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Hamilton’s culinary time machine

Taking in the service, ambience and food at the city’s many historic restaurants allows diners to step back in time.

In the vibrant city of Hamilton, some culinary journeys are not just a delightful experience; they are a step back in time through the doors of classic restaurants that have stood the test of time. Hamilton's rich history is tastefully preserved in its diverse gastronomic landscape, where iconic eateries transport patrons to eras gone by. From the timeless charm of family-owned diners to the elegant ambiance of historic fine-dining establishments, each restaurant in Hamilton tells a story of tradition and culinary excellence. Nostalgia comes alive as you savour the flavours of carefully crafted recipes that have been passed down through generations, creating a dining experience that transcends the present. These classic establishments not only serve delectable dishes but also provide a nostalgic escape, inviting patrons to immerse themselves in the timeless allure of Hamilton's culinary past. Let’s dive in and discover just some of these historic establishments.

Coach and Lantern

Nestled in the heart of Ancaster's historic village within a 200-year-old stone building, the Coach and Lantern stands as a unique and irreplaceable gem. This remarkable pub, a true embodiment of British charm, seamlessly combines a historic setting with a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Offering not only great food and exceptional beer but also a community gathering place. The Coach and Lantern is housed within a building with a compelling history that dates to the late 1700s. Originally constructed in this era, the building endured a fire but was rebuilt around 1823. Remarkably, it now stands as the third-oldest building in Ancaster, a proof to its enduring presence in this ancient Ontario community, which ranks as the third-oldest in the province after Kingston and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Steeped in historical significance, the building served as a site for sentencing traitors in 1812, marking a chilling chapter in its past. Around 1870, the establishment transformed into the Union Hotel, later evolving into the Traitor's Court before ultimately becoming the beloved Coach and Lantern pub. With its roots traced back to 1832 when it was constructed for George Rousseaux, the building highlights a blend of architectural history, with the front dating from 1832 and the rear added around 1860 after a fire. The adjoining structure, now part of the Coach and Lantern, was once the stables for the hotel. While not the site of the Bloody Assize held in 1814, this Coach and Lantern location remains a living relic, connecting patrons to the storied past of Ancaster and its enduring architectural legacy. The Coach and Lantern is more than just a dining destination; it is an experience steeped in history and hospitality. The venerable stone building provides a picturesque backdrop to the pub's authentic character, making it a cherished establishment that captures the essence of both tradition and community.
Coach and  Lantern is located at 384 Wilson St E.

Shakespeare's Steak and Seafood

Established in 1969 by the visionary 26-year-old Italian immigrant, Franco Putignano, in the heart of a steel-town, the restaurant has become a cherished symbol of fine dining in Hamilton. Back in 2019, Shakespeare’s celebrated a significant milestone – 50 years since Putignano took that bold leap of faith on Oct. 7, 1969. At the time, he had just married and was embarking on a new chapter in his life, unaware of the future that awaited him. With passion and unwavering dedication, Putignano turned Shakespeare's into a beacon of culinary excellence. Putignano, the head chef, has not only created a renowned establishment but also instilled in his family the values of perseverance and the pursuit of dreams. Stepping into Shakespeare's restaurant feels like a nostalgic journey through time, where the rich ambiance, adorned with lots of wood, warmly beckons patrons to a bygone era of timeless elegance and classic charm. 
Shakespeare’s Steak and Seafood is located at 181 Main St E.

The Innsville 

The Innsville, one of last true inns in the Golden Horseshoe, was established during the golden age of inns, when the road from Hamilton wound lazily through quaint burrows along the Niagara Peninsula to the iconic Niagara Falls, The Innsville stands as a nostalgic spot for travellers seeking respite. Hospitality has been the cornerstone of The Innsville since its inception, and over six decades, this philosophy has not only endured but has evolved to offer a diverse range of services. In a nod to the golden age of inns, the ambiance at The Innsville exudes warmth and comfort, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a more unhurried time. From the welcoming smiles of the servers to the enticing menu, featuring award-winning prime rib, fresh oysters, pickerel and cod, and AAA steaks, The Innsville remains a timeless retreat where the spirit of genuine hospitality lives on.
The Innsville is located at 1143 Hamilton Regional Rd 8, Stoney Creek

Corktown Irish Pub

Nestled in the heart of Hamilton, the Corktown Irish Pub stands as living proof of the city's rich history, proudly holding the title of Hamilton's oldest licensed establishment and live music venue. With a legacy spanning over 80 years, the Corktown has been a cherished platform for both local and international talent, hosting a variety of musical experiences within its walls. Beyond its legendary status, the pub boasts a culinary journey with a modern menu, carefully curated with locally sourced ingredients. As patrons step into the Corktown, they not only embrace the vibrant atmosphere of a time-honoured pub but also savour the flavours of a contemporary culinary adventure. It remains a cherished destination where the echoes of Hamilton's past and the vibrancy of its present converge. Be sure to look for the “ladies’s entrance” sign over a door. 
Corktown Irish Pub is located at 175 Young St.

The Pheasant Plucker

The Pheasant Plucker is a cherished gem among Hamilton's original old-world British pubs. With a legacy spanning over 30 years, this iconic establishment features an incredible menu of pub classics that have been perfected over the decades. From the renowned fish & chips and comforting liver & onions to the delectable steak pie, The Pheasant Plucker invites customers to savour the authentic flavours of British pub fare. The menu proudly embraces diversity with the inclusion of haggis for those seeking a taste of the adventurous. As a culinary mainstay, The Pheasant Plucker not only offers a delightful and delicious experience but also serves as a time-honored gathering place where the spirit of old-world British charm comes alive in every dish. When you walk in, you really feel like you have been transported back in time just as Augusta Street develops all around it.. 
The Pheasant Plucker is located at 20 Augusta St.

Easterbrook's Hotdog Stand

Easterbrook's restaurant stands as a cherished time capsule, boasting over 85 years of culinary excellence and community service. Nestled in the heart of tradition, this vintage establishment transports patrons to a former era with its classic checkered decor. For four generations, Easterbrook's has been a beacon of culinary nostalgia, proudly serving great hotdogs, hamburgers, French fries, and real ice cream. Beyond the delectable menu, what sets Easterbrook's apart is its commitment to providing a dining experience rooted in cleanliness, exceptional personal service, quality food, a diverse selection, and excellent value. The atmosphere remains as it did many decades ago, a timeless space where generations have gathered to savour the same flavours that Mable Easterbrook first introduced in 1930. With origins tracing back to Mable's tea house in 1926, Easterbrook's has become a culinary institution, selling over 1,600 miles of hotdogs and over one million pounds of ice cream since its humble beginnings. A visit to Easterbrook's promises not just a meal but a journey through its storied history.
Easterbrook’s Hotdog Stand is located at 694 Spring Gardens Rd. 

Phoenix Craft House and Grill

Located inside McMaster University's historic Refectory Building, The Phoenix Crafthouse & Grill blends tradition and innovation. Established in 1969 on the upper level of the now-demolished Wentworth House, The Phoenix found its new home in 2013, relocating to the Refectory Building, one of the campus' original structures dating back to 1930. What sets The Phoenix apart is not just its longevity but also its commitment to excellence. The old-time decor of this iconic eatery, coupled with a unique curved ceiling, pays homage to the building's historic roots as a dining hall. Since its inception, The Phoenix has been a provider of delectable food and craft beer, offering an affordable yet quality dining experience. As McMaster's Home of The Perfect Pint, The Phoenix continues to be a timeless destination where the past and present coalesce, creating an inviting atmosphere for patrons seeking both culinary satisfaction and a touch of history.
The Phoenix Crafthouse & Grill is located at 1280 Main St W.

Capri Restaurant

Capri has been delivering authentic Italian on John Street North since Elena and Bruno Cariolato opened it in 1963 in a building built in the 1800s. In the early days, the pizza was so famous that there were lineups almost every night to get in the Capri Restaurant. There was even a pizza man right in the front window throwing dough in the air. The restaurant is also famous for the second-floor Blue Grotto, which was made to resemble a cave like the one in the Capri Islands called the La Grotta Azzura. The ceilings and the walls were transformed into concrete stalactites. There was food, dancing and even a flowing river through the middle of the floor with little fish swimming around. The Blue Grotto was originally used as part of the restaurant and then later used for small functions like weddings, baptisms and birthday parties. After being closed for 20 years, it reopened in 2014. The Capri has been family owned throughout its history. In 2004, head cook Anna Fiorino purchased the restaurant where she had worked since arriving in Hamilton in the early 1960s. She still owns it along with her husband Genaro  and their son Salvatore. Dishes like gnocchi, risotto, cannelloni, are inspired by Anna’s family in Calabria, Italy. 
The Capri Restaurant is located at 25 John St. N.

Germania Club of Hamilton 

Founded in 1864, the Germania Club of Hamilton proudly stands as the oldest German Club in Ontario and one of the oldest in North America, with its original charter signed in the name of Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1884. Rooted in a deep commitment to preserving and promoting German culture in the Greater Hamilton area, the club warmly welcomes members, guests, and anyone eager to uphold its longstanding traditions. The Restaurant Germania, open Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., offers authentic and affordable homemade German food, including schnitzels, spaetzle and goulash, along with weekly specials, including pastas and fish and chips. With a commitment to heritage and a calendar full of lively events, the Germania Club remains a cherished institution, embodying the spirit of German culture in the heart of Hamilton. 
Germania Club of Hamilton is located at 863 King St E.

Black Forest Inn

The Black Forest Inn harkens to the inns that have dotted Europe for centuries. In addition to providing for the needs of travellers, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places serving food and drink. Fred and Rosa Obbereiter came from Austria in the 1950s and opened the Black Forest Inn in 1967, eventually passing the torch to son and chef Wolfgang Schoen. Ownership changed again in 2016 but the traditional Bavarian decor and outdoor Biergarten remains. The venerable Black Forest serves large portions of classics like schnitzel, spaetzle, cabbage rolls, sausages and pork chops. Untold numbers of date nights, business meetings and family milestone celebrations have been held at the King Street East landmark.
The Black Forest Inn is located at 255 King St. E.

Trocadero Tavern

Trocadero Tavern on Barton Street in Hamilton, carries a rich and storied history as a community hub with a unique charm. In a building that has been a gathering place for over a century, the Trocadero has witnessed the transformation of the Barton Street neighbourhood. Its historic roots trace back to the 1910s when it operated as a soda shop before evolving into a restaurant in 1944. For decades, it weathered changes in ownership and economic fluctuations, standing resilient as an enduring presence in the heart of the city. The Trocadero became more than just a dining establishment, it amplified the resilience and adaptability of Hamilton's cultural landscape. With its classic façade and vintage interiors, Trocadero continued to be a beloved venue, serving not only delicious food but also preserving the nostalgic essence of Barton Street's past. Trocadero is closed for an indefinite time but Sorella Roma (a division of Roma Bakery) runs pop up events there and it is rented out for movie shoots and events..
Trocadero Tavern is located at 525 Barton St E.

Hamilton, a city pulsating with vitality and rich historical tapestry, reveals its vibrant essence through a collection of historic restaurants that stand as living monuments to the past. Each establishment, with its own unique story and cultural significance, contributes to the city's dynamic character. From the enduring charm of Shakespeare's to the venerable traditions upheld at Easterbrook's, and the nostalgic journey offered by The Innsville, these restaurants serve as portals to Hamilton's storied history. As guardians of cultural heritage, these establishments remind us to treasure the tangible echoes of previous eras, celebrating the moments etched into the walls of these culinary landmarks. In the heart of these historic restaurants, we find not only exceptional food but also a living connection to the city's roots, urging us to cherish and preserve the invaluable treasures embedded in the very fabric of Hamilton's past.