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Apr 26, 2012 04:55 PM

St. Catharines/Niagara people! I need your help!

My sister has just moved here from Quebec to be closer to me because she's disabled. She doesn't know anyone else and she's depressed. She loves food and cooking and cool places cheer her up.She wants me to show her the gems of the area since I've been here 10 years, but the truth is I don't really know any. She doesn't have a lot of money but she can occasionally splurge on an ingredient or two. I'm looking for the great little shops, bakeries, cheap restaurants even if it only has one fabulous thing. For instance, she adores the doughnuts at Zehrs. I'm going to take her to Lakeland game meats and the place in Jordan that sells Niagara gold and Chang Noi's for their lunch special, the farmer's market downtown and Avondale Dairy Bar. Does anyone have any other ideas? What are the gems you shop at?

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  1. St. Catharine's Farmer's market is pretty good, just noticed it is on your list. "Rise Above" downtown is pretty good too.. Went in its early days at another location but I enjoyed their vegan donuts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ylsf

      I really enjoyed my lunch at Rise Above last month:

      And I didn't report back after trying it, but that mini cherry pie was one of the best things I've eaten all year.

    2. Well dianne0712 there are cetainly many options, in addition to the excellent choices that you have put forth. Try heading downtown to Wellington Court and have an excellent bowl of soup and an appetizer for a late lunch. In the Farmer's Market is a new food truck, run by the very talented local Chef Mark Walpole, who is always looking to expand his range of ideas and serve balanced and well priced food. As to the butcher shops, look to Lakeshore Meats, for their house made sausages, well aged and butchered meats and excellent service. Helen's Deli downtown has been serving schnitzel on a bun with cheese and saurkraut with an unwavering dedication to quality for years, plus they have european desserts that can sustain you for days, on top of a well thought out and consistent salad bar, with groceries and coffee to go too. The gems are there, often in plain sight. Enjoy the journey!

      4 Replies
      1. re: meathead2

        Thanks! Great suggestions! Does the food truck have a name so I can identify it? Also I know she really misses the smokehouse she went to in Quebec; do we have one here?
        My husband and I will also be checking out the schnitzel!

        1. re: dianne0712

          There's a bbq place on St. Paul St, pretty much right at Ontario that isn't bad if you want to stay in the city, but if you can take a drive out to Winona, right on Hwy 8 there's a place called Memphis Fire that is fantastic. It's just under 30 mins from St. Catharines and worth the drive.

          1. re: frais

            Based on my one visit and several of my friends', would definitely recommend Memphis Fire over the Bull any day. The burgers at the Bull were adequate, but that was about it, whereas everything I've had at Memphis Fire has been awesome. Sad -- I was hoping for so much more when the Bull opened.

            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

              Yes, I've heard about this place and I must check it out, but what I was referring to is a place that smokes meat and fish and you can buy it by the pound, like a deli but all inhouse smoked meat.

      2. If you're going to Upper Canada Cheese (that makes Niagara Gold), then go a bit further and stop in at Whitty Farms. Great local produce, but the best part is the baked goods they make. Fantastic cherry tarts and strawberry rhubarb tarts. I assume the pies are just as good, but those tart grab me every time.

        3 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          Thanks! I adore rhubarb! Someone told me there was a place that sold fresh rhubarb but they couldn't remember where. Could it be there?

          1. re: dianne0712

            When it's in season, you should be able to find fresh rhubarb in your local grocery stores. Whitty Farms usually updates the home page of their web site with what's in season, but it looks like it's too early in the year and they still have stuff from last year up. But you could give them a call and ask about rhubarb:


            But seriously, their strawberry rhubarb tarts are awesome. :)

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Definitely will try those, thank you.
              Someone in the neighbourhood suggested we try Big Marco's so my husband and I went there for lunch. What a mistake! Slow service, cold food, black fries and soggy panini. She's also has lost her muffin tin, so if anyone knows where to get quality baking pans around here that would be great.

        2. Great Korean at a little hole in the wall at St. Paul and Carlisle. Only identifiable by the "Bone Soup" sign.
          Cheap and cheerful pho at Pho Dau Bo, and while you're there, check out Dinh Dinh, the Vietnamese store next door. LOTS of neat stuff. I hear there's another great Asian store on Vine.
          There's an interesting Mexican/Caribbean-type store, Elda's Place, at Bunting and Welland. In that area, lots of Polish bakeries and so forth in the Facer St. neighbourhood.
          Meat from Lake Land if you feel like dropping a bundle, Pilgrim's at Queen and Welland if you feel like dropping a slightly smaller bundle, or R&J Meats at Bunting and Carlton for great quality and super friendly service by people who actually cut their own meat (I know, right? Shocking.)

          At the market, buy beef, chicken eggs, flour and potatoes from Tom in the northwest corner. Apples from Beamers. Duck eggs and garlic from Cathy. Cheeses from Cheesy Guys -- can't find those cheeses anywhere else in the city, and they're super nice. Bread on Saturdays from De La Terre. Ice cream from the ice cream girl in the summer!

          Not a lot of gems around here, but it's a lot less desolate than I figured it would be when I moved here from Toronto a few years ago. Good luck!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

            I would second Dinh Dinh. Great prices, too, if she doesn't have a lot of money.

            Lakeshore Meats is a great place to get some local meat, and Spicy Thai makes yummy Thai food for a great price.

            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

              Yes! I meant to mention Dihn Dihn! I haven't been to the Korean restaurant though - that will be a good one.
              She's already discovered the Mexican store because it's near where she lives. She showed it to ME - how embarrassing! LOL!
              We keep hearing about a fantastic bakery near there, but no one can tell us it's name or where it is.
              The R and J meats you mentioned is exactly the kind of thing that I was looking for. She doesn't really eat out very often, but she's a sucker for quality ingredients and unusual ones too. A real butcher is just what we need.
              Duck eggs! Too cool!
              Awesome recommendations! Thank you so much.