The Foodie’s Guide to Southwestern Ontario
Farmers and foodies embraced the locavore movement long before it was mainstream in Southwestern Ontario. Taste your way through the region and meet salt-of-the-earth people who grow, raise, bake and make great food.
Get started with these Southwestern Ontario culinary highlights.
Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.
Many tourism experiences require advance bookings or have restrictions in place due to COVID 19. It is important to check directly with the business operator before you travel. Get the most up-to-date information now.
Wander the indoor and season outdoor areas of the historic Covent Garden Market, downtown London’s foodie hub filled with vendors showcasing the freshest seasonal fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and locally made good and goodies. The Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market runs from early May until December and brings the all fresh goodness from the countryside to the center of the city.
A Canadian staple is harvested each spring and enjoy year-round on pancakes and French toast. Maple syrup is infused and added to all kinds delicious products and menus. Visit Richardson’s Farm & Market in Haldimand County’s Dunnville for sugar bush tours during the tapping and sap boiling season and for piping hot pancakes, sausage, apple sauce and sweet maple syrup. Just southwest of Woodstock, Jakeman’s Maple Farm has been producing pure maple syrup from the tree to the bottle for almost 150 years.
Dairy & Cheese
Oxford County is renowned for its dairy industry, so much so it’s been coined the Dairy Capital of Canada. Not surprisingly it’s also where commercial cheese production first began. Celebrate its cheese heritage along the Oxford County Cheese Trail to shops, factories, restaurants and a cheese museum. And that’s just the start, from The Dover Cheese Shop in Port Dover to The Cheese Bar in Windsor, discover this region’s unique artisanal cheese.
Lake to Plate Perch
Stretching along most of Lake Erie’s north shore, Lake Erie yellow perch is a local favourite. This versatile fish features often on menus across Southwestern Ontario, whether fried, grilled or baked, it’s always delicious.
Try the signature perch cone served with hand cut fries and slaw from Birdies Perch ‘bus’taurant and takeaway, a seasonal, red double decker bus in Leamington. The Lake Erie perch sandwich at Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg is flash fried and served with homemade caper tartar sauce. Or add a side of perch tacos on grilled corn tortilla with pickled salsa from The Combine in Simcoe. Fish Fridays is a tradition at The Clocktower Inn bistro in Strathroy with fresh pan-fried Lake Erie perch, mini wedge roast potatoes and creamy coleslaw. The Salty Dog is an upscale pub in Amherstburg serving an upscale twist on the classic fish ‘n chips with a panko perch, slaw and tartar. Bring your appetite for the perch platter at Buccaneer Bar & Grill in Port Stanley or the perch basket at The Boathouse in Port Rowan.
Farm to Table Menus
Fresh and seasonal is way of life in Southwestern Ontario.
The tasting menu at sixthirtynine in Woodstock changes regularly but a staple are local family farmed beef and greens, including hand forged fiddle heads and wild leek. Seasonal and sustainable drive the menu at Abruzzi Restorante, an upscale Italian inspired eatery that works with local organic farmers, growers and winemakers to create exciting dishes. Presentation and plating are a work of art at Grace Restaurant in London.
Get your plant based fix at Plant Matter Café in London’s Wortley Village, serving up organic, locally sourced vegan food. Green’s Café in Sarnia has an extensive selection of veggie, raw and gluten-free meals, and fuel your body with nourishing, vegan green goddess or hulk man smoothies from The Edible Journey in Port Stanley.
Classic Comfort Food
We all have that one guilty pleasure for nostalgic, feel good food!
If pizza is your happy meal, you’ll need to sink your teeth into the famous Windsor-style pizza. Whether it’s the shredded pepperoni, local Galati mozzarella or the order of layering (cheese before toppings), Windsorites are fiercely passionate about their pizza. Get to the bottom of Windsor’s pizza story at Armando’s, Walkerville Eatery or Capri Pizza. Embrace food fusion with Arcata Pizzeria’s popular shawarma pizza, or build your own pizza creation at one of Oven 360’s three locations.
The Church Key Bistro on London’s Richmond Street does an unbeatable bacon steak mac ‘n cheese with maple cured, house smoked pork loin chop in macaroni, aged cheddar and fontina cheese sauce. Or create your personal masterpiece with the Build a Burger menu at The Bungalow in the Old North neighbourhood. Choose from locally sourced beef, prime rib, lamb, wild boar or salmon patty, a selection of cheeses and a load of toppings like onion rings, double smoked bacon, aioli, roasted garlic and even fresh pineapple.
Love brunch? Check out the all-day breakfast menu at The Early Bird in London featuring eggs, pancakes and waffles, including the chicken n waffles that comes with syrup, crispy onions and bacon jam. In Windsor, tuck into gourmet pancakes at Stacks, a great breakfast spot. Late risers will love the brunch spread at Walkerville’s Twisted Apron.
Satisfy your craving for Caribbean jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, fried plantain or curry roti from Irie Bites Café or Indulge Cuisine in London, Caribbean Stove Pickup in St. Thomas, Reggae Café in Sarnia or Diva’s Delight near Windsor’s waterfront.
Head to Vas Cuisine in London for homemade Nigerian rice, stew and soup dishes or book mini African cuisine tasting experiences at HANAK Foods. TG’s Addis Ababa in London or World Marathon in Windsor are great for tasty Ethiopian injera combination platters.
Get the firecracker roll and other Japanese delights at Koi Sushi in Kingsville or LaSalle. Royal Spice in Tecumseh delivers tantalizing flavours of Indian cuisine or look for the current location of the Tikka Tomato, an Indian fusion food truck. Get your pupusas and tamales fix from Salvadorian El Comal and authentic Mexican fare from Taco Tony or Salsa Caliente in Leamington.
Choose from European specialties such as schnitzel and goulash at Marienbad Restaurant, housed in a historic 1854 building on London’s Carling Street. And tuck into handmade gnocchi at Nico Tavern on Erie Street in Windsor.
Always save a little room for desert in Southwestern Ontario.
London Ice Cream Company serves scoops of innovative ice cream flavours. Surprise your taste buds with the unconventional savoury Sweet Dilly of a Pickle or choose from winning flavours such as Moosetracks, Happy Birthday and Peanut Butter Mudpuddle. Indulge your sweet tooth in the old fashioned ice cream parlor at Here’s the Scoop in Harrow. Just east of Erieau, Crazy 8 Farm & Garden dishes out sinfully delicious butter tarts in their historic bakery and ice cream bar. Try the Busted Butter Tart Sundae, combining Shaw’s Ice Cream, with butter tart, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. East of London in Thorndale, the bakery at Apple Land Station farm is known for its signature homemade ‘mile-high apple pies’ prepared daily. Even the mouthwatering fruit filling is made from scratch. Enjoy the delightfully decadent goodness of Annie’s Chocolates. With retail locations in London and Kilworth, this family-operated business offers handmade creations from a special blend of chocolate.
Food & Lodging
Don’t dine and dash, stay awhile at these boutique digs with scrumptious onsite eateries.
An upscale country inn with spa and fine dining thanks to Executive Chef Andrew Smith.
Location: 415 Harris Street, Ingersoll
Luxury suites and elevated bistro cuisine under Executive Chef and Owner Mark Graham, housed in the historic 1889 post office building.
Location: 71 Frank Street, Strathroy
Breezy, seaside vibe with inviting rooms and fresh farmhouse market cuisine in the main floor dining room and wrap around verandah.
Location: 324 Smith Street, Port Stanley
Elegant Victorian mansion and upscale restaurant that serves a sensational Sunday Brunch.
Location: 36 Grand Avenue, London
Eclectic, art-inspired boutique hotel in a century old building and onsite bistro, The Chilled Cork serving comfort fusion cuisine.
Location: 2 King Street West, Chatham
With the perfect blend of hip and historic, this intimate and whimsical accommodations is right next door to The Grove Brew House with a simple and delicious lunch, dinner and late-night menu along with fine craft beer. Note: menu features fresh panko breaded perch and fusion bahn mi perch tacos.
Location: 12 Main Street East, Kingsville
Discover More Culinary Experiences
Looking for more culinary inspiration? Next Stop Taste is a video food series that showcases local food, wine, craft brewery and farm-to-table experiences across the region. Or explore wine inspired cuisine in the Lake Erie North Shore wine region.