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NYer asks: Any diners, greasy spoons or regular food in Niagara Wine country?

Hi. A New York chowhound (from the good old days before the current impossible-to-read-non-chronological-boards-regime) would like to know are there any non-fancy restaurants in the Niagara wine country region? A pizza parlor? Diner? Luncheonette? Seems like everyplace i read about is fancy, for-tourist food, seemingly pretenious. Where do the truck drivers, the supermarket clerks, the folks that pick the grapes eat?

Thanks, Richard

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  1. Silk's in Virgil might be a good bet (though I'll admit I don't like it). It caters to exactly the kind of people you mention. There's also a pie place in Virgil that gets very good reports (name escapes).

    Although the Epicurion in NOTL is a tourist place, it's hardly pretentious. They have very good food, served cafeteria style, at lunch. Not cheap, but well worth the price.

    There's also a little restaurant hidden behind the very pretentious NOTL Irish Shoppe that is not at all pretentious. They serve decent, homemade Irish-style food at very low prices.

    1. Red Rooster had a decent breakfast, locals eat there, and it's hardly pretentious, but you already figured that out based on the name :) - 271 Mary, Niagara On The Lake

      1. "The Pie Plate" in Virgil - a laid-back bakery/cafe with the BEST lemon merangue pie I've ever had. Nice salads too.

        1. I always enjoyed breakfast at Butter Balls in Jordan. 2980 King Street (highway8) between Vineland and Jordan.

          For Pizza I'd recommend Heavy Duty Pizza in Beamsville 4460 Ontario Street
          905-563-8281 It's more of a take out place than an eat in place though. The pizza is great!

          The Beamsville Relay Station, a truck stop in Beamsville South of the QEW on Ontario Street is good too.

          The Olympia is a restaurant in downtown Beamsville that has been there absolutely forever.
          4985 King St E (Hwy 8)

          1. Thank you sooo much for this post. I always laugh when I read the Niagara region posts because the places that get recommended are always places that a lot of the locals of the Niagara region don't go to. This is probably cause they would go broke eating at all these expensive restaurants.
            The sad part is that the Niagara Region doesn't have very many great 'middle class' restaurants. But here is where I like to eat ...
            Beamsville - Your Neighbour Hood Pizza Joint
            Vineland - George’s - greasy spoon, great breakfast
            St. Catharines - Salhi Thai - great Thai food, I haven't found as good in Toronto yet
            St. Catharines - Cafe Amore
            St. Catharines - Lina Linguini’s (sp?) – Italian
            St. Catharines - Fraito's - Italian
            Virgil – Silks
            Niagara Falls (kinda) - Betty's - hit and miss, but excellent when they get it right
            I don’t know of any right in NOTL probably cause most locals avoid that area.
            Short list, but I will add more when I think of them.
            Oh and if you want to golf cheap, Queenston & St. David's golf courses.

            1 Reply
            1. re: camp1980

              I posted a review of Cafe Amore earlier this week. (Feb/09).

              For breakfast there is a greasy spoon right in Niagara Falls, called Basel's. It is on the main street in downtown Niagara Falls. This place is always packed for breakfast.

            2. Thanks so much folks for all your help. I knew (and hoped) there had to be real "chowhound" food in the area.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Rockaway

                Some other 'local' spots not mentioned yet would be Big Marcos for good 'n cheap Italian (274 Fourth Avenue - Martindale/4rth Ave) and Cats Caboose (224 Glenridge in the plaza) for wings/pub food - both in St.Catharines. The Lions Club in Port Dalhousie has a great fish supper on a Friday night - I think it's $7, and Murphy's in Port Dalhousie is another old standby for steaks and burgers.

              2. How about the Old Angel Inn in NOTL? It's just a pub with good fish and chips, shepherd's pie, steak n' kidney, etc., great fries,and lots of beers. Don't know if you'd see a lot of "workies", but I wouldn't call it pretentious..

                1. If you are in the Niagara area, be sure to go to Keith's in the heart of Fonthill for great diner breakfast and they are known for their pies too! Also in Fonthill is Mossimo's people come from all over for their pizza and wings, great atmosphere and service is good too (and they are licensed too!) There is also the Lancer on St. Paul street and also on Hartzel in St. Catharines. Finally, if you are in the Ridgeway/Crystal Beach (near Fort Erie) area there is a great place called Summer Delight on the road that heads down to the beach. Enjoy!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: missmouse

                    Although Mossimo's has very good wings...the have probably the WORST on-going service anywhere that I have ever experienced. I like going for the food but literally dread the visit. Even my children know to pack loads of things to keep themselves busy. The staff is horribly rude and plan on at least an hour wait AFTER you order, even when they are not busy. They like to make sure you have nothing to do but buy more beer so you run your bill up. If you complain, they don't care and don't take anything off your bill, even if your pizza is served cold, or so late, that the party you are with have finished and you are just getting served (and everything was ordered together). Even trying desperately to be polite after waiting for almost an hour and a half one time the owner was so rude and sarcastic with me I was in utter shock, no apology, nothing. So go, but know this is a place where the customer is always wrong and you are going to wait.

                    1. re: toopicky

                      I have to agree now! Since I last posted I have definitely experienced the same thing several times with Mossimos. I once sat with three kids and waited an hour and 20 minutes for food. Why we stayed, I don't know, but the kids were behaved and I guess after the first while I figured I'd waited that long so.... we were offered nothing, not even an apology. Did you know eat in customers call ahead to have their food ready for them when they sit down? Walk in customers are the third to be served, pick ups and deliverys first, then call aheads and then the last in line is the seated customers! Even the quality of their food has gone down. Riding on their reputation I guess? There are more and more options in the area so they are going to have to up their ante if they don't want to lose business.

                  2. Another option for Niagara Falls that I always reccomend (one of the few places I'll go to when visiting my parents): Napoli Pizzeria and Restaurant. Amazing food, casual atmosphere. 5485 Ferry Street, 905-356-3345

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: CravinMaven

                      hi all! i have to say, moving to niagara has been good for my waistline. The combination of high price and lack of availability of decent pizza (to my liking) or chinese food has helped force me to learn to cook!

                      That said, is there any place that has a good pizza steak? (cheesesteak with pizza sauce)


                    2. An absolute must is Queen's Coach restaurant. You can't find it in the phone book or on-line so don't even try. There isn't a meal that isn't fantastic here and faster than anything you've ever seen. Breakfast is a must, there is always a line-up, but they're so quick, don't dismay you'll be sitting and eating in 15 minutes for sure. Food is really good and the prices are way too cheap, the parking lot is always full and that's for a good reason. They are on St. Paul Avenue right near Mountain Road. It's next to a small plaza that has a Donut Diner in it. There's also an original "greasy spoon" on Bridge Street & Niagara Parkway called Simon's Restaurant, don't blink, you'll miss it. It's been around since the 50's I think, very popular with judges, and politicians. A bit pricey because of it's reputation and don't look for anything low-fat here!

                      1. Take a look at www.theoldwineryrestaurant.com - in Niagara-on-the-Lake near wineries and close to downtwon NOTL and the Theatre.

                        1. Good wings are at a little hole in the wall called Ivan's at the corner of McLoed and Dorchester. This is a local place, decor is sparse but the wings are really good.

                          Also in Crystal Beach/Ridgeway is "The Crystal Chandelier" (http://thecrystalchandelier.com/ ) They have live bands so it might be good to give them a call to see who is playing and if they are full.