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Ohio 'hound coming to Ontario

Hi fellow Canadian hounds. For many years when I was little, my family vacationed in Leamington. I loved waking up to the smell of cooking tomatoes and loved how clean and quiet the town was. There was a little beach in town as I recall, and I remember ice cream at Burgess' refreshments but I think most of the places we used to visit are no longer there (Diana restaurant, Tropicana pizza in a nearby town, the name of which I can't remember, the A&P, etc.). Anyway, I am bringing my family to Canada this year for vacation. Neither my husband nor my 3 y.o. toddler son have ever been there. Am hoping it remains as clean and safe and low-key as I recall.

We have booked a cottage in nearby Wheatley, and with a cranky (but food-friendly) toddler, expect we will take many meals in the cottage instead of navigating restaurants, but it would be great if any of you could pass on recommendations for child-friendly local spots including diners for breakfast or lunch, any type of cuisine. Hole in the wall places are welcome, preferably ones that take credit cards though as we will not be bringing a ton of cash. Bars probably not so much, what with the kiddo and all.

We have entertainment options sewn up, such as they are (yay you have chuck e cheese like we do), but am lacking in the food department. Also a good foodie type grocery near Leamington or Wheatley would be appreciated.

We leave for Canada on the 15th. Hope you can recommend some places for me! Thanks!

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  1. While I don't have any recs for Wheatley or Leamington, I have had good perch in Chatham at some of the Greek-run family restaurants. There are some other relatively upscale restaurants in Chatham, that should come up in a search. I'd think they all take credit cards. There was a thread on Chatham restaurants in the last 2 years.

    Also, Pelee Island has a winery, and I think they've got an inn with a restaurant.

    If you're willing to travel to Port Stanley, there are some nice inns and restaurants serving perch and pickerel. I like the food and patio at the Kettle Creek Inn.

    Good luck :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: prima

      Thank you! I love Pelee Island winery but I don't want to take my little one on a ferry at this point. Will check out Chatham and Port Stanley.

    2. Leamington has some good Mexican restaurants. Try Taco Tony's. On Friday nights it's packed.

      1. Long time reader, first time poster. I think I might be able to help you out as I am currently living in Leamington, and I love food.

        Since your going to be staying in Wheatley I have to recommend the Chinese food restaurant right on Main Street just before the stoplights, heading to Leamington. I can't remember the name of it but it doesn't really matter because it's the only Chinese in town and probably the best Chinese I've ever had. There's another restaurant in Wheatley called the Car Barn, they specialize in fish and broasted chicken, they also have pizza, etc. The locals will rave about this place, but I've never found it to be anything special.

        When it comes to Leamington, none of those place you mentioned are still here other than Burgess Refreshments. They have 2 locations, one on the beach and then the original location. I wouldn't really recommend anything from Burgess though. I recommend taking a drive towards Point Pelee Park, there is a Double Decker bus that serves ice cream, as well as Freddie's restaurant, they serve ice cream as well.

        As far as Leamington goes, it's pretty much a food wasteland. However there are a few diamonds in the rough. On the Main St (Talbot St.) there is a Thai restaurant called Roy Thai. Best Thai food I've ever had in my life. Pretty much right across the road from Roy Thai is a place called Gino's. This is a more high end place but they have excellent wood fired pizza and sandwiches for lunch. As the previous poster mentioned Taco's Tony is decent, don't go in there with too many expectations tho, it's defintely a hole in the wall. There is another restaurant on Erie St called Family Kitchen. They have excellent breakfast, and decent dinners. It's more of a Mexican restaurant for lunch and dinner, and I actually prefer it for Mexcican food over Taco's Tony. Other than those 4 places, you won't find much in Leamington, it's all chain restaurants, or not worth the time and money to check out. There really aren't any foodie type grocery stores either. There's 2 small Asian stores and 2 small Mexican stores. Other than that it's all chain grocery stores. I recommend sticking to the backroad's and checking out the roadside stands, they are everywhere, and right now they are loaded with all kinds of fresh produce, fruit, berries, veggies.

        I would also recommend taking a trip into Kingsville while you're in the area. Kingsville has one of the best butcher shops you will ever find. All locally sourced meats, excellent quality and friendly staff. It's right on Main St and it's called the Butcher Of Kingsville. There's also some good restaurants in Kingsville. It actually has a better food scene than Leamington. There is Jack's for burgers, etc. The Main (on main st) for higher end fare. Mettawa Station for Mediterranean food (I've never tried it, but people rave about it). Kingsville is a beautiful little town and very much worth the stop on your trip.

        I think that's about all. Happy eating.

        3 Replies
        1. re: CookieMonster36

          cookie, thank you so much for that, I am going to print out this thread and take it with me! I'm starting to worry about bringing a lot of stuff in through customs so the butcher shop rec is much appreciated. Can you recommend a good general grocery for regular, run of the mill stuff Including decent produce (particularly potatoes, which I understand are prohibited from crossing the border, and if there is one that has more organic, like a whole foods or equivalent, that would be cool). Anywhere in the area that's not more than a half hour drive away from Wheatley would be fine.

          1. re: rockandroller1

            I don't recommend any of the grocery stores for produce. I do think I forgot to mention that Leamington has a Farmers Market every Saturday morning from 8am - 2pm. It's located on the Fairgrounds and has a fair selection of produce and baked goods. It's very small and can be difficult to navigate at times because of all the people.

            http://leamingtonfarmersmarket.com/

            If you won't be around on Saturday morning, right now I'm buying my potatoes from Simpson Orchards (the potatoes are grown next door), they also have peaches, apricots, plums, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, beets and still have some apples from last years crop. The peaches are amazing, I've went through 2 baskets in 4 days already. Had some of the potatoes for dinner tonight and they are very good. They are a little bit out of town, but not too far. They are also at the Farmers Market on Saturday morning.

            http://www.simpsonorchards.ca/

            There are 3 grocery stores in town -- Superstore would probably be your best bet for organic, if you desire to shop at a grocery store. I don't think you will have to once you see the abundance of roadside stands.

            http://www.superstore.ca/LCLOnline/st...

            There is also a FreshCo and a Metro (Metro bought out A&P a few years back). They are both on Erie St. heading towards the lake.

            I also forgot about Ray's Ribhouse (I always forget about Rays Ribhouse) and I can say the food is good quality, and has fair prices. Wed. night is half rack ribs for $10, Thurs $5 wings, and they have a burger special for $5 daily. The burger is good, and the price makes it that much better. They don't have a website but they aren't too hard to find. Located on Robson Rd. just off Erie St, right when you get to the Seacliffe Inn.

            There's also a decent Lebanese Restaurant off Erie St. called Lebanese Village, they have pretty good food too. It's located in a plaza right off Erie St. They have a website but I can't seem to find it.

            One other place that I forgot about is called the Dutch Country Market (or something like that). It's located on Highway #3, halfway between Wheatley and Leamington. Watch for the signs. They have amazing pies, cinnamon rolls, breads and lot's more fresh baking. They also sell some fresh produce. They had raspberries and corn on the sign when I drove past tonight. They are also at the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

            Here's a link to The Butcher of Kingsville's Facebook page.
            https://www.facebook.com/thebutcherof...

            Roy Thai
            http://roythairestaurant.com/

            Gino's
            http://www.ginoscafe.net/ourstory.htm

            Happy travels.

            1. re: CookieMonster36

              Thx. We arrive on a sunday and leave on a friday so will miss the farmer's market. I was planning on bringing everything with us food-wise as we are in a CSA here and have plenty of veg, but I'm worried about ending up having to throw it out at the border, or pay a duty to bring it in so now am looking more selectively at what we will bring. Really appreciate this!

        2. There are good options without driving far afield.

          Right in Wheatley is the Car Barn. It had all you can eat Walleye and Perch the evenings I was there. Still does hopefully. For sure check it out. If you head to Point Peleehere is also good Perch and Walleye at Paula's, 857 Point Pelee Dr. and Freddy's also on Point Pelee drive just before the Park Gates.

          I have yet to try Freddy's but may do so this coming week when I visit the area:

          http://freddys.ca/

          Leamington has some interesting choices.

          Diana Sweets is long gone - burned down. The Tropicana is still there but now moved to 500 Erie S..

          Burgess is still there at the water's edge, as is Gaspard's next door. Lakeside Bakery at 286 Erie St. South went upmarket when it moved from its Mill Street location. It now has a decent deli/cafe in addition to its excellent breads and pastries. As mentioned elsewhere the town has numerous small Mexican restaurants.

          As mentioned below, the town has many Mexican restaurants. It also has decent Asian - Vietnamese spot on Erie North - Saigon Pho, as well as the Roy Thai at 26 Talbot W. The food is good at Roy Thai but be sure and ask for spicy.

          At 27 Talbot W is Gino's Trattoria, a great Italian spot - next door is their cafe for espresso and gelato.

          I don't know much about Ray's Ribhouse at 17 Robson Road or Lebanese Village at 129 Erie St S. but hope to get to them in the future.

          As to groceries, I suggest the following. Brandt's Butcher Block at 34 Mill St. in Leamington is a solid deli/grocer. Nearby at 31 Talbot W is Phat Dat, a tiny Thai/Vietnamese grocery you shouldn't miss. Of course you'll have the veggie stands on Hwy 3 between Wheately and Leamington. If you head north out of Leamington on Erie St you will find Highrise mushrooms about 5 miles north just off the highway at 506 Mersea Rd 5, always a must stop for me:

          http://www.highlinemushrooms.com/en/c...

          They sell fresh the same day right from their main office. Porcini,

          http://www.highlinemushrooms.com/en/v...

          As to Leamington itself, it is stlll safe and clean but is overbuilt with chains, strip malls, car washes and industrial businesses and vacant lots all interspersed. The number of fast food outlets is overwhelming for the size of the town. The Seacliffe area had all its wonderful old growth hardwood cover stripped by a tornado a few years back and the scars still show.

          Wheatley is a good choice. It hasn't changed in decades and still retains its small town Southern Ontario flavour as do the other small towns along Erie. Enjoy your stay.

          5 Replies
          1. re: DockPotato

            Really appreciate this post, dockpotato, thank you so much. I'm really looking forward to exploring your suggestions.

            1. re: rockandroller1

              I apologize for the obvious errors in my first post but the "Edit" function was totally missing when I came back later to view it.

              Cookie and I obviously are pretty well in general agreement.

              You can trust the veggie stands between Kingsville and Leamington, but unless you have local knowledge avoid the rest as they are generally factory operations - large hydroponic greenhouse operations - not truck gardeners.

              Also, Cookie mentions the "Superstore". It is good and has a seafood offering that you won't find anywhere else in Ontario except at a first rate fish monger in Toronto. It caters to a substantial Portugese community who know their stuff.

              I forgot to mention "Citrus Sam" at::
              http://citrussam.com/

                1. re: DockPotato

                  rockandroller1 you were really helpful with suggestions on my trip to CLE last fall (thanks!) I used to live in Leamington, but that was about 8 years ago. Dock Potato has some great suggestions, IMO. Must agree that the Car Barn in Wheatley is a good stop for Broasted chicken. (do they have broasted chicken in CLE?) Also +1 for Perch at Paula's on Point pelee drive! Gilligan's in Leamington used to have some good burgers (Buffalo and some exotic stuff too) if they are still there(?). Also, your little one might enjoy Colasanti's Garden Center (much more than plants...) it is a short drive away in Ruthven, and they have a petting zoo and lots of other stuff, plus the aforementioned broasted chicken (there are a few places in the area that serve it)

                  Have fun and if you're heading down KW way (about 4 hour drive so probably NOT...LOL) I have some recs locally here as well.

                  1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                    LOVE broasted chicken, yes we have it here. Thanks for the post and am glad I was helpful to you!

              1. re: DUH CAR

                Holy crap! Thank you for posting. I have been looking and looking for a list like this but couldn't find anything but potatoes. Now if I only knew how much 20KG of something is, that would help :) It doesn't sound like many of our fresh veg from our CSA will be able to be brought over. Well, this WILL be an adventure :)