Hamilton's Growing Reputation for Great Dining

By Michelle Martin
Published February 18, 2013

Earlier this month, we took in Soulpepper's excellent production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Wanting to make it a real evening out, we went for dinner at a restaurant in the Distillery District for the first time, which was fine, but overpriced for the food presented and service given.

Next time we head to Toronto for an event, we will make a reservation for an early dinner here in Hamilton. It is, after all, how we have learned to handle eating out when we have tickets to a Shaw or Stratford Festival production, preferring the quality and value we've gotten used to here over an inflated and hurried theatre/tourist district dining experience.

Just this weekend, we met with friends of ours from Toronto to go out for a Hamilton dinner. We have taken them to three different restaurants so far. They have thoroughly enjoyed each one, and are looking forward to the next.

Lest you think we are dealing with a combination of hometown boosterism and loyal old friends here, I present as supporting data an observation from one of our older children, home for reading week from Western.

More than one person she has encountered on campus has remarked, upon hearing that she is from Hamilton, not anything about steel mills, or Tiger Cats, or even our own university, but about how good the food is here.

So there you go - a great dining experience is part of our city's reputation, even from the far-flung corners of Toronto and London (ahem, Ontario).

Michelle Martin lives in Hamilton. The opinions she expresses in Raise the Hammer are her own.


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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted February 18, 2013 at 18:48:26

You Gotta Eat Here is at the Black Forest Inn on the Food Network, tonight and tomorrow night I think.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 18, 2013 at 21:50:49 in reply to Comment 86442

Another couple we know from our Toronto days had met in Hamilton as Mac students (actually she was Hamilton raised) and regularly made trips back into Hamilton to eat at the Black Forest Inn when they were out on a Saturday night, after 20 years of marriage.

Schnitzel isn't really my thing, but we did take friends from K-W to dinner there because we knew it would be up their alley, and they loved it!

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2013-02-18 21:56:03

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted February 18, 2013 at 19:46:46

Hi Michelle,

Sorry to hear you got ripped off at the Distillery! It's at the bottom of our street but we never eat there anymore after several poor experiences. There are many great places to eat for good value in TO, none of them are at the Distillery.

Susie and me have many great memories of eating out in the Hammer. You are right to promote it.

Hope all is well.



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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 18, 2013 at 21:51:38 in reply to Comment 86444

Hey, Ben- best to all of you!

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 18, 2013 at 21:16:13 in reply to Comment 86444

coffee at Balzac's is deadly, but yes, food is underwhelming in Distillery. My new fave in TO is Terroni on Queen West. Incredible atmosphere and food....I love old narrow restaurants, especially in a city where building owners say there's no way to use old narrow storefronts on the Gore for 'modern uses'.

An aside, a friend who lives in Australia and has lived in many different nations told me that Hamilton had the best food offerings of any city he'd ever lived in. Pretty heady statement considering the various places he's lived in.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 21:20:30 in reply to Comment 86446

If you like Terroni on Queen W., check out Libretto on Ossington. The pizza is awesome, and the restaurant is even more narrow, and the stencilled writing on the foggy glass on a cold night reminds one of the restaurant "Louis" in the Godfather wherein Michael is speaking with Don Salozzo and Chief McCloskey. I sometimes fantasize about owning a place like that near Barton & Sherman.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2013 at 14:01:02

Downtown dining

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:03:31 in reply to Comment 86481


Mafu’s Kitchen &
Catering African Cuisine 234 King St. E. 905-525-9999
Dae Bak 236 King St. S. 905-528-1664
Barbarossa Café 312 King St. E. 289-389-5680
Grandads-Donuts 45 King St. E. 905-549-4204
Granny’s Place 9 Robert St. 905-522-7188
Sunrise Caribbean Cuisine 234 King St. E. 289-389-1264
Michui Restaurant 236 King St. E. 289-396-0116
Waltz Live Music & Eatery 2 King St. W. 905-528-3133
Jade Garden 113 James St. N. 905-972-8288
Pagoda Downtown Restaurant 85 King St. E 905-522-6766
Waxy’s Deli 202 King St. E. 905-525-9299
Brownies Downtown 275 King St. E. 905-526-6047
Dalina’s Egyptian 49 King William St. 905-522-6252
Safin Grill 95 King St. E. 905-540-8536
Barami Buné 16 Jarvis St. 905-577-4652
Backstreet Bar & Grill 94 MacNab St. N. 905-777-7839

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2013 at 20:44:18 in reply to Comment 86504


Sushi To Go 8 James St. N. 905-521-8889

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 16:30:40 in reply to Comment 86504

Locke Street Bakery becomes MDJ III

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 11:00:20 in reply to Comment 86504


Red House 129 King St. E 905-777-1688

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:51:52 in reply to Comment 86504


Caribbean Pot 77 James St. 905-777-1768

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:12:29 in reply to Comment 86504


Island Stars Caribbean Cuisine 47 King William St. 289-389-9645
Liu Liu Hot Pot 11 Walnut St. 905-296-0326
Mirage Night Life 157 Main St. E. 289-389-6718

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:20:18 in reply to Comment 86505

Do you have the names that have either replaced the defunct ones, or new locations that have opened?

They really need to keep that list up to date.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:47:10 in reply to Comment 86506

Makes for a handy yearbook/yardstick for change in the service sector, but not the greatest for users. It's not vetted with any care: There are double-ups in the same address, or new restaurants listed alongside their ghosts.

Some changes that spring to mind:

Culantro opened at 47 King William
It's a Food Thing opened at 49 King William
B&T moved from 115 Park North to 113 James North
Happy Hourz opened at 94 MacNab North
CityHousing is redeveloping 95 King East into a gallery
Hillbilly Heaven is coming to 202 King East
Prosecco opened at 275 King East
AppleBerry Café opened at 312 King East
Kasa Suski opened at 16 Jarvis
Anchor Bar replaced Waltz at 2 King West (technically, 116 King West)

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:57:13

Thanks. That was quick. I've emailed the downtown BIA about that outdated list actually being a disservice, and that an updated one would be a great resource for patrons.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 11:04:30 in reply to Comment 86512

That guide could also break the ASIAN into useful categories like:


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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:39:45 in reply to Comment 86512

Their elastic definition of "downtown" is potentially another disservice to users. The map on the flipside of that PDF is actually smaller than the standard Queen/Wellington/Cannon/Hunter, but in light of the content of their directory, which ranges from Seven Windows in the southwest, to Zum Linzer in the east and Williams Cafe at the north, suggests a catchment area several times that size. (And even with that, they've managed to omit Cake & Loaf.) For locals, this might be no big thing, but for out-of-towners, maps are a handy touch.

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By Bill Curran (anonymous) | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:52:59

The Trocadero on Barton is one of Hamilton's best.
But also recommend:

Harbour Diner (also good on week nights)
Nairoma Pizza (Locke Street)
La Cantina
Thai Memory
La Luna
Acclamation (will likely be construction industry folks there)
Indian place on King William below Baltimore House
Indian buffet at Main and Caroline
Maharaj, Indian buffet on Gore Park south Side
Ceilidh House (Hess Village)
Bread Bar (Locke Street)

The Pheasant Plucker (Augusta Street)
One Duke (patio, good food)
Gown and Gavel (Hess Village patio)
Tailgate Charlies

The Italy Corner Cafe for sandwiches
Bonanza Bakery for sandwiches
Mexicana, James North
Fishers Pier 4 Pub (good wings, comfort food)
Mulberry Cafe (soups, sandwiches)
Rankins (comfort food, wings)
Two Cougars and a Cafe (great diner and breakfast)
The Belair Grille for Polish food, Barton E at Sherman
Papagayo, King at Hess (Mexican)
Sunrise Restaurant (Great diner, great breakfasts)
Chuck’s Burger Bar (Mostly take-out burgers and poutine)

Boo’s Bistro
The Trocadero, Barton E. for Italian, especially arancini
La Piazza Allegra
Bistro Parisienne (only place downtown to get oysters)
Wild Orchid
The Sirloin Cellar (if it reopens)
La Luna
La Spaghett
Limoncello Cafe, Ottawa Street
Bar on Locke
The Courtyard Cafe

The Innsville, Stoney Creek (old school, oysters)
The Twisted Lemon, Cayuga
The Erie Beach Hotel, Port Dover

Blacktree, Burlington (wow !!)
Quatrefoil, Dundas
Bistro 1010
Spencers, Burlington
Seven Windows

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