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Aboriginal Food in Toronto

Are there any Toronto restaurants that serve North American aboriginal food? I'm not sure what such food is, but I'm interested.

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  1. Not in Toronto but my sister works at the Six Nations reserve in Caledonia and she sometimes has their food at the local restaurants.

    She has had bison burgers and fish, but they have mostly game meat. She quite liked the bison burger but she finds their other cuisine quite bland for our chowhound palettes.

    So I would recommend finding a reserve and eating at one of their local restaurants.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sasgirl

      Even before the Europeans there were no Bison in Ontario, so the Caledonia restaurant is by no means serving their traditional food.

      1. re: RogerDoger

        Well, before the Europeans came here there were no potatoes in Ireland or tomatoes in Europe either. I would not say that these could not be considered part of traditional fare over there.

        1. re: calliope_nh

          Except for the fact that Bison has never been introduced to the Ontario Aboriginals diet (it was not until the 70s that people started to raise Bison in Ontario and that was targetted to the "Whiteman").... Whereas the foods you mention became staples of those countries for many generation before they mass emigrated outward.

          Saying Bison is a staple Canadian Native food is like saying that blubber is a also a staple as the Natives of the North eat that as a staple. There are just too many aborigional groups to label a universal diet on the group. It is like trying to pick "Tradional Fare" for Europe as a whole not an individual country.

    2. A bit of a hike but Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro in Ottawa is the best in the "'hood" by far.

      1 Reply
      1. There are no Toronto restaurants but a good local starting point is the Canadian Aboriginal Festival, coming up Nov 24-26 in Rogers Centre. They always have a good selection of food booths, run by different aboriginal catering companies from around Ontario, serving typical pow wow fare + beyond.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Gritseeker

          What would Cdn aboriginal food consist of? Would it be very different from the wild game, etc. that is served as "Canadian" food in some restaurants?

        2. Good bannock bread is a real treat but I've only ever seen it in Vancouver.

          1. At powwows in northern ontario (that's way north of muskoka) i've had fried pickerel, fried pickerel cheeks, wild rice casseroles, fried bread with bologna, buffalo burgers on fried bread, moose pie, porcupine meatballs, corn bread, bannock, deer pie, corn soups. I took the Polar Bear Express train to Moosonee once and it was basically fish, game and all forms of fried bread - plus old grannies making bannock over campfires for tourists.

            At the skydome festival, they have to abide by certain rules that might not apply at a powwow (ie not sure if they can serve fish freshly caught from lake nippissing or whether they have to sell farmed fish) but i've had bison burgers and tacos and fried bread/bologna and venison-type chili. It varies every year. Last year they had a "haute native/aboriginal/indian" restaurant as well as the food vendors but the details are hazy so it must have been a little more generically Canadian (farmed "wild" game and Ontario berries + wild rice) and not as memorable as the basic pow wow stuff.

            wasn't in toronto during the era of a famous/semi-upscale aboriginal resto on richmond/peter or so, i believe - just west of where the Paramount is now. But others may remember.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Gritseeker

              Second Gritseeker....I can't imagine any place here serving authentic First Nations food. You'll have to make your way up North to find it. However, my experience with First Nations food has always been one in a family setting, and never at any restaurant. Primarily during hunting season as well.

              1. re: Gritseeker

                I remember that restau, it really was fantistic. Half of the place was a bar and the other half was a really elegant Native Fusion Restau. I would love to know if the chef is still working in TO.

              2. I could have sworn I heard that Tundra at the downtown Hilton did, but I just checked out the menu, and it was... um... not what we're looking for: Caesar salad, lobster and pea risotto, chicken with ricotta gnocci, steak 'n' garlic mash.

                I too would really like to try Native Canadian cusine, tablecloth and bone china or picnic table and paper plate.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Olivia

                  Closest such place that comes to mind is Sweetgrass Café in Ottawa.



                  Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, Ottawa’s first aboriginal cuisine, features seasonal menus that follow the ancient paths of North America’s Aboriginal peoples. Sweetgrass has a warm atmosphere created by the care put into each plate that is made, to the meaningful decor, to the personal touches the owners put into each step of renovation. Apart from the menus being distinctive in what is offered, much attention is also paid to doing everything in house - including breads, sauces, dressings and desserts. The combination of the seasonal menus, care put into making tantalizing aboriginal courses and house-made food keeps the menu original, fresh and delicious – the way eating out should be.

                  - http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/commu...

                2. I think the place that people are talking about that used to exist was the Coloured Stone, owned by Duke Redbird. It was half a pool hall. BUt it is long defunct.

                  There are some catering companies that do "aboriginal" food (which would, of course, vary from place to place in Canada, depending on what there is to eat in that location), but in my experience they are not particularly spectacular, however generally competent.

                  A lot of the wild game that aboriginal people eat is not allowed for sale by aboriginal people, because aboriginal people generally do not have commercial rights to sell the food that they catch. So, farmed game would be the option available.

                  Corn soup, wild rice, squash and game meats, along with berries and such would all be on the menu as it were.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: innercitykitty

                    The restaurant was called Eureka Continuum. Maybe that was part of the problem...

                  2. Since the time of this original posting in 2006, I'm so glad to see that there's finally a restaurant in Toronto dedicated to honouring and serving locally sourced and aboriginal inspired food – Keriwa Cafe at Queen/Roncesvalles:


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: ninjahwarrior

                      Have you been? Wondering how it is. I have heard the name before but haven't read any reviews of it yet.

                      1. re: ylsf

                        Joane Kates reviewed it last weekend

                        Here is a thread on Keriwa http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792044

                        The menu looks interesting, but I find it hard to imagine that is what natives eat at home.

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          The chef (and management team) is from Splendido - doubt whether Splendido patrons eat the same way at home either.

                          1. re: foodyDudey

                            I posted a review on Keriwa on http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792044

                            Excellent place! I was taken then twice this week (once with my Uncle and once for my anniversary) Both times were fabulous. Beautiful food and professional service.

                            1. re: Otonabee

                              I was at Keriwa during the week and it wasn't very busy but our dinners took far too long. The waitress was informed and attentive but the food took too long to come to the table. The menu is not extensive so I don't really understand what the problem could have been. We ordered bison and pheasant, which were both delicious when they arrived. As well the smokey scent permeated our clothes and lingered for more than a day. I had to hang my clothes and aerate them. The waitress brought us a complimentary gazpacho soup and sent us home with a 'goodie bag' which turned out to be cinnamon buns i suspect as a consolation. Instead of all these extras, it would have been better to have the meal delivered on time. How would they manage with a full house?

                              1. re: kristoronto

                                I am surprised. I've been once on a quiet night and once on a busy night and never found the service to be slow. Hopefully it was only that it was an off night..

                      2. To answer the original question - not really. If you are interested in home cooking like Ojibwe duck and dumpling soup, moose stew, moose nose, beaver stew, fried walleye, smoked trout, bannock, or whatever, you are going to have to make friends with some Native people and get invited upcountry. I don't know what Mohawk/Iroquois specialties are - no doubt some will involve corn, beans and squash!

                        But you can try Indian fast food at any pow-wow - including the Toronto pow wow in November. This would include fry bread, Indian tacos, moose stew, and so on. Other than the moose stew, not terribly healthy, I'm afraid.

                        Otherwise, Mexican food is basically a combination of European and Indigenous foods and techniques (with some Lebanese thrown in).

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hari mirch

                          Indian tacos? What does Mexican food have to do with the OP? And what's Lebanese about it?

                          1. re: hari mirch

                            For the record, I believe the big Pow Wow that used to happen at Sky Dome in Toronto in November is now happening in Hamilton. http://www.canab.com/ It was the last year at least as well.

                            Pow Wow Restaurant
                            165 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M5, CA

                            1. re: ylsf

                              Thanks yslf, I didn't realize that.

                              iMarilyn: OP did not say what specific Indigenous cuisine they were looking for - there is great variety, even within Canada. As I thought I said very clearly, Mexican cuisine is a fusion of Indigenous American and European elements. Many of the basic foods and techniques of Mexican cuisine - corn, beans, squash, nixtamalization - were/are used by Indigenous peoples as far north as southern Ontario and Quebec. The "Three Sisters" of the Iroquoian peoples are also the basis (with chile) of Indigenous Mexican cuisine. As to your other questions:



                          2. There is a place on Gerrard St that opened about a year back, I noticed it when it first opened but have not tried it.

                            Here are two reviews:



                            It appears the menu has expanded since those two articles were written, they have more than spam and bannock on the menu now.

                            Here is the website: http://www.teanbannock.ca/