A Local's Guide On Where To Eat in Stratford, Ontario
Updated: Aug 25
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If you’re planning a trip to Stratford, Ontario then chances are you’ll want to know about its food scene. In recent years, Stratford’s culinary prowess has grown tenfold, and it’s now a very popular destination in Ontario for both lovers of the arts and foodies. What’s great about the restaurants in Stratford is that there is a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, so there really is something for everyone. From French bistros to upscale lounges to cozy pubs, restaurants in Stratford come in all forms.
Having not been home to Stratford for a few years, I’ve noticed quite a few changes in terms of the food scene here. Many of the restaurants and cafes that I used to frequent are no longer in operation, but luckily they’ve been replaced by some fantastic alternatives. As you make your way around downtown Stratford, don’t forget to explore the side streets because you may just find some hidden gems there as well. Here are my top tips for where to eat in Stratford, Ontario whether this is your first time here or you’re a frequent visitor.
El Cactus Taco Shop
Have you ever tried Mexican street food before? If not, then you’re in for a treat at El Cactus Taco Shop. I would definitely rank this among the top 10 restaurants in Stratford, with its farm-to-table approach to Mexican takeaway food. El Cactus Taco Shop features traditional Mexican recipes using local and seasonal produce and ingredients as much as possible. The tacos here are delicious, but you can also opt for burritos or a burrito bowl if you prefer. All are equally as tasty so you won’t be disappointed. They also have various flavours of margaritas available so if you want the full experience at El Cactus Taco Shop then you need to order one. If you visit in the summer, there’s a lovely outdoor patio where you can sit and enjoy your food.
At the top of the list of the best takeaway restaurants in Stratford is Sirkel Foods. This isn’t your standard takeaway restaurant though. Sirkel Foods offers freshly prepared meals during the week, including breakfast, lunch, and tasty baked goods. They have their everyday menu that includes all of their most popular options, but they also bring out a daily specials board every morning which can have anything from loaded mac n’ cheese to fancy salads based around seasonal ingredients. With the expansion of the pedestrianized area in Market Square, you can enjoy your Sirkel Foods order on one of the picnic tables across the road (if the weather is nice). If you like a good, hearty sandwich then you can’t go wrong with the Brittlestar!
Bijou Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Stratford, Ontario and is almost always fully booked, especially when the Stratford Festival is on. Luckily we were able to book a much coveted table just before the rush started. Bijou is a French-inspired bistro offering a farm-to-table seasonal menu. It really is a culinary gem in Stratford, and the flavours whipped up by the chef will blow you away.
To begin we started with the Peas and Parmesan which had a bit of a kick to it but was bursting with flavour. We also tried their new Cantaloupe & Succor which was a very refreshing version of a summer salad that included cucumbers, field tomatoes, and soft lemon goat milk cheese. The Mushroom Risotto falls under the shareables part of the menu, but if you’re feeling hungry it’s a good portion for one person. The blue glaze on top of the maitake mushroom was unlike anything I’ve ever tried and has made me want to make that at home in the future!
The Blackview Farms Bavette is another great main dish to order. The meat was cooked to tender perfection and paired beautifully with the accompaniments. For dessert we shared the Chocolate Terrine which was topped with peanuts, and it was the ideal way to finish the meal off. Bijou use all local suppliers to create their phenomenal dishes, so dining here is a great way to support locals from further afield while tucking in to some incredible food.
When people ask me where to eat in Stratford, Ontario I tend to say Pazzo’s. This Italian restaurant is located on Ontario Street, and their menu uses locally sourced ingredients and focuses on producers who support sustainable practices. Pazzo Pizzeria is located downstairs, with Café Bouffon located above it, and it offers a tranquil setting away from the noise of the main street. On Friday’s they offer ½ price build-your-own pizzas, so if you’re planning on visiting I would recommend going on a Friday to save some money. They do have other dishes on the menu besides pizza though, but can you say no to a freshly made stone baked pizza?
Ice cream is great, but gelato is a little better, which is why I’d recommend stopping at Angela’s Gelato for a break. You’ll find Angela’s Gelato across the street from the Avon Theatre on Downie Street, and in my opinion it’s miles better than Scooper’s Ice Cream. This small gelato shop currently offers 8 flavours of gelato that come from a local supplier, and these flavours change regularly based on what’s available and what’s popular during the season. The mixture of chocolate hazelnut and raspberry is really good! Before leaving, make sure you grab some of their freshly squeezed lemonade too which is made right in front of you.
This one is an obvious choice because if you’ve been to Stratford before then you’ll either have been to Bentley’s or noticed that it’s always very busy. This popular bar in Stratford serves a huge selection of comfort food, and has probably the largest menu in the city. I’ve been coming to Bentley’s since I was a child, and the majority of the menu hasn’t changed much, so my favourites are still on it! Bentley’s isn’t fine dining, but it’s definitely comfort food at its best.
The Livery Yard
A lot of new cafes have popped up around Stratford since I was last home, and one of these is The Livery Yard. It’s a beautiful modern café and coffee bar with a wide selection of coffees, refreshing drinks, and baked goods available. Although I don’t drink coffee, I decided to stop by to see what kind of food they had, and was left pleasantly surprised with their cinnamon bun. The Livery Yard is a nice spot to stop for a short break as you make your way around the downtown area.
The third location of Lady Glaze is officially thriving in Stratford, serving up a unique variety of doughnuts and tasty milkshakes. They have everything from traditional flavours such as Vanilla Bean Sprinkle to funky seasonal flavours like Strawberry Sundae and Blueberry Fritter. What’s great about this doughnut shop in Stratford is that their ingredients are locally sourced and the doughnuts are baked fresh daily. If you’re spending 48 hours in Stratford, I would recommend coming here before you leave town and grabbing yourself a box of doughnuts to take on the road with you. It’s nice to treat yourself to a sweet treat every once in a while.
If you’re on the hunt for some fine dining in Stratford, Ontario then you need to check out Rockwell Lounge - Stratford’s latest restaurant. Rockwell Lounge is an upscale lounge and wine bar, with an incredible seasonal menu whipped up by some of the best chefs in Ontario, as well as a fantastic cocktail menu brought to you by their in-house mixologist. If you can’t decide on where to eat in Stratford, I couldn’t recommend Rockwell Lounge enough.
The Wild Mushrooms Flatbread is delicious, sprinkled with Parmigiano and truffle, and is the perfect way to start your evening after ordering drinks. The Pappardelle is the current vegetarian option on the menu and is full of flavour and fresh tasty ingredients. The portion is quite large for fine dining, so make sure you arrive with an empty stomach. I tried the Cornish Hen which was beautifully presented and accompanied by an onion jus, pomme puree, and seasonal vegetables. It was my first time trying this dish and I was left pleasantly surprised at how nice the Cornish Hen tasted and how well the flavours blended together. The desserts vary so the waiter will inform you about what’s available at the end of your main course.
Rockwell Lounge is the perfect restaurant in Stratford to spend your evening at, with the modern decor and relaxed ambiance blending together seamlessly to create an evening you won’t soon forget. It’s also located in the heart of downtown Stratford, so you won’t have to walk far to get back to wherever you’re staying.
If you want a cool place to eat in Stratford then you should head over to The HUB and dine on the only three season rooftop patio in town. Their menu is a slightly more modern twist on pub food, and each of their dishes can be paired with a local craft beer from Heritage Hops Brew Co. located next door. I had a very hard time choosing because there were so many options I liked! We started with their grilled Garlic Cheese Bread and ordered a couple of cocktails from their drinks menu. If you’re in the mood for a burger I would recommend the Crispy Chicken Burger which is loaded with tasty toppings and will definitely fill you up for the rest of the day. For vegetarians, the Falafel Wrap is the perfect lunch option and comes with fries on the side. Check out The HUB the next time you’re in Stratford!
Heritage Hops Brew Co.
For all you beer lovers out there, you can’t miss the opportunity to have a couple of drinks at Heritage Hops Brew Co. in downtown Stratford. This heritage-inspired brewery offers a mixture of traditional beers as well as seasonal flavours that are sure to get your taste buds working. There’s even a sour beer to try out! We sampled two of their beer flights which included 4 of their most popular beers. We also added their Meat and Cheese Platter to our order which is the perfect pairing for the beers. It included various local meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables, as well as some slices of freshly baked bread. It’s a great spot for lunch in Stratford if you fancy some beers and want to chill out in a unique setting.
If you’re not from Stratford then you may not have come across Madelyn’s Diner since it’s not located in the downtown area. However, if you’re from town then chances are you know all about this hidden gem in Stratford. Madelyn’s Diner is a family owned diner serving up a big selection of Canadian cuisine, including its award-winning fish and chips. It’s a very popular diner in Stratford for breakfast, but is equally as visited for lunch as well, and is one of the best places to eat in Stratford, Ontario if you want to go where the locals go.
There are many more fantastic locally run restaurants and cafes located in and around Stratford to choose from, so hopefully I’ll be able to add more to my list of where to eat in Stratford, Ontario the next time I’m home. Whether you visit Stratford in the summertime and can enjoy sitting out on the various patios, or you visit in the winter, many restaurants work with a seasonal menu so you can expect only the freshest and in-season ingredients in your dishes.
Have you had the chance to dine in Stratford before? I’d love to hear what you thought about the food and if any more restaurants should be added to my local’s guide on where to eat in Stratford, Ontario. Don't forget to check out my guide on the top things to do in Stratford and free things to do in Stratford too. You can also follow me on Instagram for more local travel tips!