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Niagara Eats

I and a few friends are planning to spend this upcoming Saturday afternoon and evening in the Niagara Tourist Region. We're not entirely sure what we're going to do, but we'll likely check out the Falls and the Casinos at the least.

Any recommendations for dinner? Expensive or inexpensive recs are welcome! .... as well as any suggestions for things to do!

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  1. If you are wine lovers, then spend the afternoon visiting the wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake and then have a wonderful dinner at one of the wineries or local restaurants. There are many, many options, so I'm sure something will fit your needs and tastes. If you do a search on Niagara-on-the-Lake, or NOTL, you'll find lots of threads discussing the food and the wineries in the area.

    Do NOT eat in Niagara Falls. You will regret it.

    1. There are a couple of exceptions to the "Do NOT eat in Niagara Falls" rule, which is a pretty good rule in general.

      Casa Mia and Caffe Napoli are both very good Italian restaurants, the former a bit more fine dining than the latter. AG restaurant at the Sterling Hotel is reputedly a superb restaurant, although I have not yet tried it myself.

      msprnt, you'll find lots of threads about Niagara if you search.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gourmando

        hmm, most of what i've found is in the niagara on the lake region .... which isn't that far .... but if we plan on staying late... which may be the case, it'd be best to eat somewhere near the falls ....

        so far, i get a good vibe from reviews from the road stone grill in the NOTL area....

        but i will look into the restaurants u recommended gourmando!

        1. re: msprnt

          I forgot about the relatively new Chinese restaurant inside the Casino, too. The dim sum is delicious.

        2. re: Gourmando

          Has anyone dined at AG at Sterling yet? Mom is very interested in going on Mom's Day. Please let me know if you've been or if there are any other reviews out there. Thanks.

          1. re: Gourmando

            Went to Caffe Napoli for takeout tonight. Pepperoni pizza was okay, as was the penne with sausage. The size of the pasta dish was tiny, I'm guessing just a little over a cup of food--it was the size of a small kid's meal--for $16, a total ripoff!!

          2. so, we decided to check out the Hillebrand Winery for their "beginner's tour"....it was a bit of a last minute call, as i booked the tour over the phone at midnight before we left for niagara.....i must mention how impressed i was with their organization there.... a receptionist called me at 10am saturday to confirm my reservation! .... i was still sleeping at that point ...

            anyhow, we made our way to the winery to arrive at 5pm .... and the sky was blue, the sun was still out....made for lots of nice pictures! .....the tour was great, since we're still new to wine appreciation ....the guide was informative (teaching us how to smell, anticipate, and taste) and generous with the pours .... we even snuck in some extra glasses after the group moved on ....

            the tour included a sparkling wine, white, red, and ice wine ... all aged at the winery....and for $5, we thought it was a good deal! .... they also had a special event for their "showcase chardonnays" - which they only made 500 bottles of each of the 3 chards .... 2 from single puncheons ....

            another thing to note is that, if you go on a tour, you can use the money that went to paying for the tour (as a non-member) to pay for a bottle of wine you purchase in the boutique ... so in my case, I got $5 off a bottle of Trius red ...

            i believe that was the highlight of the trip for me ..... OH, and my friend played a single round of roulette at Fallsview, betting only $15 ... and won $90 ..... enough for dinner apps on him!

            16 Replies
            1. re: msprnt

              So, where did you go for dinner?? Did you dine at the same place as the wine tasting? I see that they have a restaurant there too! That's so cool, I might go do that too ... sounds interesting!

              1. re: msprnt

                Did you eat at Hillebrand? Very curious to know. Please don't just say it was "good". Give some details if possible. It is a beautiful restaurant.

                1. re: grilledcheese

                  oh, sorry to disappoint guys .... we went to the falls right after the wine tasting ... and the casino..... so we ended up at an applebee's chain ....definitely nothing special ...hahah, it was pretty late neways .....

                  i noticed a tax on my bill for some tourist thing .... i couldn't believe it! does anyone know when they started charging extra to eat near the falls?...

                  i wanted to go to the hillebrand restaurant, but it woulda messed up timing for us ... i'd love to hear about it if anyone's been ...

                  1. re: msprnt

                    We were charged that tax too at at TGIFriday's in the Falls (probably one of my worst restaurant meals ever), and when I asked about it, they removed it.

                    I have no idea what it's for, other than to line to pockets of the tourism association.

                    1. re: accmplce

                      Canadian side, or US side? There's a TGIFriday's in Canadian Falls? :O

                      1. re: accmplce

                        exactly that - the tourist tax is unenforceable and will be removed by a manager if questioned.

                    2. re: grilledcheese

                      Didn't pick up your query last month, but eager to plug Hillebrand's Restaurant: I have been six times, lunches and dinners, over the past two years--always enjoyed exceptional food and overall great wining/dining experience. Chef Frank Dodd is very talented, serving up home-style favourites with creativity, meticulous attention to detail and real appreciation of his wine-country environs: you can savour, smell and feel the region and the season in every dish.

                      Menu changes frequently, but among the standouts: Cobb salad (the classic, but tastes like it was assembled from the farm next door to order); pork and ice wine terrine (melt-in-your mouth texture, full, rich flavour, with Puy lentils and squash--what a flavour combination!); Ontario lamb loin and ravioli (one seared, one braised, artfully highlighting the versatility of lamb, served with satisfying turnip and potato gratin); halibut with a mouthwatering flavour explosion of white beans, chorizo and prawns (sort of cassoulet style) and a remarkable wild mustard and parsley sauce . . . well, I could go on. Not a dessert eater, but companions have praised the "pudding" menu and cheese selection is suitably interesting.

                      Not generally a great fan of non-ice Canadian wines, but either the food, ambience or wine quality induces me to consume multiple glasses over mealtime that seem somehow to taste awfully good . . .

                      It's not a budget meal option, but portions ample and good price-value ratio--have never once felt overcharged.

                      They have jazz on the patio in season . . .

                    3. re: msprnt

                      Yeah, I just did the Hillebrand tour too, and it was nice. Weather was beautiful and perfect. We also bought 2 bottles of wine after the tour, got the $5 off for each wine bought (we bought a truis red and white).

                      Then we went over to the Prince of Wales but had dinner at the Tiara (restaurant at the Queen's Landing, which isnt far away). We had bought the dinner + 1 night's stay and they let us go to other restaurants within their 3 hotels. My partner said it was a good choice to go to the Tiara because the view there was much nicer than at Prince of Wales. (At the Prince of Wales, you get to overlook the main street, but ... it feels like you're a zoo animal since people on the street level look in to see what you're eating...)

                      The food there was SUPERB. For apps, he had the truffles soup (SOOOOOO rich and yummy, if I had another go at the restaurant, I would sooo choose the soup over what I had) and I had the shrimp and lobster croquette (the shrimp was overcooked, but otherwise everything tasted great).

                      For mains, he had the pumpkin butternut gnocchi (very very rich again .. the gnocchi had soooo much flavour infused within it) and I had the boar chop (never had it before, the flavour was very subtle, and the fat wasnt fatty at all, it was more like jello! The veggies that accompanied it were very very salty tho).

                      And dessert (best part of it all), we had the grand marnier creme brulee (soooooooooo yummy - tasty, yet light!) and the maple cheesecake (very different, .. we've never had a maple cheesecake, I thought it had more oomph as a dessert than the creme brulee).

                      All in all, the meal was wonderful. Service was attentive. Interesting to note - between the app and the main course, they served us a passionfruit sorbet! We were quite surprised, but felt inappropriate to ask why they had done that, but we found that it cleansed our palette. After having the super fresh and tasty sorbet, we felt that the coldness kind of numbed our taste buds and readied it for richer foods. Very cool... literally. :P Oh, and service? Very attentive. Our waiter was nice and anticipated needs. :)

                      1. re: jennjen18

                        Oh yes, another note - all these places catered to an older crowd. Be warned. :) We saw a PT Cruiser with wood panelling on the doors parked outside the hotel .. interesting.

                        1. re: jennjen18

                          Did you see any place with young people you can warn us to avoid?

                          1. re: jennjen18

                            There is a small company in NOTL that does vintage car tours, this may have been one of theirs. I agree about Queens Landing, and have really enjoyed the sunday buffet breakfast, although it's pricey.
                            I havent been to NOTL in a while, but liked the Epicurian for lunch. Have also eaten at the NOTL golf course close to town which was nice, but you may have to be with a member. I cant think of any place that would be particular crowded with boisterous youth, although niagara falls would be full of that.

                            1. re: cupcakez

                              I definitely want to try the NOTL golf course for lunch. The kitchen has recently been taken over by Chris Smythe (Riverbend Inn), and although very casual, I expect the food will also be very good quality. The view can't be beat (the dining room is right on the river, looking across at Fort Niagara), and you do NOT need to be with a member to eat there.

                              1. re: Gourmando

                                Gourmando, very interesting to learn about chef Smythe leaving The Riverbend. Any idea when this happened? We were just there this past weekend and all four of us were terribly disappointed in the food. My husband's scallops were horrible, gritty from not being cleaned properly. The other meals were not very good either. Very mediocore food.

                                1. re: millygirl

                                  I don't think Smythe has left the Riverbend. The same family that owns Riverbend has recently taken over the Golf Club so I believe he is now responsible for both.

                                  1. re: Cat123

                                    Cat123 is correct. He is still at Riverbend. Sorry to hear about the bad experience there!

                      2. The Napoli restaurant 5485 Ferry St. offers great value in pleasant surroundings. Make a reservation and ask for the "formal" dining area which has nicer tables, and a nicer atmosphere.
                        The food is popular with locals for good reason. The service is friendly and the food is good.
                        The owner is knowledgeable and helpful.
                        The phone number is 905 356 3345

                        Try the risotto balls if available...yum!!
                        Pizza looks great too.

                        1. I had a surprisingly good meal at Carpaccio in Niagara Falls about 18 months ago.

                          And an over-priced tourist trap meal on Queen Street in Niagara on the Lake last summer. The name of the place is escaping me- beautiful patio but very mediocre food.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: phoenikia

                            Ha, that sounds like the Shaw Cafe. Gorgeous space and patio. Totally meh food. The all time worst tourist trap food in NOTL has got to be The Buttery. Ugh, just awful.

                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              You're right, I think it was the Shaw Cafe. Thanks for letting me know the Buttery is even worse- I had wondered if we had made a mistake choosing the Shaw over the Buttery;) We had been walking around with 2 non-foodie visitors, trying to find a nice patio with hopefully good food.

                              Which is your favourite spot in NOTL, TorontoJo?

                              1. re: phoenikia

                                Best places to eat outside in NOTL are the patio at Zees, right across from the Shaw Festival big theatre and at the NOTL Golf Course, which is open to non-members and is now under new, much better management.

                                1. re: phoenikia

                                  My favourite is to get a bunch of yummy food to go from the Epicurean and eat it in the park by the Niagara river! I haven't had much luck with anything along the main drag of NOTL (but the Buttery was by far the absolute worst).

                                  Off the beaten path a bit, I like the Stone Road Grill very much. And the pies at the Pie Plate in Virgil are yummy! On the expensive side are the winery restaurants, and I've pretty enjoyed my meals at most of them. Of course, it helps when you're sitting overlooking a vineyard -- I think everything tastes better. :)

                                  I was just in NOTL on Saturday and had lunch at Silks in Virgil. It's a basic family restaurant for the locals. I wanted to love it because the menu had pierogies, schnitzel and verenaky. But sadly, the pierogies weren't very good (deep fried and not enough filling) and hubby's omelette was really weak.

                            2. Generally, we are disappointed with restaurants in Niagara Falls, that is until tonight! We ate at the restaurant located in the Sterling Inn - the restaurant is call AG (the chemical name for silver). The food was spectacular. Really, better than we have had in many "fine" restaurants. The wait staff is attentive, and the wine list very nice - although exclusively featuring Niagara vintages. This was truly a memorable meal.
                              On another note: STAY AWAY from the HILTON restaurant in the Falls. The entres - at around the $50 mark leave only disappointment. We had to send our salads back - the greens were old and slimy. the view was pretty, but it is really a waste of time and money.
                              Another great place is 17Noir in the Casino. It is very good as well - but I prefer AG!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: canalgirl66

                                I second 17Noir as one of the best options in the tourist hell area. Excellent food and great view and decor, and attentive but not irritating service.

                                I also second that The Watermark resto on top of the Hilton is super lame. We ate there on some voucher we got as part of the rewards program. The view is excellent, but the food is super bland and overpriced. I'd heard not so great things so went with a mushroom risotto. It was as if someone took a can of cream of mushroom soup and stirred it into rice and tossed some extra shrooms...super lame and expensive.

                                If you're staying at the hotel the breakfast buffet is convenient and not bad at all. Nothing fancy and great view of course. If they offer you some deal on breakfast on the cheap when you check in, it's very worth it.

                                The TGI Friday's in Fallswiew is horrible and currently has a sign saying "NOW OPEN 24 HOURS!!" so they've extended the misery around the clock. The mark up on the exact same chicken dish on the US menu was around $15 more expensive! When my "cheesy chicken" dish arrived...it was a bit gummy then noticed that in the centre of the breast it wasn't fully cooked...pinkish raw chicken. So mentioned it to the waitress..and she says "well ususally they butterfly it because it's so big so you should have mentioned it..." I said "I should have to mention that they shouldn't serve me undercooked chicken?" I wasn't rude just floored...she walked away and came back just dropping the bill off without a word...so asked for manager...but man what a mess.

                                Looking to check out AG on next visit! Thanks for the heads up!

                                1. re: abigllama

                                  The black hole of food is the TGI Friday in Fallsview.

                                  I was unwillingly taken there on Sunday and could not believe the prices. Corporate greed at its extreme.

                                  I ended up sharing a fajita platter - 4 small soft shells, 8 pieces of chicken and dried up beef, some cheese, lettuce tomato= $30. One of my companions ended up sharing the fajitas with us since her $18 salad was sent back as it was wilted because it sat under a heat lamp and was drenched in lime salad dressing.

                                  Frankly most people I saw in that restaurant had that shocked look of " I can't believe I'm eating at this place". Congratulations TGI Friday - you are now officially my worst restaurant experience.

                                  1. re: Pizza Lover

                                    There used to be a Denny's across the street that was just as bad. For a place famous for cheap eats it was insanely overpriced - I think the egg dishes were all around $10 and up, for example.

                                    I've eaten at the Wolfgang Puck place across the street and it's not too expensive and pretty good. Certainly compared to TGIF and some of the other hellish places around.

                                    1. re: fleisch

                                      That Denny's has been bulldozed to make room for the new tower being built at The Hilton. There's still an obnoxiously overpriced Denny's over towards Clifton Hill on Victoria St. The famous 4.99 Slam breakfasts are around $12.99...

                                2. re: canalgirl66

                                  What did you eat at Ag? Anything we should look out for?

                                  1. re: jennjen18

                                    Went to AG on Mother's Day...the restaurant was empty so it was a bit hard to muster up our enthusiasm. The food itself was what you'd expect at a high end pricey place - nothing spectacular or innovative, but they do the standard gourmet dishes quite well. Mom had the beef tenderloin which we both thought stood out, and I had the duck with cherries which was decent. For starters, she had the rather average duck risotto, and I enjoyed the jerusalem artichoke soup, though again, nothing spectacular.


                                3. Avoid the Hard rock cafe.


                                  1. I'm going to visit the Niagara Region in a few weeks. Any one have some new/recent recommendations for places to eat? All price points welcome!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: cookiebaker

                                      Like others, I strongly endorse SRG and Treadwell's ... SRG has a warmer atmosphere for the winter months. Another great place that I don't think has been mentioned is About Thyme Bistro http://aboutthymebistro.com. It's in Vineland if you're touring any wineries in that area.

                                      61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                                      About Thyme Bistro
                                      3457 King St, Vineland, ON L0R2C0, CA

                                      1. re: CocoTO

                                        I really enjoyed my dinner at About Thyme. The food was wonderful, but SRG is a step up, in my opinion. Great value, too, though, and something I would recommend for a second night.

                                    2. Someone just recommended Tetley's Steak and Stone at the Moffat Inn for a fondue and hot stone Sunday dinner. Any current opinions (is it still in business?) would be welcome. Otherwise, will try SRG or Treadwell. Prefer a non-tablecloth, laid back place with the vibe of Starfish in Toronto.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Food Tourist

                                        Definitely recommend Stone Road Grille. Excellent food; very unpretentious and laid back. Plus, great value. Treadwell is a larger, colder room, in my opinion; it feels a little more business-like. The food, however, is excellent as well, though pricier than SRG.

                                        Stone Road Grille
                                        238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

                                        61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                          Thanks. Got a Sunday evening reservation for SRG. However, also want to eat well across the border so might also go to Bar-Bill or Pizza Plant, but wondering if there's something more along the lines of "local, seasonal, sustainable" in the cross-border area (but not an Italian resto).

                                        2. re: Food Tourist

                                          I imagine Tetley's Steak and Stone is closed down. Moffat Inn is advertising a new pub:

                                          1. re: Food Tourist

                                            We enjoyed our dinner on Sunday at SRG - had the 3-course Berkshire pork menu for $55. Charcuterie had 5 types: country terine, pulled pork terrine (our fave), lardo, mortadella chunks, and (hot) pork belly (very good). Main was a huge-looking pork chop that actually had only a small medallion of edible meat (the rest was fat). Side brussel sprouts and spaetzle were excellent. Dessert was a mysteriously exotic float of coconut-coated passionfruit sorbet on tapioca and coconut (so, the dessert was $2 instead of $10 based on the 3 course deal).
                                            Matching Featherstone riesling for $12 with charcuterie course was mediocre, so I didn't bother with the subsequent suggested pairings from Featherstone, the featured winery. 3 wine pairings would have been $35.

                                            The pulled pork carrot risotto was delicious, and the steak frites (full size $32) with green beans and thick cut fries was excellent. Great beef and great flavour! Great Lakes red ale was also disappointingly mediocre.

                                            We loved the atmosphere and service, and would go back for that steak!

                                            Also made the trek to Bar-Bill in East Aurora, NY and enjoyed the tiny pub and excellent beef on weck and pretty good wings. Medium-hot wings were like suicide at first bite. Warning: it's cash only and the ATM on site charges $2 plus your own bank fee.

                                            1. re: Food Tourist

                                              Yum yum! I am longing to go back soon!!

                                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                                Sounds scrumptious FT . . . living vicariously in Toronto!

                                            2. If you folks have a car, I would suggest driving to either Treadwell, Hillebrand or Peller Estate. ( Last meal I had at Peller was great but that was over a year ago though! )

                                              61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                Had dinner at AG in Niagara Falls and enjoyed it very much. The service was excellent and the food quite delicious

                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                  I think all 3 plus AG might not suit the "vibe" we're after but I have enjoyed AG, Treadwell and Hillebrand in the past (before Tony DeLuca's departure). My one experience at Peller a couple of years ago (when they used upside-down decanters on pegs as centrepieces) was disappointing.

                                                  1. re: Food Tourist

                                                    If you're thinking pizza/pub-ish venues, you might consider Tony DeLuca's less formal, pub-like place http://www.theoldwineryrestaurant.com on this side of the border (and not too far from SRG) ...

                                                    1. re: CocoTO

                                                      Given the choice b/w SRG and The Old Winery Restaurant, I'd pick SRG hands down. The food at SRG is prepared w passion and attention to detail, the service is personal, attentive and professional. It always exceeds our expectations.

                                                      TOWR on the other hand does get top marks in terms of ambience. Beautiful location, lovely interior and amazing patio in the summer/fall. A casual atmosphere as others suggest. Food is average to good but not consistent. In our experience, service has always been horrible. Slow, slow, slow! Forgotten or delayed orders, long absences of wait staff. Tony DeLuca now must split his time between this spot and his new restaurant up the road but even when he was here all the time, service was still poor.

                                                      Old Winery
                                                      2228 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara On the Lake, ON L0S1J0, CA

                                                2. Supposedly, there is a steak house across from the Casino - palm trees in the front. Supposedly- very god steak...?

                                                  Niagara on the Lake: The restaurant in the Pillar and Post is lovely higher end, for lunch, there are two that are next to each other that are lovely....the wine is always great! These two are on the same side as the ice cream shop/ in the area of the Christmas store...if I recall. Sorry, about being so cryptic- but I just go there and know what I like.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: designergirl

                                                    Designergirl, my best guesses are:
                                                    -steak with palm trees: Copacabana Brazilian rodizio ayce. Not bad, but not fantastic. Most of the meats seem seasoned the same. Avoid the "parmesan" flavoured meats. Chimichurri isn't bad.
                                                    - lunch near Christmas store: Epicurean or Shaw cafe. Epicurean gets lots of love on this board. Takeout area in front, table service in back.