Aug 12, 2019, 1:25 AM
Hugging the western fringe of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is a formally bustling port city. In recent times, it’s become something of a magnet for entrepreneurs, foodies and artists who have succumbed to the natural beauty of the surroundings, and its new-found energy. This week we’re coving some of the Hamilton restaurant scene there, specifically Locke Street restaurants.
Locke Street, running roughly north to south through the city’s downtown, is a prime example of how Hamilton has exploded in popularity in the last few decades. What was once simply a ‘street of churches’ is now a vibrant hub of restaurants, bars and shops that offer something a little different. It’s a place where window-gazing and wandering amongst the hubbub of other people is thoroughly enjoyable. Locke Street boasts brilliant holiday and summer festivals, bespoke stores and shops where you can find all sorts. It’s also a short walk to Hamilton’s entertainment district, Hess Village.
So if you’re meandering along and need refuelling, or a quick bite to eat, or just a coffee and cake, where to go on Locke Street? Here we select some of our favourite Locke Street restaurants to grab something on one of Hamilton’s most popular destinations.
Brux House Or to give its full title, Brux House Craft Beer and Kitchen. Located almost at the midpoint of Locke Street, Brux House is a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner and a sleek, welcoming gastropub that is one of the top ten eateries in the city. Classy, upscale yet relaxed, the food is great, they match craft beers with your eats and the atmosphere – even on the outdoor patio – is excellent.
Earth to Table: Bread Bar Another Certificate of Excellence award winner, Earth to Table: Bread Bar is not the biggest, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best on the street. As its name suggests, as many ingredients as possible are fresh, seasonal and locally produced in Earth to Table’s dishes. This includes a mouth-watering selection of stone-baked pizzas, burgers, shared plates, soups and salads, and a good selection of sandwiches and mains. Cosy, friendly and with great food – there’s not a lot more you could ask for.
The Burnt Tongue At The Burnt Tongue they keep it simple yet bursting with quality, so while their menu is restricted to a handful of choices – burgers, soups, fries, sandwiches – those choices are uniformly superb. Featured on the TV show ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’ and with its soups described as ‘stellar’, The Burnt Tongue is one of those small but perfectly formed eateries that becomes a firm favourite as a place to drop by and eat when on Locke Street. They also have a second location on Cannon St.
Democracy* A place of exposed timbers, ink-black slate and raw metal giving it the vibe of an ultra-cool office space or high-end loft, Democracy* – as its moniker suggests – prides itself on open minds, conversation – there is no Wi-Fi – and excellent vegan eats washed down with coffee or craft beer. Tasty shareables and appetizers, warming bowls and healthy salads, plus a nice compliment of crowd-pleasing mains make up the menu at Democracy*, but the great food is just a small part of the overall atmosphere here – the focus is on coming together, and using it as a place to meet and engage, and in that it succeeds admirably.
Alirang A stone’s throw from the sloping lawns and lovely greenery of Victoria Park, Alirang sits at the junction of Locke Street South and Main Street West. A Korean eatery serving a huge variety of classic dishes, but with a handful of Japanese choices also on offer, this restaurant is basic yet the food plentiful and very reasonably priced. Popular with groups, it has a tendency to get very busy during peak times, a sure sign that they are doing things right.
Mattson & Co With an elegant interior, an extensive menu and a cool jazz lounge, Mattson & Co is a high-end eatery that’s perfect for date nights and special occasions, be it with family, friends or business associates. Found amongst a clutch of other restaurants on Locke Street South, Mattson & Co offers something a little different with its upscale décor and contemporary cuisine made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients – and with regular live music to further improve the already lovely atmosphere, an evening spent dining here is hard to beat.
NaRoma – a portmanteau of Napoli and Roma – is the brainchild of owner Mario Spina, who wanted to bring a special taste of Italy to Hamilton. At his pizza place on Locke Street he has done just that – even though here you will find an almost spartan menu where there is little other than pies to choose from, bar a handful of sides,, don’t let the relatively small selection put you off: NaRoma consistently serves up terrific pizzas, with a choice of meat or veggie options such as calabrese, siciliana and funghi. No frills, but you don’t need them when the food is so good.
Donut Monster A newcomer to Locke Street – it opened its doors in 2018 – Donut Monster’s owners were originally the suppliers of fresh donuts to many of Hamilton’s indie coffee shops. The next logical step, of course, was to open their own place and sell their product direct – and that’s just what they have done, and very successfully too. Serving their exceptional donuts seven days a week, and with great coffee, steeped teas and even milkshakes to wash them down, Donut Monster is a simple concept executed with love, care and a desire to make their customers very happy indeed.
Amo Gelato Caffe When all you want is a couple of gelato scoops to feast on as you pause to watch the world drift by, there’s nothing better than the cones, cups and even donuts served up in this Locke Street favourite. Opened in 2016 by Ally Amato and going from strength to strength ever since Amo Gelato Caffe is colourful, inviting space where you can eat in or take out, and choose from a wide selection of hugely flavourful gelatos, as well as coffees, cakes, waffles and pastries. For those of a sweet tooth – and even for those who aren’t – Amo Gelato Caffe is sure to hit the spot.
Next time you are in Hamilton, come and try some of these Locke Street restaurants, you might find a new favourite spot.