Indulge your passion for food and all things culinary in Ontario. Whether you’re getting in touch with your inner chef during an afternoon cooking class, sampling wines in our picturesque wine regions, tasting your way around the world in Toronto or visiting a rural festival celebrating Ontario’s agricultural bounty, we’ve got something for every taste bud.
Farm to Table
Ontario's farms produce an incredible variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products year round. Leamington is known as the Tomato Capital of Canada, Bala is famous for its abundant cranberry harvest and the Niagara Fruit Belt is a region well known for its abundance of peaches, strawberries, cherries and grapes among other fruits. In fact, across southern Ontario, there are a number of key growing regions making it easy for visitors to these regions to enjoy a true farm to table experience.
The restaurants in the Niagara Region, including Treadwell’s and the winery restaurants at Peller, Hillebrand and Strewn estate wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, benefit from the local wines and fruit produced and grown in the heart of the region, making Niagara one of Ontario’s premier wine and culinary centres. The Niagara Culinary Trail will lead you to some of the best restaurants and farms serving Niagara Regional Cuisine.
Following in Niagara’s footsteps, the region of Prince Edward County, a short two and a half hour drive east of Toronto, invites you to follow their Taste Trail. You’ll discover wineries, cideries, breweries, fisheries, artisanal cheeses and farms where you can pick your own produce.
When you visit Stratford, Ontario – home of the famous Stratford Shakespearean Festival – just 2 hours west of Toronto, your food won’t be coming from far. This is the heart of Perth County one of the province’s richest agricultural regions. Organic farms, a tea sommelier, the area’s top chefs and one of Canada’s leading chefs’ schools are all to be found here. The annual Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival brings all of them together to showcase the flavours of the region.
In the village of Singhampton in Grey County, about 2.5 hours northwest of Toronto, foodies in the know search high and low for Eigensinn Farm. With a global reputation as a uniquely skilled chef, Michael Stadtländer welcomes a maximum of 12 guests to his country table that serves the farm’s ever changing and available produce. A coveted spot at his table is sure to be a culinary experience to be remembered. The candlelit dining room is decorated with driftwood and found objects, while tables are formally dressed with heavy linen and fine cutlery for unique country elegance, but of course it’s Stadtländer's renowned culinary artistry that draws guests from around the world.
The farm to table movement is quickly spreading to individual tourism operators as well. The dining room at Elmhirst Resort, in eastern Ontario’s Kawarthas region, relies on fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, eggs, poultry and beef grown and raised right on site.
Similarly, Ste. Anne’s Country Inn and Spa, just 1.5 hours east of Toronto, prides itself on its very own organic herb, fruit and vegetable garden which supply its sumptuous dining room.
Even the Fairmont Royal York, in the heart of downtown Toronto, grows its own herbs on its roof top garden. The garden is where you’ll also find the hotel’s Honey Moon Suite, but contrary to what you might think, the Honey Moon Suite is actually a cute name for one of three beehives in the hotel's rooftop garden, which provides honey for the hotel’s restaurants.
To fully appreciate the scope of Ontario as a culinary centre, visit one of the many food festivals that take place year round. The Niagara Wine Region comes alive during the Niagara Icewine Festival as Ontario’s famous Icewine is showcased at area wineries, ornate outdoor ice bars and gala dinners. Winter is also the time for harvesting nature’s sweet elixir, maple syrup, and the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is a must among the many maple syrup festivals. Ottawa’s Winterlude Stew Cook-Off will warm your bones during the annual Winterlude Festival as more than 20 ByWard Market restaurants compete in an all-you-can-eat charity luncheon with original stick-to-your-ribs stew recipes.
Summer unveils a number of food fairs celebrating the province’s bounty. Leamington is the Tomato Capital of Canada, a distinction proudly displayed during the Leamington Tomato Festival. Winona is equally enamoured of its plentiful peaches during the Winona Peach Festival, while Sudbury’s Blueberry Festival, the Alliston Potato Festival and Brighton’s Applefest round out the food festivities at Ontario’s growing regions.
Fall is harvest time in Ontario and you can feel the excitement during the Niagara Wine Festival when your visit coincides with the grape harvest. Canadians have always faired well during the World Pumpkin Confederation’s weigh-ins and you’re sure to find some heavy contenders at the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest. Oktoberfest in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo is the largest Bavarian festival outside of Munich and features events and activities for ale enthusiasts. The Bala Cranberry Festival paints the town red and visitors will enjoy sampling cranberry wine from the Muskoka Lakes Winery.
Transform the gifts of the earth into palate-pleasing dishes at one of Ontario’s many cooking schools. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Wine Country Cooking School emphasizes the marriage of food and wine and is the only non-professional cooking school in the Niagara wine region. Nearby in Beamsville, visitors to the Good Earth Cooking School will find themselves at a pretty fruit farm in the heart of the Niagara fruit belt. Host, Nicolette Novak naturally focuses on fruits and vegetables at their height of ripeness and availability and regularly welcomes Niagara’s finest chefs as guest instructors. The prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute established its first institute outside of Paris in Ottawa. Here, amateur chefs are welcome to learn in a truly professional setting. The institute also houses Signatures restaurant, which serves classic French cuisine, and has been recognized as one of Canada’s best restaurants. Prince Edward County’s local farms are the source of inspiration at the Waring House Cookery School in Picton, where regional cuisine is the order of the day. The award-winning author of 12 best selling cookbooks, Bonnie Stern has studied cooking from around the world and runs the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking. Students flock to her uptown Toronto kitchen to learn her favourite recipes and tips on entertaining.
Toronto's Multiethnic Epicureans
There are more than 7,000 restaurants in Toronto reflecting the many tastes, cultures and ingredients of its ethnically diverse population. You’ll find every type of cuisine imaginable in Ontario’s capital from Indian to Ethiopian, upscale to down home and some of the most talented chefs in the country.
Visit Greektown on Danforth Avenue for an unparalled array of Greek restaurants or venture to India Bazaar for authentic and astonishingly affordable Indian cuisine. In Little Italy, amid the myriad martini bars and lounges, you’ll find Italian chefs that have been sharing family recipes with the neighbourhood for years and Chinatown never sleeps much to the delight of those who know no boundaries when it comes to their appetites. If you can’t make up your mind just head to Baldwin Village where you’ll find Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Italian, French, Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai restaurants side by side!
If you can’t visit the producers, why not let the producers visit you? A number of Ontario towns and cities boast regular farmers' markets that have some of the freshest Ontario produce headed to your kitchen table. Ottawa’s ByWard Market is not only its most vibrant neighbourhood, but one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada.
The farmers' market at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, is also a time honoured tradition and housed in the city’s first city hall. In addition to farm fresh produce, shoppers will find uniquely Canadian products like Carousel Bakery’s popular peameal bacon sandwiches and the Mustard Emporium’s more than 80 gourmet mustards. Also in Toronto is Kensington Market which dates back to British settlement in the 1790s. Today, Torontonians know to visit the market for fresh and exotic produce from around the world.
The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is where you can pick up summer sausage, pure maple syrup and even a handmade broom sold by Mennonite farmers who travel to market by horse and buggy.
In Kingston, enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables of the region as well as baked goods, jams, pickles, honey, and freshly prepared coffee to be enjoyed at a picnic table on the grounds of the Kingston Farmers' Market.