Ultimate Ontario contributor Chris Ryall runs through eight palate pleasing places in Niagara Falls & the surrounding region. Just make sure to bring your appetite!
Niagara Falls has been a place of wonder going back 13,000 years when the first Indigenous peoples walked this land. Thousands of years later people still marvel at the thundering waters and three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border.
Niagara Falls and the surrounding Niagara region go beyond awe-inspiring sights and sounds. The region’s culinary and libationn offerings pack a tantalizing flavour fiesta to have your taste buds celebrating and doing the tongue tango.
If you think the food scene in Niagara Falls begins and ends with family chain restaurants and amusement park-style food items think again. Those types of restaurants still exist and still serve a purpose but in recent years, a burgeoning culinary scene has emerged with top chefs like Massimo Capra of Massimo’s Italian Fallsview Restaurant showcasing culinary talents. Farm to table menus are becoming more the rule than the exception in the Niagara region with select restaurants earning the coveted FeastOn™ certification which guarantees the food items are locally sourced.
After treating your palate to flavourful dishes continue the adventure with your favourite wine, beer, or liquor. The Niagara region is the most diverse and largest viticultural area in Canada and home to more than 100 wineries. Distilleries producing gin, vodka, and whiskey have opened up or if you are feeling crafty (ok thirsty) check out the emerging craft brewery scene on the Niagara Ale Trail.
Niagara Falls and area serves up spectacular views but it can also whet your appetite. Here are just a few establishments where you can experience and savour Niagara’s finest food and drink.
Niagara’s Liquid Gold – Niagara Wineries & Breweries Worth Noting
Two Sisters Vineyards
Taking a winery tour of Two Sisters Vineyards’ well-manicured grounds with Angela Marotta (one half of the two sister co-owning team) and head winemaker Adam Pearce one thing becomes abundantly clear. Quality, not volume, matters. Angela and Adam are passionate about creating ultra-premium, complex full-bodied reds and elegant whites reflecting their unique terroir.
Varietals include Cabernet Franc (a Niagara favourite), Petit Verdot, Riesling, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. An Italian inspired restaurant and outdoor patio embodies a casual but elegant dining and wine tasting experience.
Angela and her sister Melissa ensure this winery retains its standing in one class only – first class.
Ravine Vineyard Estate
The Lowrey family planted Niagara’s first grapes back in 1869 and five generations later the farm and vineyard are still thriving having added a kitchen garden, grocery with homemade products from jams to honey, 40 beehives, event venue, outdoor patio, and restaurant. Securing a lunch reservation is one of the hottest tickets in town. Now I know why.
I enjoyed a salad bursting with freshness and flavour so much I might have turned vegetarian. It was momentarily though – a wood oven pepperoni pizza had a hot date with my mouth. The chef laboured for three months to perfect the crust and it shows. Most crusts are too chewy, hard, and tasteless but biting into this pizza crust’s soft, pillowy texture I was on pizza Cloud 9.
Organic, farm-fresh, and nature reflect Ravine’s culture. Vanessa took me through a tasting of their Ravine and Sand and Gravel small-batch brand wines from Merlots to Chardonnays. It put a cork on a truly satisfying culinary and wine experience. Make sure when you visit you say hi to Ravine’s resident rooster Nugget and their Pygmy goat Lenny.
Wayne Gretzky Estates
Wayne Gretzky scored many hat tricks in his illustrious hockey career and he’s doing the same with his business acumen with a beverage producing hat trick – wine, beer and spirits. Wayne Gretzky Estates has evolved into not only a winery but a distillery and craft brewery as well. Gretzky scores big in producing quality products while creating both an adult and family-friendly venue to share meals, drinks, conversation and in the wintertime even a skate on the frozen pond located here.
Passion was never in short supply with the Great One and it shows in how the estate is laid out and visitor friendly. Besides a host of wine, beer and whiskey tastings you can also view the making of the Great One with large size photographs of Gretzky, his beloved father Walter and the many memorable moments in his career adorning the estate walls.
Purchase a whole assortment of Gretzky gift items – a skate beer glass skate anyone?
Niagara Distillery & Niagara Brewing Company
Want to taste water emanating from Niagara Falls without the need to plunge over it? Head on over to Niagara Distillery and order up a vodka. The master distillers proof down the vodka with Falls’ water which gives it a complex and fresh taste. Quench your thirst with their Sangria Fresca, a drink consisting of Niagara Vodka, white wine, elderflower, lemon and mango.
Hungry? Get your hands messy with a slab of famous Billy Bones BBQ ribs – it brings finger lickin’ to a whole new level.
Adjacent to the distillery is the Niagara Brewing Company where a mix of IPAs, lagers and yes even a Niagara Icewine Beer await for your drinking pleasure.
The Falls Are Alive With Glorious Food: Niagara Restaurants Worth Noting
People often think of wine first when they think of Niagara, but you can’t forget about Niagara’s cuisine!
Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse
Brasa, located in the Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel & Suites, is a meat lover’s paradise. The protein plus restaurant offers a centuries-old tradition of cooking on an open fire while a parade of servers visit your table with giant skewers offering up juicy, succulent beef, pork, lamb, chicken and even grilled pineapple.
Carved tableside you have your trusty tongs ready to catch your portion. At the table you have a disk – red means “I’ve had enough – for now” and green which was the side I favoured said, “More, please!” After a few rounds, my tummy was in a fierce battle between “meat overdose” and “this tastes so good, just one more piece.” The incredibly friendly service made this all-you-can-eat (or handle) such a pleasurable experience.
Oh, there are sides too from black beans, yucca fries, Brazilian gaucho rice, and steamed potatoes. Desserts were offered but my tummy was in post-too much meat traumatic stress by then.
Oversized pants recommended before dining here!
Doc Magilligan’s Restaurant & Irish Pub
Half my ancestry is Irish so it’s only fitting I take my Irish roots to Doc Magilligan’s, a traditional Irish pub located on Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls. Stepping inside, Irish eyes were smiling down on me.
The pub opened in 2014 and for three years straight was named one of the Top 10 Irish Pubs in North America and its chef awarded Best Irish Pub Chef in North America in 2017 and 2019 by Irish Pubs Global. Inside you feel you are at a pub back in Ireland – and you are. Hundreds of authentic Irish pub memorabilia and items from Ireland based pubs were shipped over to the Niagara Falls location. The bar now includes a Golf Lounge with simulators and is attached to the Best Western Plus Cairn Croft Hotel, a popular hotel to stay for duffers.
Here comfort food rules so I ordered the Taste of Ireland, an Irish food threesome of Shepherd’s Pie, Steak & Mushroom Pie, and Curry Chicken.
For those who like whiskey, what George Bernard Shaw called “Liquid Sunshine,” Doc’s has Niagara’s largest whiskey selection with over 100 different bottles.
Morton’s is synonymous with fine steakhouses across the United States. Morton’s Grille opened its first restaurant at the Marriott Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel & Spa. Skimping on portions is not in their make-up.
Looking for steak with a kick to it? Try their signature Black Angus Cajun Ribeye. Many steakhouses can be overly formal but Morton’s Grille prides itself on superior service with a side of casual elegance. No pretentiousness allowed. For those non-steak lovers, there are seafood, salad, pasta, and vegetarian dishes that will satisfy any palate.
Old Stone Inn/Flour Mill Restaurant
The Old Stone Inn began as a three-storey structure back in 1904 and has had many reincarnations before finally becoming an inn and restaurant in 1977. Located only a few blocks from Table Rock and the Falls, it’s one of the only historic inns left in Niagara Falls. The Flour Mill restaurant exudes elegance with romantic accents from warm woods, fireplace, mood lighting, leather and velvet seating.
Showcasing Niagara products is behind the Flour Mill’s Scratch Kitchen. Produce, cured meats, cheeses and more are selected from Niagara farmers and artisanal producers. Check out their creative Blunch menu (breakfast and lunch combo) featuring Niagara and Canadian products. Get a taste of the sea with Lobster Pancakes, Seafood Crispy Waffles served up with PEI Prawns or French Toast Brûlée. My favourite – the Maple Bacon Tree. Long peppercorn candied bacon strips hanging and glistening on a skewer ready to be devoured. And they were.
We hope you enjoyed his article on the best food and drink in Niagara Falls. Please feel free to comment below if there are any wineries, breweries or restaurants that you particularly love. Remember, you can always join in on the conversation in our Facebook Group, and find new ideas for ways to travel Ontario with our Ultimate Ontario Newsletter.
Chris has travelled to the far ends of the earth to more than 80 countries on 6 continents from New Zealand to the Galapagos Islands but equally enjoys exploring Ontario’s cultural, historical and scenic treasures. He has written for publications including The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, Westjet, Travel Life, Dreamscapes, Travelweek, TravelMarketReport.com, Skift.com, Yahoo, Ensemble Vacations and others. Chris also has a fondness (some say addiction) for spas where he’s experienced everything from whiskey pedicures, caviar facials to massages overlooking the Serengeti. His travel motto – Learn, experience and respect the culture.