Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Mar 20, 2008 08:43 AM

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!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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" 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.