Last month when we got to check out Niagara Falls thanks to our friends at Expedia.ca, we’d only been back home after our trip to France for a couple of weeks so barely had time to plan what we would do in the Falls. Of course, there is no shortage of things to do and see in the warmer weather but people wondered what on earth we would “do” there in the middle of winter. Well, of course, I replied that people still need to eat and drink in the winter so I would be exploring some old favourite places to eat and drink and discovering some new ones on this trip.
We most certainly did not have time to check out that many places in a day and a half so this list is not exhaustive by any means. As someone who lives in Toronto, we do visit the region fairly regularly so we tend to tackle all there is to eat and drink in bite-sized pieces (no pun intended) on each trip. And, there are always places we visit on each trip…
1. Classic breakfast: The Flying Saucer
The website says “For the best breakfast in Niagara, come to the Flying Saucer Restaurant. It’s the home of out-of-this-world food at down-to-earth prices.” Well since I haven’t eaten all the breakfasts in Niagara, I can’t say for certain that this is the “best” but I definitely think it’s the best value breakfast out there. And, I mean, the restaurant is shaped like a flying saucer. So, there’s that. This is old style (friendly) service and good value for money. Not fancy but it does the job. Very “Fifties” in terms of decor – classic diner style.
2. Sweet souvenirs: Greaves Jams
We always make a point of stopping off at Greaves every time we are anywhere near Niagaga-on-the-Lake. Greaves has been making old-fashioned jams, jellies, marmalades and condiments since 1927 (and until as recently as 1989, they made the jams at the Queen Street location as well!). Today, they still use their time-honoured jam recipes, hand-stirring each batch of jams in open stainless-steel kettles, to produce 35 wonderful jam and jelly preserves, although production has moved to a much larger facility. It’s the business if you like jams, jellies and marmalades.
3. Snacks for the road: Niagara Home Bakery, Willow Cakes and Pastries, The Pie Plate
I mean, driving around and exploring makes one a little peckish, right? There are plenty of options to keep your hunger at bay in and around Niagara Falls. One place we always stop into is the Niagara Home Bakery. It’s a place Neil used to frequent as a child growing up in Niagara-on-the-Lake (it’ s been around for over 75 years!), namely for a treat called “long johns” (a doughnut-type dough treat that they sadly no longer make because it was apparently a fire hazard frying them at such a high temperature, according to the lady we spoke to). It’s like stepping back in time when you enter the store – worth a visit for the charm alone. And maybe a tart or a cookie for the road.
Willow Cakes and Pastries hasn’t quite been around for 75 years but they do wonderful selection of sweet treats. We were originally introduced to Willow when they provided some of the chocolates for the wine/ chocolate pairings at a Wineries of Niagara event (though sadly, they don’t offer their fabulous chocolates for sale in the store) – it’s a great place to pick up a pastry or stop in for a coffee and a treat to warm up.
I’ve been meaning to get to The Pie Plate for the past few trips out to Niagara and finally, we happened to be in the area on this trip. And, we needed a treat to bring back to our Cleo/ house sitters (pie!) and well, since we hadn’t really eaten lunch that day, we figured a little “something” was in order.
The from-scratch baked goods (featuring local fruit) are on point and as gorgeous as they are tasty. In fact it was their Instagram image of an olive oil and clementine cake that gave me the final push to include the retail store (there’s a café as well) as a stop on this trip. Um, I’ll be back…
4. Thirsty? Silversmith Brewing and The Olde Angel Inn
We’d read about Silversmith Brewing just before we headed to Niagara so of course we had to see what all the fuss was about. Their location (an old, ivy-covered church) makes this a unique place to quench one’s thirst but it’s the beers which will keep people coming back.
Home to a “Black Lager” (their flagship beer) which isn’t as heavy as it sounds (this coming from someone who doesn’t really like darker beers) – it’s actually lovely and crisp and light. Try their flight of beers to choose your favourite!
Oftentimes our lunch in Niagara-on-the-Lake (or our dinner, to be honest if we are staying overnight) is at The Olde Angel Inn (we’ve even stayed overnight in one of their rooms over the pub!).
The Inn has been around since 1789 (it was rebuilt in 1815 after the War of 1812 – read about their storied history here) and is a great place for a pint and some pub grub. Not a “fine dining” option but a great little piece of Britain in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
5. Classic snack: Beaver Tails
Basically, fried dough pastry stretched out to the shape of a Beaver Tail (because, I mean, why not?) this is a classic Canadian snack. To honest on this trip I didn’t have room for one but I’ve tried them before in Ottawa and yes, they must be done (at least once). The line at the booth each time we walked by is testament to its “must eat” status.
Check out the range of toppings here.
6. Can’t miss: Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake
No matter what the weather, wine country, Niagara, is most definitely OPEN. Check out the Wine Country Ontario website for a complete listing of the wineries in the area and don’t forget to check the dates of the various Festivals taking place. This month, for example, it’s Days of Wine and Chocolate where a “touring pass” gives you access to 23 VQA wines paired with chocolate-infused dishes.
Disclosure: Thanks to my friends at Expedia.ca for covering stay and spa treatments at the Doubletree Fallsview Resort and Spa on this trip as part of the Big World Explorer programme. I have not received further compensation and everything is written based on my personal experience on this trip.