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Hidden gem recommendations along the drive from Toronto to Niagara on the Lake & also for the Bruce Peninsula ( Red Bay, Sauble beach, Lion's Head, Tobermory)

Hello there,

We are flying intoToronto with a 5pm arrival and then driving out to Niagara on the Lake for a two night stay before we drive up to the Bruce Pennisula where we will stay three days in a B& B in Red Bay which is near Sauble beach and then staying another three days at the Bruce Anchor Inn in downtown Tobermory.

Does anyone have some good suggestions to eat dinner either in, near, or on the way to Niagara on the Lake from Toronto? Or any suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner in NOTL and the surrounding areas. We already booked the "Taste of the Town" tour in Niagara on the Lake to act as our brunch for one day lol but would love some ideas for places to eat in the area. We don't mind driving a bit out of our way if there's a tasty yet affordable option in a neighboring area etc Also any suggestions for the drive up to the Bruce Peninsula from NOTL would be appreciated. Also hoping to get some tips for eating in Sauble beach, Lion's head, Tobermory or anything within an hour drive of these.
Thanks in advance for any tips and suggestions;) We love food and don't believe it has to be fancy to be good, the dishes just have to be made with fresh ingredients that have been optimized for their flavor etc. Also if you have any suggestions for Canadian wines, please let us know that too. We really enjoy dry, medium to full bodied reds and also a nice crisp and refreshing white or sparkling now and then too. My hubby was born and raised in Toronto, but we live in Miami Florida.

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  1. My top recommendations for NOTL are Stone Road Grille, Ravine Vineyard Bistro, Garrison House, The Pie Plate, Peller Estates, Hillebrand.

    This thread discusses some of the above:


    And this thread talks more about Garrison House and The Pie Plate:


    Ravine is just a few minutes off the highway as you head into NOTL, so it might be convenient for your dinner on your way in from the airport.

    The Pie Plate is awesome for a casual lunch. Garrison House is very gastropub-ish and is at a lower price point than Stone Road Grille, Peller Estates or Hillebrand. If you could only have one dinner, Stone Road Grille would be my pick. They also have a fantastic local wine list, so you can try several local reds if you'd like.

    Oh and fish and chips at The Irish Harp are really good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Thanks so much, I truly appreciate it! Just went and looked at the menu for Stone Road Grille and I'm already salivating! Mmm, sounds awesome. BTW, forgot to mention that I have two teen sons but they are both foodies too so I hope they are welcome at the places you've recommended.

      1. re: KImKinMIA

        Yes, all of these places are fine with your sons. And they are also all farm to table, so you should be happy at any of them. But whatever you do, avoid the restaurants in the main strip of the historic district. They are almost uniformly terrible. The one exception is The Epicurean. And don't get sucked into how pretty Shaw Cafe is...trust me. :)

    2. And here's a thread on Tobermory and Sauble beach area with some current discussion interspersed throughout.


      1. Depends on how upscale you want to go.

        TorontoJo's list is excellent (and I note you say 'tasty and affordable').

        But TorontoJo skipped Treadwell's - IMO the finest dining in the Niagara area - with the best wine list by far - all Ontario as well.

        I'll throw in one other possible choice (upscale but worth it). Blacktree (in Burlington, which you'll pass through en route) is noted for its selection of Game dishes (and much else). Not sure you'll find that in Miami so worth considering.

        5 Replies
        1. re: estufarian

          Thanks estufarian! So many choices, so little time;( Wish I could try them all! Blacktree sounds intriquing, I'll definitely check that out and i read somewhere about Treadmill's being farm to table. We have our own backyard hens, garden and tropical fruit trees and easy access to fresh fish so we really have an appreciation for farm to table type cooking. We are staying at the Queen's Landing and our package includes a bottle of wine awaiting our arrival but would love to try some other tasty local wines of the area. Down here we generally drink either Californian, South American or French wines, they have zero selection of Canadian options at our local wine stores and grocery stores etc so I don't know at all about Canadian wineries, any specific ones you'd recommend?

          1. re: KImKinMIA

            I know too many of the Producers, so I'll just pass on this.
            But if you go to Treadwell's - ask them - probably also the best sommelier in the area.

          2. re: estufarian

            You're right estufarian -- Treadwell's is on my hit list to try, but I've heard nothing but good things.

            To order the list so far from most to least expensive:

            Hillebrand/Peller Estates/Treadwell's/Blacktree
            Stone Road Grill
            Ravine Vineyard
            Garrison House
            The Pie Plate

            As for wineries, there are lots of different experiences to be had. If you stay within NOTL, I'd recommend:


            You can also head out to the Beamsville Bench area and try out the wineries out there. They tend to specialize in whites and pinot noirs a bit more (not exclusively, of course). I don't know the wineries in that area as well, so I won't make any recs.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              We were at Vineland Estates last week.We had an outstanding lunch on their patio which overlooks the vineyard and Lake Ontario. All of the wineries in the area have the wine route guides which are quite handy. I will defer to others with respect to which wineries are the better ones to visit. For the most part I have enjoyed most of the wines that I have tasted in my visits to that area.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                TorontoJo is right on the money with these recs (my only issue with SRG is on a beautiful day the decor is dark and, for me, a bit of a downer). Had two great lunches last week, at Hillebrand and Vineland (the huge tree on Vineland's deck is gone - Yikes! - so ambiance out there is not what it was) and a really wonderful dinner at Ravine (Thursday night they have free corkage on their wines from the winery store).

                I would definitely add Colonari to the winery list around NOTL

                If you're out in the Beamsville Bench area, I would pick Creekside, Hidden Bench, Tawse, Megalomaniac (there are others but these are solid picks). For a more casual but excellent lunch out it that area, try About Thyme Bistto.

            2. I might suggest Halifax Donair and Pizza in Burlington. It'll give you a taste of Halifax. I personally haven't been but it's well regarded on these boards.

              Another place that gets glowing reviews on here is Chicago Pizza Shack in Hamilton. No website but here's a google map. http://goo.gl/maps/Fk3sr
              Also in Hamilton is the Harbour Diner. http://www.harbourdiner.com/


              1. If you would like good fish and chips, there's Tartan Fish & Chips in Oakville, just off the QEW. It's a modest place, but their fish and chips are excellent.

                579 Kerr Street
                Oakville, ON L6K
                (905) 815-9319

                1. As soon as you land at the airport, you'll probably be hungry. So I would recommend you visit Bamiyan Kabob at 5120 Dixie Rd in Mississauga It's directly south of the airport and on your way to NOTL. It's Afghani food done right, and it's probably something you wont find in your neck of the woods (Miami?).

                  1. Check out my most recent reviews for some spots in NOTL- a lot of the same places TorontoJo mentioned.



                    1. Definitely seek out Ted's Range Road Diner. It is East out of Owen Sound going towards Meaford.
                      Although it is very informal you should call ahead for reservations just to guarantee seating.
                      It is all about the food here and there should be something for everyone.

                      Rockford Restaurant is also good - You will have to pass it on your way up 6/10 just South of Owen Sound. It is in Rockford of course on the corner.
                      I think it is still open. I have heard some weird rumors that the owner ( and chef ) went missing.

                      Also - Check out South Hampton beach for a quiet Sauble type beach.
                      Find out about Explore the Bruce if you can while you are up there. It is a fun way to discover things you may otherwise overlook in the area.

                      1. The Lake House, which you see from the QEW just on the way into St. Catherines on the North or lake side, have a really nice patio just steps from the lake. The food is good if not great, but its worth a stop to have an appetizer and a drink if the food is nice.

                        Have fun!

                        1. If you go through Owen Sound try Rocky Raccoon Cafe - incredible Indian!! The owner is absolutely lovely as well. Apparently they now have a Tobermory location as well.