You’d think coming home to your mother’s cooking would be a good way to forget about the things you miss back at school, but to be honest, when I’m home I can’t stop thinking about the tequila shrimp I could be eating at Dianne’s Fish Shack (sorry, mom). As a graduating fourth year, one thing I’m certainly going to miss next year is the easily accessible world of food and drink that Kingston has to offer.
Before heading off to university, everyone told me to bring good study habits and prepare my drinking habits, but no one told me to bring an appetite. If you want to become a certified foodie in Kingston, this guide is all you need, so grab your bib and dig in.
1. When you’re craving munchies at 2 am: Bubba’s Poutine & Pizzeria
Don’t worry, you hungry drunks: Bubba’s is open until 3am every night of the week, and their menu has every munchie your 2am stage-raged, whiskey sour-soaked brain can possibly dream of. Frankly, you don’t even need to be drunk to justify getting a late night (or early morning?) snack. Ordering a regular poutine to eat during your all-nighter in Stauffer is totally acceptable. And don’t worry about having to leave the library, because they deliver anywhere on campus.
What to order: The subs are underrated. Order the assorted sub, toasted, with everything on it, and your nights out won’t end with anything different after that. At the same time, you can never go wrong with a regular poutine. I mean, have you seen the size of those cheese curds?
Location: 401 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 5C9
2. When you’re missing home: MLT DWN
Someone once put the words “grilled cheese” and “gourmet” in the same sentence and life was changed forever. At MLT DWN (pronounced “melt down”), they pride themselves on being more than just cheese and bread by combining nostalgic flavours of your childhood, like creamy Kraft Dinner mac ‘n cheese and house-made lasagna, with one of the world’s greatest inventions: a grilled cheese sandwich. Their motto says it all: fresh ingredients + homemade recipes = real food.
What to order: Everybody loves a good mac and cheese, so that’s a good place to start. Otherwise, the lasagna or pulled pork grilled cheese will hit your taste buds with amazing flavour. Don’t forget to specify that you want waffle fries, or you’ve got it completely wrong.
Location: 292 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B5
3. When you’re sick of Starbucks/Tim Hortons: OneCoffeeCo Market Square
This isn’t just another wholesale fair trade organic coffee roaster. OneCoffeeCo serves a mean latte, and it’s a quiet place away from the chaos of campus to sit, study, read, and people-watch through the giant window (no shame, we all do it).
What to order: They have Guatemalan, Ethiopian, and Colombian coffee beans, just to name a few. Take your pick and customize your coffee or satisfy yourself with a simple Café Latte or London Fog. Going to be a while? If you start munching on their fresh cookies, you won’t be getting up anytime soon.
Location: 322 King St E, Kingston, ON K7L 3B4 (15 min walk from campus)
4. When you need to grab lunch for under $10 between classes: Swedish Beaver Fry Truck
Swedish Beaver will change the way you think of street meat. This truck is right on campus, meaning that it’s probably on the way to your next class. It serves typical fry truck foods like hot dogs, burgers, and fries, but also some pretty great wraps and salads.
What to order: If your order doesn’t have the word “spicy” in it, is it even legit? Grab their spicy falafel salad and you won’t want to put your fork down. You’ll surely be done by the time your next class starts. Even better? It only costs $5.
Location: Located in front of Miller Hall on Union Street.
5. When you’re craving Mexican: Mexico Lindo y Que Rico
If you want the real taste of Mexico in small town Canada, this hidden gem has authentic quesadillas that you need to try. The food is really fresh, and it’s a great, affordable place for students on a tight budget.
What to order: The enchilada verde soft tortillas are always a good idea. If you’re there on a Saturday, hop on the hot tamale train and order the tamales.
Location: 337 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 3J4 (2 minute walk from Metro on Barrie Street)
6. When you’re craving Italian: Olivea
Olivea is great for a weekend dinner with friends or a relaxing night out with bae. If you want to be classy for a change, you can enjoy live jazz music from 6-9pm on Tuesdays while you scarf down your pasta. Treat yo’ self to a glass of wine or sangria, because why not?
What to order: The orecchiette with house-made sausage and rapini is great for meat lovers. The spaghetti agli olio with arugula is also quite a satisfying dish, whether you’re vegetarian or not.
Location: 39 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L 1R7
7. When you’re craving sushi: Kame Sushi & Bento
Let’s be real, as a student most of our money goes toward sushi and iced coffee, because for some reason Kingston has some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted. To add to that, Kame happens to be dangerously close to the student ghetto so eating lunch and dinner here wouldn’t be a bad idea.
What to order: With shrimp tempura, raw salmon, avocado, and cream cheese topped with spicy salmon and torched mozzarella cheese, one bite of the “Cheesy but Classy” roll will have you hooked. It’s tasty as hell, but there’s also no classy way of eating it, so don’t order it on a date.
#SpoonTip: They brought us Kingston’s first sushi burrito, and it’s available on the take-out menu. #SushittoSundays are perfect for when the caf is closed and you’re sick of eating Lazy Scholar chicken fingers.
Location: 156 Division St, Kingston, ON K7L (across the street from the Spot)
8. When you’re craving Vietnamese: Mekong
If you’re on the hunt for pho in Kingston, your journey ends here. The menu has a great variety of choices, the prices are student-friendly, and the location of this place couldn’t be better.
What to order: All of the unique choices on the menu are really tasty, which makes ordering a daunting challenge. The green curry never fails to impress, and neither does the pad Thai. If you’re a fan of pho, any pho dish will pho-sho turn you into a regular. The passion fruit bubble tea with magic balls is also killer on a hot day.
Location: 394 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B8 (literally next door to Stages night club)
9. When you’re craving wood-fired pizza: Wooden Heads
Wooden Heads Gourmet Pizza has really reasonable prices for such great wood-fired pizza. There are so many tasty choices that it’s hard not to steal pieces from others (try to keep it at your own table please). This place is always bumpin’ so definitely do your best to make a reservation.
What to order: I suggest trying a lot of different pizzas like the Citta and the Monet. The Dynamo should be the last one you try, because you won’t want to order anything else once you’ve tasted that pesto and cheesy goodness.
Location: 192 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L 2Y8
10. When you’re trying to be romantic/fancy: Le Chien Noir Bistro
Le Chien Noir serves French bistro classics where you can also indulge in some modern farm-to-table features. Just like the French, it’s fancy, plus, you know sh*t is getting classy when they serve duck poutine.
What to order: If the photo doesn’t say enough, the duck poutine is a great appetizer and the PEI mussels and frites is definitely a go-to for the main. Again, mussels = fancy (but also tasty AF). For a vegetarian option, the légumes dish is defined as “on fleek.”
Location: 69 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L 1R8
11. When your parents are visiting and they’re footing the bill: Casa Domenico
This is really sophisticated Italian cuisine, so try to be on your best behaviour. Maybe limit yourself to a maximum of two glasses of international wine. Since mom and dad are footing the bill, order a nice red wine (Villa Pollo ‘13 will hit the spot).
What to order: The Florentina is amazing and even better when you add shrimp. The Scallopatti with scallops and bacon is also an incredible choice.
Location: 35 Brock St, Kingston, ON K7L 1R7
12. When you’re “doing it for the Insta”: Pan Chancho Bakery
Going for brunch at Pan Chancho and snapping a pic of your meal should be included in the prerequisites for this school. If you haven’t done so yet, you’ve managed to steer clear of the basic b*tch stereotype, but I’m sorry to say that you’ve also missed out on a great meal and great opportunity for the ‘gram.
What to order: Bacon, chorizo, caramelized onion brioche—that should be enough to make you want to order El Chancho. If you’re a fan of smoked salmon, get the Wild West and ask for a fried egg and a croissant on the side to bridge the gap between delicious salmon and sexy yolk porn.
Location: 44 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1A4
13. When you’re craving a slice: Gabriel Pizza
Sure, you’re only craving a slice, but you’ll doubtlessly finish the entire box. Thought you couldn’t find a new soulmate other than Domino’s Pizza? Well, you just did. A pizza your heart = stolen. They deliver too. You’re welcome.
What to order: WTF do you think? PIZZA. Choose whatever toppings float your boat. They’re all good, and the cheese on that thing is to die for. I guarantee almost three inches of cheese per bite. I suggest delivery, because you’ll need a couch to lie on while you recover from the food coma.
Location: 2339 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B7
14. When you’re hungover and still wearing last night’s outfit: Tommy’s
Locally owned and totally worth the trek when you’re hungover. Milkshakes, pancakes, eggs Benedict—all the rich breakfast foods you need to be cured. You could totally show up hungover in sweatpants because chances are that 75% of the people there on Sunday are in the same boat as you.
What to order: After a few too many gin and tonics the night before, you’re likely going to want something smothered in syrup—like chocolate dip pancakes for only $9.25. Want something a bit more savoury? The Patty Cakes include bacon, ham, and sausage cooked into delicious buttermilk pancakes. Hangover = cured.
Location: 377 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B9
15. When you want to check out live music: The Brass Pub
Thursdays and Saturdays are the most popular days for live music (especially when Smitty is playing). The atmosphere is great and it’s definitely budget-friendly with pretty good student deals. There’s nothing better than great music, sipping on a cold brew, and scarfing down a plate of nachos with your closest pals.
What to order: Nachos are your best bet, especially for sharing purposes, but the chicken wings are also fantastic and they’re half-price on Tuesdays.
Location: 403 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B9
16. When you’re craving something sweet: Common Ground Coffeehouse (CoGro)
Whether you’re getting over a breakup or are just in the mood for a sweet treat, CoGro cakes are always there to help—unless they’re sold out, which they usually are in the evenings so hurry up and get there before it’s too late. I’m telling you, there isn’t much else that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth. Besides, the seating is great, and you can surround yourself with your favourite people while enjoying a slice of heaven. It’s the only way to have your cake and eat it too.
What to order: Cookies and cream cheesecake, because Oreo cookie pieces are the key to every person’s heart. If you’re feeling fun and flirty, go for the red velvet slice.
Location: 284 Earl St, Kingston, ON K7L 2H8 (in the ARC/Queen’s Centre)
17. When it’s Taco Tuesday: Dianne’s Fish Shack & Smokehouse
It’s time for everyone’s two favourite T’s: tacos and tequila (because #TooTurntTuesday is always a good idea). This place is right by the lake, and the upbeat vibe and Mexican-inspired seafood is the greatest thing you’ll ever experience on a Tuesday.
What to order: Beer battered Baja fish tacos or die. Order a margarita to go along with it (or heck, just make it a Coronita) because it’s Taco Tuesday and it’s time to get lit.
Location: 195 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L 2Y7