Radio Café at the MacLaren Art Centre

The combination of food and art is to me a perfect union; the Radio Café at the MacLaren Art Centre exemplifies this dynamic cultural duo.

The MacLaren Art Centre needs no introduction to Barrie residents; we are charmed to have the opportunity to wander through the galleries, to peruse the fine crafted items in the gift shop, or perhaps bring in a piece of art to be framed, and then to be able to enjoy lunch at the café too, this is a perfect outing! I am somewhat reluctant to share this hidden gem with my readers, but I simply can’t keep this jewel to myself.

Manager Tania Gregorie spoke with me over a cup of “Deep Green Embrace” tea, sharing that advertising for the Radio Café has not been necessary. Since opening 12 years ago, word of mouth
brought the customers in, while the good food and unique surroundings keep them coming back. City Hall staffers, courtroom lawyers, gallery patrons, college students, tourists and locals alike are all frequent customers.

The Radio Café is ideally situated; front and center of the gallery, with exquisitely creative tables, comfy club chairs, all nicely spaced on two levels. In winter the fireplace beckons, and then come patio season, umbrella tables extend the dining space out into the Massie Family Sculpture Court. The building is an architectural landmark, combining the renovated Carnegie Library with state of the art galleries. Renowned sculpture artist, John McEwen, created the stunning “Star Wall” which lines the sloping walkway, from café entry to the lower level framing studio. His work also graces the outdoor sculpture court.


The Radio Café is both spacious and intimate, it is an ideal atmosphere to read work or study, Wi-Fi is available, ambiance abounds. Coffees, teas and a fully licensed bar offer guests an abundance of beverage options, while the sparkling stainless steel open kitchen, provides inspired space for the staff to create the food.

Radio Cafe offers vegetarian, Fair Trade and Certified Organic products. While 95% of the menu items are made in house, the café also showcases local growers and producers. The wonderful grainy bread is baked by Brian and Lil Payne, soup is from Pamela Card of SoupHerb Soups, Grandma Lambes bakes the date squares and butter tarts, while Nicholyn Farms provides the lemon squares and gluten free brownies. The menu is a combination of standby classics and new items. My favourites include the best ever Thai Curry Chicken salad sandwich, samosas and dip, or a hearty bowl of soup served with a slice of fresh bread.


The Radio Café is also able to provide light catering for meetings, workshops and special events. Weddings, holiday parties and larger gatherings are most welcomed too. I urge you dear readers to venture forth to the MacLaren Art Center, celebrate an afternoon of cultural delights for all your senses; the Radio Café shines!

37 Mulcaster Street
Barrie, ON L4M 3M2
Mon-Fri 10 am to 5 pm
Sat & Sun 10 am to 4 pm
+1 (705) 721-9696

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets