Best Local Bites in London, Ontario

By: Sean Murray, Tourism London

As one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, London’s culinary landscape has become a thrilling adventure for foodies. Whether you’re visiting for an exciting concert, sports event or conference, you’ll want to make the most of your time in the Forest City and sink your teeth into its flourishing food scene!

London, Ontario Downtown Restaurants

Some of London’s best eats are located in the downtown core, and hotels like the DoubleTree by Hilton and Delta Hotels by Marriott London Armouries (which just so happens to serve to best brunch buffet in the city) act as a launchpad to find the trendiest tastes.

When exploring the city’s core on your first night out, you’ll quickly see how much variety London has to offer. With so much on the menu, my recommendation is to try out the local gems that keep Londoners coming back time and time again.

Dimi’s Greek House serves up elegant cocktails and savoury Greek cuisine in an environment that is particularly picturesque. Keep your camera on hand because the flaming saganaki and periodic plate smashing make for an Instagram-worthy night out. Lucy’s Pizza & Cocktails is another chic spot with crafted cocktails, unique tapas and Neapolitan-style pizza. After dinner, they transform into a lounge-style space with a with a spinning DJ. If you’re more in the mood for pub style fare, The Church Key Bistro-Pub boasts an impressive list of craft beers and elevated classic dishes.

Brunch in London, Ontario

The Early Bird

After a night out, I know that I love nothing more than a hearty brunch in the morning. As I mentioned, the Delta’s buffet is an upscale affair not to be missed, but the The Early Bird is also a must visit. With walls covered in collages of silkscreen poster art, they have a groovy 60’s vibe turned to the max. Case in point is their iconic “Fat Elvis,” a stack of thick cut French toast filled with fried bananas, peanut butter, bacon, syrup and honey. For that coveted morning mimosa, I love a visit to Craft Farmacy. They’re rustic and refined while remaining cool and comfortable, the definition of upscale casual.

Covent Garden Market

On a day out in the city, there is one central food destination that you can’t afford to miss. Established in 1845, Covent Garden Market is a treasured landmark where farmers and shoppers once mingled to sell and shop for meat, wild raspberries and everything in between. Today, it’s still home to the city’s best selection of organic foods while expanding to become so much more, with restaurants and vendors providing artisanal goods and tastes from around the world. A personal favourite is Love Pastel, where delicious Brazilian snacks such as the cheese and chicken stuffed Coxinha and the rich chocolately Brigadeiro are ready to be shared among friends (or kept for yourself!).

Food Festivals

New Leaf Food Truck

When London celebrates food, we celebrate it big. Each year, an ever-expanding list of cultural food festivals brings together visitors from across Ontario and beyond. Covent Garden Market is especially alive in the summer with a nonstop lineup of flavourful festivals such as Taco Fest, Pizza Fest, the Colombian Gastronomy Festival and recent fan favourite, Jerk Fest. However, this isn’t the only place London hosts cultural festivities. Victoria Park is a downtown hub for events such as the newly introduced Lucky Lion Night Market, an Asian food celebration with over 100 unique items to try,  London’s Ribfest, the International Food Festival and large music events such as Sunfest which bring in countless cultural vendors and food trucks that fill the summer air with savoury smells.

Culinary Experiences

Yaya’s Kitchen

For some, a standard meal still isn’t enough to scratch their culinary curiosity. Luckily, there are innovators in London that have developed experiences which transcend a standard 3-course dinner. Yaya’s Kitchen, a curated supper club, is an award-winning embodiment of this movement and hands down the best gastronomic experience I’ve attended. Co-owner Malvin Wright encourages diners to “not just eat the food, but truly taste it”. Yaya’s masterfully crafts 7-10 courses, each packed with storytelling flavours of the global Black food experience.

Other culinary journeys include Ride the Bine and the OEV Dumpling Trail. The first is a tour winding through breweries, wineries and other local beverage havens, promising a sip of the region’s finest libations. The latter is a self-guided, 7-stop tour through London’s Old East Village, where you can savour dumplings from around the world, from Polish pierogis to Nepali Momos, each with their own distinctive style. For those with a serious sweet tooth, the Scratch Bakery & Patisserie Trail is a must try. It’s a curated selection of 13 (a baker’s dozen!) best-in-class, small-batch scratch bakeries and patisseries. With both self-guided and guided options, it’s a great way to start your morning and dive into pastry paradise.

Time for a drink!

Toboggan Brewery

Of course, no food scene is complete without some quality brews to accompany it. With the biggest libations scene in Southwestern Ontario, London has a myriad of locations to stay “hydrated.” Local breweries such as Toboggan Brewery and Beerlab! are always a good time. Be sure to also visit 100 Kellogg Lane, which has some seriously cool stuff going on with their newly opened Beer Kitchen. With technology that transfers beer directly from the tank into your glass, they deliver a quality pour that few can match!

Check out Tourism London’s website for the best list of attractions, restaurants, upcoming events, hotels, experiences and things to do. Come see what London is all about and plan your visit today.

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