Ontario is filled with restaurants that feature different cuisines, and while many of those flavours come from countries overseas, there are also plenty of excellent foods to try from Indigenous Peoples in the province.
National Day For Truth and Reconciliation is meant for Canadians to reflect on the legacy of residential schools, which were used as part of a campaign to systemically wipe out Indigenous culture over many generations.
One way that culture lives on today is through food, and there are several fantastic restaurants across Ontario where you can go to try some of that food for yourself.
And so, to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors and their families, we've curated a list of Ontario restaurants with Indigenous cuisine that you should definitely check out, not only on September 30 but any day of the year.
Here are seven Indigenous restaurants across Ontario for you to try that are definitely worth the trip.
Tea N' Bannock
Address: 1294 Gerrard St E, Toronto, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: Well, for starters, this Indigenous restaurant is one of the last ones standing in the city of Toronto.
So, if you live in the city and are looking to try a new cuisine but also want to support local businesses, you should definitely check out this eatery.
They serve authentic frybread, elk, salmon, bison, cedar tea and their traditional bannock. The restaurant has been serving up Indigenous dishes since 2012 that "reflect culture both the past and present," they state on their website.
Address: 297 Raglan Street South, Renfrew, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: The owner, Suzette Foucault, said in her mission statement that the reason for opening this restaurant is to "bridge the gap of intergenerational trauma in our country and celebrate our strength as indigenous people to our nation through food."
Foucault is Indigenous and French, so what can you expect from the menu?
Well, you can enjoy a Powwow Taco, Bannock Pizza, Bison Hamburger Steak, Succotash Bites, Bison Wild Rice Nachos and so much more.
The nachos sound particularly delicious. They're made from freshly cooked white corn tortillas and they're topped with bison, a wild rice medley, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, green onions, lettuce, tequila lime sauce, sour cream and Chipotle aioli for that extra heat.
The plates not only look delicious, but the description of each one is seriously mouth-watering.
Address: 88 8th St E, Owen Sound, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: Known for their progressive Indigenous cuisine, Naagan offers a culinary experience with a 9-course tasting menu by Chef Zach Keeshig.
Their tasting event takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and costs $150 per guest, not including gratuity. For an additional $40, you can add a medicinal drink pairing with your meal.
Reservations must be made prior to visiting and can be done by contacting this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's worth noting that a $50 deposit is required to secure the booking, but from the looks of it, you won't be disappointed by the food offerings because they look delicious.
Address: 66 Meredith St E, Little Current, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: This restaurant is located in the Manitoulin Hotel & Conference Centre and has an indoor and outdoor seating area. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients from its surrounding location and has "Aboriginal themed dining" with "an authentic dining experience complimented with exceptional Manitoulin hospitality."
You can order anything from a Bison Burger to Anishinaabe Tacos and Manitoulin Whitefish. So get ready to feast!
Native Wonders Gourmet Grub
Address: 1235 Ottawa Street, Windsor, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: If you live in southern Ontario and are looking for a one-stop destination for Indigenous cuisine, then this is your spot.
From the reviews, it looks like people really enjoyed the great food and service and are eager to go back to get more.
Not only can you dine at their restaurant, but they also have their own gift shop and gallery, so guests "can get a taste of Native cuisine with a taste of Native culture!"
The restaurant is open for dine-in and take-out.
Address: Sudbury, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: This spot is known for its ndigenous chocolates.
Chef Maki is a pastry chef and owner of the spot and is "a proud Nakota Sioux/Saulteaux Ojibwe kwe from White Bear First Nation in Saskatchewan."
Throughout the years, her wish was to have "full creative control and explore her Indigenous identity," so she opened Raven Rising, where she offers "unique flavour profiles and products by utilizing Indigenous ingredients." The business "represents a story, a journey into her own lost background, and celebrates her findings along the way."
You can buy everything from chocolates that look like fish and dreamcatchers, to boxed chocolates with Haskap, Chokecherry, Birch and Wild Rose flavours. Maki rotates the flavours so you can expect different offerings depending on when you visit.
Address: 4420 West Hunt Club Road, Nepean, Ontario
Why You Need To Go: This is a space that's open all year round and is home to "seasonal Indigenous experiences and events, Indigenous Marketplace, Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, a growing herd of endangered Ojibwe Spirit Horses and more," they state on their website.
During the fall, everyone is invited to attend the Tagwàgi festival, where people can learn from Indigenous programs, visit and shop at Indigenous Makers and Farmers Market, be involved in interactive creative workshops, culinary delights and have a "chance to meet the rare Ojibwe Spirit Ponies."
Also, for those wondering why bannock appears on so many menus, it's a form of fried bread made with flour, salt and sugar, and it's been a staple of Indigenous cuisine for a long time.
Modern bannock is often made with all-purpose flour but other versions are made with different kinds of flour and various recipes will be passed down through generations.
In some of the menus above, bannock is being used as bread buns in burgers and bases of pizzas, so it's a new and innovative way of using an old recipe but integrating it into today's flavours.
Give it a try and see what else your local Indigenous restaurant has to offer!