Kingston, Ontario is one of those cities that I always end up stopping in on my way to another place, and always end up saying, I need to come back here! I was in desperate need of a winter staycation, and I decided to finally make Kingston my destination…and I already can’t wait to go back.
Where to Stay
Kingston isn’t too far from Toronto, just a 2.5 hour drive. We stayed in the ultra modern Delta Waterfront hotel, perched right by the water.
The room was spacious and comfortable, and I loved staring out at the view of frozen Lake Ontario!
The Delta was a convenient location, because everything that we needed was within walking distance.
We immediately headed out to experience Lumina Borealis. This amazing festival features interactive light shows at historic Fort Henry. It was a magical experience. Everything was lit up with beautiful animations and thematic music. It was an incredibly cold night, but worth every moment.
After, we went to Le Chien Noir, a French bistro serving up classic dishes. We tucked into warm bowls of French Onion soup and rich desserts.
The next morning, we head out and grabbed breakfast at the charming Common Market, where I had one of the best breakfast sandwiches that I’ve ever consumed.
I had a Montreal bagel with Seed to Sausage bacon (omg, so good) and cheddar cheese. It was probably too hearty of a breakfast for our planned activity, but I had no regrets.
Kingston Food Tour
There’s no better way to discover a city’s food scene than to embark on a food tour. We did the Classic Kingston Tour. Our tour guide was super friendly and took us to our little group to several delicious spots, while telling us about the history of Kingston.
Did you know that Kingston used to be the capital of Ontario, from 1841 to 1844? I had no idea!
Our first stop was Dianne’s Fish Shack & Smokehouse. Dianne was the owners late mother, and her photo hangs in the restaurant. She was from the Canadian east coast, and loved the ocean. The restaurant is dedicated in her memory and also incorporates their love of Baja Mexico and east coast living.
We started off our meal with a fantastic margarita (made with two different types of tequila, fresh lime juice and simple syrup.) If this is your drink of choice, they serve up 32 different types of tequila!
Next was the main event…fish tacos! Served atop two soft corn tortillas, haddock is beer battered in a local beer called McKinnon Brothers and is topped with salsa roja and an avocado crema. This was a fantastic fish taco. One of the people on the tour with us was from England, and he had never had a fish taco before. He loved it.
We visited out Pan Chancho Bakery, a bakery and cafe using high quality ingredients to make fresh bread, pastries and gourmet meals. We had our samples in the kitchen, with rows of custom made breads waiting for pick up, which I thought was pretty cool. We tasted a sandwich on a housemade baguette with summer sausage from the Mennonite community, mustard and a two year old Quebec cheddar. Canada produces over 90% of the world mustard seeds. Who knew?
For dessert, we had a bite of Chômeur Cake, a traditional French Canadian dessert. Maple syrup is in the base of cake the pan, soaks up the cake batter as it bakes and becomes caramelized. Yum.
At Olivea Restaurant, we had some hearty Italian food. The owners were inspired to open up this restaurant by a trip to Florence, Italy. To keep the love of Italy alive in their staff, they have an amazing tradition. Every year, the restaurant shuts down for a week and all the employees (who have worked here for more than a year) are treated to a trip to Florence. Isn’t that amazing?
Speaking of amazing, the small bites that we had of their pasta was just that. Beef cheek ragu over house made gnocchi. House made gnocci is topped with beef cheek that has been braised for 7 hours in red wine, shallots, garlic and celery. To finish, the dish is drizzled with truffle oil and shaved Parmesan. We were feeling incredibly full after this…but weren’t done yet.
Next, we headed to Atomica for a unique pizza. The head chef is from Nova Scotia, and has added a unique pizza as a nod to her hometown. Donair Pizza features instead of tomato sauce, there’s a sweet garlic sauce with fresh mozzarella, red onions, tomatoes, arugula and housemade Donair meat. The flavours went together really well, and it’s a combination that I haven’t seen before.
At Tango Neuvo, I loved the romantic vibe of the restaurant and the attention to detail.This was especially evident in their private dining room, La Bogdea. This cozy room is soundproof and beautifully decorated. The Chef will create a custom 8 course tasting menu for the private dining group. The room also has an exclusive wine list.
The dish that we tried here was one of my favourites. This warm flaky Turkish pastry is called Borek, and it’s filled with feta cheese, cheddar, parsley with olive tapenade. It was so good!
After this food tour, we needed a little bit of a break before embarking on our evening adventure. We took in some late night music at Musikkicafe,a cool bar/cafe with a small space upstairs for live music.
Then we hung out and played scrabble downstairs in the cafe, before heading to the Delta for some much needed sleep. We barely scratched the surface during our weekend in Kingston. There’s so much to see and explore. I recommend checking Kingston out if you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway, that’s not too far from Toronto. Thanks to Visit Kingston for helping me with my trip!