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St.Catharines Foodie

Hey there I am somewhat new to the Niagara region and I am looking for those hidden gems in the area.
We recently moved from Toronto and one thing I really miss is all the little great places.
We are familiar with Wellington Court, Treadwells, Stone Rd Grille & Casa Mia but would love to hear what people know about this area and the smaller places. We are open to all types of cuisine.
Thanks for all your input

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  1. There's a delightful, small restaurant called Zest. It's located in Fonthill, not too far from St. Catharines. Give it a try. I'm sure you will like it. Here's a link to their website.


    1469 Pelham St, Fonthill, ON L0S1E4, CA

    1. There are a couple of great places, downtown St Catharines, definitely worth checking out. Recently I went to The Office Tap and Grill and had a great meal for an even better price, plus the beverage list is pretty fab. Monday to Thursday they even have no corkage fee for BYOW!

      Around the corner, at 288 St Paul Street, is Sahla Thai for authentic Thai in a lovely setting.

      You also can check out Janice Okun in Friday's Buffalo News Gusto for more in-depth reviews of Western New York and Niagara restaurants http://www.buffalonews.com/242/

      Good Eating!

      The Office Tap & Grill
      22 James St, St Catharines, ON L2R5B8, CA

      1. Ooohhh, i disagree about Salah Thai. I always found Spicy Thai much, much better and the room is so pretty!

        In virgil, the pie plate is the place to go. delish.

        good old epicurean in notl is a fallback. and believe it or not, the prince of wales has some pretty good stuff happening, if you can pay hotel prices.

        avoid the irish harp in notl at all cost. zest is nice, but zee's, ugh, stay away.

        1 Reply
        1. re: likescrab

          whats wrong with the irish harp good food nice people you must have had a
          bad experience

        2. You've covered a few of the good ones already but here's a few more that I think are pretty good..

          Mai Vi - St. Paul St. - Vietnamese
          Coppola's - Carlton St. - Italian
          Bansaree - St. Paul St. - Indian
          Carlos Cantina - St. Paul St. - Mexican
          Cafe Amore - Marindale Rd - Italian (good desserts but the food is hit or miss, maybe just for coffee and cake..)

          1. Here is a current thread on St. Catharines: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/675569

            Mom and I dined at Spice of Life on October 31, 2009. We went with low expectations and still do not recommend it. The food was disappointing overall.

            1. I agree with frais.

              Mai Vi is pretty good. A bowl of pho and an app will set you back $15 and its a substantial dinner. For a light dinner, good enough for two.

              Coppola's is mundane and reliable. The food is always good, never great. Gerry (the owner) runs a tight ship as far as service is concerned. It has the rare distinction of being the only place I can think of where not only have I not had a bad meal, I've not heard of anybody who's had a bad meal there. Prices are very reasonable.

              Wildfire: Why some people go to The Keg as opposed to this place I will never understand. Good solid steakhouse. I've never had a bad meal there and the service is always top-notch. On one occasion, the waiter came back after I ordered their special. "Sir, we've run out of the porterhouse but can we substitute a filet and a NY Strip?" Yes, you can.

              Bleu Turtle: Just OK, but at a price point that should command better food. Especially in Western Hill.

              Spicy Thai / Sahla Thai: Both are good solid choices. We do sit-down meals at Sahla Thai and do take-out from Spicy Thai. Spicy Thai has no parking lot and is across from the bingo parlor. Nuff said about that.

              Cafe Amore: Very inconsistent. Their desserts are excellent.

              Keefer House: this one's in Thorold, but good enough to warrant a cab. Have a very good dinner in a very cool old mansion.

              Bansaree: decent Indian food. Decor is tacky and the service friendly. Its a Tuesday night place, not for your wedding anniversary or birthday.

              Carlos' Cantina: good authentic Mexican. Decor is kitschy but the food is good and reasonably priced.

              Cask 22: Wine bar a few doors down from Carlos'. The list is varied and you can sample a lot of wine and still walk if you go with the 3 oz pour. The food options are basically cheese and dessert plates. The owners are very friendly and chatty (not intrusive) but their not exactly encyclopedias of wine knowledge.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pubb


                Thank you for mentioning Wildfire and also for bringing up the question of why people would go to The Keg rather than there. The service and food there has always been much better than The Keg and I encourage others to try it if they are looking for a steakhouse. I almost wonder though if they consistently run out of porterhouse? The same situation happened with my husband, with the same result. No one went home unhappy...

                Also agree with you about Cask 22 (actually I agreed with about all of your post). While it is true that the owners aren't overly knowledgeable they are incredibly nice people. I think the wine bar is a great addition to downtown and hope they can stay open. The few times I have been there it has only been our table and a few people at the bar. It is a comfortable place to sit and sample a few wines or buy a bottle (or two..). Kind of a relaxing, mellow atmosphere, nice after a long week at work.

              2. There are so many Restaurants in Niagara I LOVE! I love great food!

                Downtown St. Catharines on King Street, Nights of Damascus is a very casual place that serves Meditteranean food and shishah. The shwarmas are amazing there, as well as the fatoush salad, and are very reasonably priced. My BF and I eat there at least once a week. The decor is pretty bad, but great food, price and service!

                I also hear a lot of great things about Carlos Cantina downtown for Mexican Food. For pub style food, definitely check out the Merchant Ale House on St. Paul Street East. There is a great wine bar downtown St. Catharines on St. Paul Street East called Cask 22. My favorite place for Vietnamise food would Pho Dau Bo on Geneva Street. They have excellent fast service, I absolutely love that place. A great newer place for Asian style tapas is Toi on Queen Street. Prices are a bit high but the decor is stylish and modern, very nice!

                My favorite Thai place ever is Chang Noi on Queenston Street. My top 2 places for Sushi is Sakura Sushi on Lake Street and East on King Street.

                My favorite Italian place is this cute small Resturant called La Scala on Church Street. Every thursday they have 2 for 1 pasta too!

                My 2 favorite places for Tapas is Johnny Rocos on Hartzel Road (Thursdays @ 7:PM) and Frescos on Fourth Avenue (Monday and Wednesday @ 7:00PM)

                More of my favorties just outside of St. Catharines is Zooma Zooma Cafe in Jordan Village, About Thyme Bistro in Vineland., August Restaurant in Grimsby, 13 Mountain Street in Grimsby, and @27 in Port Colborne.

                Msg me with any other questions!

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

                13 Mountain Street
                13 Mountain St, Grimsby, ON L3M, CA

                Carlos Cantina
                204 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M2, CA

                La Scala
                26 Church St, St Catharines, ON L2R3B6, CA

                Merchant Ale House
                98 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M2, CA

                Zooma Zooma Cafe
                3839 Main, Vineland, ON L0R1S0, CA

                888 Erie St E, Windsor, ON N9A3Y6, CA

                Sakura Sushi & Cafe
                9555 Yonge St, Richmond Hill, ON L4C9M5, CA

                6 Replies
                1. re: meerha123

                  My parents ate at Toi over the holidays and really enjoyed it and wanted to return the next day!

                  Sadly, we ended up going to Sushi Jade AYCE ($25 incl tax for adults, $18 for seniors). It was a bit dirty in our booth. The red snapper and yellowtail sashimi were decent; korean kalbi ribs okay; and some maki rolls pretty good. Nice smoky grilled eggplant. Weird but worth trying: deep-fried milk. Some items took forever to arrive or didn't arrive at all. Upon questioning, they said they were waiting for the scallops to thaw. Overall, Jade is probably a waste of your $25. Every AYCE in Toronto is better and lower priced.

                  Has anyone tried Real Sushi at the seedy Leonard Hotel?

                  Sushi Jade
                  219 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M6, CA

                  1. re: meerha123

                    Glad to hear Nights of Damascus is good. Gotta say it looks sketchy from the outside.
                    Which of the three or four downtown falafel/shawarma places is the best? Haven't tried any of them, but I've had a craving recently.

                    For Mexican, I've recently had the chance to try Eh Jose's offerings at the market on Saturdays and Thursdays (I think). Expensive but tasty and authentic -- real Oaxacan cheese, etc. Apparently he used to work at Queen's Landing. Who knew. Anyway, good stuff.

                    Also at the market on Thursdays is El Gastro. Whatever they are selling that day, get it. Always great, just as it was when they were parked at Flat Rock over the summer.

                    As for sushi... I'm scared of both Real Sushi and Sushi Jade. I hear East is the place to go.

                    Speaking of Asian food: I'm floored by the amount of new places that are openng up downtown. Two more sushi places just sprung up on St. Paul (Sushi Ai and another one), PLUS the Chinese place on St. Paul West (just over the bridge) seems to have re-branded itself as a sushi place, PLUS that fusion type place, Li, opened in the old Spotted Calf (which I really regret never going to.)
                    Not sure how these places will all sustain themselves. Seems to me the market's pretty saturated already, but what do I know? :P

                    Sushi Jade
                    219 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M6, CA

                    1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                      I forgot to mention the Korean place on St. Paul that has pictures in the window of bibimbap, bone soup, etc. Anyone try it yet? I'm trying to send my parents to report back. I hope they have dolsot hot stone bowls.

                      1. re: Food Tourist

                        I've been meaning to go. I'm hoping to have a chance in the next couple weeks -- will definitely report if I do.

                    2. re: meerha123

                      meerha123 I signed up for this site just to reply to your list!
                      All your choices happen to be all my fav choices as well! All the way down to Zooma Zooma!

                      ALTHOUGH I will say my last experience with Carlos Cantina was not as good as I remember.
                      I havent been to Knights of Damascus so I will have to check that one out.

                      FOR ANYONE who has not been to Chang Noi you MUST GO.
                      I have brought many many friends there and every single one came away LOVING the place.
                      I used to go to Sahla Thai when I was still a noob to Thai food.. but after I found Changs I could not go back.
                      I also think Sahla puts ketchup on their pad thai which .. now going back there it tastes gross.

                      La Scala is also amazing.

                      As is Johnny Roccos!

                      Toi has good food but is usually empty when I am there.. which can make it awkward.. probably due to their Toronto pricing in St. Catharines

                      @ Food Tourist - I have been to Real Sushi.. it is actually quite good!.. Though I love East the most for A-Y-C-E.. The one server there just makes great suggestions and the food is always good. They have a seasonal special features menu they recently introduced and you are able to try a lot of very different things which is very exciting! I would avoid Jade and Raw Fish (same owners) my experiences there have not been good ones.

                      Has anyone tried out Sushi Ai or Sushi Al .. (not sure which) on St. Paul yet?

                      For great amazing fresh baked goods / salsa check out 13th St. winery on 4th ave.

                      Sahla Thai
                      270 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M9, CA

                      Carlos Cantina
                      204 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R3M2, CA

                      La Scala
                      26 Church St, St Catharines, ON L2R3B6, CA

                      Zooma Zooma Cafe
                      3839 Main, Vineland, ON L0R1S0, CA

                      1. re: jlams

                        Treadwells is the best food I've ever had! Very pricey but melts in your mouth.

                        Jlams - I've been to Sushi Ai I didn't like it at all! Sakura Sushi, East and Real Sushi are my favs.

                        Also there is a new bistro downtown called Dani's Bistro. Small portions just as I like, all homemade healthy cheap food, I love it there.

                        Also, Joe Fetas is great for Greek. My finace and I LOVE it oh so very much. Fresh, fast and CHEAP!

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

                        Sakura Sushi & Cafe
                        9555 Yonge St, Richmond Hill, ON L4C9M5, CA

                    3. My wife and I were down for The Pinot Affair a couple of weeks ago and had an outstanding meal at the Charles Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They served the best duck dish I've ever had - roast duck breast served on a bed of duck confit and vegetable hash accompanied by butternut squash crême brulée. The appetizers and desserts were good too. Beware - it is pretty pricey, but yummy.

                      Charles Inn
                      209 Queen, Niagara On the Lake, ON L0S1J0, CA

                      1. Any time you can find El Gastronomo Vagabundo (food truck), you're in for a treat. They're often at Flat Rock Cellars in the summer.

                        Pho Dau Bo on Geneva, behind Dihn Dihn has the best Pho around.

                        Spicy Thai is hands down the best Thai, in my opinion.

                        Touch of India is quaint and the food is really good. Had nothing but bad experiences at Bansaree.

                        For decent pub grub, there's Cat's Caboose on Glenridge. It's far better than it appears, and the food is honest and totally unpretentious.

                        I've heard mixed reviews of the new Mexican place on Hartzel. Still waiting for someone braver than me to go there and tell me about it. LOL

                        Toi is quaint, with an interesting Asian style "tapas" menu. Their sambal soy dip for the sweet potato fries is amazing. I go just for that.

                        The Feathery Pub on Fourth is good. Avoid the French Onion soup (unless you're okay with cinnamon in it) and the steak. Please, avoid the steak.

                        Speaking of steak, I second Wildfire. Far better than the Keg.