It’s a saying that harkens back to the beginning of time (at least, we’re pretending it does…go with it!): any food found within a stone’s throw of a major tourist attraction is, well, meh.
We have no idea how it happens, but if you want to grab a bite near any major tourist site, you’re inevitably faced with uninspiring (and likely non-local) options that, truth be told, most locals generally steer clear from. It’s not that they’re bad, per se, just that they’re…like we said…meh.
So here we are, coming to your rescue yet again, with some pro tips on the best things and places to eat near Ontario’s top 15 tourist attractions (according to TripAdvisor).
1. Niagara Falls
Looking for a patio view? Grab a local pint and Ontario turkey burger at Feast On certified Queen Victoria Place Restaurant and enjoy outdoor Falls views at the same time! Walking time: under 5 minutes.
Want something a bit swankier? Head sky high (well, 13 floors up) to Windows by Jamie Kennedy in the Sheraton on the Falls. Crazy gorgeous Falls views and super tasty local food makes for a spectacular evening. Dinner only! Walking time: 15 minutes.
2. Canadian War Museum, Ottawa
Out in the LeBreton Flats, there isn’t much within walking distance of the Canadian War Museum. One of the only spots is the Mill St. Brew Pub, situated right on the Ottawa River in an 140-year-old former grist mill. Walking time: 9 minutes.
3. Toronto Island Park, Toronto
Welllll there aren’t many food options on the Island, so we usually bring a local picnic from St. Lawrence Market or Kensington Market and dig in on the beach or grass. There are, however, a couple quaint cafes that have been on the Island for ages and are beloved faves (but you have to head east to Ward’s Island to find them!).
Both The Rectory Cafe (open year-round) and Island Cafe (open summer only) are casual and cozy, perfect spots for a chill bite to eat while relaxing on the island. Walking time (from Centre Island): 22 minutes for The Rectory Cafe and 29 minutes for Island Cafe.
Back on land? Head from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to The Slip, a brand new waterside patio by the folks at Boxcar Social. Unsurprisingly, it’s seasonal, so don’t expect to be sippin’ and slippin’ in the winter! Walking time: 8 minutes.
4. Parliament Hill, Ottawa
This one is actually pretty easy, given that Byward Market is only a hot minute (or ten) away from the Hill.
Snack time? Well, there are hundreds of options in Byward. You could grab the famous Obama cookie from Moulin de Provence or satisfy your tastebuds and your Instagram feed with a very, very beautiful (and tasty!) cupcake at The Cupcake Lounge. The options are pretty endless! Walking time: 10 – 12 minutes.
Up for a meal? None other than Feast On designee Murray Street! Lunch features some truly tasty sandwiches, dinner has an array of Ontario meats, and their local charcuterie and cheese boards are off. the. hook. They also have some solid veggie options and a wicked cocktail menu. Walking time: 14 minutes.
5. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto
Want a cheeky snack? Steam Whistle Brewery is across the street and it serves up bar snacks like pretzels and sandwiches loaded with local meats and cheeses. They also, you know, have beer. Good beer. Walking time: 3 minutes.
Want a meal? Amsterdam BrewHouse has one of the hottest patios in the city with wicked views and even more delicious, delicious beer. Walking time: 10 minutes.
6. Stratford Festival, Stratford
Just a nibble? Hit up cheesy Feast On designated Monforte Dairy to satisfy any and all cheese cravings. You won’t be sorry! Walking time: 19 minutes.
Bigger treats? On to bigger and better things? Mercer Hall Restaurant, another of Stratford’s Feast On designees, serves up rustic, regional cuisine that’s perfect pre- or post-theatre. Walking time: 15 minutes.
7. Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls
Meander down to the Whirlpool Restaurant, also operated by Niagara Parks. It’s situated at the 18th hole of the golf course, just down the street from the Conservatory, and serves up chill patio food like burgers, cocktails, and beer from Niagara brewery Oast House. Walking time: 26 minutes (on the Trail!). Driving time: 5 minutes.
8. Rideau Canal, Ottawa
If you’re there in the spring, summer, or fall, check out our recommendations for Byward Market (above), which is only a 12 minute walk from the Lockstation. If you’re there in the winter, when the Canal is frozen over, then it’s a different story! Go full tourist and grab a BeaverTail as you skate down the world’s largest skating rink. We won’t judge, we promise! #gottadowhatchagottado
9. Konzelmann Estate Winery, Niagara-on-the-lake
You can’t reaaaaally walk anywhere from Konzelmann, but you’re only a few minutes’ drive to two fantastic Feast On designated restaurants: Backhouse in ‘downtown’ Niagara-on-the-lake (6 minutes) and Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant just outside of ‘downtown’ Niagara-on-the-lake.
10. Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm Ltd., Huntsville
Yeah, just eat the maple here.
11. Lakeside Park Carousel, Port Dalhousie
This park is perfect for a picnic! On your way in to Port Dalhousie, you’ll probably drive past Beamsville. If you do, head to the bakery at 13th Street Winery and pick up some butter tarts (buy more than you think you need…trust us) and some other picnic-type fare and head down to the park. If you come in via St. Catherine’s check to see if the Farmers’ Market is on and pick up your picnic there.
12. St. Lawrence Market, Toronto
Well okay now, the Market is pretty much a gold mine for local food. We could spend hours checking out all the options (and we do…). Everyone knows the gems inside St. Lawrence Market, but what about the surrounding area?
If you’re in the mood for Indian, hit up Feast On certified Bindia. Walking time: 1 minute.
For coffee and pastries with a Japanese flair, check out NEO Coffee Bar, a new addition to the ‘hood that’s tucked away on Frederick Street. Walking time: 4 minutes.
Is it beer o’clock? Look no further than Batch. By the folks from Creemore, this brewery/bar/resto has fantastic food and seasonal, small batch (get it?!) craft beer on tap and in a small retail shop. Walking time: 9 minutes.
Want a walk and a cocktail? Venture a few more blocks to Feast On designee Richmond Station. The menu is seasonal and always oh-so-tasty. Walking time: 13 minutes.
13. CN Tower, Toronto
Since it’s literally next door to Ripley’s Aquarium, we’re going to have to repeat those answers.
14. Parliament Hill (again!), Ottawa
Samesies! We’re not sure how Parliament Hill has made TripAdvisor’s list twice, but let’s just go with it, shall we?!
15. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
In the summer, a mini-market pops up in front of the Club Monaco at Bloor St. W. & University Ave. Vendors stick around all season and usually include a good mix of coffee, baked goods, frozen treats, and sandwiches. Just cross the street from the ROM and your’e there! Walking time: 2 minutes.
Want a meal? Feast On designee Harvest Kitchen is just a few blocks away. Pro tip: get the grilled cheese sandwich and African peanut soup. Walking time: 15 minutes.
See? You don’t have to sacrifice your tastebuds to touristy eats just because you want to see the touristy sights?! We’ll be over here, continuing to bust myths, while you have your tourist attractions (and eat well, too).