Whether you’re antique hunting, dining out or looking for that perfect outfit, Hamilton’s unique shopping districts will exceed your expectations. Here are nine local hot ‘hoods’ perfect for a little retail therapy!
Locke St. South
This lively stretch is vying to become Hamilton’s top eat street with restaurants lining both sides of the street. New arrival CIMA Enoteca is joining established culinary hot spots such as Mattson & Co, boasting fantastic Italian and global fare. Java drinkers will be dazzled by the handiwork of the baristas at Brown Dog Coffee and Democracy. Home decor shops abound with LuLu & Lavigne Home Studio, French-accented Pure Home Couture and more.
Ottawa St. North
Shop or dine? No need to choose. This vibrant Design District combines both in an oh-so-charming package. Lovers of second-hand goods can indulge their passion – furniture and records, anyone? – at places like Millionaire’s Daughter, Antique Avenue and Stardust Records. Dining spots run the gamut, from the casual cafe vibe of The Cannon, famous for its waffles, to burgers extraordinaire from HAMBRGR or Canada’s first vegan-focused Boon Burger, and pasta haven Café Limoncello.
James St (North & South)
Fresh produce stores and fishmongers mix in seamlessly on James North, the city’s most happening arts hub and home to the popular Art Crawl event, the second Friday of each month. Indulgence rules on the food front with Chocolat on James, the new Merit Brewing, Born and Raised, BBQ fare at Saltlick Smokehouse and the arrival of Hamilton’s first Loaded Pierogi location. Head to James South to dine on international fare at Wass, for Ethiopian cuisine, and Mezcal Tacos.
Don’t expect a cookie-cutter neighbhourhood here. Unique rules, with independent shops and restaurants stretched along the picturesque downtown. Long-time favourites like the venerable Collins Brewhouse, Thirsty Cactus, home to tasty house-made pulled pork, and Taylor’s Tea Room, a gathering place for devoted tea sippers of all ages, share real estate with newer entries like the Shawn & Ed Brewing Company and current hot spot Betula Restaurant, that builds their menu on the best of seasonal ingredients.
Barton St. Village
This neighbourhood in transition is setting new trends. The Heather is an intimate 6-seat restaurant with a seven-course tasting menu prepared by chef Matt Cowan, while Motel (establishing a reputation for its Champagne pancakes) goes retro with a 1960s Miami vibe. The new Hello Baked features exquisite French macarons and sugar cookies. Or give back at 541, a volunteer-run cafe that allows patrons to pay it forward by helping those in need.
Located in Upper Hamilton, this is one of the city’s oldest areas. Its renaissance continues by combining a busy entertainment venue like the Zoetic Theatre & Creative Arts Company with great food spots like Pokeh Bar, a spinoff from its busy Hamilton Farmers’ Market location, and Papa Leo’s, which is famous for its brunch offerings. Mixing it up are shops like Steeltown Pickers, for antiques and collectables, and Zarky’s, a deli with delicious to-go prepared foods.
Westdale Village has been an eat-greet-meet hub since the 1920s. Its community spirit shines with 80-plus shops, and restaurants. Delirious Burger Company serves up wickedly good burgers, while Walker’s Chocolates keep things sweet and The Bean Bar draws crowds for its desserts and live music on Fridays/Saturdays. Hop next door for an art movie at the restored Westdale Theatre. Pick up some killer art supplies and great reading materials at Mixed Media or something cool to wear at Modella Ladieswear. The area also boasts tranquility with the sprawling nature trails of Cootes Paradise.
The “international” descriptor is accurate. World cuisines meet here with Germany represented at Denninger’s, Korean at Lui Lui Hot Pot, Japanese from O’Neko Hotpot and Ramen, and southern flavours from Hoolycrab. On the shopping front, one-of-a-kind goods dominate – vintage clothing from Girl on the Wing and Vintagesoulgeek. Evening entertainment from Theatre Aquarius is yet another reason to linger longer.
Whether you’re seeking lush green spaces or an urban vibe on a smaller scale, this town ticks all the boxes on both fronts. The Ancaster Village Hiking Loop showcases the area’s natural beauty with spots like Tiffany Falls. After you’ve strolled, you’ve earned a place at the table of a resto like the beloved India Village, brunch superstar The Ancaster Mill or Coach & Lantern for traditional British pub grub, like bangers and mash.