Hidden restaurants and secret bars in Ontario
Some of the best places for great food and drink are hard to find, concealed behind unmarked doors, hidden down back alleyways or located underneath flashier restaurants. Whether you’re looking for hidden bars in Toronto for your next fun outing with friends or fancy restaurants in a small town to enjoy a refined dinner, these hidden gem restaurants and bars are the ideal place for your next night out.
Here are some of the best-kept secret restaurants and bars in Ontario.
Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
Behind King Street’s whimsical Coffee, Oysters, Champagne in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district is à toi, an elegant resto lounge designed like a 1920s era Parisian hotel lobby bar—complete with a concierge desk and French-inspired fare and cocktails. Guests are encouraged to ask about the special menu.
Details: à toi is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and reserves most seating for walk-in guests; limited reservations are available for groups of eight or more
Location: B-1 214 King Street West, Toronto
Mira is a classic Peruvian restaurant and one of the top hidden gem restaurants in Southern Ontario, found down an alley lit with lanterns at nighttime. Follow the lights to an unmarked door, then down a staircase under a neon yellow llama to find yourself in a bright, colourful space decorated with murals and pendant lights.
Pick a unique pisco cocktail from the extensive drinks list and pair it with a traditional dish like salmon ceviche, pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken) or arroz azafrán (saffron rice) for a taste of Peruvian culinary culture.
Details: Mira Restaurant is open for reservations from Wednesdays to Sundays from 5:00 p.m. to midnight
Location: 420A Wellington Street West, Toronto
Comic book lovers will adore Figures, a cartoon-themed lounge in Yorkville. Enter through a secret entrance hidden behind graffiti designs of popular comic characters, a theme that continues in the interior decor inspired by pop culture franchises like DC Comics and Star Wars.
You’ll be given a menu that resembles a comic book and includes dishes such as poke bites, vegan curry, chicken parmigiana and oxtail pancakes. Choose your favourite superhero cocktail, whether it’s a “Johnny Blaze” (a Bruichladdich whisky with rosemary and tobacco smoke) or a “Donkey Kong” (a banana, pineapple and coconut infused Campari).
Details: Figures is open for reservations on Thursdays from 5:30 to 11:00 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to midnight
Location: 137 Avenue Road, Toronto
Michael’s Back Door
As its name suggests, Michael’s Back Door is located in the back of a building, out of sight unless you know it’s there. Known for its award-winning Italian cuisine, this elegant restaurant’s signature dishes are lobster capelli (lobster meat in tomato cream sauce), linguine pescatore (fresh shrimp, scallops, mussels, and clams) and vitello sorrentina (veal topped with eggplant, pork and bocconcini cheese).
Book their solarium for a fantastic family party of up to 22 guests, or their piano room for corporate dinners of up to 40 people.
Details: Michael’s Back Door is open for reservations on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Location: 1715 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga
Sandwiched between two small shops in an industrial area strip mall, King Tandoori’s interior is much more spacious than it appears from outside. Golden-painted leaves and geometric patterns decorate the ceiling and walls, accentuating the luxurious ambience of this North Indian restaurant.
Skilled chefs use fresh, hand-picked ingredients to cook popular, authentic dishes like tikka masala, dal makhani, butter chicken, lamb kebab and tandoori salmon. Anyone who loves bread should definitely try their garlic naan and aloo paratha.
Details: King Tandoori is open for dine-in and takeout every day from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.; call ahead for reservations
Location: 270 Rutherford Road South, Brampton
Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington
Latinoamerica Unida is one of the hidden gems in Cambridge, Ontario. It’s located on a small street across from a gas station, but despite the modest locale, it has garnered a loyal following from residents in the area. This classy Mexican restaurant is run by chef Guadalupe Sanchez Diaz, who’s from Mexico City and brings a passion for her homeland’s authentic food to her cooking.
Favourite dishes from her menu include enchiladas, chimichangas, tacos and fajitas, which are often paired with Mexican soft drinks or beer. Be sure to ask your server about the daily specials—there may be delicious off-menu items available at a discounted price.
Details: Latinoamerica Unida is open for dine-in and takeout on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; reservations can be made on their website
Location: 18 Concession Street #101, Cambridge
Hamilton, Halton and Brant
Head down the staircase of the unassuming brick house at the corner of James Street South and Forest Avenue, and you’ll find Bronzies Place. This casual, friendly restaurant has been serving authentic Italian cuisine for over 30 years with a wide variety of classic Italian dishes and delicious cocktails.
Don’t miss out on their daily specials, which include cheese ravioli and meatballs, veal parmesan, pepperoni pizza, calamari linguine with clam sauce and more.
Details: Bronzies is open for eat-in and takeout on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m., and Wednesdays to Fridays and Sundays from noon to 8:30 p.m.; call ahead to book a reservation
Location: 201 James Street South, Hamilton
Known to locals as “Taps on Queen,” Taps Brewhouse is partially hidden behind the Niagara Institute of Music & Arts. Their custom craft beer is made from just four ingredients: pure filtered water, select hops, malted barley and yeast.
In addition to amazing brews, they offer a selection of appetizers and entrées including crispy chicken wings, beer-battered fish and chips, vegan poutine, pulled pork sandwiches and bacon cheeseburgers.
Details: Taps Brewhouse is open daily from noon to 11:00 p.m.; call ahead for reservations
Location: 4680 Queen Street, Niagara Falls
The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, sits far from street level, behind a beautiful garden of carefully trimmed hedges and evergreen shrubs. Located near Clifton Hill and the shores of the Niagara River, this American-style restaurant serves comfort food favourites like omelettes, pancakes, salads, burgers and pasta.
When the weather is nice, sit outside on their large patio and enjoy a fine selection of wines and cocktails while overlooking the majestic Niagara Falls. Make sure to save room for dessert: cookies ’n cream cheesecake.
Details: The Secret Garden is open during the spring and summer months, every day from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; call ahead to book a reservation
Location: 5827 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls
Wayne Gretzky Estates
Located in Ontario’s most established wine region, it’s not surprising that Wayne Gretzky Estates produces world-class red, white, rose and Icewine.
What might surprise some is that this estate also crafts fine spirits, including signature whisky. So, while not literally hidden or hard to find, discovering a whisky bar in the heart of wine country will be a pleasant surprise for cocktail enthusiasts.
Enjoy wine and whisky tastings, book a mixology class and shop for your favourite beverages.
Details: The Whisky Bar is open Sundays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Fridays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Location: 1219 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
10Below Icewine Lounge at Peller Estates
With over 50 years of winemaking experience in the Niagara region, Peller Estates is well known for its quality signature Icewine series.
One of their most unique experiences is the 10Below Icewine Lounge. As part of the Greatest Winery Tour, guests are led down into the underground barrel cellar for a tasting, then to an igloo-like wine lounge featuring a bar, seating, sculptures and chandelier all carved out of ice— it might just be the coolest place to sample Icewine.
Details: The Greatest Wine Tour is offered daily, book in advance online.
Ottawa and Southeastern Ontario
One of the best hidden gems in Kingston, Ontario, Eunice Sushi is located beside a convenience store, concealed between two stone buildings. This Japanese restaurant offers a wide range of fresh sushi rolls, including popular choices like California, spicy tuna, mango, dynamite, rainbow and Eunice (salmon, cream cheese, avocado and cucumber). In addition, choose from bento boxes, teriyaki dishes or bulgogi plates.
Details: Eunice Sushi is open for dine-in and takeout on Mondays to Saturdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; call ahead to book a reservation
Location: 682 King Street West #1, Kingston
The Albion Rooms
Located inside the Novotel Ottawa Hotel, The Albion Rooms sits close to the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa Art Gallery. A popular spot among locals, the restaurant specializes in farm-to-table food made from regionally sourced ingredients.
Craft beers, wines, cocktails and European-Canadian dishes are served in a hospitable, welcoming atmosphere. Classic favourites include elk ranch burgers, duck poutine, veal carpaccio and prosciutto croquettes. Make sure to try their crème brûlée—ask for the daily chef’s flavour.
Details: The Albion Rooms is open for reservations seven days a week; check their website for exact hours
Location: 33 Nicholas Street, Ottawa
The Bag Lady Variety
The Bag Lady Variety is one of the top hidden gems in London, Ontario, nestled within a residential neighbourhood in the heart of the city. This tiny, eclectic restaurant displays a collection of colourful vintage décor cluttered over the furniture, counters and wall space, giving the place a cozy, quaint feeling like you’re enjoying a meal at home.
Enjoy all-day breakfast favourites like toasted bagels, French toast, eggs and bacon, poutine topped with hollandaise sauce and fresh fruit bowls, with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea.
Details: The Bag Lady Variety is open Thursdays to Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; they do not take reservations
Location: 474 Pall Mall Street, London
Peaking out from down an alleyway between two buildings on Richmond Street in downtown London, this is the perfect place for pasta lovers. Tuck into piping hot, generous portions of Italian favourites like Fettuccine Alfredo, Lasagna or Ravioli. Lunch sizes and pricing is available.
Details: open Mondays through Thursdays from noon to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9:00 p.m. and Sundays from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.; call for reservations
Location: 428 Richmond Street, London
Georgian Bay and Central Ontario
Bruce Wine Bar
Tucked away in a small parking lot behind a bank, Bruce Wine Bar operates in an intimate, upstairs loft-like space above the Bruce Bodega & Bottle Shop.
The slanted ceilings, eclectic décor and communal tables add to the cozy atmosphere while the locally focused, Ontario-grown menu features shareable wood-fired pizzas as well as fish, meat and plant-based entrée options. Pair with local wine, craft beer or a well-crafted cocktail.
Details: Bruce Wine Bar is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. to close and Fridays and Saturdays for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; reservations are strongly encouraged
Location: 8 Bruce Street South, Thornbury
The Log Cabin Inn
The Log Cabin Inn is hidden down a long road off Oastler Park Drive near Parry Sound, behind a thick grove of trees. Outstanding customer service and a top-notch fine dining experience has solidified this restaurant’s reputation as a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
Fresh ingredients are used to cook exquisite dishes like filet mignon, smoky apple burgers, shrimp and scallop risotto and coconut chickpea curry. The place also boasts an extensive wine list; ask your server for the perfect drink to pair with your meal.
Details: The Log Cabin Inn is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m.; reservations can be made on their website
Location: 9 Little Beaver Boulevard, Seguin
Peking Palace Restaurant
Find delicious Chinese-Canadian fusion food at the Peking Palace Restaurant, situated inside an inconspicuous white house hidden at a small three-way intersection. Located half an hour north of Sudbury, this small but popular restaurant serves dishes like Cantonese-style chow mein, honey garlic spareribs and fried beef with mixed vegetables.
Families can order more for less with their Family Full Course dinners, which include egg roll appetizers and fortune cookies for dessert.
Details: Peking Palace Restaurant is currently open for takeout only, every day from noon to 6:30 p.m.
Location: 19 Front Street, Capreol
Flanked by a hotel and a fitness studio with similar stone exteriors, Dino’s Restaurant is recognizable by its orange print sign hanging above the front entrance. This small Greek restaurant serves delicious traditional dishes like gyro pita wraps, shrimp souvlaki, spanakopita and keftedes (Greek-style meatballs).
For dessert, try the ekmek, a vanilla custard cake made with toasted brioche and topped with almonds and whipped cream.
Details: Dino’s Restaurant is open Wednesdays to Fridays for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and Wednesdays to Saturdays for dinner from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.; call or email ahead of time to book a reservation
Location: 206 2nd Street South, Kenora
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Last updated: May 5, 2023