Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 Canadian Vacation: Good Eats

This will be my final vacation post. Besides spending our time biking, paddling and visiting with family, Jack spent a lot of time swimming (more specifically snorkeling) and of course no vacation would be complete without checking out the best local restaurants.


On every trip, my favorite thing to do is find the best breakfast joints. So on our first day in Orillia, that is what we did. First up was Friend's Diner (ranked #6 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Orillia) and it was my favorite breakfast place on this trip. Located in an old shopping center, it isn't much to look at, but man was it good!

Coffee comes with your meal and the huge plates of food satisfied all of us – even our growing boys! We arrived in the nick of time, because shortly after we were seated, the place filled up and had a 30-minute wait. The food was delicious, and served quickly. Jack's favorite part was the phone booth outside... Evidently these are still a thing in Canada. He quizzed us, "Why is there a phone in a box, outside?"


Our other diner to visit was Hasty Tasty (recommended by my aunt and rated #60 on TripAdvisor). I have to say I liked the food at Friend's better, but Hasty Tasty was unique in it's own way. Built in an old house and a true, old-time diner, harkening back to the 1950s, it's a special place. My aunt says a lot of old-timers eat here and it's a great place to people watch. You can squeeze into a booth or at the bar up front, or like us, you might end up at a table in the back.

Our experience would have been better if we had managed to get a booth up front – a regular came in and snagged the booth we were waiting for. I guess he didn't notice me sitting there with two kids (Daniel had run to a bank next door because the establishment only takes cash). The food was good and the name is fun to say!

The other days, we ate breakfast at our cottage and I always ran into town to grab a large triple-triple coffee at Tim Horton's – a mile from our house.

For our other meals, we tried to bike to dinner as often as we could. Of the four restaurants listed below, we biked to three of them. The fourth was a day that our kids were exhausted, so we chose to drive.

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Our first bike-to-dinner option was Theo's Eatery (ranked #1 on TripAdvisor), located about 2 miles from our cottage. This was a nicer, sit-down type of restaurant, but still kid friendly.

The food was Mediterranean style and good, but a little pricey. This was not our favorite restaurant, but the food and service were both good. The boys split a huge plate of spaghetti, Daniel had lasagna and I tried a Shish Kabob.

Our experience at Theo's (and then most other restaurants) was that the kid's meal comes with dessert. Is this a Canadian thing? Jack LOVED getting a scoop of ice cream at the end of the meal, and it was a great way for us to bribe him to finish up his food.
Theos Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The next day we biked to the Brewery Bay Food Co. in downtown Orillia (ranked #11 on TripAdvisor). Located 3 miles from our cottage, we were ready to eat when we arrived. We were able to get a table outside and had a friendly waiter.

The food was excellent, but we were all caught off guard when the power went out unexpectedly (I'm glad we were sitting outside instead of in). I don't know what was going on, but power on the whole street was out for about 20 minutes. We finished up our meal and the power came back on just in time for us to pay! Which was a good thing because I don't think we had been to a bank to get Canadian money yet and we were too far north to pay with American! Brewery Bay is definitely worth a visit – it has your typical Pub food. Jack had chicken fingers and a salad. I tried an amazing burger (that I shared with Isaac) and Daniel went light with a Greek salad.
Brewery Bay Food Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


During the middle of the week, we grabbed lunch at Mariposa's Market Cafe (ranked #1 on TripAdvisor). We almost didn't go here because I thought it was strictly a bakery.

We ran by to order cakes for my parents and aunt and uncle's anniversary celebration (the cakes were amazing and fairly inexpensive!), and then we realized they also served lunch. So we knew we needed to go back.

This place is really cool. I wish we had had more time to explore. Besides making amazing cakes and cupcakes, they serve sandwiches, and a variety of hot lunch pastries, AND ALSO lots of specialty items and souvenirs.

Daniel and Jack both tried a turkey sandwich while Isaac and I split a spinach quiche and a meat pastry. It was all delicious. Jack also tried his first sip of coke (from a bottle). He loved it. We told him it is only for special occasions!
Mariposa Market Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


Being in Canada, I knew we needed to grab fish and chips one night. This was our only dinner out that we didn't bike to. Our boys were wiped out from the busy week and both fell asleep on the 5-minute drive to Tor's Fish & Chips (ranked #29 on TripAdvisor).

We arrived 15 minutes before closing, and we asked the ladies if we were too late. They looked at our tired boys and told us to order and take a seat.

Jack was cracking them up because he literally laid across the chairs and slept until our food arrived. We decided to split the Haddock Fish and Halibut Fish. These plates were huge and between the four of us, we didn't come close to finishing the fries!
Tor's Fish & Chips Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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We finished out our week by trying something a little bit different for us. The Shack Eatery (ranked #13 on TripAdvisor) is fairly new to Orillia and serves slow-cooked Portuguese style food. And it was delicious. The flavors were a little spicy, but really great.

We picked out two plates and the generous portions were way more than the four of us could eat. They also brought out mashed potatoes (not part of our order) for our boys because they thought the food might be too spicy. They were so considerate!

We enjoyed sitting outside and eating their fantastic food. The boys had fun climbing in the old firetruck parked outside. I hope The Shack had continued success in Orillia!

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