Windsor pizza is a style all its own.
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Besides missing family and friends, the biggest thing I dream about fondly is Windsor food. The city has been focusing on small local businesses since before it was cool, and you can taste the quality and care the restaurants put into their menus.
I recently spent time visiting my old stomping grounds, and here are eight places I ate (and drank) that I highly recommend you visit if you're in the area.
Wolfhead Distillery Restaurant
Café Old Fashioned cocktail on the Wolfhead Distillery patio.
Address: 7781 Howard Ave., Amherstburg, ON
Why You Need To Go: I love sipping a drink (or two) on this spacious distillery patio. It is surrounded by whiskey barrels, has a covered section if it rains and often features live music in the summer.
I picked the Café Old Fashioned from their extension cocktail menu. The drink is made with coffee whiskey, a must-try liqueur in my opinion, and I also left with a bottle to go. My favourite food item on the menu is the apple and brie panini.
Windsor's Penalty Box Restaurant
Chicken delight wrap with sides from Windsor's Penalty Box.
Address: 2151 Walker Rd. & 525 Cabana Rd. E., Windsor, ON
Why You Need To Go: This casual eatery in Windsor serves up pub-style eats made with locally-grown ingredients, including Leamington tomatoes. The Chicken Delight wrap is famous, and any local will know what you're talking about just by uttering the name of the dish.
According to the website, about 4000 of these wraps are sold weekly, meaning over 5 million have been eaten since 1992. It's a simple wrap made with grilled chicken, onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce and the secret Delight sauce on a grilled pita, and it's clearly a crowd-pleaser.
The Grand Cantina
Three tacos and a margarita on a Mexican restaurant patio with a mural.
Address: 1000 Drouillard Rd., Windsor, ON
Why You Need To Go: Not only does this restaurant serve tasty Mexican fare from taquitos to margaritas, they have the atmosphere to compliment it. The garden-style patio out back makes for a lively spot to hang out and catch up with friends.
You can mix and match tacos here and they have so many different flavours it's tough to narrow it down. I truly enjoyed them all, along with a shared pitcher of margaritas, Cantina chips with queso and churros for dessert. I have also tried the duck fat fries, and just when you think french fries cannot possibly be better, they found a way to do so.
Arancini balls, blush gnocchi and bread from Spago Windsor.
Address: 3850 Dougall Ave., 690 Erie St. E. & 377 Riverside Dr. E. Windsor, ON
Why You Need To Go: While any Italian food you have in Windsor will be better than what you can find in Ottawa and many other Ontario cities (sorry not sorry), Spago is the go-to spot for me and my family. The arancini balls are a must-order as an appetizer and are hands down the best I've ever had from a restaurant.
I had this Italian food twice while visiting, both takeout and in the restaurant. Initially, I ordered gnocchi with blush sauce (you can also get a delicious pesto cream sauce) that I always enjoy. I also ate scallopini vino blanco veal and mushrooms with a side of pasta carbonara. Yum, yum, yum.
North 42 Degrees Estate Winery & Bistro 42
Address: 130 County Rd. 50 E., Colchester, ON
Why You Need To Go: To be frank, my visit to this Ontario winery was a bit disappointing since they took my favourite blueberry lavender cheesecake off of the menu (how dare they). There is a lavender field on site as well as a vineyard so it was extra tasty and fresh.
After my initial shock, I enjoyed the avocado toast that came with a soft poached egg from the Sunday brunch menu and split a bottle of the 2021 gewürztraminer with my parents. I honestly have never had a bad meal or drink here. The winery is part of the EPIC Wine Country with so many great spots to check out.
Salute Café + Bar
Cherry margarita cocktail from Salute Lasalle.
Address: 1745 Sprucewood Ave., Windsor, ON
Why You Need To Go: I tried this new artisanal food and drink restaurant for the first time, and it did not disappoint. It had a fun yet sophisticated atmosphere that made me forget I was in Windsor and a menu of creative cocktails that were as tasty as they looked.
Since it was Tequila Tuesday, I couldn't say no to a $5 cherry margarita — refreshing and not too sweet. I also tried the Paper Plane cocktail, which arrived with a smokey bubble on top. The food menu is full of upscale sharing plates, and I enjoyed the Prosciutto flatbread.
Antonino's Original Pizza
Windsor pizza from Antonino's Original Pizza.
Address: 4350 Howard Ave., Windsor & 1695 Manning Rd., Tecumseh & 6535 Malden Rd., LaSalle, ON
Why You Need To Go: Windsor pizza is THE best, and this local pizzeria has been my go-to spot since childhood. There are a few things that make the city's pizza so unique and delicious, including being cooked on cornmeal for a crispy bottom crust and using locally-made Galati cheese. The slices are also known for the shredded pepperoni.
While I've tried a variety of toppings over the years, if you want to try a truly Windsor pizza, it should have pepperoni, canned mushrooms and green peppers. I always top it off with olives, too. I had this pizza twice during my visit and brought home a massive freezer bag of leftovers so I could heat it up on a future date.
Address: 1640 Lesperance Rd., Windsor, ON
Why You Need To Go: This Indian restaurant is newer in the city and it was my first time checking it out. It is a spacious location that feels welcoming and has a fun garden-style patio that we would have definitely enjoyed if the weather had agreed during the visit.
We ordered a bunch of different meals for the table, including samosa chaat, butter chicken, chana masala, garlic naan and chilli fish. It was my dad's first time trying Indian cuisine, and he was raving about it for days. Everything was tasty and well-made.