Whether you’re here in Niagara-on-the-Lake for a day or for a week, dining is often the highlight of your day. And how lucky are we to have so many dining options in a town with a population of fewer than 15,000 people. When I stop to count the number of wonderful restaurants we are blessed with in this area, it boggles my mind. So what are our favourites?
The Old Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, 2228 Niagara Stone Rd., 905-468-8900
We love this restaurant for so many reasons. It’s within an easy 10-minute walk from our door, the food is delicious and reasonably priced and, in the summertime, we have the option of sitting indoors or outdoors on the patio. In the bar on Friday and Saturday evenings, we can enjoy live performances by great local musicians along with tasty treats and wine. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
The Stone Road Grille, 238 Mary Street, 905-468-3474
This one’s popular with locals who often refer to it as “The Rest.” From the outside, you’d never guess this is an award-winning restaurant and one of the best in town. It’s only about a 15-minute walk from our door and features fresh new twists on classic dishes in an ever-changing menu along with house-made breads, artisanal cheeses and local fruit and produce. It’s a bit pricey but well worth it for special occasions. Open six days a week (closed Mondays) from 11:30 pm to 2:00 p.m. for lunch and from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for dinner.
Ginger Restaurant, 390 Mary Street, 905-468-3871
If you love Asian food, you’ll adore Ginger Restaurant. It’s perfect for an intimate evening out or for a relaxed dinner with friends. Manu selections represent Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and various regions of China, all presented in a western style. Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
The Charles Restaurant Lounge, 209 Queen Street, 905-468-4588
We repeat — The Lounge. Here you can enjoy entrées on the menu for $15 or less. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis — no reservations are accepted. So this is a perfect spot for a pre-show dinner around 5 or 5:30 p.m. Then you can walk it off before you attend your Shaw performance. We especially love the “not-your-usual” Shepherd’s Pie but everything on the menu is delightful. Wine by the bottle and alcoholic beverages can be expensive, so we suggest wine by the glass or a beer if budget is a concern. Open daily from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Epicurean Restaurant, 84 Queen Street, 905-468-3408
Come for lunch and you’re treated to a casual buffet of selections. Come for dinner and you’ll experience a bistro-style ambience and a menu featuring traditional French and Mediterranean cuisines using local and Canadian-produced products. During the summer, dine indoors or out under a large tree on the patio. Bliss! Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for casual fare and from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. for evening table service dining.
Zees Grill, 92 Picton Street, 905-468-5715
Conveniently located across the street from the Shaw Festival Theatre with a large outdoor patio and a stunning dining room and lounge, this restaurant is a popular pre-show choice for lunch and dinner. The menu features an array of dishes that are as inventive as they are delicious. If you’re going to the theatre, we suggest making dinner reservations for 5:00/5:30 p.m. If you’re not attending a performance, wait until 7:30 p.m. or later — after the theatre crowd is gone. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Caroline Cellars Farmhouse Café, 1010 Line 2, 905-468-8814
This one is out of town but so worth it for lunch. And so affordable! The only negative is that it’s only open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday. If you’re out cycling or driving about, this is the place to stop for lunch.
Ravine Winery Restaurant, 1366 York Road, St. David’s, 905-262-8463, ext 34
This one’s a treat indeed. These owners take pride in baking their own bread, raising their own pigs and growing their own certified organic vegetables, and yes, wine too. Dine indoors or out on their patio, which overlooks vineyards and the valley between the Bench and Lake Ontario. Open daily for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Then stay a while longer on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy live entertainment.
Two more worth mentioning
If you’re looking for something light and delicious for lunch, try Tapas by Oliv at the Hinterbrook Winery at 1181 Lakeshore Road, which is open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Another is the Bistro/Speakeasy at Small Talk Vineyards located at 1242 Irvine Road. It’s only open on weekends for lunch in May but watch for additional evening dining hours come June.
As you can see, I could go on and on about all the amazing dining options here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. You just may have to stay longer than a week to experience them all!
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Posted by Donna Vieira, owner of Globetrotters Bed and Breakfast in Nigara-on-the-Lake