3 Ways to Experience Indigenous Cuisine in Ontario
Staples in traditional Indigenous cuisine include native and seasonal species present in the traditional territory, such as game meat like bison or elk, freshwater fish including salmon and trout, root vegetables, wild rice, maple, local berries and various teas.
Bannock has been associated with contemporary Indigenous cuisine. Bannock is a versatile unleavened bread that is baked and often served alongside a stew or soup or as a dessert with blueberries or maple syrup. Flour-based bannock was introduced and adapted into Indigenous cuisine as a result of European colonization, however many Indigenous communities made a similar dish from ground camas bulbs and other wild plants pre-contact.
Explore traditional and modern Indigenous cuisine at an Indigenous-owned restaurant, on a guided food tour or from a local food producer.
Search for more Indigenous Experiences across Ontario by region or by activity.
Dine at an Indigenous Restaurant
First Nations influences are woven into the innovative menu at this bar & grill-style eatery. Local, sustainable ingredients and food security are core values.
Location: 484 Ferguson Avenue, Haileybury
Kay Nah Chi Wah Nung, meaning The Place of the Long Rapids, is a sacred Ojibwe burial site in northwest Ontario that holds over 8,000 years of history. In addition to the ‘Manitou Mounds’, the land was once home to thriving Indigenous villages and campsites. The Rainy River First Nations have developed an interpretive centre where visitors can book a guided tour of the ancient mounds and the outdoor trails under the supervision of a trained heritage interpreter. After your tour, dine at their restaurant, which serves a variety of traditional wild rice dishes, bannock served with butter and jam, battered walleye and a selection of desserts, and overlooks the Manidoo Ziibi or Spirit River.
Location: 340 Ross Road, Stratton
Located in downtown boho Kensington Market, Pow Wow Cafe cooks up an Indigenous-inspired brunch, along with an all-day beef, chicken, fish or veggie taco menu, peanut butter and banana frybread and homemade cedar soda. Starters include Georgian Bay whitefish corn chowder and wild rice. Owner and chef Shawn Adler’s menu is inspired by the food of his childhood, and his passion shines through in the flavours and creativity of his cooking.
Note: Chef Adler is also the driving force behind Grey County’s The Flying Chestnut Kitchen in Eugenia, with a ‘hearty, approachable bistro cuisine’ on its revolving blackboard menu.
Location: 213 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Head to the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market on Saturday and Sunday for a nine-course tasting experience from an organic, locally sourced Ojibwa-inspired menu brought to you by Chef Zach Keeshig. Private catering events can also be arranged.
Location: 88 8th Street East, Owen Sound
This gorgeous First Nations-owned and designed hotel is located on the north channel of Lake Huron on Manitoulin Island and incorporates natural décor elements of wood and stone. It features a variety of rooms and suites, a ballroom and a pool. North46, the upscale onsite restaurant, focuses on authentic Indigenous fare while treating guests to a stunning view of Georgian Bay North Channel and the nearby La Cloche Mountains. Recently awarded Company of the Year by Northern Ontario Business Awards, approximately 80% of the hotel staff identify as First Nations.
Enjoy Indigenous fusion food or the popular Thursday and Friday night fish fry at this Sault Ste. Marie diner in the Batchewana Bay First Nations community.
Location: 262 Frontenac Street, Sault Ste. Marie
A cozy Six Nations eatery serving a fresh, daily Indigenous and Haudenosaunee fusion menu of one vegetarian and two meat options, along with soups, salads and house-made juices. Many of the ingredients are harvested from the family garden or sourced locally.
Diners gush over this comfy and inviting east-end eatery that feels like you’re in a friend’s kitchen. Though not Indigenous-owned, the seasonal menu features ingredients sourced from sustainability-conscious local producers and incorporates contemporary and traditional dishes like bison burgers, elk stew, grilled trout and tea. The prints and artwork adorning the walls plus to-go snacks are available for purchase.
Location: 1294 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
Take a Guided Indigenous Food Tour
Groups of 25 or more are invited to an informative tour introducing the various living styles of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island in the Ottawa River. Enjoy a cup of traditional herbal tea and sample bannock with berry jams, while an Elder shares traditional teachings and a smudge, a purification ceremony that involves burning sacred medicines to cleanse the body, mind and spirit.
Witness the Ojibway tradition of harvesting and processing wild rice on an authentic, guided, hands-on experience. The two-day package includes the use of canoes, supplies, demonstrations and food. Experiences can be booked from early September to late October.
Support Indigenous-Owned Food Businesses
This family-owned business operates out of Batchawana Bay at Corbeil Point on the Obadjiwan Reserve, and fishes Lake Superior and Lake Huron for lake trout, pickerel and whitefish. Pick up freshly caught fish or tasty smoked fish, including the popular smoked fish pâté.
‘Tea as it should be, authentic ingredients and infused with passion.’ This Indigenous-owned, industry-first, artisanal tea company is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg Peoples in Northwest Ontario and produces a premium selection of custom, roasted wild rice and tea blends, available online.
Location: Thunder Bay
Here’s a java that tastes and feels good. Producing organic, fair-trade and SPP (Simbolo de Pequeños Productores represents small producers worldwide) certified coffee, this cause-driven company diverts proceeds from sales to bring Certified Water Purification Systems to Indigenous Communities. Find out where you can pick up Birch Bark Coffee. Founder Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow is a member of the Whitefish River First Nation located on Birch Island.
In addition to a wide variety of guided cultural and outdoor programming, this Bruce County park features an operating sugarbush producing 100% pure Ontario wood-fired maple syrup.
Home to some of Northern Ontario’s sweetest maple syrup, maple candies and maple butter, this operation is owned and operated by an Ojibway couple, Deborah and Isaac Day. Originally from the Six Nations of the Grand River, where their families had been making maple syrup for generations, Deborah and Isaac moved to a farm on St. Joseph Island and expanded their maple production with sweet results.
Location: St. Joseph Island
Sure to excite all the chocolate lovers, chef and owner Tammy Maki embraces her Indigenous heritage and love of confectionery by creating delicious and innovative chocolate treats using Indigenous ingredients. The Sudbury-based business ships Canada-wide.
Three friends — Blair Hagman, Joet Dhatt and Nishin Meawasige — have come together to brew something great! This little (1/3rd Indigenous-owned) craft brewery on Manitoulin employs quality ingredients and the highest attention to detail to produce a small batch craft beer lineup that celebrates the flavour of the island. You can also snag cool merch like t-shirts and hats.
Location: 43 Manitowaning Road, Little Current
Last updated: August 17, 2022