You never want to head to a hockey game on an empty stomach. Your growling stomach will distract you from the game. You’ll get lightheaded whenever you holler “go Knights go!” and you’ll be ever so tempted to buy those expensive arena snacks that won’t satisfy your cravings. Rather than deal with all of that, head downtown a little bit early and grab a meal at one of these awesome local restaurants that are mere steps from Budweiser Gardens!
It’s no surprise that The Squire Pub & Grill tops this list. The great food, the fantastic drinks, and the proximity to Budweiser Gardens make it a no brainer. The menu at the Squire is eclectic pub fare, and all of it is top notch. Whether you’re feeling like a burger – either meat or veggie – some chicken wings, or a big plate of nachos, the Squire has you covered with some of the best in London. Other pub favourites like bangers and mash or a steak dinner are also available if you’re feeling like something hearty before facing the chill of a hockey arena. Or, if you’re feeling extra Canadian, you can get a great big poutine to go with your hockey. There are five poutine varieties for you to try out. The Classic is everything you know and love, fries, curds, and gravy. If you’re getting adventurous, try the Montreal Style, topped with chopped brisket, curds, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing! To accompany your food, the Squire has a great selection of beer – draught, cans, and bottles – wine, and cocktails. Depending on the day the Knights are playing, you could even get a deal on your food or your drink! For instance, Mondays are half-price wings and $5 20oz Budweiser or Bud Light draught. If you’re attending one of the Knights’ weekend afternoon games, you can partake in the Squire’s amazing lunch menu. Many of the items on their dinner menu pop back up, like wings and nachos, but they’ve also added wraps and bowls that are $10 and $11 respectively! They’re absolutely delicious and a great bang for your buck. The Squire has it all. The food is awesome, the drinks are always flowing, and you can literally see Budweiser Gardens out of the window, so the only reason you’ll be late to the game is because you don’t want to leave!
There’s nothing like a big bowl of carbs before cheering on your local hockey team. Spageddy Eddy’s has been a go-to place for Knights fans to grab dinner before a game for years. The atmosphere of the joint buzzes with energy any day that the Knights are getting on the ice, with tables full of jersey-wearing, hungry hockey fans diving into bowls of amazing pasta. Hidden away in their Richmond Row alleyway, Spageddy Eddy’s is just a short walk from Budweiser Gardens. Park before you eat then dash over to the arena before the game starts! Although, you may not be in a “dashing” mood after your meal at Spageddy Eddy’s. Their massive bowls of pasta with rich, flavourful sauce may weigh you down just a little bit. But as long as you get to the game before the puck drops, you’re doing alright. Spageddy Eddy’s offers a wide range of pastas to satisfy any carb-lover. Classic spaghetti (or as they spell it, spageddy), creamy alfredo, or split the difference and get the maza-maza, a blend of the two sauces making it a blush pink colour. It’s not only long noodles at Spageddy Eddy’s, however. They’ve also got an awesome homemade lasagna, made fresh daily, and meat ravioli that is to die for, served in your choice of sauce. Or you can diverge from pasta entirely, and go for the chili, a big platter of nachos, or French onion soup! Spageddy Eddy’s is a London institution and has been the destination for so many Knights fans before a game. Undoubtedly, one of the best spots to grab food before heading to Budweiser Gardens!
Sure, they Knights are partnered with Pizza Pizza, but no corporate sponsorship will get in the way of us enjoying the best pizza you can get in London. Just a stone’s throw from Gate 1 of Budweiser Gardens, Zen’Za Pizzeria is one of our favourite places to grab a bite before cheering on the Knights (or any time, but this list is about pre-Knights game meals). The super thin crust is topped with a variety of wholesome and local products, making it one of the healthiest pizzas you’ll ever get. Don’t get it in your head that “healthy” means “tasteless” though. With toppings like house-made tomato sauce, garlic-soaked spinach, and balsamic-marinated mushrooms, they’ve got flavour through the roof! Zen’Za is also a great spot for vegan hockey fans to grab a bite! Every pizza they’ve got on their menu has a vegan version, giving you just as many options as any meat-eating Knights fans you may be with. Each pizza is perfectly fashioned to balance flavours, textures, and of course, contains no animal products. It can be tough to find a spot that caters to both vegans and carnivores so well, but Zen’Za has it nailed! Zen’Za is also a great spot for those weekend afternoon games as well! On Saturdays and Sundays before 3PM, Zen’Za is magically transformed into the Z’Energy Day Café, which offers a menu of incredibly avocado toasts. Hockey and avocado toast may not be the most traditional pairing, but when two great things go together, it’s found to be amazing. If you’re heading downtown for a Knights game and have a hankering for pizza, there’s no better place to stop than Zen’Za. Amazing pizza that you’ll never find anywhere else as well as being just steps from the main entrance to the arena? What could be better!
As the name of the pub implies, Milo’s Craft Beer Emporium is the perfect spot for grabbing a drink with your meal before the game. With 23 beer taps, it’s truly the craft beer lover’s dream. You have the opportunity to explore local and craft brews that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the city! As of writing this article, over three quarters are Ontario brews, so local breweries are definitely well-represented. Breweries like Barrie’s Flying Monkeys, Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery, and our very own Forked River are all on tap at Milo’s! Beyond the beer, Milo’s has a solid menu of pub classics with a modern, elevated twist. They have lighter fare like beer nuts, BBQ & cheddar potato croquettes, and two cheese platters – one dairy, one vegan – served with house preserves and crackers. For a proper meal, their dinner menu has awesome options like half a roasted chicken, Korean BBQ pork ribs, and roasted cauliflower with a coconut green curry sauce. Or if you’re there before an afternoon game, you can get a delicious lunch like a roasted turkey club sandwich, a farm egg frittata, or a pho French dip – an amazing combination of the classic Vietnamese soup and the classic steak sandwich, you seriously have to try it. You may show up at Milo’s just for a drink before the game, but after looking at the menu, you’ll almost definitely be diving into something delicious alongside your drink. Milo’s is a modern pub with a relaxed feel, offering the best of casual and fine dining, and of course their amazing beer selection.
J Dee’s Market Grill actually pre-dates Budweiser Gardens by nearly two decades. The arena opened in 2002, kitty corner to J Dee’s at the intersection of Talbot and King. Ever since, the restaurant has been one of the greatest places for Knights fans to stop on the way to see a game. J Dee’s claim to fame is being the first place in London to get a gourmet burger. No fast food patties in this joint. Every burger is made in house, topped with lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, and J Dee’s own mayo and served on a ciabatta bun. They’ve got nearly a dozen varieties of burger, from the peppercorn burger to the blue cheese and bacon burger, and of course a veggie burger for vegetarians. Their menu is more than just burgers though. They’ve also got appetizers a plenty, like escargot, mozzarella sticks, deep fried mushrooms, and bacon-wrapped scallops! All utterly enticing and a perfect starter to any meal. Entrees include oriental chicken fettucine alfredo, vegetarian or chicken stir fry, and fish and chips! And then, there’s the chicken wings. These fresh wings are marinated and grilled, no frying here! Toss them in your choice of BBQ sauce, Frank’s Red Hot, teriyaki, or honey curry sauce. Wings are served with their house-made blue cheese dressing. Or if you’d prefer fingers over wings, you can get some chicken fingers, fried to golden perfection, and tossed in the same choice of sauces, served with plum sauce. J Dee’s is older than Budweiser Gardens, but they aren’t showing their age. Fresh, delicious food, and an awesome beer selection makes for a great pitstop before you head to the game!
Hunter & Co. is the perfect spot to stop for a more upscale meal before heading to the Knights game. Just south of Budweiser Gardens, Hunter & Co. is a cozy, modern place to get high class eats. The menu at Hunter & Co. features mostly small plates, perfect for sharing with your fellow Knights fan. The charcuterie board and the bone marrow are awesome starters, or perhaps some oysters, freshly shucked of course, are what you’re after. The menu is always changing. Hunter & Co. emphasizes locality and seasonal dishes, so they adhere to harvesting seasons in the London area as best they can. Their chef is a genius, proudly crafting each and every dish that goes on the menu that will make you happy. Of course, Hunter & Co. won’t leave you thirsty. They’ve got some of the best cocktails in London, after all! They’ve also got an excellent beer selection, both on tap and in bottles, featuring some favourites from local breweries and across the globe. Don’t worry if you prefer a nice glass (or bottle) of wine, Hunter & Co. has you covered. They’ve got a wonderful wine list with both reds and whites that you won’t be able to find at the LCBO! Hunter & Co. is a lovely spot to fill your belly before you cheer your heart out for the London Knights.