The Best of Ontario: Restaurants Outside of Toronto
Home to over 13.5 million people, it’s not surprising that Ontario is chock-full of awesome restaurants and amazing culinary experiences. Though Toronto-based locales often top the “best of” lists, we know this diverse province has beautiful food in every corner and we wanted to explore. After surveying the land, here are a few of the top restaurants around Ontario — from Ottawa to Thunder Bay.
Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar
Known for tasty drinks and share plates, this Asian meets baja Mexican restaurant is home to a beautiful room and fine eats. In their bright space, you’ll be treated to everything from tacos (try the ancho pulled pork) to dim sum. Plus, they’ve got a variety of sweets to share, including a vegan option.
Supply and Demand
One of the top 10 new restaurants as voted by enRoute in 2013, this neighborhood restaurant turns it up a notch with fine dining plates. With an ever-changing small menu, you’ll be able to try something fresh and local every time you visit. The chef focuses on good quality ingredients so each bite is perfect in its own right.
North & Navy
Drawn to the similarities between northeastern Italy and eastern Ontario, North & Navy focuses on simple yet satiating northern Italian fare. Located in a cute little house, you’ll love the ambiance as much as you love the food. If you’re looking for a quick bite before a festival or event, stop by their Bacaro — a casual space in the back of the restaurant specifically for small bites and sips.
Beckta Dining & Wine
Canadian ingredients are at the forefront of this Diamond Award-winning restaurant. Located in the historic Grant House on Elgin Street, expect excellent service alongside your three-course prix-fixe meal or your five-course chef’s tasting menu. If the presentation isn’t enough for you, also expect a divine wine list and even better pairings.
Allium is the epitome of casual and refined. With a focus on new Canadian cuisine, the menu here changes monthly and is accompanied by a well-curated wine list. Plus, the space is infused with a good dose of romance if you’re looking to head out on a date night on your trip up north.
Love food and science? Then we’re sure you’ve heard of molecular gastronomy, which Atelier showcases in each and every plate. Chef Marc Lepine, winner of the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2016, focuses on letting ingredients and his genius dictate the food he crafts. This means that there isn’t a set menu -- instead, you’ll be asked your dietary preferences and restrictions and a perfect meal will be crafted for you. And you might even get to enjoy an edible helium balloon!
Farm-to-table is everywhere, but Treadwell practiced this type of cuisine before it was a trend. In addition to their fresh-first cuisine, they pair local ingredients with beautiful plating, a lovely patio, and a cozy atmosphere. Bonus, the chef loves to talk about the food that’s been prepared, meaning you’ll be let in on all sorts of foodie secrets.
Prince Edward County
Another farm-to-table favorite, this restaurant boasts one of the most beautiful spaces we’ve seen. An extension of the Drake Hotel in Toronto, the space is A-frame in style, all lined with fir wood, making it the perfect airy companion to a lake view. Sit on the porch on a warm day, enjoy a well-crafted cocktail, then enjoy a fresh brunch or dinner. Perfect lake day indeed.
An unassuming gem, this spot at Angeline’s Inn is so, so delicious. Part pub, part fancy fare, you’ll be able to select seafood, charcuterie, and more from a well-dialled menu. The drinks are inventive, the service is swift and charming, and the patio is the cherry on top.
Fresh, fresh, fresh. Enjoy Italian food in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. With daily fish, pasta and entree features, you’ll begin to understand why this restaurant has won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence from 2013-2015. Perfect for a relaxed lunch after exploring London, give the potato gnocchi with braised local rabbit or steamed PEI mussels a try
The Church Key Bistro-Pub
Much different than your typical burger and fries, The Church Key serves up pub food with flair. Situated in a heritage building across from the Grand Theatre, this place is a great spot for a pre-show meal. Enjoy a unique beer selection, a fresh menu, and delicious complimentary pretzel bread. If you’re visiting during the summer, grab a drink on the patio and enjoy the people watching.
Don’t turn your nose up at this hotel restaurant. AquaTerra, with a beautiful water view and even more beautiful food, has stood the test of time. Showcasing excellent service to complement their inventive plates, you’ll surely love this fine dining experience. Looking for something a bit less formal? Stop by for lunch.
The Sovereign Room
The Northern Ontario city of Thunder Bay, a 15-hour drive from Toronto, might not be synonymous with fine cuisine, but The Sovereign Room is here to bust any misconceptions. A local favorite gastropub, this room focuses on tasty flavor combinations (like the prosciutto and fig pizza) and local and regional beers, of which they have many on tap. Plus they often have live music, and, as cliché as it sounds, a darn good poutine.
A delightful space in a renovated church, Revival House has a seasonal menu that prides itself on using as many house-made ingredients as possible. Picture eating a perfect meal (may we suggest the warm beets and pickerel croquettes?), in a heritage building beneath stained glass. A lovely way to unwind after seeing a show or touring local vineyards.
With both a taverna and pizzeria, you can choose your own Italian adventure at this restaurant. Spotlighting simple ingredients in flavorful dishes, Pazzo serves up tasty pizzas and pastas in a New York neighborhood-style space. Plus, the pizza is half-price on Fridays after 7:30pm.
There you have it. Just because you’re not in Toronto doesn’t mean you can’t have a high-quality meal and an even better dining experience. Let Ontario’s culinary scene shape your trip and don’t forget to ask a local for their recommendations too.
Looking for more info on what Ontario has to offer? Visit Ontario Travel.