Kingston never stops surprising us, making it one of the most underrated cities to visit in Canada. Perched right beside Lake Ontario already gives the views necessary for a dream city, but it's proven meal after meal that its culinary standards are not to be missed. The best part about Kingston is not just the fact we have the most restaurants per capita in Canada, but we also have a huge variety of locally owned restaurants. These are places where people don't just open it to feed you a measly meal - but to give you a mother f*cking experience. We're talking locally sourced foods that make your Ramen Noodles seem like cardboard (even more than they already do). We're talking about a wine and beer list so meticulously crafted it seems like a Da vinci code. And obviously, WE'RE TALKING AESTHETICS PEOPLE! You think someone wants to stamp their name on an ugly looking restaurant? You're definitely not in Kingston.
The restaurant scene is hitting another level, that's not a question. The question is who is eating out at these fine establishments? Kingston is unique in many ways, but one standout is the way that the population grows in numbers from September to April- the students pour in. That means we've got every type of restaurant here for every type of person. From student budget friendly places, to the "I'm gonna go ahead and forget it I just worked for 12 hours straight" splurge worthy spots.
So, you want locally owned, high quality restaurants that'll take your taste buds on a vacation? If you even dare to call yourself a foodie, you definitely have to check out these restaurants!
1. Dianne's Fish Shack & Smokehouse // 195 Ontario St.
Now, read this carefully - east coast BBQ chicken with seafood that's served with a Baja Mexican twist. We'll give you a second to pick your jaw off the floor so you can fully take in the beauty of Dianne's Fish Shack & Smokehouse. Overlooking Confederation Park and serving sustainable seafood choices, including pork, beef, and chicken that's smoked in-house naturally; the only thing you'll have a hard time with at this restaurant is making a choice from their unreal menu. Delicious food in a chill atmosphere? We're down for this downtown gem.
What to get: Seafood Poutine (you read that right), beer-battered jumbo shrimp fish and chips, 12-hour beef brisket 'xocolatl' (cocoa-coffee bbq sauce).
2. Amadeus Cafe // 170 Princess St.
The Kingston foodie scene doesn't just give you a couple spins on some fancy restaurants, they go beyond that to offer a variety of diverse flavours that can appeal to anyone with a tastebud. Enter Amadeus Cafe, adding to Kingston's eclectic mix of dining options with their unreal German and Austrian dishes and draught beers. It's the place to be for Oktoberfest, and has been compared to the standards of cuisine in Berlin! A must for all foodies who want an authentic taste of Europe, one that you can only get from this family run restaurant committed to the best of the best.
What to get: Pfeer Schnitzel, Beer Rouladen, Jager Schnitzel with Spetzel!
What you didn't know: All of the recipes are family recipes that they prepare from scratch! The owner's parents actually brought all the recipes over with them from Germany and Austria.
3. Woodenheads Gourmet Pizza // 192 Ontario Street
Nothing is as comforting as the taste of pizza. But when that pizza is wood-fired, gourmet, and served in an upbeat yet cool atmosphere - this is more than comfort, this a next level dining experience. From its scenic downtown location right near the water, local food suppliers (all literally listed on their website), and its fantastic rotating specials: there's a reason why Woodenheads has been revered for years as one of Kingston's must visit dining spots. Adding on to the extensive pizza menu you can also come here for tapas, molto gusto!, tramezzini, and a (for lack of a better term) kick ass alcohol selection.
What to get: Apple crumble pizza (hey now, hey now, this is what dreams are made of), Guglielmo pizza, and the coconut shrimp to start!
4. Bayview Farms Restaurant // 4085 Bath Road
Today is the Day. The day you finally experience a culinary Kingston celebrity. The day you head to Clark Day's restaurant, Bayview Farms Restaurant. This place is known for its amazing, inviting, and intimate atmosphere that makes you feel like you're eating with family. This sense of community is weaved into the restaurant with the idea of encouraging the importance of communication over food. Clark also makes an effort to interact with the customers as much as possible, adding to that distinct hospitable vibe. There's no way you'll want to miss this amazing experience that really embodies the Kingston food scene.
What to get: For the best experience we're trusting the chef, ask for his recommendation for the ultimate insider tip!
What you didn't know: The house was actually built in 1831 and was once home to a small ice cream business that was where Maple Walnut Ice Cream was born. And that's exactly where you will be dining. And the vegetables on your plate? They are literally grown in the grounds of the restaurant you're dining in: now that is quality.
5. Atomica Gourmet Pizza & Wine Bar // 71 Brock St.
Step into Atomica and you'll instantly get a modern/retro fusion vibe you never thought was even possible. Well, the impossible happened with the standout Kingston restaurant Atomica. And it comes with thin crust pizza, fresh pasta and (obviously) an unreal wine bar. Right in downtown Kingston, this is a favourite for anyone looking for a classy but chill dining experience that will deliver some of the best, fresh Italian food in the 613. Keeping on point with the local trend of the Kingston food scene they also support local farmers, no wonder the food is so amazing in Kingston! The ultimate highlight is not just the buzzing atmosphere and amazing service, but the fact they have brunch, lunch, and dinner service available. All while never sacrificing quality! So......three rounds in a day anyone?
What to get: The classic Atomica pizza is a winner, Arancini (crisp risotto balls), and the Gnocchi di Ricotta di Casa!
5. Tommy's // 377 Princess St.
Something Kingston will always be known for is it's huge student population, and for students and locals alike- Tommy's is part of the quintessential experience of the 613. It's cheap, greasy food done right. Located right in the heart of the Hub of Kingston, its been loved for years for their cool retro vibe and daily specials that make it a student hot spot. From breakfast (to mend the hangover you may or may not have gotten from the club last night that is a block away), to late night bar rail shots, you can go here 24/7 and have a great time. The best part is you can literally go here anytime you want on Fridays and Saturdays, because they're open for 24hrs!!!
What to get: Start off with a classic Dad's Rootbeer Float, The Drunken Trigger (essentially a HYPE BLT), Breakfast Poutine, Perogies, Bacon Garlic Cheese Bread.
Check out their Facebook page for updates on events and drink specials!
6. Olivea // 39 Brock St.
Fancy a trip to the Italy? Okay, so maybe we don't have the money for that right now, but you can still treat yourself to an unreal and authentic Italian meal at Olivea that makes you feel like you made the leap overseas. Right beside the stunning Kingston square, this establishment radiates comfort and beauty. With plenty of windows letting in natural light, it provides a great ambiance for you to enjoy your contemporary Italian food from this family-run trattoria. Their live jazz every Tuesday night adds that extra groove to make your outing especially special. And we pretty much live off the Pasta Sunday's running from September to April! Even more events happen throughout the year like, "Dinner and a Movie", and we are not complaining! This spot is NOT a place to miss if you're looking for an authentic Italian meal with a beautiful and calming ambiance to perfectly compliment each course. Many dishes can also be made with gluten free noodles!
What to get: Charcuterie board (YES PLEASE), Arancini, truffled frites, and we can never get enough of their deliciously simple bread (served with fig balsamic and olive oil) that comes right when you sit down.
What you didn't know: That we'll be there every day from May to October to people watch all the bustle of downtown Kingston on their superb patio.
7. East Side Village // 7-472 Division St.
If you were to look up the definition of a hidden gem, a picture of East Side Village would be right beside it. Its claim to fame is from its popularity as the best Chinese food in Kingston. For the reasonable price you're paying, you'll be surprised at the amazing food you get. The second you walk in you'll notice the authenticity of the dishes; the kitchen only uses the "purest ingredients" which means you get the authentic dining experience you've been craving.
What to get: Egg rolls, and spicy tingly beef!
8. Days on Front // 730 Front Rd.
For all the foodies looking to get in touch with their Canadian roots, this is the place to eat out. With renowned owner Matt Day, and chef Jay Legere (the former chef of gourmet restaurant AquaTerra) spearing the kitchen, this team brings you unreal contemporary Canadian food. The quality isn't just in the local ingredients, but really comes through in the simple yet beyond satisfying dishes they serve. We love how the owner aims to bring his international travels back to the restaurant, while also aiming to contribute to the local food community by supporting local farmers. And what is better paired with local food than a kick-ass wine list? A must hit if you're looking for a classy meal at an even classier spot.
What to get: Short rib and sirloin steak entrees, polenta fries, and top it off with a classic Martini.
9. Wok-In // 30 Montreal St.
Every foodie needs their "guys I have the best hole in the wall spot so I'm super hip duh" spot. You get me. That's exactly what you get with the unreal Wok-In run by two people who cook and serve tables at the same time. Come here for huge portions of cheap yet freshly made delicious authentic That/Cambodian food with fresh ingredients. On busy days go for take-out!
What to get: Spring rolls are a must, Pad Thai (enough to feed 3 people), and the chick red curry!
10. Frontenac Club Inn // 225 King St. East
This is for the people that for them, brunch isn't just a measly meal- it's a way of life. For all the people whose Instagrams are filled with more smoked salmon bagels than selfies, the historical and beautiful Frontenac Club Inn is your next stop. Here's where it gets serious though, you need to spend a night to enjoy one of their gourmet breakfasts. We're turning brunch into not just a memory, but an experience with the ambiance you thought you could only get in small town England. You'll have that breakfast in one of three intimate breakfast, prepared personally by the chef/owner Beare using fresh, local ingredients. Sign us up.
What to get: The menu changes daily, but you will always be guaranteed to have freshly baked breads that will wake up your tastebuds, oatmeal or homemade granola, and coffee (complimentary of course). Beare prepares whatever he thinks will taste the best for the day, ensuring that you literally get a handpicked best of the best. Any dietary restriction or allergies can easily, and will be happily, accommodated also!
11. Harper's Burger Bar // 93 Princess St.
Harper's Burger Bar is nothing short of a fantastic. It's one of those places that you can go to for any occasion, be it a birthday, date night, or squad meal: it's casual/cool vibe always invites us back for more. Obviously, you can get a kick ass burger here, but there's also salads, hotdogs, tacos, poutine and other mouth-watering appetizers. We love the personalized option for our flat top seared burgers (that use local beef from Enright Cattle Co. that's raised with sustainable methods), ranging from type of patty to size. They have the pre-set favourites that you can't stay away from, but there's always a way to make it your own; including gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options! With local Kingston charm, groovy decor, and friendly staff- this is the next stop on our restaurant list (and maybe the stop after that).
What to get: Grandma's treat spiked shake (bacon infused maker's mark bourbon, caramel, vanilla ice cream, candied bacon) or the feature spiked shake, spiked shake mhhhmmm), the Thai Poutine, and the number 5 burger Umami!
What you didn't know: You're not only supporting your taste buds when you go here, but you're also supporting the environment. Most of the packaging materials they use are biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable. That's a high five from your satisfied belly straight to mother earth.
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