Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner? What’s your favourite meal? I can’t pick because I love them all and while I’ve spent three days in Hamilton and Burlington I’ve discovered what a fun food scene they have. I’ve tried everything from Vegan Donuts to authentic Pad Thai to unbelievable Tacos while I’ve been here. Who knew that Hamilton restaurants would offer such variety and be so good. If you want to escape Toronto for a weekend you won’t starve for good food options while you are in Hamilton, I will guarantee that.
Coffee is the most important meal of the day in my opinion and I got my caffeine fix at two places. The first and my favourite being Mulberry Coffee House at 193 James St N in downtown Hamilton. By far the best American I had while in town. They also have a great patio and an eclectic interior design to enjoy your beverage nd snacks at. To go with the coffee you’ve got a lot of choices, but I recommend the house made Vegan Donuts. Peanut Butter and Chocolate for the win and a delicious Blueberry if Peanut Butter isn’t your thing.
My second favourite place for coffee and treats is Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe on Locke Street. The location at 211 Locke Street South opens at 8am and serve good coffee and made to order Apple Fritters. Yes, you heard me right. Another great feature is their WiFi is pretty strong if you need to get some web surfing done. They also happen to be licensed so in the afternoon and evenings while you enjoy the live music you can have a Beer or two.
An honourable mention goes to Saint James Espresso Bar & Eatery also on James St North. I didn’t like the espresso but the food looked good and they offer the pour-over method if that is your preferred coffee brew.
The next list of Hamilton restaurants is in no particular order. They all offer great food, an unpretentious atmosphere, and friendly service. Let’s begin with …
The Burnt Tongue – located at 10 Cannon St East they are open for lunch and dinner. A soup restaurant that also serves Burgers and Frites. I was attracted to this place because of the Soup, but I fell in love with the burgers. If you visit for lunch be prepared for a lineup. They have a killer system in place though so don’t let the line daunt you. The wait is worth it.
On my visit, I had the Roasted Parsnip and Kale Soup, a bowl of Frites and a Classic Burger with Bacon and Cheddar. Nom nom nom is all I can say. For hungry eaters, you may want to order two burgers as they are slightly bigger than a Slider. BTW some of the best fries I’ve had in ages.
Just down the street from The Burnt Tongue, you will find Lake Road Restaurant at 229 James Street N. They have a great cocktail program so of course I started my evening with a drink. A Root Beer Old Fashioned made with local Nickel Brook Root Beer. Two thumbs up!
The main course blew my socks away. Pan seared Pork Belly with Scallops and a delicately Fried Egg on a bed of Vegetable Hash and Pork Broth. Flavours were amazing and under that egg are three huge pieces of Pork Belly all for only $28. So good and so filling.
Another fun note about Lake Road is that they have a Speakeasy in the basement. Check out their website for details. Sunday nights the bar gets experimental so it’s a fun night if you are in town for it.
Got a Thai Craving? Head to Dundas and visit Bangkok Spoon at 57 King Street West. Constantly named one of the best places to eat in Dundas Bangkok Spoon doesn’t disappoint. I ate there with a friend and we feasted on Thai Fresh Spring Rolls, Basil Lamb, Panang Tofu (peanut sauce) and the Chef’s special Pad Thai. All amazing and my only problem was I couldn’t finish it all. Doggie bag for later though… hmmmm midnight snack of Thai food, yummy.
Back in Hamilton, you may want to start your evening off one night at Two Black Sheep on 163 John Street South. Oysters and Cocktails are what this place is all about and that is exactly what I had. Oysters from PEI and a Dark & Stormy made with in-house Ginger Beer. A great place to start your night off with friends or perhaps wind it down with a drink and some charcuterie.
A short walk from Two Black Sheep, you will find Rapscallion Rogue Eatery at 61 Young Street. Serving up a nose to tail experience you can enjoy fine cocktails and an inventive menu that changes regularly. Our feast included Lamb Shank with Polenta Fries and a Tuna Tataki that passed my West Coast palette. Fun and irreverent you’ll be able to watch the Chef as your meal is prepared as he is only 5 feet away from your table.
Next up is the Taco Battle. It is between Mezcal and The Mule.
Let’s start at Mezcal Tacos & Tequila Bar on 150 James St. S. This place is quite the joint. It is loud, fun and perfect for small groups. If you want to whisper secrets to a first date this is not the place to come. I saddled up to the bar where I could see all the Tequila’s they offer and ordered a Wild Boar Taco. I also tried the Crispy Cauliflower which was delicious. At $6 a piece, you can mix and match to make your perfect meal.
The Mule is at 41 King William Street and offers a slightly different vibe. The space is larger so you can choose to sit in the bar area or move back into the restaurant for bigger groups. We sat at the bar and ordered Mezcal Sours while we perused the menu. Achiote Chicken, Halloumi, and Brussels Sprouts are the Tacos we order. A little kick is in each one which makes me happy, especially the Achiote Chicken. Decor wise the room is funky and they have TV screens where they play classic movies. We watched The Goonies while we drank and ate.
Burlington – chances are good that if you visit Hamilton you will step into Burlington at some point I ate at two places. Both have been around for awhile. One for 25 years and the other for over 50!
Emma’s Back Porch 2084 Old Lakeshore Road – Want to sit outside on a patio and enjoy a view of Lake Ontario? Then you have to visit Emma’s Back Porch. The menu is diverse but I recommend the Burger, it’s fantastic. We started off lunch with a Spinach & Artichoke Dip and then I went straight to the Back Porch Burger with Fries. Tasty and during the Summer months I can only imagine the patio gets packed with tourists and locals alike.
Easterbrooks Hot Dog Stand 694 Spring Gardens Rd – a visit to Burlington isn’t complete until you’ve visited Easterbrooks Hot Dog Stand, home of the Foot Long Dog since 1930. Located right behind the main building of the Royal Botanical Gardens this iconic location hasn’t changed much over the years. Business cards line the walls along with clippings from over the years.
Of course, you order a Hot Dog when you get here, the question is what toppings will you order? I went for the Wonder Dog. A classic topping of Bacon, Cheese, Fried Onions, and Tomatoes. Oh and I also ordered a Salted Caramel Milkshake to go with it.
So there you have ten Hamilton restaurants and two from Burlington to consider when you are planning your next road trip to the area. I was only in town for three days so I imagine I’ve missed a few places and I trust that the locals will share all the places I’ve missed below in the comments. I will be back, so don’t be shy, what did I miss?