Being a born and raised Hamiltonian, I know it sounds a little bias when I say that their food scene is the best that I’ve ever experienced. The world is big, and there’s much I haven’t tasted, but neither the expensive pasta I tried to Las Vegas or the fried chicken I had in Nashville has ever amounted to the local, authentic dishes that are made in my hometown.
The food scene of Hamilton has always been unique, but now they’re starting to get more recognized for it. Surrounded by various diverse communities and cultures, you get to taste the best of every world in the city. While almost every local restaurant in Hamilton is innovative in it's own way, listed below are some of the city’s restaurants that outshine all of the rest.
The first time you pass by the windows of Nique Restaurant, you’ll probably have the same reaction as I did: “Damn, that looks like where I want to be.” It’s the dim-lit decor that first pulls you in, but once inside, you’ll find that the food and drinks are just as overwhelmingly captivating.
MERIT Brewing Company
Alright, so MERIT may technically be a brewhouse, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a typical brewhouse. Located on the always-vibrant James Street North, MERIT serves delicious Canadian classics while also providing thirsty guests with some of the best local crafts in town.
Nestled across from the Art Gallery of Hamilton, on one of the coziest streets in the city, Berkeley North is a stylish eatery in the heart of downtown. Serving top-notch local dishes and cocktails, this one deserves to be on the top of your bucket list.
Due to the massive success of the restaurant’s first location, Hambrgr now has two venues in the city's downtown - but don’t expect them to be much different. Both delicious, savoury, and tasteful enough to get you drooling; Hambrgr is the go-to burger joint in town.
Located along King Street East in a compact venue, Ajio Sushi is the place to go when the up-the-mountain citizen is past the typical restaurants like August 8 and Spring Sushi. From the spider roll to the traditional california, you can also order pieces of sushi on a little boat.
Mezcal Tacos & Tequila Bar
Mezcal TNT truly is one of the best taco joints in the city, and if you have yet to experience why that is, then stop taking your sweet time. Even if you live in Toronto, or Montreal - or hell, even Vancouver; you better get on the fastest train here so you can taste the magic of Mezcal yourself.
As you can tell by my ridiculously long and complicated last name, I’m also half Eastern European (any Latvians out there?!) so I was raised on both Baltic and Sicilian cuisine growing up. Similar to pasta, another big dish was pierogies, and Loaded Pierogi happen to make them even more delicious than you’d think is possible.
Brux House Craft Beer & Kitchen
Located on Locke Street, a charming strip scattered with adorable cafes and restaurants, Brux House offers the ultimate balance of both amazing cuisine and an even more tasteful selection of draughts.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this one. At Saint James, an espresso bar that also serves out-of-this-world breakfast fare, their roast-peppered avocado toast is absolutely to-die-for. Served with a fried egg and lentils atop a sourdough, Saint James should be quickly added to your bucket list.
NaRoma Pizza Bar
Before grabbing a bite at NaRoma, you have to strategically plan what you’re going to order. Ask for some traditional squares, not too big or too small, and make sure you save room for their amazing nutella pizza. Seriously, you can’t leave this place without trying it.
So me and The Ship have a bit of a . . . history. Not a bad one, but a complicated one. I won’t go into the embarrassing details, but it was on the night of my birthday, and I was drinking stupidly on an empty stomach and - anyways, the people at The Ship are good sports. Even more importantly, their food is bloody brilliant.
There’s yet another embarrassing moment that I once experienced at The Mule, and it somehow includes a big bag of Nibs. Again, I won’t go into details; because The Mule is an epic taco joint that deserves way more attention than a girl who always finds herself in the weirdest of situations.
Nestled on the stylish street of King William, The French is a chic and minimalist restaurant serving traditional classics and coffees. While mostly known for their breakfast and brunch, the shop also offers a wide selection of late-night cuisine.
Yet another James Street North gem, this traditional Mexican restaurant offers both vegan and halal options on their menu of delicious authentic cuisine. Served in a cool interior, Mesa also has great cocktails.
Sigh. And I thought Shoeless Joe’s served the best charcoal chicken. Well done, Hamilton. Well done.
The Burnt Tongue
Now operating with two locations on Cannon and Locke Street, The Burnt Tongue is a city sucess; captivating Hamiltonians with it’s modern soup dishes alongside delicious burgers and salads.
Twist Burger Bar
We need to talk about Twist Burger Bar more. I mean it. Because I mean, as Hamiltonians, we've gotten pretty lucky; we have both Twist Burger Bar and Hambrgr in our city. So I guess that means it's time to throw out your McDonald’s coupons now - because you’ve got a long burger bucket list to complete.
Namu Modern Asian Cuisine
Namu Modern Asian Cuisine is a big one, since I’m pretty such it’s wowed every guest that it serves. Located in Dundas, a small community within Hamilton, Namu draws influence from all across the world and also constantly evolves alongside it (hence the name “modern”). Seriously, if you want the best Asian cuisine in town, then don’t skip out on this one.
Rapscallion Rogue Eatery
A valuable addition of Hamilton’s restaurant scene, Rapscallion Rogue Eatery is a vibrant eatery with a rotating menu of creative spins on classic Canadian dishes. With options such as pressed lamb and smoked duck, this Young Street spot is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.
Jack And Lois
This is weird, but every time I think about the Jack and Lois restaurant I always sing that one part of Jack and Diane. You know which part, since it’s basically the only time John Mellencamp actually mentions them.
Work Progress Kitchen
Cozy and delicious, you already know that a tasteful place like Work Progress Kitchen is located along James Street North. A dim-lit eatery that offers a small yet unique menu of glob cuisine, this spot is more proof as to why Hamilton’s James Street North is the absolute best strip for food and beverages.
Earth To Table: Bread Bar
Sometimes restaurants can be a hit-or-miss, but there’s something about Earth to Table that always satisfies me. Honestly, it’s probably their fresh and authentic ingredients, or maybe the fact that their food is made local. Either way, I’m always impressed.
Toast Wine Bar
This stylish restaurant is nestled on John Street, only a few minutes away from the hustle of Jackson Square. A top-notch eatery, Toast Wine Bar serves seasonal small plates and - even more importantly - a wide selection of both local and global wines.
Born And Raised
Another James Street North gem that is as stylish and tasteful as their interior, Born and Raised has definitely solidified a positive presence amongst the city’s food scene. Owned by Top Chef Canada alum Vittorio Colacitti (who, you guessed it, was born and raised in the GTA), the restaurant serves both traditional Italian and Canadian cuisine.
The Coop Wicked Chicken
The Coop Wicked Chicken is definitely called that for good reason - because yes, their chicken is wicked, and they’re more than allowed to advertise that. Between their deep fried deviled eggs and intense pulled chicken poutine, The Coop should rank high on your food bucket list.
Nestled on Aberdeen Avenue, the Aberdeen Tavern serves innovative Canadian classics. Set against a vibrant backdrop, the location also features stylish accent woods.