Do you ever wonder where chefs eat when they’re not making delicious food? Us too! That’s why we asked a few top chefs and restaurateurs in the city to share their favourite restaurant with us (other than their own, of course) and explain why. Here’s what we found out:
Leo Santos, Owner at Papa Leo’s Restaurant
Favourite Restaurant: Le Chinois Express
Why?: After the downtown location closed, the Express Mall Road location became Leo’s go-to. “Andy (the son) has continually produced fantastic food and probably the best Hot&Sour Soup I have ever tried”, Leo states. They have been around for a long time and Leo would love to see a sit-down restaurant again for them someday.
Jordan Mitchell, Executive Chef & Co-Owner at CIMA Enoteca and Romano’s Ristorante
Favourite Restaurant: Pokeh
Why?: “I love Pokeh for many reasons (and there are many). First and foremost, their food kicks ass and everyone who works there is extremely friendly. But in addition to that, I love that they’re a focused concept that does one thing perfectly. I think it’s amazing that they brought a style of food to the country before anyone else. Pokeh’s palate is uniquely Hawaiian, mixing elements used in many of the coastal Asian countries (Ahi tuna, yuzu, kim chi and nori) with elements more typically found in central American and Mexican cuisine (pickled jalapeno, avocado, jicama). The result is a flavour combo that reminds me of my favourite parts of sushi and ceviche in one delicious bowl. I love it and I think it’s extremely important for the city to have restaurants like Pokeh, where you can affordably eat something that is original and delicious.”
Ronn Mattai, Founder, CEO, Events Director at Mattson & Co.
Favourite Restaurant: The Diplomat
Why?: Ronn Mattai of Mattson & Co. finds that the food is very good, and consistent at his favourite: The Diplomat. He finds that the restaurant has a family feel to it, where you feel welcomed into the space. The restaurant is always busy, but their dedicated staff makes for a great experience. Ronn appreciates that they don’t try to upsell you hard with alcohol and don’t rush you out the door. A close second for him? The Mule.
Rony Shamoun, Owner at Rony’s Rotisserie
Favourite Restaurant: Pokeh
Why?: Rony finds that the food at Pokeh is extremely flavourful, healthy and unique. He believes that the guys that run it take a lot of pride in their work, and it really shows.
Matt Webber, Co-owner at Berkeley North
Favourite Restaurant: Brux House
Why?: Matt finds Brux House to be of similar style to Berkeley North, featuring shared plates and unique concepts towards their food. One of his favourite things to order at Brux is the Pastrami Smoked Salmon and Kale Salad. On top of their delicious food options, he loves their staff!
Jason Cassis, Co-Founder and CEO at Equal Parts Hospitality
Favourite Restaurant: Hambrgr on King William
Why?: “What is amazing to me is how in such a small footprint they are able to put out not only delicious food, but also provide such balance in their menu. Their craft beer selection is broad and their caesars are legendary. Service staff are incredibly well trained and the bottom line is they care about your experience. These are all the hallmarks you would expect from fine dining, but in this case, you get to listen to Stone Temple Pilots while eating the best burger of your life. Who doesn’t love a little rock and roll with dinner?”
Yvette and Kristan, Co-Owners at VIBEZ Caribbean and Southern Food
Favourite Restaurant: Earth to Table Bread Bar
Why?: Yvette and Kristan love ETT Bread Bar, because it’s a cute little spot, that they love the feel and atmosphere of. They also love the idea of having a whole personal pizza to themselves! 😉
Nicole Miller, Cake Creator+Consultant/Pastry Chef at Cake & Loaf
Favourite Restaurant: Pokeh (both locations)
Why?: “I could honestly eat here 3 times a week… and quite possibly have on multiple occasions! I love making my own combinations of all their fresh ingredients. Their bowls are jammed with flavour, fresh cut proteins, tons of fun add-ins and fill me up with enough energy to kill it like a boss on the daily! -had high expectations for my BC poké experience, but Pokeh Hamilton is by far the best for me.”
Josie Rudderham, Artisan Bread/Pastry Chef at Cake & Loaf
Favourite Restaurant: India Village
Why?: “One of my first jobs as a high school student in Hamilton was at an Indian restaurant on King St called “Taste of Bombay”. I absolutely fell in love with Indian cuisine and it became my comfort food. When Taste of Bombay closed it took me forever to find another Indian restaurant that filled the void. A co-worker recommended Indian Village and I was blown away by the quality, fresh ingredients and incredibly welcoming staff. The lunch deal is great value and you can get it at both their Dundas and Ancaster locations. If you are going to eat in, I prefer the dining room in Ancaster, which is beautifully decorated.”
Shayne Madadi, Chef at Pokeh
Favourite Restaurant: Ellis Kitchen & More
Why?: Ellis Kitchen & More was one of the first places Shayne tried when he moved to Hamilton. “The oxtail and jerk chicken are wicked, full of flavour and a generous portion for the price.” Shayne is also a fan of the beef patties, which is a big reason you can find him there at least once a week.
Where to find them?
Le Chinois Express: 65 Mall Rd Unit 7A, Hamilton, ON L8V 5B8
Pokeh: Farmers Market – 35 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8R 3K1, Concession street – 35 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8R 3K1
The Diplomat: 43 King William St, Hamilton, ON L8R 1A2
Brux House: 137 Locke St S, Hamilton, ON L8P 4A7
Hambrgr: 49 King William St, Hamilton, ON L8R 1A2
Earth to Table Bread Bar: 258 Locke St S, Hamilton, ON L8P 4B9
India Village: Dundas – 100 King St W, Dundas, ON L9H 1T9, Ancaster – 370 Wilson St E #13, Ancaster, ON L9G 2C2
Ellis Kitchen & More: 455 King St E, Hamilton, ON L8N 1C7