Eat your way through the best St Thomas Ontario restaurants.
Our culinary guide to the St Thomas restaurant scene in Southwest Ontario features the best cafes, bakeries, craft breweries, scenic patios and pubs in the friendly city famous for its railway history and Jumbo the Elephant.
History of St Thomas Ontario Restaurants
Before visiting a new culinary destination I like to first learn about the regions food and drink history.
In my search for the history of St Thomas Ontario Restaurants I had a chance to chat with local historian Steven Peters. The proud St Thomas resident is a city councillor and former Minister of Agriculture.
The city’s bustling Talbot Street was initially surveyed in 1809. “Our first settler was Daniel Rapelje in 1810. St. Thomas was later named in 1817. Roads ran east-west as well as north-south to London and Port Stanley. It was a trading centre to support the surrounding agricultural community,” said Peters.
In the city’s early days St Thomas was a trading centre offering many friendly hotels and taverns, which served local food to travellers. The growth of the railway in the 1870s brought a tourism boom and with it a wide variety of food and drink products.
St Thomas in Southwestern Ontario is located in the Carolinian Zone, which is known for being the most ecologically diverse zone in all of Canada. Peters added, “Commercial fishing existed out of Port Stanley and Port Burwell. There is a popular rhubarb festival in Shedden, nearby to St. Thomas. Walker Farms in Aylmer is one of the longest running dairy farms in Canada and lots of vegetable farmers grow local and seasonal produce here.”
The city also has a strong beverage background, “Two breweries were established in St. Thomas in 1832, one of which lasted until 1890 and the other 1916. Distilling spirits was also popular in St. Thomas in the Union and Sparta area,” said Peters.
The growing diversity of the St Thomas Ontario restaurants scene can be attributed to new ethnic groups who have been moving into the region over the last 5 years.
Peters concluded by sharing some of his favourite tastes of St. Thomas and the surrounding area, “Railway City Brewing and Caps Off Brewing in downtown St Thomas. Natterjack Brewing in Eagle. Rush Creek Winery near Port Bruce. Quai Du Vin Estate Winery in Sparta. Mackies in Port Stanley. There’s lots of great local perch serve from Lake Erie, which is a must try for seafood fans!”
Visit St Thomas Ontario Restaurants
St Thomas is located in Ontario Southwest.
St Thomas is located 2 hours drive from Toronto so it’s the perfect weekend getaway for couples, friends or families looking to enjoy an urban escape.
Explore the Best Restaurants in St Thomas Ontario
We spent 3 days eating our way through the best restaurants in St Thomas Ontario. We visited 8-10 local foodie businesses a day to create a culinary guide that highlights everything from the city’s trendy cafes and chocolate shops to popular family friendly pubs and diners.
We loved how pedestrian friendly the city is. Most of the top St Thomas Restaurants can be easily accessed along Talbot Street. There’s also a convenient cycle trail for those exploring St Thomas by bike.
We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the St Thomas Ontario Restaurants. You’ll find vegan and vegetarian items on most menus, cute cafes serving loose leaf tea and fair trade coffee, bakeries that locals line up for, pretty patios, fresh suds poured at 2 craft breweries and the flavours of international cuisine such as Middle Eastern, Thai and Japanese.
600 Talbot St, 519-637-1567
Andy and Peter Lerikos first opened Legends Tavern in June, 1998.
Andy shared, “I was inspired by my childhood passion to own my own restaurant as I grew up working in one. The name comes from the look and feel that we tried to create as a sports bar. We were going for a nostalgic look that plays homage to legendary people.”
There have been many businesses operating where the historic building now sits, dating back to the early 1900’s. There was a general store that was owned and operated by Eatons. There was a hotel there at one time called The Drake. There were numerous gas stations and rail yards. The existing building that stands today was erected in 1985 as a restaurant.
So what’s the vibe at Legend’s Tavern? “Our inspiration came from being located in historic downtown St. Thomas. We hired local interior design firm Creative Build. The look that we were trying to achieve and the part that I love the most is our front vestibule area. We created a look of age to try to fit into the historic downtown and really believe that we achieved that with our entrance,” said Andy.
The casual St Thomas restaurant seats 180 indoor guests and features a spacious 140 seat outdoor patio. Sports fans love the popular pub thanks to its 26 big screen TVs.
Over the years the restaurant has won numerous Spirit Awards through MyFM radio station in St. Thomas such as Best Wings, Best Burger and Best Patio over the last 15 years.
Wag your finger down the menu and you’ll find classic sports bar pub grub offering large portions at great value. Enjoy a local taste of St Thomas by sipping a pint of craft beer produced by Railway City or Caps Off.
159 Ross St, 519-207-4060
Genevieve Scarfone opened Seed Confections, a chocolate shop and sweets store, in 2017.
Scarfone shared, “After completing culinary school, I travelled around Canada working in various pastry jobs, before moving to Vancouver in 2009 to work at a chocolate shop. I have now been a chocolatier for more than 10 years and absolutely love getting to work with chocolate everyday!”
With no one in St Thomas offering the types of chocolates and confections Scarfone loves to make, she realized it was time to launch a sweet business.
“Since the main focus was chocolate, I wanted to pay homage to cocoa before it’s chocolate. Chocolate, made from cocoa beans, is actually the seed inside the cocoa pod. To work with chocolate it needs to be tempered. One of the three tempering methods is called seeding, a process that incorporates chocolate pieces into melted chocolate to help cool down the temperature. Seeds are also the beginning of something new, the start of growth,” saidScarfone.
Skip inside Seed Confections and you’ll find yourself inside a historic building first constructed in 1890. The cozy interiors simple and clean design lines offer a pop of panache against Scarfone’s multicoloured bonbons and macarons.
“Our food philosophy is making all treats from scratch and ensuring we use as many local producers for ingredients as possible. So if you have our hot chocolate bombs, we made those marshmallows in house. We separate eggs to make our own ice cream, grow mint to be included in Macarons, and hand paint every Bonbon that leaves the building,” shared Scarfone.
The celebrated St Thomas chocolatier has a penchant for supporting other local food businesses, “We love using fresh fruit and berries from Howe’s Family Farm. We also have done many collaborations with local businesses using their products and making it into something new. These include Clovermead Adventure Farm, Sparta Lavender Farm, Railway City Brewing, Capps Off Brewing, and Charlie’s Cafe.”
If it’s your first visit to St Thomas Scarfone suggests sampling her signature bonbons and French macarons. “We change the flavours weekly and offer seasonal flavours as well as unique creations. In the past we have even offered creative flavours like dill pickle and butter chicken.”
767 Talbot St, 519-631-0999
Maria Fiallos first opened Streamliners Espresso Bar in downtown St Thomas, Ontario in Spring, 2017.
Fiallos shared, “I was inspired to open Streamliners Espresso Bar because in our small town there isn’t anywhere that was brewing specialty coffee. I have two other businesses one is Aroma Nica, which is responsible for importing the coffee from my home country of Nicaragua and my other business Las Chicas Del Cafe is where the beans are roasted.”
The three coffee businesses allow Fiallos to be involved in all elements of production. “Streamliners allows me to brew the beans the way they are meant to be treated, our baristas are responsible for showing the hard work of our growers, ” said Fiallos.
The name Streamliners, comes from the rich railway history of St. Thomas. Streamliners were trains that traveled through St. Thomas in the 1930s and 40s. They were seen as modern locomotives at the time because of their modern design, metal and aluminum exteriors.
The St Thomas coffee shop is located in a historic building that is over 100 years old. It’s original use was a bakery and flour mill. Skip inside Streamliners Espresso Bar and you’ll find beautiful exposed bricks, large windows, antique schoolhouse light fixtures and many antique furniture. During the warmer months of the year guests can sip a hot cup of coffee or tea on a front and back patio.
Beyond the traditional coffee shop drink menu, Streamliners offers unique and creative beverage options like The Frontiersman, prepared with local apple cider and cherry syrup.
Once a month the St Thomas cafe serves a traditional Nicaraguan Breakfast featuring gallo pinto, chorizo, plantains, nacatamales, salsa and cabbage salad.
779 Talbot St, 519-631-2830
The Fritter Shop in downtown St Thomas is owned by Kelvin Van Rijn. It’s a offshoot of his parents bakery, The Dutch Bakery, which they opened in 2002, shortly after immigrating to Ontario from Holland.
Van Rijn launched The Fritter Shop in 2016 as an homage to the Dutch tradition of apple fritters, also known as appelflappen. “This delicacy is traditionally only eaten to celebrate the coming of the New Year in The Netherlands. My dad made these apple fritters one year in his bakery. I was working in the bakery at the time and saw how excited people were for this product. The idea immediately sparked that maybe we could sell it all year round and make a variety of different flavours. I was 16 at the time so my dad wanted me to wait and get a post-secondary education first. So I took Business Marketing at Fanshawe College. I graduated in December of 2015 and started the business in January of 2016,” saidVan Rijn.
The Fritter Shop is a great spot to grab a sweet midday snack or takeout dessert to enjoy with friends or family at home. You can enjoy a taste of authentic Dutch baking or indulge in the pastry shops creative flavours such as brownie fritters, cherry cheesecake fritters and strawberry-rhubarb fritters.
Visitors to The Fritter Shop can watch pastry chefs prepare fresh Dutch apple fritters while enjoying a view of the town’s historic old train station across the street.
Dessert lovers can enjoy a local taste of the region thanks to The Fritter Shops partnership with local apple orchard in Blenheim, Del Haven Apple Orchard.
Exploring restaurants in St Thomas Ontario for the first time? Van Rijn suggests ordering, “Our best selling item is our classic apple fritter. It’s a slice of local apple, filled with our signature custard and wrapped in our handmade pastry dough. The fritter is then fried and tossed in a cinnamon sugar. Best served warm. This is why we deep fry fritters fresh throughout the day because as many of our customers will tell you, they are best served hot.”
644 Talbot St, 519-631-3202
Ryk and Lisa Snetselaar are the owners of Your Fish & Chips.
The duo took over the restaurant in 2005 from Ryk’s parents Bill and Elizabeth Snetselaar.
Your Fish & Chips first opened in 1960. Ryk shared, “My grandparents Ryk and Johanna Snetselaar bought an existing fish and chip restaurant and fresh fish market located at 644 Talbot Street in St Thomas. They immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands along with their 4 children in 1953. After working at different jobs my grandparents decided to become business owners. I think Your Fish & Chips is the longest continuously run restaurant in St Thomas!”
Ryk had worked at the restaurant part time after school and decided to continue working full-time after graduating high school. He’s now been working at the popular St Thomas restaurant for over 35 years!
Visit Your Fish & Chips in St Thomas and you’ll find a keystone marker at the front of the building dating the property to 1886. The local history books indicate the space has been used as a laundry service and a few different restaurants over the years.
The bright and airy restaurant was renovated in 1977. It still is the same layout with a few different paint schemes over the years. The decor was to be made to look like a seaside port with boating accents. Heavy roping is used around the walls along with barn board like panelling.
The Your Fish & Chips menu is short and sweet. Guests can order 1 or 2 pieces of fried fish with fries or bread. Available beverages include soft drinks, water, milk, apple juice, coffee and tea.
130 Edward St, 519-631-1881
Railway City Brewing first opened in downtown St Thomas in 2008.
The original location of the popular craft brewery was on Curtis Street, which is now where Caps Off Brewery is now located. Railway City Brewing has since moved to a larger space on Edward Street in a former tool and die shop.
Railway City Brewing’s Paul Corriveau, VP Sales & Marketing shared, “Everything we do here at Railway City Brewing is aimed to commemorate and pay tribute to the rich history of St Thomas. We are so proud of our town and wanted to make great craft beer for the hard-working people in it to enjoy. Since then, we’ve been able to expand and share a piece of the Railway City with people all over Ontario and Manitoba.”
Skip inside the St Thomas brewery and you’ll find a large indoor taproom and a spacious outdoor patio. “Most of our interior design is repurposed or reclaimed materials, all DIY’d by our owners and staff themselves. Our vision is to create a warm, inviting environment that people can consider a second home. There’s nothing better than posting up on the couch with a cold one after a long day’s work and we wanted to make the brewery feel just like that. Our favourite design elements are our concrete bar in the taproom and our abundance of chalkboard walls that allow our staff to bring their own creativity into the space to advertise to our awesome customers,” said Corriveau.
Wag your finger down the Railway City Brewing menu and you’ll find a chef and brewmaster dedicated to celebrating local flavours. “From honey sourced at local apiaries to the hops and grains that go into the beer to the fresh ingredients on our pizzas. Whenever possible, locally sourced is our go to,” addedCorriveau.
The brewery has partnered with many local farms and producers over the years. Some beers have featured locally grown hops (VQH Farms), local honey (Clovermead Apiaries), wildflowers (Wildflower Farms), strawberries (Howe’s Family Farm), and other fruit when seasonally available.
As of summer 2020, Railway City Brewing started to incorporate seasonally inspired craft beer cocktails onto the menu. In the Fall for example, they’ve we’ve got a Copper Caramel Apple (using Iron Spike Copper Ale) and a Black Coal Stout Float (using Black Coal Stout).
If you’re a craft beer lover looking for the best St Thomas Ontario Restaurants be sure to stop in to Railway City Brewing for a fresh pint and sampling of shareable apps and gourmet pizzas.
310 Wellington St, 519-633-8181
Country Charm Cafe a breakfast and lunch restaurant owned by Raymond Gocan and Amanda Zavitz-Gocan.
The duo have opened the popular brunch restaurant in St Thomas for over 20 years.
“We were inspired to open the business because we had worked and met at a restaurant in our teens and my husband Raymond went to culinary school. We always thought we might own a restaurant one day and then my husband was laid off from Sterling, the truck manufacturer, we needed a new plan,” saidZavitz-Gocan.
The St Thomas Ontario restaurant’s name, Country Charm Cafe, is perfect suited to the space. The casual family-friendly restaurant offers guests an old-school diner aesthetic and homestyle country vibe that is charming.
Zavitz-Gocan added, “Our interior design is centered around farm and country motifs. The interior features chickens, roosters, cows, and a lot of antiques that are related to farming.”
Country Charm Cafe’s food philosophy is homestyle and farm to table. “We try to buy as local as we can and most of our food is homemade in house. We serve comfort food and are most famous for our peameal bacon that is sliced think like pork chops,” saidZavitz-Gocan.
Country Charm Cafe has been been awarded best breakfast menu in a local survey of St Thomas Ontario Restaurants.
The family friendly restaurant is popular with local seniors as many of the dishes can be ordered in small or large portion sizes.
168 Curtis St, 519-860-8446
Angela Player is the owner of From The Vines, which is located in downtown St Thomas beside Caps Off Brewing.
From The Vines received its liquor license March 18, 2020, and began offering curbside pickup May 9, 2020. Player was able to open the doors in June 2020 when patio and inside dining were allowed.
From The Vines is located in a building that has played home to numerous businesses over the past 80 years. One of the stores was the O.E Jennings service Station from 1924-1950. Moore Tire Company Limited was in this space as well 1950-1955. Other businesses include: The Waterbed Place, The Party Place, Wine Kitz, and the Steam Centre.
What inspired Player to launch From The Vines?
“We all set our path of what we want to do for a career and mine always was to open a business. I have always loved the diversity of wines and enjoy the social aspect of wine sampling. Opening a wine bar was something unique. My extensive experience in retail and sales made this a very attractive option for me. Being able to sell something you are both knowledgeable and passionate about makes the job so much more rewarding,” said Player.
Are you an oenophile researching the bestrestaurants in St Thomas Ontario? From The Vines offers a charming interior and seasonal outdoor patio perfect for visiting wine aficionados.
Player added, “Our vision was to create an upscale space where guests could enjoy a more personal experience. With deep colour schemes drawn from the earthy products we sell, a comforting and relaxed space has been provided. Our Venetian plaster feature wall is a favourite accent that patrons appreciate. The addition of a semi-private seating lounge, including sofas and accent lighting, makes it a perfect space for a meeting with clients or a special night with friends.”
We suggest visiting From The Vines for a wine tasting while nibbling on appetizers influenced by the flavours of France and Spain. Highlights include Cheese & Charcuterie Board, Bruschetta, Olive Tapenade and Artichoke Spinach Dip.
“We specialize in exclusive imported wines from around the world. We also create familiar cocktails with our own custom twists. We do carry a number of select exclusive VQA products from the Niagara region as well. The vast majority of our product is not available in LCBO stores,” said Player.
43 Ross St, 519-207-0345
Looking for St Thomas Ontario restaurants serving exotic flavours?
Shebaz’s Shawarma and Falafel first opened its doors in 2016 as a small takeout joint in Port Stanley. The business later expanded into a larger space when it moved to St Thomas in 2019.
Co-owner Doris Chordekar shared, “Gabriel always wanted to be in the food industry, when we moved to Port Stanley from the GTA in 2014 we realized our dream to open a small restaurant can be fulfilled here, and we also learned that people were ready to try something new. Gabriel comes from a family who have been in this industry forever, his grandmother was well known in our community for her delicious food and she used to run a home catering business. Gabriel used to deliver these orders on his bicycle in his teenage years and at that time decided that one day he was going to have his own restaurant.”
Gabriel’s long awaited dream is inspired by his mother and also named after her.
Since the couple are from Tel Aviv and Mumbai, the menu is inspired by both famous foodie destinations. The core of the menu features Middle Eastern dishes such as Shawarma Fries, Falafel, Beef Kebab and Hummus. You’ll also find Indian inspirations in creative dishes like Samosa, Butter Chicken Fries and Mumbai Fish Fry.
168 Curtis St, 519-207-0243
Rick and Fran Dunseith launched Caps Off Brewing in April, 2019.
The business technically started over a decade ago, when Fran started fermenting vegetables and tea as Rick began getting creative with home brewing.
Fran shared, “Like most homebrewers, Rick took over the kitchen but quickly got kicked out to the basement and then to the garage. We continued to brew and experiment with different styles and flavours. Friends who visited our home kept pushing us to open a craft brewery but we couldn’t see how a young family of 6 could do it. What started as a dream, seemed impossible but before long seemed inevitable. We had to do this!”
The St Thomas craft brewery’s name was suggested by a good family friend, since Rick always wears hats. “I often say maybe we should have called it Caps On. We set the Caps Off name aside and went through hundreds of names but kept coming back to Caps Off because of it has many other meanings; cap off your beer, cap (hats) off to the chef or in this case, the brewer. It stuck and we are so glad it did because we love it!” said Fran.
Visit Caps Off Brewing and you’ll find a cozy interior and year round outdoor patio. The interior design of the brewery was inspired by a trip the family took out west. “Our bar back is actually an old door from the Sutherland Press building that was torn down in St. Thomas a few years ago,” added Fran.
The brewery and its kitchen focus on highlighting seasonal and local ingredients. Hops are sourced from VQH farms and Happy Hour Hopyard, fruit is purchased from Howe’s Market and Great Lakes Farms. Fran shared, “We also carry local products like Carmichaels meats, and Gunn’s Hill Cheese from nearby Oxford County, which we use on our charcuterie boards. The soft pretzels we have on our menu are made locally at Seed Confections. The accompanying mustard is made in house with our beer!”
The St Thomas Brewery features a selection of craft beer cocktails as well as the unique Beerch, a mix of their beer and Booch Kombucha from London.
If you’re feeling peckish, Caps Off Brewing offers a short but sweet pub-style menu featuring homemade potato chips, charcuterie boards, soft pretzels, salsa and nachos, sandwiches and baked brie. Guests are also welcome to bring in take out food from any local St Thomas restaurants.
392 Talbot St, 519-637-2287
Hungry for delicious Asian take out while eating your way through the best St Thomas Ontario Restaurants?
James Issara and his family opened Le Cafe Siam over 15 years ago so it’s now an icon in the local culinary community.
Issara shared, “We bought the building when it was Rosie’s. The old greasy spoon diner was a landmark before we purchased it.”
Skip inside Le Cafe Siam and you’ll be transported to Thailand. “The red beams and gold hand-painted ceiling are usually found in temple and royal estates in Thailand. We also have a lot of relics and antiques we brought to Canada from Thailand,” said Issara.
The menu is prepared for locals who prefer a milder heat but if you enjoy spicy food ask the kitchen to add chili to make your taste buds tingle!
10 Manitoba Street, 519-317-3398
The Horton Farmers Market was established in 1878 and has served as a hub for local farmers and the St Thomas community since it opened.
The market is named after Ed Horton, a former mayor of St. Thomas who donated land for the market site. For a century the market played a pivotal role in community life and was a hub for regional bounty, from land and lake.
The St Thomas market accommodates up to 50 vendors. New this year is the addition of the Geerlinks Home Hardware outdoor seating area.
Horton Farmers Market is a producer based market, meaning vendors must only offer products they’ve grown, enhanced or hand crafted. “We strive to keep our products and produce local. Most vendors are from within a 60 km radius of the market. We offer the very best our region has to offer – from fresh produce, meats, cheese, canned goods, baked goods, fish, flowers, VQA wine, craft beer and hand crafted artisan products,” said Vicki Asher, Horton Market Manager.
If it’s your first visit to Horton Farmers Market we suggest arriving hungry and ready to eat! Favourite food vendors that are on our must-try list include Lotus Thai, J Bogal Foods for pierogi, La Houlette de Vie Bakery, The Welsh Baker and Our Fields Farm for fresh produce, preserves and prepared spreads and dips.
The popular St Thomas food market is licensed so visitors can also enjoy boozy sips from local craft breweries and Quai du Vin Estate Winery.
877 Talbot St, 519-207-4496
Chat with local foodies in St Thomas and they’ll quickly gush over their love for new kid on the block, Plaza Sushi.
Chef Minsoo Lee and Max Qui launched the popular St Thomas sushi restaurant in 2021 and quickly became the talk of the town.
Plaza Sushi’s mission is focused on fresh ingredients and sharing elevated takes on traditional sushi. Japanese food lovers can expect a comprehensive menu featuring creative sushi rolls, classic sashimi, traditional soup, noodles, bao, poke and Kyoto-style okonomiyaki.
437 Talbot St, 519-637-6247
Bella Jacks is located in the heart of downtown St. Thomas on Talbot Street.
Bella Jacks first opened in 2004 and is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.
The bustling dining room features 4-top seating as well as comfy booths overlooking a fireplace. The bar is located by the front door and offers premixed margaritas and imported Mexican beer.
Highlights from the Bella Jacks menu include tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, nachos and quesadillas.
9 Princess Ave, 519-633-9393
Old School Pizza Co opened in December, 2020 in downtown St. Thomas near Legends Tavern.
The brainchild of Paul and Krista Minnich, Old School Pizza Co is truly a family business as their older children can be found helping out around the restaurant.
The family have been making wood-fired pizzas for years and love the added layer the cooking method adds to a universally beloved Italian food.
Skip into Old School Pizza Co and you’ll find two wood fired pizza ovens and a casual dining room.
The menu offers fresh salads and specialty pizza menus organized by themes like “Classics, Veggie Vare, Show Stoppers and Best in Class.”
Specialty diets are easily accommodated thanks to gluten free and cauliflower crusts.
546 Talbot St, 519-207-4546
Mr & Mrs Bao describes its menu as “Asian fusion comfort food on-the-go.”
The popular Asian take out restaurant in St. Thomas is part of a family of Mr & Mrs Bao’s, with sister locations operating in Vaughan and London.
Skip inside the quick service restaurant and you’ll find a menu featuring creative baos, rice bowls, ramen noodles, and dumplings.
625 Talbot St, 519-633-6461
The Bistro is one of the most popular family-friendly St Thomas Ontario restaurants.
The simply titled restaurant features a massive dining room and exposed brick bar.
The Bistro was formerly The Beanery, a local sandwich shop. In 2014 the new owners transformed the space into the casual and friendly local restaurant it is today.
The Bistro’s lengthy menu offers classic North American dishes such as salads, burgers, flatbread, wraps, melts, steaks, poutine, chicken fingers, onion rings, sweet potato fries, pork ribs, cheesy garlic bread and pasta.
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