For the social media savvy, all it takes is a pre-dinner scroll to discover which restaurants are generating all kinds of foodie fanfare. Sometimes, however, the happiest diners can be found at off-the-radar places that haven’t yet attracted the attention of the masses. In Niagara, St. Catharines is home to an incredible collection of restaurants that don’t require a month-long wait to score a table, and that’s exactly how the locals would prefer to keep things! The next time you’re in Niagara, live like a local for a meal or two and taste for yourself why these 18 restaurants have regulars returning again and again.
For A Beautiful Breakfast or Brunch
The Yellow Pear
526 Lake St., St. Catharines
The response to the food served from Ontario’s first solar-powered food truck was so popular that this talented culinary team decided to find a permanent address. Today, The Yellow Pear calls an unassuming strip mall home. With only 28 seats in the restaurant, you’ll want to call ahead.
The Diner House 29
431 Welland Avenue, St. Catharines
Another strip mall gem, this unassuming diner has been serving up its eclectic mix of foods and flavours since 2015. While The Diner House 29’s menu changes every three or four months, you can count on always finding fresh takes that fuse global flavours with hearty breakfast favourites. Try the Fave Son-In-Law, a rice bowl with breaded and deep-fried poached eggs with tamarind sauce, crispy onions, cashews, scallions and cilantro.
64 Court Street, St. Catharines
This tiny little spot delivers on its mission of filling tummies with yummy benedicts, omelets, homemade bread, roasted potatoes, soups, and sandwiches. From savoury sensations like Lobster Florentine Eggs Benedict to sweeter treats like Sourdough Waffles topped with local apples and maple cream, the rotating menu always delivers an incredible first or second meal of the day.
25 Main Street, Port Dalhousie
Don’t let the old-school diner vibe at Rozie’s fool you. This friendly Port Dalhousie restaurant serves up traditional breakfast and lunch favourites but also stays on top of the latest food trends. The menu features an extensive array of Keto options, gluten-free choices and even alkaline coffees and teas infused with Ganoderma Lucidium, which is an edible mushroom used in traditional Asian medicine to boost the immune system.
For Light Bites and Gourmet Grazing
Twenty Kitchen & Bar
259 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines
Right across from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Twenty Kitchen & Bar is an excellent option for a pre- or post-show snack, cocktail, or glass of Niagara wine or beer. Choose from an array of charcuterie choices, including a sharing board that offers over two feet of snacking, as well as sensational small plates like truffle fries and roasted bone marrow.
Trust Beer Bar
3 Garden Park, St. Catharines
Trust Beer Bar, just around the corner from Twenty Kitchen & Bar, features one of Ontario’s largest craft beer, natural wine, and cider selections. The Mexican street food-inspired kitchen also serves up delicious tacos and snacks. Don’t miss happy hour for incredible $5 beer, cocktail and food features every day before 6 p.m.
Learn more about Trust Beer Bar.
The District Tapas+Bar
24 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines
For a spectacular selection of small plates, a visit to The District is a must. From Smoked Duck Bao Buns to Avocado Bruschetta and Chicken Vindaloo, the incredible combination of flavours on offer will make for some tough decisions.
For Creative Cocktails
160 St. Paul St., St. Catharines
Descend the staircase and enter a world of dramatically smoked cocktails, beautiful bubbly, and an incredibly talented crew of mixologists who can’t wait to wow you with a signature drink. Light, Mediterranean-inspired fare to savour while you sip is a must.
22 King St., St. Catharines
Pharmacii’s seasonal cocktail menu rotation means you’ll want to make a return trip four times a year at the very least! This snack bar serves up delicious contemporary Asian-influenced tapas alongside its extensive array of creative cocktails.
1954 Bourbon & Smoke
259 St. Paul St., St. Catharines
From a “Manly Mimosa” made with Buffalo Trace and Islay scotch, to the Spruce Willis with spruce tip-infused vermouth, the cocktail menu at 1954 Bourbon & Smoke is a showstopper. Purists will appreciate the many options on the bar’s whiskey shelf, which include everything from American Wild Turkey to Japanese Taketsuru and Yoichi.
Lounge Six Sky Bar
327 Ontario St., St. Catharines
When the forecast calls for drinks on the patio, there’s no better place to go for a cocktail with a killer view than Lounge Six. This rooftop patio perched high above the city offers a one-of-a-kind cocktail menu with delicious mojitos, margaritas, and a wide range of signature drinks. If the weather isn’t in your favour, Parkway Social, also on-site, delivers an equally delicious roster of refreshments.
For Magnificent Mains
The Twisted Pig Italian Kitchen
1 Lock St., Port Dalhousie
From a luscious ten-layer lasagna with creamy Parmesan Bechamel, to slow-cooked cacciatore, and perfect pizzas, The Twisted Pig has become a go-to choice for Niagara locals craving Italian favourites.
The Lemon Tree Mediterranean Bistro
A1-395 Ontario St., St. Catharines
The husband-and-wife team behind The Lemon Tree put a unique spin on their delicious Mediterranean classics by replacing any chicken, cheese and meat with plant-based alternatives. Be sure to ask about the “secret menu,” which includes crowd favourites like Mediterranean nachos, mushroom fries, and a Roma burger made with a breaded and fried Roma tomato.
93 Arthur St., St. Catharines
Valley Restaurant has been serving up Old World Italian classics to Niagara diners for over six decades. All pastas, including gnocchi, ravioli, and cannelloni, are made in-house and cooked to al dente perfection. Leave room for sensational secondi options, like veal parmesan.
386 St Paul St., St. Catharines
Don’t worry about leaving a tip at Dispatch! This certified living wage employer is committed to doing things differently, including focusing on low- and no-waste food preparation methods for their delicious menu of globally inspired cuisine.
For Sweet Treats
The treats coming out of the kitchen of Niagara’s first and only 100 per cent vegan doughnut shop are tasty proof that plant-based foods can be just as delicious as they are compassionate. Consider pre-ordering your doughnuts online, as walk-ins are on a first-come, first-served basis, and popular flavours tend to get snapped up quickly.
The Keto Crumb
Looking for a sweet treat but would prefer to skip the sugar? The Keto Crumb, Niagara’s first 100 per cent Keto, gluten-free and sugar-free bakery has you covered. Grab a selection of snacks and some cold lemonade to-go and stroll up the street to enjoy the scenery at nearby Montebello Park.
Pop into this family-run shop to feel like you’ve been instantly transported to Europe. In addition to a stunning selection of handcrafted chocolates, Chocolates Etc. serves European-style coffee, rich hot chocolate, gorgeous gelatos, as well as decadent cakes and pastries.
Do you have a hidden gem of a St. Catharines or Port Dalhousie restaurant that would make a great addition to this list? Tag #lovestc in a social post with your foodie faves, so we can share the love on our Facebook and Instagram feeds.