more, making See-Scape something of a mini Comic-Con. $10 will get you a day’s worth of geek greatness, or you can pay by the hour ($5).

Time Capsule

2183 Danforth Ave, Toronto (416) 666-8875

A large and glorious entertainment cave, Time Capsule is spacious and packed with things to do. Inside its walls you will everything from foosball to ping pong and VR set-ups, while the board gaming on offer is a little different, in that rather than pile ‘em high and hope for the best,  the staff at Time Capsule have put in the effort to carefully choose a selection of favourites and classics. Entry is $6 for unlimited use of the facility, which is a relaxed and relaxing environment and offers various alcoholic and soft drinks plus a small but tasty menu filled with hearty items such as nachos, burgers and party snack trays.

Riddle Room

579 Yonge St, Toronto (647) 344-2637

Not only do you get to play board games here, but you can take part in your own, real-life adventure within the escape rooms available to enjoy. Even if you don’t fancy becoming one of the Wasteland Warriors in the post-apocalyptic escape room setup (one of four scenarios to play through), you can dive into The Café area which offers board games aplenty, along with a selection of video games plus drinks and tasty snacks. And the clincher? There’s no cover fee for board gaming, so you can sit and play to your heart’s content without having to pay a single dime.

Bampot Bohemian House of Tea

201 Harbord St, Toronto **

Board gaming at Bampot is just one part of a lovingly crafted overall experience – from the décor to the extensive, specially curated tea selection, everything has been put together with love and passion, with the aim of creating a ‘public living room’ for all to enjoy. A small but perfectly formed community space, Bampot is funky and eclectic and packed with entertainment, from live music to collections of local art and even an in-house library – and you can game in a purpose-built area designed for large groups of friends. A real gem.

Crossroads Board Game Café

258 King St N, Waterloo (519) 781-4358

Six dollars gets you unlimited time in this large and colourful café bar, located just across from Wilfrid Laurier University. Plenty of tables and banquettes pack the place, while at the rear there’s an impressive library of board games along with a console gaming area with a smattering of widescreen televisions. The staff are great, they occasionally dish out free snacks – always a winner – and it has a homely, casual feel that means it’s easy to lose many hours here.

The Sidekick

1374 Queen St E, Toronto

Knowledgeable, friendly staff, the welcoming feel – it has a great fireplace – of a friend’s living room, plus board games, coffee and comics to read at your leisure? If those are what you’re after then The Sidekick has them in spades. This Leslieville store is a hybrid comic/coffee venue of exposed brick, wood floor and hand-painted murals, and urges you to come to hang out with them – they offer a range of hot and cold drinks, plus pastries and snacks delivered fresh daily, so you’ll never go hungry as you while away the time poring over your favourite issue of The Walking Dead.

Storm Crow Manor

580 Church St, Toronto (416) 367-2769

Board games aplenty are available here, but when people visit Storm Crow Manor they come for the experience. And what an experience. This is nerd heaven: set in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion it is a thing of beauty, packed with themed rooms evoking classics such as Star Wars and Twin Peaks, hidden areas and secret passageways, along with a restaurant, ‘The Shining bar’ and endless things to entertain you. Think of a sports bar but swap out the sports for films, TV shows and all things geek culture, and you’ll understand how much of a great time Storm Crow Manor can be.

So next time you’re looking for a different evening out with friends, consider a trip to one of these board game cafes in Toronto.

Best Sports Bars Downtown Toronto

With Toronto’s rich sporting history and the fact that Ontario’s capital city has professional teams – think the Blue Jays, the Raptors and the Maple Leafs, to name just three – in almost every single major league in North America, it is no surprise that there is a wealth of choice when it comes to sports bars where you can camp out for an evening and support your side.

And when it comes to the downtown area, in particular, you can barely move for establishments featuring multiple televisions, beers on tap, and hearty pub grub to keep you going while the games keep playing on the screen.

So here – in no particular order – are a selection of our favourite places to enjoy a few drinks with friends while taking in a game.

Round the Horn

331 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto (416) 785-2123

Right on the western fringe of downtown Toronto is Round the Horn, a sports bar that isn’t an ‘in your face’ sports bar whatsoever.
What Round the Horn offers is something a little more subtle: it’s definitely geared for sports – it has a ‘man cave’, pinball machine and televisions aplenty, after all – but whereas other watering holes tend to have the latest live game-playing loud and proud, here it almost becomes part of the décor.

There are trophy displays, the man cave boasts PlayStations and board games, but the overall vibe here is of a friendly local bar that you will just love to spend time in – and you can catch the game while you’re here if you want to.

The drinks list is excellent – mostly local beers available on tap or in cans, with a smattering of cocktails too – while there is a light menu dominated by hot dogs and nachos, and a great outdoor patio to hang out with friends. And did we mention the free candy at the bar? We told you this was a place you’ll love to spend time in…

The Loose Moose

146 Front St W., Toronto (416) 977-8840

Thirty years in the bar trade is no mean feat, so there’s a very good reason The Loose Moose has remained one of the top drinking venues in Toronto for three decades: it’s simply a fantastic place to go for a night out.

A staple on downtown’s Front Street and recently given a spit and polish – described as ‘putting lipstick on a moose’ – to add yet more slickness to the operation, this second floor bar-cum-restaurant peppered with vintage signs, rustic tables and an excellent vibe remains a true favourite and now offers even more to its patrons. Boasting an eye-popping liquor collection – nudging three hundred bottles of some of the finest or on-trend spirits available – as well as an array of draught beers, you are well looked after in terms of drinks, while the revamped, extensive menu has a mouth-watering selection of Epic Burgers with a supporting cast of the usual belly-filling favourites such as nachos, shareable slider platters, ‘Big Ass’ sandwiches and much more.

Throw in multiple screens above the bar area to catch whatever game you want, a huge interior to hang out with friends, plus The Antler Room housed below The Loose Moose for live music and events, and this place comfortably has at least another thirty years left in its tank…

Striker Sports Bar

31 St Joseph St, Toronto, (416) 929-9595

Opened in 2016, Striker Sports Bar is located a short hop from the city’s gay village and is the only LGBTQ bar in Toronto. With its motto of ‘All inclusive, All the Time’, Striker’s owners Vince Silva and Oliver Douglas have established a thriving mecca for people wanting a place where judgement is left at the door and where they can simply be themselves.

The bar is modern and welcoming, with super-attentive – not to mention sports-knowledgeable – staff, and there is ample space for large groups to get together and enjoy myriad sporting events across the venue’s sixteen large screen televisions – on which Toronto games are always given precedence.

Proudly boasting the first ‘Frost Rail’ (where drinks are kept cold on a line of shaved ice that runs the length of the bar) and a good selection of beers available in cans, pitchers or via draught, plus signature cocktails – Maple Leaf Dreams, anyone? – and a raft of wine choices, there is plenty to sip and slurp on while you catch the latest NFL match.

Add to this a small but perfectly formed menu containing classics such as wings, sandwiches, flatbread pizzas or shareable platters, and Striker Sports Bar is a perfect spot for a relaxing, hassle-free night out.

The Pint Public House

277 Front St W, Toronto, (647) 340-6395

Located within spitting distance of the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto, The Pint is a good old down-to-earth beer and pub grub chain bar with little pretentiousness but a whole lot of easy-going atmosphere.

Stuffed with dark woods, acres of lamp-lighting and enough levels within its walls to hold more than eight hundred people, The Pint is something of a tourist trap and boasts two dance floors offering weekend DJ sets, an impressive outdoor patio space, and enough sports entertainment to satisfy even the most demanding of fans.

‘The bar’s ‘Upper Deck’ – or second floor – has an array of games including billiards and arcade games, along with live music nights on Wednesdays and Fridays, and is a further massive area that can be enjoyed during an evening out or as a rentable space for private events.

With a great menu of award-winning ’40 way wings’, tacos, shareable plates and much, much more, there is something for everyone at The Pint, and the large selection of big screen wall-mounted televisions means none of the action will be missed during game-time.

Real Sports Bar & Grill

15 York St, Toronto (416) 815-7325

The very definition of huge, Real Sports Bar & Grill is a cavernous space boasting the Daddy of sports screens that dominates the colossal room and easily dwarfs the large amount of televisions that dot the walls everywhere else you look.

Almost a mini-stadium in itself, Real Sports draws Raptors and Maple Leaf followers in equal – and very large – number, meaning the atmosphere inside the venue is frequently loud, enjoyable and a whole lot of fun. Multiple beers, shots, coolers and cocktails make up the lengthy drinks list, while for those who need to demolish some hearty favourites while watching a game are well-served here: the menu isn’t massive but what is on offer is classic and very tasty.

Think wings, nachos, a choice of burgers, ‘greens’ and an array of dishes from the smoker and you’ll know what we mean – this is finger-licking stuff to enjoy while you pan from screen to screen to watch all the sporting action Real Sports has to offer.

The Dock Ellis

1280 Dundas St W, Toronto, (416) 792-8472

As with the aforementioned Round the Horn, The Dock Ellis – named after the infamously perma-stoned baseball pitcher – does sports-bar-but-subtle very well indeed.

Essentially a relaxing, no-frills entertainment spot for all-comers, The Dock Ellis has its televisions mounted behind the bar and a neat ‘play area’ tucked away towards the back of the venue, so the games are there if you want them but it’s not so up in your grill as to be off-putting.

The place offers low lighting and plenty of stark, wooden furniture to drape yourself across, and while not a huge drinking hole it has enough room to cater for large groups of patrons and even crams in pool tables, foosball, darts and ping pong, should you be inclined to play sports rather than watch.

The real stars of the show here, though, are the food and drink: draught beers are plentiful with an impressive selection of brands and a rotation of craft choices, while the food is uniformly excellent, considering it’s ‘just’ pub grub on offer.

Brunches, nachos, wings, briskets, sandwiches and poutine abound, so there’s plenty to get your mouth around while you catch a live game.

King Taps

100 King St W, Toronto, (647) 361-2025 

Rocking an upscale industrial diner vibe with décor consisting of exposed redbrick and spartan wood furniture, King Taps is, to say the least, spacious. Set over two floors – Dougie’s bar downstairs, Maria’s above – and a number of levels within each, with multiple seating areas and exterior patios, it can comfortably fit close to five hundred people at a time and at peak hours does just that: there are occasions when you’ll struggle to get in, never mind grab a table, so popular is the venue.

Tucked in between a warren of offices in downtown’s First Canadian Place, it’s a go-to drinking spot for staff looking to lunch or blow off post-work steam and catch a game on one of the myriad television screens bolted to walls behind bars or hanging from the rafters and pillars.

A massive selection of beers – at least fifty at the last count – along with some high end pub meals prepped in an open kitchen as well as superb pizzas make a visit to King Taps something to add to your to-do list.

The Football Factory

164 Bathurst St, Toronto, (416) 368-4625

No, not that football – this is soccer football we’re talking about here. The Football Factory is a niche bar within the sports bar staple, as it is one of few solely dedicated to the spherical ball game of English origin, but it’s none the worse for it.

Just because it’s soccer, however, don’t assume it’s going to be loud and stuffed full of rowdy, drunken footy (to use the British slang) fans – this place is actually pretty high end, with an upmarket vibe and some fabulous food on offer.

The regular haunt of Toronto FC followers during season-time, The Football Factory isn’t the largest but its interior is a sleek and modern mix of black wall tiles and matching leather seating, complemented by an outdoor patio area and stuffed with more than a dozen large wall-mounted televisions to watch the various sports on offer, plus four private booths where you control the viewing.

Drinks are extensive and the food is pub grub staples but done with real panache; oysters feature in a plate of ‘Angels on Horseback’, while the rest of the menu contains similarly grand plates along with market-fresh ingredients and a raft of upscale bistro dishes to enjoy.

Also, if you’re at Exhibition Stadium on game day, there are a few bars in Liberty Village, across from the stadium, that are popular with fans. Check out The Craft Brasserie, Local Public Eatery, and Liberty Commons, if you’re looking for pre-game bites, or celebratory pint afterwards.

Shark Club

10 Dundas St E, Toronto, (416) 506-0753

If you’re looking for TV screens, Shark Club at Yonge and Dundas Square is the place to go in terms of sports bars in downtown Toronto.

Like Real Sports Bar, Shark Club has an enormous fifteen footer of a viewing screen that dominates the bar area, and if that wasn’t enough then there are fifty-seven smaller LED televisions dotted around the venue just in case you’re the type who likes to watch multiple games at once.

The pièce de résistance though is the ace ‘ticker-tape’ that stretches for ninety feet, with constant scores and updates rolling past your eyes as you sup on your drink or chew your food.

Shark Club is part of an ever-expanding chain, with venues across Canada and the UK, and its owners consider it ‘Sports HQ’. The atmosphere in the Toronto bar is lively and great fun, with a hugely impressive drinks selection – from draughts to cans to ciders, excellent cocktails and wines – and a menu that offers everything from pizzas, jambalaya and ‘handhelds’ (think burgers, sandwiches and wraps).

Rec Room

255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, (416) 815-0086

Huge, high-ceilinged and airy, Rec Room is a big (and little) kid’s paradise, set in a truly stunning forty-thousand square foot space in downtown Toronto, right next door to the CN Tower.

A quite breathtaking mash-up of industrial piping, acres of wood, floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views and enough seating, nooks and crannies to lose yourself for many hours – and that’s before we start on the entertainment – this venue is quite exceptional and well worth a visit, set as it is in the old John Street Roundhouse.

A mixture of an amusement park, restaurant, sports bar and enormous play centre, Rec Room boasts a multitude of things to see and do, including dozens of arcade games, a live music stage and billiards, as well as the country’s only world-class virtual reality system dubbed ‘The Void’.

Sport fans are well catered for in terms of viewing with a huge projector screen at the rear of the stage as well as a number of impressively big TVs, but if you long for some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the interior Rec Room has lots of outdoor seating areas for you to enjoy, while Three10, the in-house restaurant, serves up a host of filling classics such as wood-fired pizzas, lasagne and even pretzels with beer cheese.

As you would expect given its size, there’s something for everyone at Rec Room to enjoy.

Well there you have it, ten of the best places to watch some games when you’re in downtown Toronto.

Mississauga Sports Bars

Mississauga has all the usual entertainment venues you would expect from a bustling modern city, with a whole host of eateries, wine bars, and high-end restaurants to visit for that special occasion. But sometimes you just want a good old unpretentious night out with friends or family, and a chance to let your hair down – and that is where sports bars enter the frame. Need a chicken wing hit, or a draft beer selection to boggle your mind? Hitting the town with the guys after work and want to watch the live game or fight? Mississauga has all the sports bars you will ever want, so here are our fave Mississauga sports bars to kick back and relax…

Wingporium

170 Lakeshore Rd. East, Mississauga (905) 990-4300

Just a few hundred metres from Tall Oaks Park and the shore of Lake Ontario’s Port Credit, Wingporium takes a simple concept – bar food, dominated by chicken wings, and lots of them – and does it exceedingly well.

So popular it now has multiple restaurants across the region, the eatery first opened its doors in 2005 but has quickly expanded, its rapid success underlining just how good it really is. Family-owned, and with a welcoming, casual vibe across its six locations, Wingporium offers a comprehensive selection of dishes that include appetizers such as jalapeño poppers and beer-battered shrimp, ‘pub grub’ such as pulled jerk chicken sandwiches or fish and chips, as well as wedges, salads and a host of beverage choices.

Wings, though, are the main draw here: the flavour, heat and combo choices are amazing, from 10 lb platters to plates of plump, juicy chicken smothered in Black Mamba sauce that is so hot it comes with a health warning. Throw in daily specials, takeout and pick up options, an outdoor patio and enough live sports to keep the most demanding fan happy, and Wingporium is pretty hard to beat.

Cities Sports Bar & Grill

5835 Dixie Rd, Mississauga (905) 795-7775

Unassuming yet enjoyably lively, Cities Sports Bar & Grill is located on Dixie Road just off the 401 Express and describes itself as ‘Your Home Away from Home’. While not the largest bar in Mississauga, it makes up for its lack of size with its big heart: there are fun times to be had here, with a thoroughly hospitable atmosphere, great staff and half a dozen televisions – along with a huge projector screen – to catch up on the latest sporting action.

The boisterous atmosphere is further enlivened by a great selection of draught and bottled beers, enjoyable – and pretty large – bar meals such as burgers, nachos or wings, and occasional live music. Shed your pretensions at the door with Cities Sports Bar & Grill, and enjoy a relaxed, casual night out with family or friends.

The Crown and Lion

7985 Financial Dr, Brampton (905) 453-1000

A short drive north of Mississauga, The Crown and Lion English Pub in Brampton doesn’t particularly resemble a traditional UK watering hole from the outside – its façade is more shopping plaza chic than grand Victorian edifice – but it more than makes up for it with its interior: with plenty of rich mahogany panelling, lush red carpets and lots of comfortable seating cross the tables, bar stools and banquettes that surround the lengthy bar, what you have is the ambience of a proper Brit ‘boozer’ right in the middle of Mississauga.

For beer enthusiasts The Crown and Lion offers an impressive amount of bitters, ales and lagers imported from ‘The Motherland’, most of which are on tap, and its menu it positively enormous, running the gamut from soups and salads to starters and sharing plates, daily specials (for example, Monday is ‘Wing Day’, while Saturday is for fajitas), along with a choice of burgers, grill items and hearty comfort food including steak and Guinness pie, liver and onions or the house curry.

Cooper’s Pub

780 Burnhamthorpe Rd W, Mississauga (905) 275-3245

Running the Crown and Lion a close race for best classic wood-accented pub interior in Mississauga is Cooper’s Pub, found right in the heart of the city on Burnhamthorpe Road West.

With décor that screams ‘traditional Irish’ – think emerald carpeting, raised drinking and dining areas, glass and brass room dividers and an abundance of leather Chesterfield sofa-style cubicles – Cooper’s simply demands sinking plenty of the black stuff while you enjoy the buzzing atmosphere and watch a choice of sports on fifteen televisions dotted around the walls and above the redbrick fireplace.

Cooper’s prides itself on being your ‘neighbourhood pub’ providing great food, service and atmosphere, and the menu is something to behold: packed with crowd-pleasers such as steak & kidney pie, bangers ‘n mash and shepherd’s pie, along with handcrafted burgers, grill choices, a raft of appetizers and salads, soups, poutines, spuds and sandwiches.

Big Slick Bar & Billiards

1965 Britannia Rd W, Mississauga (905) 858-7768

When simply watching sports is not enough, Big Slick Bar & Billiards allows you to get involved in a little healthy competition while you sink a few drinks with friends.

Situated on a somewhat tired-looking strip mall at Streetsville Junction, Big Slick’s interior is in sharp contrast to its drab exterior and surroundings: it’s a surprisingly roomy place, packed with billiard tables, bright décor and offering a laid-back yet buzzing atmosphere where games are constantly ongoing and the staff are happily serving cold draft beers to patrons from midday to the early hours of the morning.

Very popular during peak times – you may have to wait a short time for a pool table, for example – Big Slick’s is great for just hanging out with friends while you listen to music (there’s often a live DJ set from Thursday to the weekend) and chow down on chicken wings while you wait to take your next shot.

Fred’s Bar & Grill

636 Bloor St, Mississauga (905) 279-0097

Located on a busy little shopping plaza just off Bloor Street, Fred’s Bar & Grill is a family-owned and run establishment that has been serving customers since 1990.

Original owner Fred Fazzolari’s mission statement was to provide a friendly neighbourhood bar ‘where customers could unite for the enjoyment of his three passions – food, drink and sports’. Given its longevity, it’s safe to say Fred’s Bar & Grill has succeeded magnificently: the place continues to go from strength to strength, providing a modern, cosy and very lively space where patrons can enjoy each other’s company, along with the excellent drinks and pub grub on offer.

The menu is extensive, with favourites including fish & chips, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and seafood linguine, coupled with a whole host of pizza choices, pasta dishes, salads, appetizers, burgers, fingers and bites.

Every major sporting event is covered on the selection of televisions, while if you just want to eat, drink and chat with friends in relative peace there’s a fab outside patio area where you can kick back and watch the world drift by.

So next time you’re looking for a night out, try some of the Mississauga sports bars that are just a bit past Toronto.

Italian restaurants in Brampton

Resting on the northwestern fringes of Toronto, the city of Brampton is proud of its vibrancy and sense of community, with a thriving arts, culture and entertainment scene along with an exciting and varied choice of places to dine out. Brampton boasts ultra-hip coffee joints that rub shoulders with gastropubs, high-end eateries, Asian-influenced all-you-can-eat places and a raft of takeout spots, but when it comes to that old favourite – Italian cuisine – the city really shines. Italian restaurants in Brampton are as classic, comforting yet diverse as the dishes they serve, so here is a selection – in no particular order – of our favourite places to grab some of those beloved plates of food.

Italian restaurants in Brampton

  • Fanzorelli’s

    50 Queen St W, Brampton (905) 450-9752

    A Brampton stalwart since 1989, Fanzorelli’s Restaurant and Wine Bar is your quintessential Italian trattoria: homely, welcoming and with understated elegance – think plenty of natural wood, tiled floors and white linen – where the friendly and attentive staff serve up tasty, heart-warming dishes that everyone will recognise. Menu highlights include slow-braised lamb rack, curried coconut gnocchi and a huge selection of pasta and pizzas, the latter of which are baked in a stone oven. An authentic and wonderful place.

  • Antica Osteria

    3088 Mayfield Rd, Brampton (905) 495-5555

    Sophistication is the keyword with Antica Osteria, because this eatery serves up genuine Italian thrills with its warm, charming interior of whitewash and wood-panelling, coupled with an unhurried, high end yet casual vibe. This makes Antica Osteria the ideal place for a special evening out with family or a loved one, with a menu offering items such as medley of mussels, clams, jumbo shrimps, sea scallops, calamari and lobster tail or certified Angus beef steaks, as well as options for private dining, special events and catering. Owned and run by Silvana and Domenic Greco, who use their extensive knowledge of Calabrian cooking – Silvana herself is the descendant of a family of cooks – to serve dishes packed with fresh ingredients, top quality meats and exquisite seafood, many of which are imported from Italy.

  • Vesuvio Restaurante

    91 George St S, Brampton (905) 459-0511

    Sleek and enjoyable, Vesuvio is a well-appointed eatery located just off Main Street South in the heart of the city. Décor of creams and browns provide an inviting interior while the service is impeccable and the food top-notch: this is fine Italian dining and often described as one of the best restaurants – not just Italian – in Brampton. Opened since 1963, Vesuvio continues to thrive amongst an ever-growing dining scene in the city, holding its own against myriad young upstarts and the changing palates of foodies. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Winner for several years straight, Vesuvio Restaurante is one for those seeking absolutely classic trattoria dishes – think mussels and clams in marinara, ground beef ravioli or veal parmesan – but done very well indeed.

  • Italian Garden

    10069 Hurontario St, Brampton (905) 846-0229

    At the opposite end of the scale to Vesuvio, but certainly, no worse for it is the Italian Garden. While the interior may be charitably described as functional – picture a small but colourful and welcoming diner-style place tucked at the end of a small mall – it more than makes up for any lack of pizazz by offering excellent service, fast takeout and some mouth-watering comfort food selections. Italian Garden Restaurant is family owned and runs, with authentic dishes – you can even concoct your own dinner combos – and an extensive menu for eating in, taking away or even as a catering option. When you need a genuine Italian meatball sub or to grab a sausage sandwich on the run, Italian Garden is the place to go in Brampton.

  • Nancy Trattoria

    2023 Williams Pkwy, Brampton (905) 792-7822

    Nestled on the northern outskirts of the city, Nancy Trattoria is a charming, cosy little place that makes up for its lack of actual size by offering generous portions of scrumptious homemade Italian faves. There’s nothing flash here – the exterior is unassuming, to say the least, and the interior is clean yet basic – but the food is as lovely as the atmosphere with the husband and wife team that owns the place making sure that guests leave after a good, hearty meal of classics enjoyed in casual, friendly surroundings. A great selection of pizzas, pasta and decadent desserts make up the menu – Brampton locals refer to Nancy Trattoria as a hidden gem, and one that is well worth seeking out.

  • Bucatini Restaurant and Wine Bar

    170 Bovaird Dr W, Brampton (905) 459-6777

    Safely tucked within the top twenty list of best eateries in Brampton, Bucatini Restaurant and Wine Bar is a slick, modern affair located just off Main, and the recipient of multiple Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor over the years.  Frequently busy, with a capacious interior to handle the steady flow of patrons, the restaurant interior is elegant yet contemporary with a wide choice of tables, high seating and banquettes for those more romantic occasions. Food-wise there is much to admire, with – much like the décor – a simple yet attractive selection of plates and platters, from antipasto to insalata, a healthy choice of pizzas and pasta, plus entrees that boast dishes such as Osso Buco (braised veal shank) and striploin Black Angus steaks done to perfection. Bucatini states its main ingredient is simplicity, and it’s safe to say keeping it simple – yet excellent – is doing it no harm whatsoever.

  • Gusto Pizzaria

    135 Main St N, Brampton (905) 455-1010

    Right in the heart of the city on Main Street North sits Gusto Pizzaria, a classic pizza takeout place and ‘Brampton’s Slice of Italy’. Described as an authentic mom ‘n pop Italian eatery by its (many) fans, Gusto occupies a small corner redbrick on a busy junction, making it a perfect location for hungry passers-by to just drop in and order something to go. And drop in they do, with a wide variety of pies, slices, calzones and panzerottis to choose from, accompanied by a huge selection of toppings and dipping sauces. Throw in some classic Italian sandwiches such as veal, sausage or steak, along with pasta dishes including cannelloni and fettuccini, as well as the option to eat in, take out, or have them provide catering for you, and Gusto ticks all the right boxes.

Hopefully, this list of Italian restaurants in Brampton gives you some ideas next time you’re visiting the city.

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.

Tips to Eat Indian Street Food

  • Do not be scared to try out street food, it is the same as any other country selling street food. There are some great foods such as momo’s, which can be found in northern India that will be way better than what you eat at a restaurant. You not should miss out.
  • One trick that always works is going to places where the locals go. Chefs from Marigold Lincolnshire say that if you find many people queuing up for samosa, then most likely the samosas they are selling are good and fresh.
  • Try staying veg only when trying out street food. It is hard to know how long the meat has been sitting before being stuffed inside whatever it is you are eating. There are some great burger places where you can see they have quality meat. You should also give shawarma, and other stands know for selling meat a chance. What you should look out for are the small stands selling one type of meat. There is a good chance their meat has been there for a long time.
  • Judge them based on cleanliness. Check out the cutting board or knife to see whether it is dirty. If the place is dirty, leave and find another place. You should be able to judge whether the place is clean or not.
  • Careful with drinks that aren’t hot. If the drink is not a hot one, it means it wasn’t able to come to a boil. Things such as ice are usually made from water from the tap, and coming contaminated drinks becomes easy. Just because there are locals drinking doesn’t mean it is safe for you. Their bodies are able to handle the water better than your body.
  • Be careful with sauces. If you buy a samosa, then get offered a sauce, just know the chutneys and sauces have been made using tap water. There is a good chance the sauce and chutney have been in the sun for many hours. Street vendors tend to water the sauces down so they can last longer.
  • if you find deep-fried or grilled veg, nuts, and fruits, snatch them up and eat. They are amazing. Grilled corn with cob with salt and lime is one of the best. You will also have a chance to experience pan roasted nuts and fresh potato chips, and you will most likely like them. Even if the veg and fruit were not properly washed, the cooking will take care of any harmful thing and should be okay to eat. You should not be worried when they re-fry your food. It is the same as re-heating and it might have not properly cooked the first time. This is common because it speeds up things. If you happen to visit the south, give dosas and potato patty (aloo tikki) a chance.
  • This doesn’t even have to be said; always make sure you have properly washed fresh fruits and vegs with clean water before eating them.
  • Samosas and puffs are very popular, but you will have a hard time if you don’t know the name of the veg in Hindi. They will tell you it is “veg puff”. There are some areas that use potatoes like Goa while there are some that us peas and egg puff like in Kerala.
  • Stay away from the ice.
  • You can drink chai even if the place selling is not as clean as you would like. You can easily get chai at 4 am in the morning. You will meet a lot of people selling chai.

Follow these tips and you should have a great experience trying Indian street food on your next vacation.

Chinese food Barrie

Just a short hour’s drive north on Highway 400 from Toronto, the city of Barrie has rapidly expanded to become a tourist hotspot itself with a wealth of things to see and do, not least its waterfront area on Kempenfelt Bay which continues to draw people in their droves. With such expansion typically comes an influx of new places to eat, and Barrie is no exception in that respect with a raft of restaurants, coffee shops and takeout spots seemingly popping up everywhere, meaning residents and visitors alike are now spoiled for choice.

In terms of that firm favourite, Chinese cuisine, the city can offer multiple eateries from tiny family-owned and run takeaway places to large all-you-can-eat strip mall restaurants. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are our favourite Chinese eateries in the city of Barrie:

  • Mandarinlarge, welcoming, with seemingly endless amounts of Chinese food mixed with an impressive selection of other cuisines, the Mandarin is the top dog in the city if you’re looking for an award-winning buffet. So popular it has branched out across Ontario, the eatery is famed for its one hundred strong selection of dishes, with choices such as sushi and prime rib, plus a grill counter, soup and salad bars and a raft of desserts, a frozen yoghurt station and even an ice cream sundae bar. A very full stomach is guaranteed here.
  • Dragon Wokwith two locations in Barrie, Dragon Wok is doing very nicely indeed and it is easy to see why: they serve tasty, unpretentious Chinese food in generous portions at excellent prices. Dishes are fresh and made to order, with eat-in or take out and home delivery available. People who eat here become very loyal customers, which is always a good sign.
  • Sakana Houseon the eastern fringe of the city but well worth the trip, Sakana House boasts a lovely interior of contemporary Japanese décor and a comprehensive selection of dishes to ensure diners won’t leave feeling anything less than satisfied. Choose between all-you-can-eat or a la carte options, as well as takeout from an extensive menu that includes everything from sushi rolls to Chinese Chow Mein. Has recently opened a second location in Barrie, underlining how popular the brand is with locals and tourists.
  • Yang’s Chinese Restaurantout in the Barrie ‘burbs of Letitia Heights, Yang’s doesn’t look like much from the outside, tucked as it is in the middle of a small strip mall. Inside, however, is a little gem, with an open kitchen area where you can see food being freshly prepared and an inviting atmosphere in the – admittedly cosy – dining area if you decide to stay and eat. Take out, eat-in, order for delivery – the food is plentiful and the prices superb.
  • Asian Onefast, fresh and available for takeout or home delivery – as well as a tiny ‘eat-in’ area if you want to devour your food on-site – Asian One is another precious entry in Barrie’s list of best Asian food outlets. Located in the southwestern suburb of Holly, its menu boasts a huge selection of Chinese favourites along with a smattering of Thai dishes, ‘family dinners’ and party specials.
  • Lee’s Kitchen Chinese & Thai Cuisineanother Chinese/Thai hybrid eatery, Lee’s Kitchen can be found near Bayfield Mall just north of downtown Barrie. An unassuming redbrick exterior hides a neat, compact restaurant and takeaway with friendly service, great value meals and an impressively large menu, featuring everything from Combo Dinners to Cantonese specialities and even bubble tea. Always busy, which is a good sign for a food outlet.
  • C K Chinese Foodnestled among a whole host of takeaway places and restaurants on Bayfield Street, a short drive north of Kempenfelt Bay, C K Chinese Food has been part of the Barrie Asian food scene for many years. Not the biggest or flashiest – it’s housed in a squat stretch of businesses opposite a Pizza Hut – but what it does is provide tasty Asian food that is generous in its portions and easy on the wallet. C K does delivery, takeout and offers a (quite tiny) eating area, as well as catering, offering something close to four successful decades of experience serving Asian cuisine to the city.
  • Chef Chan Barriefound just south of the bay off Minet’s Point, Chef Chan is a family-owned and run Barrie staple and known for its fresh, flavoursome dishes. Their food is described as ‘Asian Fusion’, with a menu that includes Pad Thai, wing choices and the usual Chinese favourites such as Chop Suey, along with Family Dinner choices, Lunch Combos and group specials. Delivery and takeout are available, with both described as speedy and efficient.
  • Qing’s Cuisinesitting out on the southern edge of Barrie, Qing’s is definitely worth making the trip down Huron Road for its simple yet elegant interior and the quality Asian food it serves to hungry customers. Opened in 2014, the restaurant offers eat-in, takeout and delivery, and has twice won Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor. The menu is crammed with favourite and specials and leans heavily towards Chinese and Thai dishes such as Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai, Mongolian Beef and an impressive list of seafood and veggie options.
  • Asia Woksimple, tasty dishes eaten diner-style is the order of the day at Asia Wok, an eatery and takeout place situated just off Highway 400 north of downtown Barrie. There are no airs and graces here, but what you will find is classic Chinese cuisine served with a warm smile in this family-run restaurant. Freshly made, MSG-free, and open for close to fifteen years, Asia Wok is a great little place to fill up on Asian food.
  • Mei’s Daily Foodanother restaurant situated in a small commercial plaza, this time off Barrie’s Bell Farm Road, Mei’s Daily Food offers authentic Chinese cuisine to eat in or take away. The interior is simple yet casual and welcoming, while the food ranges from tasty portions of chicken balls to the more exotic spicy lobster. And if you’re looking for something earlier in the morning, they also offer a selection of Canadian breakfasts!
  • Dragon RestaurantThe Dragon has been serving Barrie’s finest since 1985 and is still going strong today. An unmissable grey-and-redbrick low slung slab at the junction of Essa Road and Burton Avenue if offers a good-sized restaurant area packed with tables and banquettes if you choose to eat at one of the one hundred available seats, and its menu is bursting at the seams with Asian goodness. Everything from Szechuan, Cantonese and Chinese favourites can be found on the huge a la carte menu, while the famed all-you-can-eat buffet is on offer as both an eat-in or take out option. Normal menu takeout and delivery service are also available, making the Dragon Restaurant an ever-popular choice.
  • Sizzling Woka no-frills addition to this list, Sizzling Wok is a tiny restaurant offering a huge choice of Chinese food from its location south of Kempenfelt Bay. Welcoming staff and freshly made food compensate for a very small eating area, and the Sizzling Wok offers takeout and delivery services, with a whole host of choices for hungry patrons: party specials, combos, family dinners and chef’s specialities complement the usual list of traditional Chinese favourites available to Barrie residents.

Hopefully, these will give you some ideas next time you are looking for Chinese food in Barrie.

 

 

 

Places to east near Canada’s Wonderland.

Wonder Mountain at Canada's Wonderland

Canada’s first major theme park, Canada’s Wonderland opened its doors in 1981. Today it continues to thrill locals and tourists alike with its amazing attractions, from seventeen rollercoasters – the second-highest number in the world, and including its newest addition, the scream-inducing Yukon Striker – to the enormous Splash Works water park and a whole host of rides, stalls, shows and events spread across its massive three hundred acre site. The scale of Wonderland is something to behold: more than two hundred attractions are within its walls, bringing in almost four million visitors every year.

Tucked amongst the suburban sprawl of Vaughan, Canada’s Wonderland is a short forty-kilometre drive north of Toronto’s downtown that’s pretty easy to get to. It’s easily accessible from Highway 400 and boasts excellent links whether you’re travelling by car (Wonderland offers ample spaces for guests), York Region Transit buses or via one of TTC’s choices – for example, you can take the TTC to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station and hail a cab or Uber from here to the park – as well as riding the Go Train to Maple GO Train Station which is just a short hop from Wonderland itself. For visitors flying into Toronto, there are accessible car routes from Pearson airport, as well as for US tourists travelling north from the United States.

So now you know what Canada’s Wonderland has to offer, where it is and how to get there, what are you going to eat when you arrive? Enjoying all those attractions can be hungry work, after all, so here we take a look at what’s available to eat before, during and after your adrenaline-filled visit to one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions…

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Pre-park Fill-Ups

Early riser? Can’t wait to load up on pancakes and get going as soon as the park gates open? If you need fuel before stepping foot inside Wonderland, there are numerous eateries dotted around the outskirts of the park that provide excellent breakfasts, guaranteeing you at least a few hours uninterrupted ride time before lunch. Here’s our list of pre-park haunts:

  • Boom Breakfast – just southwest of Wonderland and close enough to hear the screams from early-morning rollercoaster riders, Boom Breakfast is a fast-growing enterprise, and the Vaughan location is its newest – and largest. Great for groups, families and kids (their motto is ‘Where friends and food collide’), Boom’s menu is an extensive mashup of smoothies, salads, burgers and more, as well as the all-important breakfast choices – from omelettes to salmon and cream cheese ‘breakwiches’ to the Boom Power plate, there’s enough here to ensure you’re raring to hit those rides.
  • Sunset Grill – when a restaurant has survived more than three decades in the restaurant business you know they are doing something right, and the Sunset Grill is doing it very right indeed. With its first eatery opening in 1985, this ever-popular breakfast place has several franchises across the region, with the Rutherford Road branch closest to Wonderland. Wood-panelled, bright and welcoming, the Sunset offers a huge variety of meals including pancakes, waffles, omelettes and French toasts, with its Famous All-Day Breakfast the star of a very packed show.
  • Denny’s – a long-running diner chain is known to many across Canada and the US, Denny’s does what it says on the tin and provides a relaxed, casual foodie experience and offers a raft of much-loved classics. The Vaughan branch sits just southeast of Canada’s Wonderland, and amongst its lengthy menu of mains, desserts, sides and drinks, there are an awe-inspiring selection of breakfasts plates, including poutine, Belgian waffles, Philly cheesesteak omelettes, sizzling skillets and even a T-bone steak affair, all of which are available around the clock.
  • Cora – two miles south of the park lies Cora, whose owner – the redoubtable Cora Tsouflidou – has been in the breakfast business for more than thirty years, and it shows. With a considerable number of branches across the area, Cora provides hearty plates of comfort food with a smile, typically amongst sunny, colourful decor within its restaurants. A full belly is guaranteed when you eat here, with some huge breakfast platters available along with excellent fruit offerings.
  • Symposium Cafe Restaurant & Lounge – opened in 2015, this latest addition to Symposium’s fast-expanding portfolio of restaurants is just five hundred metres from Wonderland and is as packed with food choices as the park is with thrill rides. Open from morning ‘til late every day of the week, it is a relaxed and relaxing spot for casual dining, and its breakfasts will really hit the spot. Symposium’s ‘early bird’ is served from 8 am to 11 am, while its all-day offer runs until 4 pm, with the latter offering a huge selection of juices, omelettes, French toasts and waffles, as well as gourmet options (including fillet of beef medallions) and Benedicts.

Lunch

As you would expect given its size and popularity, Canada’s Wonderland offers a huge range of restaurants and fast food places inside its walls, from Subway to Pizza Pizza and a whole host of others, including International Buffets, Pretzel & Beer Bars and a large choice of dessert stalls and diners. Coupled with the park’s ‘Dining Plans’ and ‘Meal Deals’ you’re never going to miss out on a bite to eat if the fancy takes you. As we all know, however, prices can be a little steeper once you’re inside any type of park or centre. Instead, especially if you’ve arrived later in the day and need something to eat before entering, it’s just as enjoyable to grab lunch from one of the myriad eateries that dot the streets and ‘burbs around Wonderland itself. Often they are cheaper, sometimes healthier, and quite a lot of the time far more enjoyable while offering that something a little bit different. Here’s a handful to whet your appetite:

  • Zona Caffé – a little tucked away beneath the glassy office block of Mackenzie Health Urgent Care Centre on Jane Street, southeast of Wonderland, Zona Caffé is a sleek, contemporary café owned and run by Lina and Silvano DeRocchis. At Zona, the emphasis is on traditional Italian fare, with authentic dishes via a hot table and a pride-of-place Victoria Arduino espresso machine serving patrons. Breakfast-wise there’s everything from breakfast bagels to ham and cheese omelette pizzas, while a whole host of Italian favourites such as hot sandwiches, Paninis and risotto round out the alternative choices.
  • Ichiki Japanese & Thai Restaurant – another eatery within spitting distance of the theme park’s gates, Ichiki Japanese & Thai is a hip, thoroughly welcoming space decked out in dark woods and black leather, with an impressively comprehensive menu. With a choice of a la carte or All You Can Eat – niftily ordered via an iPad at your table – diners can enjoy more than two dozen appetizers and noodle dishes, a large choice of sushi and sashimi, plus speciality rolls, combos and enormous party trays guaranteed to fill a group of empty stomachs prior to venturing into Wonderland.
  • Bamiyan Kabob – located just across the road from Wonderland’s large parking areas, this Afghani restaurant sits amongst a clutch of other businesses in a nondescript strip mall but don’t let that put you off. Inside its walls, the Bamiyan chefs rustle up authentic, fresh and delicious Afghan cuisine, and the restaurant is still growing in popularity – there are now seven branches across the GTA. Wraps, kabobs, kabob dinners – rammed with rice, salads, and naan bread – as well as a smattering of desserts means you can stock up before walking across to the park.
  • Pizza Depot – like Bamiyan above, Pizza Depot is within walking distance of Wonderland’s entrance gates so is ideal for loading up on pies before you ride. Found at the end of a row of businesses on Jane Street, it’s a blink and you’ll miss it place if you’re speeding by, but it’s worth dropping in to check out its selection of meat, veggie and international pizzas, chicken wings – with over fifty flavours – and burgers, plus salads, sides and loaves of bread. There’s plenty here for those who like it fast and enjoyable, just like those rollercoasters. There’s no indoor seating though, just takeout.
  • Eli’s Table – just a few doors down from the aforementioned Pizza Depot, Eli’s Table looks an unassuming eatery from the outside, but this family-owned and operated restaurant serves up excellent Mediterranean cuisine and is an instant hit with whoever eats here. There are salads, cheese and chicken burgers if you want them, but the stars of the show are the homemade, authentic shawarmas, souvlakis and falafel dishes that customers are falling over themselves to praise and which the owner clearly – and rightly – takes pride in serving.
  • Champion Doner – if you like fast food but are looking for something different to McDonald’s then Champion is another restaurant serving super-tasty grab and go food that you can fill up on before enjoying what Wonderland has to offer. Fresh, tasty Mediterranean cuisine, huge portions, and choices such as shawarmas, doners kebabs, platters, wraps, salads, desserts including baklava and a ton of delicious sides such as tzatziki and hummus – plus the option to eat in or take away – mean Champion is one of the go-to places in Vaughan.
  • Kelseys Original Roadhouse – just northeast of the park, Kelseys is something of a Canadian staple and almost guaranteed to satisfy with its selection of belly-warming favourites. Burly burgers, steaks, ‘fall off the bone’ ribs, a fish selection plus a cornucopia of pasta picks, salads, sides, wings and dips are on offer for hungry Wonderlanders, meaning you can load up on lunch so you’re ready to hit the attractions straight away.

Post-Wonderland eats

Once you’re done thrill-seeking for the day it can often be the case that you need to refuel before heading home, so luckily the streets around Wonderland are jam-packed with places to top you up with food and drink. Here’s our selection of eateries – plus a rather unique bar – to enjoy post-park so your journey home is a content one:

  • Sal’s Caribbean Grill House – Caribbean and Canadian fusion food is the order of the day at Sal’s, found just west of Wonderland in a small strip mall on Weston Road. Offering something a little different, the eatery has a full menu of Caribbean and West Indian dishes such as goat and shrimp served on beds of rice, along with an array of appetisers, salads, soups and mains that include jerk wraps, braised oxtail and pan-fried red snapper. Eat-in or take out your choice of rich, flavourful food.
  • Dave and Busters – aways south of the park where Highway 400 meets the 407 at the centre of Vaughan, Dave and Buster’s is perfectly placed for a stop-off once you’re done for the day at Wonderland and is conveniently close to Highway 407 TTC subway station for plenty of transit connections. A sports bar on steroids, Dave and Buster’s interior is a cavern of neon, music and wall-mounted televisions where the whole family can relax and choose from an enormous selection of food and drink favourites: there’s everything here from cocktails and beers to ‘Shareable’ and ‘Snackable’ platters, sliders, burgers, steaks and ribs, and so much more.
  • Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar – across the 400 from Dave and Buster’s, the Vaughan branch of Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar sits amongst dozens of other restaurants and stores in the enormous retail development on Colossus Drive. A stylish interior, outdoor seating plus an extensive menu of Italian-inspired main dishes such as chicken Parmesan and crusted Pacific snapper, along with a solid clutch of pizzas and pasta, make this a worthwhile stop before you head home.
  • St. Louis Bar & Grill – taking up a prime spot across the street from Canada’s Wonderland, the St. Louis Bar & Grill is a diner-cum-sports-bar that has no pretensions other than to make sure you’re full of hearty favourites when you leave. Casual, comfortable and with a smattering of widescreen televisions showing games, you can stuff yourself with wings, tacos, poutines, ribs and plenty more here.
  • Zafferano Ristorante – just a couple of miles south of the park, Zafferano is a family-owned and run restaurant where you’ll be made to feel right at home. With lovely décor and a relaxing ambience, the food just adds to the overall feel of sitting in an authentic upscale eatery somewhere in Italy – there’s something for everyone here with their varied and creative menu, offering much-loved Italian classics along with a good selection of inventive dishes that are a twist on the traditional.
  • Astoria Shish Kebob House – there are times when, post-rollercoasters, all you need is a filling, delicious hand-to-mouth wrap of Greek goodness, and this is where the Astoria comes in. Tucked a little out of the way in a small mall where Highway 73 meets the 400, it’s worth making the trip due to the great choice of dishes and takeaways, including mixed grills, seafood favourites, sandwiches, sides and salads, as well as those all-important staples, the souvlakis and stuffed pita bread.
  • JR Sports Bar & Grill – a new kid on the block having opened in 2018, JR Sports Bar & Grill is aiming for the top and describes itself as ‘one of Ontario’s top sports bars’. Located around two and a half miles south of the park and just off Highway 400, the eatery is bright and spacious with an open-plan interior making it ideal for families and large groups that like a bit of noise and plenty of atmospheres – plus the novelty hookah pipes available to patrons. Food is the usual hearty fare of bar favourites such as wings, burgers, pizzas and kabobs, along with a good choice of appetisers, sides, salads and desserts.
  • Tandoori Time – one of the top twenty restaurants in the area, Tandoori Time can be found tucked away in Norwood Plaza, just a few hundred metres east of Wonderland’s parking areas. Serving up delicious halal Pakistani and Indian cuisine, this eatery may be on the small side, but it has some serious credentials, including numerous awards for its food. Dine-in or take out from the extensive choice of dishes, including kebabs, curries, fish meals and biryanis, as well as the full complement of sides, desserts and drinks to wash it all down.
  • The Keg – situated just off Highway 73 and a short drive south from the theme park, The Keg Steakhouse & Bar is plush and welcoming, and ideal if you fancy dropping in with a large group of friends or family. Logs of dark wood, lots of low lighting, and lots of delicious shellfish and aged beef sirloins mean The Keg will not disappoint if you’re looking for something casual yet thoroughly enjoyable.
  • Canyon Creek Chophouse – another foodie option in the commercial sprawl south of Wonderland, Canyon Creek Chophouse is an upscale steakhouse chain restaurant serving up some terrific dishes and a relaxed, relaxing vibe amongst its wood-heavy interior décor. Eat-in or take it home with you, the menu offers some mouth-watering options, including ‘Carved and Crafted’ items such as steak frites or filet & lobster, ‘Signature Aged Prime Rib’, ‘Handhelds’ (or high-end sandwiches), as well as starters, sharing plates, green dishes, ‘Craft Your Own’ steak meals, plus desserts and drinks.
  • Green Dragon CVR – a niche eatery, but for those who enjoy sipping on fantastic craft beers while riding through the landscapes of Red Dead Redemption II, this is the place to go. Literally down the street from the park, Green Dragon is ‘Vaughan’s first video game bar’, a small-but-perfectly-formed stop off where you can hang with friends, relax on sofas, and either buy or play a massive selection of video games while enjoying excellent, locally-brewed craft beer. It’s like being at home before you’ve even arrived there.

Just for Kids

Overdosed on one of the park’s ‘Meal Deals’ and don’t need to eat, but your children are still – somehow, despite all those chicken wings they devoured at lunch – crying out for food? The good news is there are a ton of well-known fast food places around Wonderland for a quick and easy fix for the youngsters. McDonald’s are well represented in the area, as you would expect, with at least four restaurants within a few miles of the park, while eateries such as Hero Certified Burgers, A&W, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s are handily placed for a stop-off if you need something quick. If it’s something to eat before you enter Wonderland, breakfasts are also served at the majority of the aforementioned big-name chains, while a large number of our restaurant choices also serve something for the little ones in the form of separate kids’ menus.

Places to stay

As you would expect in the suburb of a major metropolis, Vaughan and its nearby areas possess an impressive choice of hotels and places to stay, so if your Wonderland visit morphs from a one day visit to a three-day weekend mini-vacation, you’re not going to spend it sleeping in your car. Aloft and Novotel both have hotels just south of the park, while the Hilton and Marriott Residence are a little further towards the junction of Highways 400 and 407, but there are numerous locations towards the centre of Vaughan. Wonderland itself offers a ‘vacation package’, which provides entry to the park plus a choice of nearby hotels, so if it’s a two-day visit with an overnight stay, for example, both your needs are catered for.

Photo: Jeremy Thompson / Flickr