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The Best Winter Activities in London

With the cold and the snow on your doorstep, it’s often the impulse to stay inside, huddled under a blanket with a hot cup of tea, re-watching The Office, Friends, or whatever your sitcom of choice may be. Well, just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean the city of London has stopped with fun and exciting activities for you or the family!

With cold weather and blankets of snow covering the ground comes a whole new set of activities that you can’t enjoy any other time of the year. Just around the house, you get to build a snowman in your front yard, adorn every nook and cranny with festive décor, and put out milk and cookies for jolly old Saint Nick.

But there’s so much more to do outside your home and around the city of London. All you’ve got to do is brave the cold, get outside, and enjoy some of these awesome winter activities!

Ski, Snowboard, or Tube Down
Boler Mountain

Neighbourhood: Byron
689 Griffith St. (map)
https://www.bolermountain.com/
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Best Winter Activities - Boler Mountain

Boler Mountain is the destination for outdoor excitement all year round. In the summer, there’s hiking and mountain biking trails, the Treetop Adventure Park, and an 1100-foot zipline! But the fun doesn’t stop when the snow starts to fall, it gets even better. When the mountain transforms from green to white, you know it’s time to break out the skis and snowboards.

Boler Mountain has over a dozen trails for skiing or snowboarding down the mountain. They range from green circle (the easiest) to black diamond (the hardest). You have the opportunity to bring your own equipment, or you can rent a set of theirs. Grab a day pass, or if you’re really dedicated to sliding down hills, a season pass for you or even the whole family!

If you’re new to downhill winter sports and looking to learn, they’ve got programs for everyone from age 5 to adults. Classes are divided by age, but they also offer private lessons if you’re interested in one-on-one attention to really speed up your learning process.

Boler Mountain even offers a freestyle ski and snowboard program for youths aged 8 to 13. Your child can learn how to handle jumps and bumps. To participate, your child should already have strong skiing or snowboarding skills since they jump right into the terrain, and won’t be going over the basics.

Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only downhill winter activities at Boler Mountain though, there’s also tubing. For the uninitiated, tubing is when you sit in the middle of a big rubber donut and hurtle yourself down a hill. Boler Mountain’s tube runs are 10 stories tall, and you’re able to reach speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour, which means you’re going nearly double the speed limit of a school zone!

Your $20 (plus tax) tubing ticket lasts for two hours. On average, that means you’ll get to ride down the hill somewhere between 4 and 8 times, depending on how busy it is.

Pick a Tree and Explore
Tree Lane Farms

Neighbourhood: Ilderton
13073 Twelve Mile Rd. (map)
http://www.treelanefarms.ca/
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Best Winter Activities - Tree Lane Farms

With winter comes Christmas, and with Christmas comes a Christmas Tree. Sure, you could haul your who-knows-how-many-years-old fake tree out of storage again, or you could pack your family into the car and head out to Tree Lane Farms in Ilderton!

Tree Lane Farms has 110 acres of land that are entirely dedicated to growing Christmas trees. That’s right, they’ve got over 40,000 trees waiting to be taken home by a family such as yours! They’ve got pre-cuts if you’re just looking to grab one and go, but Tree Lane Farms has prepared an amazing Christmas experience if you stay and explore!

Of course, the main goal is to get a tree. If you’ve elected to get a U-Cut tree, you can head out into their forest and peruse the selection, rows upon rows of evergreens. They’ve got white spruce, white pine, and blue spruce to pick from. Bring your own saw or borrow one of theirs, but absolutely no chainsaws are allowed. You and your family cut your selected tree down, and then you can get it shaken and wrapped for easy transport home.

Need some decorations for that tree? Head to their Christmas store for any festive décor that you could ever need. Tree toppers, ornaments, and tree skirts are all available to make your tree even prettier once you get it home. They’ve also got other holiday-themed items like stockings, mugs, pillows, signs, and so much more!

On the grounds, there are even more activities that Tree Lane Farms provides. On weekends, wagon rides take you to and from the tree field. Cozy up to the community campfire, or find one of their smaller, more private firepits to share with friends and family. Grab a hot drink and a Fritter Shop fritter. You can even meet one of Santa’s reindeer, Prancer!

Picking and cutting your own Christmas tree is an awesome winter activity for the entire family, and Tree Lane Farms makes it even sweeter with the added holiday cheer. Want to hear from the owners themselves? Check out our Business of the Week we did with them here!

Ski and Snowshoe Around
Circle R Ranch

Neighbourhood: Delaware
3017 Carriage Rd. (map)
http://www.circlerranch.ca/

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Best Winter Activities - Circle R Ranch

You may know the Circle R Ranch for their awesome horseback riding lessons and trail rides through the spring and the fall, and sleepaway camps in the summer. But when the temperature drops and the snow falls, Circle R Ranch becomes the place to go in and around London for cross country skiing and snowshoeing!

The ranch offers 13 kilometres of trails that have been groomed and tracked to make for skiing perfection. There are six different paths to choose from, each with their own distance and difficulty level.

The Sugarbush is the easiest trail to take, and is only 1.3 kilometres, perfect for a beginner-level skier or just a nice leisurely ski.

The two most difficult trails are Tuckerman and Skating. Tuckerman is a 5 kilometre loop for classic-style cross country skiing. The Skating trail, however, is designed for skating-style skiing, which requires shorter skis, a skating-like motion of the feet, and no poles. The Skating trail is also 5 kilometres long.

Meanwhile, the snowshoe trail is 4 kilometres long.

For something extra special, sign up for one of the Moonlight Ski & Snowshoe Dinner events! You are treated to a dinner of homemade chili (either con carne or vegetarian), cold and hot beverages, a salad bar, and dessert. After your meal, you head out for either a ski or a snowshoe adventure under the stars. The winter night is peaceful and serene, something that can be hard to come by in the city. Any level of skier or snowshoer is welcome to sign up, and you can even rent equipment there if you don’t have your own!

Circle R Ranch is a reminder that the cold weather doesn’t mean you should stay inside! Cross country skiing and snowshoeing at Circle R Ranch makes for a fun and physical day to keep your activity and spirits high in the winter!

Make Your Own Decorations at a
Heeman’s Workshop

Neighbourhood: Thorndale
20422 Nissouri Rd. (map)
https://heeman.ca/

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Best Winter Activities - Heeman's Workshops

There’s buying Christmas decorations and then there’s making your own. Head out to Heeman’s in Thorndale to participate in one of their incredible workshops that let you create your own Christmas décor.

The daymakers at Heeman’s will walk you, your friends, and your family through making one of their amazing centerpieces with real plants! Make a wreath, decorate a boxwood tree, or even recreate the tree from the Grinch!

They will provide just about everything required to make your centerpiece. You aren’t required to bring extra materials or equipment in order to make your decoration. However, if you’ve got a favourite pair of pruning shears or gloves, then you are more than welcome to bring them along! If not, they will be provided for you.

Make sure you book yourself a spot ahead of time, because spaces are limited, and you don’t want to get left out in the cold!

Attending a Heeman’s workshop allows you to both celebrate the joys of winter and avoid the horrors of its weather, the best kind of winter activity if you ask me.

Go to a London Knights Game

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
99 Dundas St. (map)
http://londonknights.com/
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Best Winter Activities - London Knights

Hockey is a winter sport, there’s no doubt about it. Even though Budweiser Gardens is air conditioned, there’s still something extra winter-y about cheering for the London Knights.

The 2018-19 season started in early September and continues to roar on through December and into March. Check out their schedule to find out exactly when they’ll be playing at Bud Gardens and grab a ticket for you and some friends or family. Engage in the raucous chant of “GO KNIGHTS GO” every time one of our players touches a puck and scream your heart out when they get a shot past the opposing goalie.

And if you should happen to be hungry on your way to the game, definitely check out last week’s Best Of to find out the best places you should eat before the Knights game.

See the Lights and Skate in
Victoria Park

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
580 Clarence Ave. (map)

Best Winter Activities - Victoria Park

Come winter, Victoria Park transforms into a winter wonderland. Festive lights shine bright through the whole park, washing the white snow in neon colours. It’s a wonder to walk through in the evening (or the afternoon since the sun goes down so early nowadays), and enjoy the holiday spirit and gorgeous lightshow.

In front of the bandshell, a skating rink is installed. It’s absolutely free to skate there anytime from 10 AM to 10 PM every day. The only time you can’t skate during this time is between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM, when they’re resurfacing the ice. As long as the weather is agreeable, the rink is open from early December all the way through until the end of March Break.

If you don’t have skates of your own, you can rent some for just $7 on weekdays from 5 PM to 10 PM, and noon to 10 PM on weekends. Or if the skates you own need to be sharpened, they’ve got you covered as well for just $6.

Skate and Enjoy the Festivities at
Storybook Gardens

Neighbourhood: Byron
1958 Storybook Ln. (map)
https://www.storybook.london.ca/
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Best Winter Activities - Storybook Gardens

Storybook Gardens doesn’t close up shop when the weather gets chilly. They continue to offer exciting, family-oriented events all through the winter from their spot in Springbank Park!

They offer a winding trail of ice for skating six days of the week from December until the end of February (weather permitting). Practice your skating on something more exciting you’re your standard square or oval rink! There’s even a rink-side Beavertails location! Grab a hot chocolate and a fresh beavertail before or after your skate, and you’re in for a wonderful day.

Storybook Gardens transforms into Snowybook Village from December 22nd to January 5th. The village offers extra skating hours, special holiday lights and décor, mascot meet and greets, and campfire programming to keep you warm during all of it!

There’s even a New Year’s Eve party, or a “hoopla” as they call it. They do the countdown at 8:30 so your little ones still get to experience the fun and excitement of ringing in the new year, without staying up way past their bed time. The festivities also include crafts, skating, and a campfire. You must pre-register in order to get tickets for this event though, so pick them up soon!

Warm Up at
10Eighteen

Neighbourhood: Old East Village
1018 Dundas St. (map)
https://www.10eighteen.ca/
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Best Winter Activities - 10Eighteen

With so many outdoor activities on this list, there’s no doubt that you’ll need to warm back up after braving the chill of winter, and there’s no place better than 10Eighteen. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are all on the menu, prepared fresh by the top-notch baristas, and served steaming hot. They do have some of the best coffee in town, after all. They’ve even got special drinks to celebrate the holidays! The perfect way to recover from the chill of winter.

The Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game

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!

The Squire Pub & Grill

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
109 Dundas St. (map)
https://squirepubandgrill.ca/
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Squire

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!

Spageddy Eddy’s

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
428 Richmond St. (map)
https://www.spageddyeddys.ca/
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Spageddy Eddy's

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!

Zen’Za Pizzeria

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
71 King St. (map)
http://zenzapizzeria.ca/

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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Zen'Za

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!

Milo’s Craft Beer Emporium

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
420 Talbot St. (map)
http://www.pubmilos.com/
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Milos

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

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
109 King St. (map)
http://www.blackwalnutbakerycafe.com/
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - J Dee's

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.

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
349 Talbot St. (map)
https://www.hunterco.ca/
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Hunter and Co

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.

The Best Fish and Chips in London


Although the dish was invented in that other city called London, fish and chips is a popular meal in the Forest City with many restaurants dedicated solely to perfecting the fried fish formula!

There are some old hats and some new faces on this list. Some of the restaurants opened decades ago, while others have just passed one year of serving Londoners! Regardless of their histories, each of the restaurants have their deep fryers hot, their fish battered, and potatoes cut. All you have to do is order!

Kipps Lane Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: Huron Heights
1050 Kipps Ln. (map)
https://kippslanefish.com/
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Kipps Lane

As you may have guessed, Kipps Lane Fish and Chips can be found right on Kipps Lane, in the same spot it’s been since 1972. The original owner, John Arp, was dubbed “The Codfather” in the early 80’s, a nod towards just how amazing their fish and chips are. John’s daughter Jacqueline Arp continues on the Codfather legacy to this day, serving up freshly fried and perfectly cooked fish alongside golden brown and salty fries to hungry Londoners.

At the shop on Kipps, you have three choices of fish to accompany your chips: halibut, cod, and haddock.

Halibut is their original offering, served up for a whopping 85 cents in 1972. Caught in the north Pacific, the white fish is dense, flaky, and absolutely delicious. Cod is the most popular choice of fish in the UK, and those guys wrote the book on fish and chips. The cod at Kipps Lane is light, flaky, and fluffy with none of the “fishiness” that make some people wary of seafood. Haddock has a larger flake than the other two, and is described as slightly sweet. Some even go as far to say it’s more flavourful than cod, but still not “fishy.”

The chips, or fries as Canadians are more inclined to call them, are thick cut, which is traditional for fish and chips. A crisp bite and fluffy centre makes for the perfect accompaniment.

On Tuesdays, you can grab a haddock and chips for only $9.95, or $12.65 any other day of the week. You can get the same great deal on a cod and chips dinner on Wednesdays. No matter which fish you pick or which day you visit, you’ll always get perfectly cooked fish and chips with lemon and their incredible house-made tartar sauce.

Their menu extends to all sorts of seafood now, including scallops, shrimp, and even fish tacos. Or if fish isn’t your thing, they’ve also got salads, chicken strips, and unbelievable poutine.

There’s a lot of history behind Kipps Lane Fish and Chips. For over 40 years, they’ve been one of the best in the business and there’s no signs that they’ll be dethroned any time soon. London’s Codfather lives on in Kipps Lane Fish and Chips.

Olde London Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: White Oaks
561 Southdale Rd. E (map)
http://oldefishandchips.com/
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Olde London

Olde London Fish and Chips is a traditional chip shop run by the mother-daughter team of Brenda and Keri Phillips. Sticking to the British origins of their title dish, Olde London has been the place to go for a piece of top-quality fish that’s been battered and fried to perfection in the south end since 1994.

There are many types of fish to pick from at Olde London Fish and Chips: cod, halibut, haddock, salmon, and Alaskan whitefish are all available. Each fish fillet is coated with a light, non-greasy batter that was created by Brenda’s father, the owner of multiple fish and chip shops, in 1955. Get one or two pieces of fish, with the option to add four shrimps to your meal. Or if you’re feeling extra hungry on a Sunday or a Tuesday, Olde London offers All You Can Eat Alaskan whitefish as a special!

The chips are fresh cut and fried to order, so you know they’ll always be sizzling hot with that incredible crunch when they come to your table. They’re absolutely perfect with salt and a splash of vinegar if that’s your style, or take a dip into the homestyle tartar sauce.

Even if you’re avoiding anything that came from a deep fryer, you can still enjoy the seafood at Olde London. Get your fish steamed instead of fried, and opt for a side of rice instead of fish. Just as flavourful and without the fat!

There are also a few sides that you can add on to your meal in traditional English style. Coleslaw, a vinegar-based recipe that’ll add some fresh and acidic elements to your meal, and mushy peas, exactly what it sounds like but so much better than what you may expect.

Visiting Olde London Fish and Chips is always a delight. Fresh, thick-cut chips to go along with top-quality fish, battered and fried with expertise. Now that’s a proposition that’s near impossible to refuse.

Irene’s Seafood and Grill

Neighbourhood: Glen Cairn
315 Wellington Rd. (map)
http://www.irenesseafoodandgrill.com/
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Irene's

Irene’s Seafood and Grill is an inconspicuous-looking house on the corner of Wellington Road and Wellington Court. While the exterior may be modest and the dining room is rather tiny, there’s nothing bolder than the flavour of the fish and chips that they serve.

The smallest order of fish and chips you can get at Irene’s consists of one large and one small piece of fish, served with fries and a roll, as well as your choice of soup, salad, or coleslaw. Definitely not a tiny portion! You can also double down and get two large pieces and one small piece of fish accompanied by the sides.

Your fried fish selection is either halibut, cod, or haddock. Many Irene’s regulars will swear that the halibut is some of the best that you’ll find anywhere! Light and flaky white fillets ensconced in a light batter that’s been fried to golden, crisp perfection. The fries match the golden-brown hue as well as the satisfying crunch. Squeeze a lime wedge over everything and you’re off to the races!

There’s a whole lot more to the Irene’s menu than just fish and chips. If you aren’t feeling fried fish, you can pick from one of their famous grilled fish dinners. They offer over half a dozen types of fish to pick from, including specialty exotic fish. They’ve also got a whole breakfast menu of pancakes, omelets, and French toast that’s served between 7AM and 4PM, a variety of sandwiches and burgers, and even steak dinners!

Irene’s doesn’t let their small size get in the way of big flavours. Their fish and chips are perfectly crisp on the outside and flaky tenderness on the inside. Whether you manage to get a table in their dining room or are ordering to go, you’ll never finish a meal at Irene’s unsatisfied.

The Takeout Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: Huron Heights
1635 Oxford St. E (map)
https://www.takeoutfishandchips.com/
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Best Fish and Chips in London - The Takeout

If you thought Irene’s was tiny, then take a look at The Takeout Fish and Chips. Located on the corner of Oxford Street and Second Street, this little blue house is responsible for some of the best fried fish and French fries that you can find in the Forest City!

When ordering fish and chips, your fish options are: halibut, haddock, cod, and shrimp (technically not a fish, but you can get it with chips and it’ll still be delicious). No matter which seafood option you choose, it’ll get battered and fried until golden brown, ready to be eaten.

Meals come with either one or two pieces of fish, fries, and a small coleslaw. If there’s a group of you that all want the same type of fish, you can go for a family pack, which comes with six pieces and a double order of fries. If you’re just feeling a fish and no chips (or you’re looking to add an extra piece of fish to your other meal), that’s an option as well!

If you aren’t feeling like seafood, The Takeout also has three different preparations of chicken: wings, nuggets, and fillets. The nuggets and fillets both come with a side of chips, so you can still feel included in the “fish and chips” style, even without the fish. Meanwhile, your wings come tossed in your choice of mild, medium, hot, or honey garlic sauce if you so desire it!

As the name suggests, the only dine-in opportunity is a picnic table out in front of the shop, which isn’t the most viable option given the current weather. Your best options are to take out or to get it delivered by Skip the Dishes!

The Takeout Fish and Chips shows that the phrase “small but mighty” still has meaning. They may not have a grand and glorious dining room, but that won’t stop them from making some of the best fish and chips you can sink your teeth into!

Golden Lake Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: Westmount 
15 Southdale Rd. E (map)
https://www.goldenlakefishandchips.ca/
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Golden Lake

The south end of London really has fish and chips sorted out! Golden Lake Fish and Chips is a new face on the London fish and chips scene, having opened in May 2017, and they’re making a big splash (yes, the fish pun was intended)!

Your fish choices are as follows: haddock, cod, halibut, or pollock. Golden Lake is the only restaurant on this list to offer pollock, which is considered to be strong in flavour when compared to mild fish varieties like halibut or cod, though not overbearing or overly fishy in smell or taste.

The fish is dipped in a signature batter before frying, making the fish flaky and soft while the batter gets crisp. A standard order comes with one fillet for haddock, cod, and halibut, while a pollock order comes with two. If you’re ordering for a group, consider the Meal for 2 or 3, which come with the respective number of pieces of haddock, a large garden salad, large fries, and garlic bread with cheese. While it diverges from the traditional sides of coleslaw and mushy peas, it’s an irresistible meal to share with friends or family.

Golden Lake’s fish and chips lunch special is even better! If you visit between 11AM and 3PM, you can get a pollock fillet and fries for only $7.49! Add some shrimp to that deal and you have the Pollock, Shrimp & Fries lunch special for only $9.99! That’s some good bang for your buck.

With options for dining in, taking out, and even delivery (through Just Eat and Skip the Dishes), you can get some awesome fish and chips anytime!

The Best Bakeries in London

Baking is a science, one that takes a lot of practice to get right, even with a recipe. Thankfully, there are many bakers that have practiced and practiced and once they were ready, they opened up bakeries in the Forest City to share their skill and talent with Londoners!

Baked goods can be savoury or sweet, including breads, scones, cakes, tarts. There’s no limit to the flavours you can pack into a baked good! The bakeries on this list offer unique, perfectly crafted, and fresh baked goods that are bound to tantalize your taste buds! Don’t worry about being left out, my gluten-free friends, there are many options for you too, no lie!

Lynn’s Bakery and Deli

Neighbourhood: Argyle Park
2190 Dundas St. (map)
http://www.lynnsbakery.ca/
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Best Bakeries in London - Lynn's

Starting off way out in the east end of the city, Lynn’s Bakery and Deli is one seriously amazing bakery. They’ve got just about every baked good under the sun, and they’re always freshly baked.

At Lynn’s, there’s enough varieties of bread to make your head spin, from big loaves to individual buns, sourdough to focaccia, all baked from scratch with local Canadian flour! Whatever your bread-based needs are, Lynn’s has got you covered.

They’ve got more than just bread though. Lynn’s can satiate your sweet tooth as well. There’s everything from pies to tarts to cookies. Lynn’s is definitely never lacking in sweet treats.

The bakery is accompanied by an awesome deli, serving deli meats, local cheese, fresh soups, and sandwiches – made with their fresh bread, of course.

The bakery has been around for over 30 years, and they definitely won’t be going anywhere soon. Whether you’re going for lunch at the deli or to pick up the perfect loaf, you’ll always be amazed by Lynn’s.

Angelo’s Italian Bakery & Market

Neighbourhood: Oxford Park
755 Wonderland Rd. N (map)
https://www.angelosbakery.com/
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Best Bakeries in London - Angelo's

For a taste of Italy in the Forest City, Angelo’s Italian Bakery & Market is bringing authentic Italian baking and cuisine to Londoners. Angelo’s is a little bit grocery, a little bit restaurant, and a whole lot of bakery, making for a multi-faceted marketplace where you can dine in, get ingredients, and grab dessert all in one place!

Bread is made fresh daily, and there’s a whole lot of it. Rustic loaves, baguettes, and buns galore! The fresh bread is always soft on the inside with a wonderful crust. There’s no doubt that Italians know how to bake a good bread.

The sweet treats at Angelo’s are just as spectacular. From their pies to their muffins, you’ll be very satisfied after indulging in one of their baked desserts. And their cakes! Angelo’s has a wide variety of cakes that will make your mouth water, from the classic black forest to a cannoli cake that you won’t find anywhere else. They even do gorgeous wedding cakes!

Angelo’s also has a variety of gluten-free options for sale! Buns, bread, brownies, and more! Just like everything else, they’re handmade and fresh daily, so have no doubts about quality if you’re celiac or avoiding gluten.

There’s a lot going on at Angelo’s Italian Bakery & Market, always bustling with all sorts of activities. Angelo’s is an awesome one-stop-shop for all things baked and delicious, and grab yourself a meal there too while you’re at it!

Boombox Bakeshop

Neighbourhood: Old East Village
520 Adelaide St. N (map)
http://www.theboomboxbakeshop.com/
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Best Bakeries in London - Boombox

You may know it as that bright pink building on Adelaide, but if you’ve ever stopped in the Boombox Bakeshop, you know it as cupcake heaven. Driven by a love of baking and the power of music, Boombox Bakeshop has brought amazing, unique cupcakes to London, many of which are vegan-friendly!

The unbelievable cupcakes are baked by hand in small batches every day, ensuring freshness and complete mind-blowing deliciousness. Not all flavours are baked every day, but you can always custom order a dozen (or more!) of your favourite flavour if it isn’t currently available, just give 72 hours notice.

The “White Walls” is your classic vanilla on vanilla cupcake. There’s a flavour that is almost tailor-made for Santa, the “One More Cup of Coffee,” a chocolate cupcake topped with espresso frosting – caffeine included. Embrace local craft beer with the “London Calling,” which utilizes London Brewing Co-Op’s Tolpuddle Porter in a chocolate cupcake and then topped with bourbon frosting, pretzels, and salted caramel drizzle.

That’s just three flavours of cupcakes, and there are dozens. Needless to say, you could spend hours scrolling through their website, reading through the flavours only to realize that you can’t decide on just one… You need them all!

Boombox Bakeshop also makes full-sized cakes and pies, not just cupcakes. Many of which are completely vegan – even the pecan pie, it’s crazy – and can be made gluten free!

La Noisette

Neighbourhood: Bellwood Park
900 Oxford St. E (map)
http://www.lanoisettebakery.com/
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Best Bakeries in London - La Noisette

“Noisette” is French for “hazelnut,” a very popular ingredient for making confectionaries. Similarly, La Noisette is popular bakery in London, known for making amazing baked goods!

La Noisette offers basically anything you can bake! From bread to cookies to cinnamon buns to muffins, and so much more! Keep an eye out for seasonal treats on their social media! For instance, as Christmas approaches (I know it’s still November, but it’s coming and we are named Santa after all), they’ve added pumpkin fritters and candy cane shortbread to their menu. Delicious and festive!

One of their standouts on the menu is their bagels. Fresh, warm, and soft, a La Noisette bagel is the perfect vessel for your favourite spread, whether it be butter, cream cheese, or jam. They have even adapted their bagel recipe into the ingenious “bagel bomb,” a ball of bagel dough that has been stuffed with scrambled egg, bacon and cheese. A perfect breakfast for on the go.

La Noisette is also a deli, slicing amazing meats and cheeses for you to take home or to put on a sandwich made with their fresh bread. Combine that with a bowl of soup and a drink and you’ve got quite the lunch on your hands.

The baked goods at La Noisette are all handmade from scratch with real ingredients, which combined with the expert bakers makes for an amazing product! After one visit, it’ll be impossible to resist coming back for more.

Black Walnut Bakery Cafe

Neighbourhood: Downtown London & Old South 
724 Richmond St. (map) & 134 Wortley Rd. (map)
http://www.blackwalnutbakerycafe.com/
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Best Bakeries in London - Black Walnut

From roasting coffee beans to rolling dough, Black Walnut Bakery Café does it all for themselves. Fiercely independent and utterly delicious, Black Walnut Bakery Café is an awesome place to hit up if you’re craving a coffee and something tasty. They even have two locations – one downtown and one in Wortley Village!

Every baked good is made fresh on-site. From biscotti to banana bread to scones, the bakery is always firing on all cylinders to get you the freshest and most delicious treats.

They even have some menu items that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the city, like the cruffin – a croissant shaped into a muffin and filled with either egg custard or whipped cream – and the Chelsea bun – it looks similar to a cinnamon bun, but is stuffed with currants, brown sugar, butter, and walnuts.

These treats are impossibly delicious. In fact, it was Santa’s go-to weekend breakfast for years when he lived in Old South. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, he would walk down to their Wortley Village café, grab a coffee and a cranberry white cheddar scone, and sit on the curb as he enjoyed his breakfast.

Personally endorsed by Santa himself, Black Walnut Bakery Café is an amazing place to stop for a coffee and a baked good. Fresh, real, and local, Black Walnut is definitely one of the best.

Nova Era

Neighbourhood: Old East Village
460 Egerton St. (map)
http://novaera.ca/
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Best Bakeries in London - Nova Era

Nova Era began in Toronto’s Little Portugal in 1991, and has spread to many locations across southwestern Ontario in the following years. London’s Nova Era is found on Egerton St., just steps from the Western Fairgrounds. Staying true to their Portuguese roots, Nova Era captures the feel and taste of Europe and drops it into their bakery and café.

The top seller at Nova Era is the famous pastel de nata, which means “custard tart” or “egg tart,” both of which are accurate. The pastel de nata is a tart filled with an egg custard that is the “15th most tasty delicacy in the world” according to the Guardian’s list.

Nova Era offers baked goods of all sorts, from croissants to donuts to a wide variety of squares – brownie, carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake, and so many more.

They also offer many varieties of breads in traditional European styles. Portuguese corn bread, rustic sourdough, and even sweet bread are all offered in loaves at Nova Era.

Nova Era’s pastel de nata, and every other baked good they make, are baked fresh every day with premium ingredients. Making these treats by hand and in small batches ensures high quality in both taste and texture.

For a taste of Europe, Nova Era is the place to go. They don’t mess with tradition, sticking with classic recipes, preparation, and ingredients, but you can rest assured that absolutely nothing at Nova Era is stale.

Whole Grain Hearth

Neighbourhood: Glen Cairn
958 Leathorne St. #3 (map)
https://www.thewholegrainhearth.ca/
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Best Bakeries in London - Whole Grain Hearth

The Whole Grain Hearth goes above and beyond just baking. They mill their own flour to ensure quality and nutritional value in their ingredients before it makes its way into their final products. This meticulous care goes into the baking process as well, ending up with the perfect loaf of bread every single time.

They have four different flours that they use in their breads: spelt, red fife, rye, and kamut. Each provide their own health benefits and advantages, and each are delicious! The breads are hearty, tasty, and healthy! But it’s important to remember that eating a whole loaf of bread is usually not a good idea, no matter how many health benefits the flour offers.

It’s not all about the bread, however. Whole Grain Hearth also offers a variety of sweet treats that utilize their self-milled flours. Cinnamon rolls, ginger snaps, and pumpkin pie! They even offer poptarts that use spelt flour so they’re gluten free! Stay tuned to their social media for flavours and special offers.

Call to place an order directly from the Whole Grain Hearth, or their products are available at a number of locations throughout the city of London: Lyn-Dys Health Food Store, Booch on Fridays and Saturdays, the Covent Garden Market until the end of October, and Jill’s Table in the winter.

The Fritter Shop

Neighbourhood: St. Thomas
779 Talbot St., St. Thomas (map)
https://www.thefrittershop.com/
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Best Bakeries in London - Fritter Shop

The Fritter Shop is entirely focused on the Dutch delicacy, the fritter. With an ever-growing list of flavours, the Fritter Shop’s fritters are downright addictive and they have yet to disappoint.

These fritters aren’t exactly like the apple fritters you would find at Tim Horton’s. They’re filled and most importantly, they’re fresh. They’re made with dough that is filled with fruit or custard (or both!), then dusted with sugar. Absolutely irresistible.

Each flavour of fritter gets its own shape. Circles are apple, flowers are blueberry, triangles are maple pecan, and so on. Seasonal flavours appear in the diamond shape, which have previously included blueberry cheesecake, nutella, and pumpkin! This is a handy guide for you, but let’s face it – you’d be happy eating any of them, they’re all that good.

The bakery is open 7 days a week in St. Thomas, but they’re available in other places in the city of London proper. They’re available at the Western Fair, Western University, and Masonville farmer’s markets, as well as at the Wortley Village location of Fire Roasted Coffee.

The Fritter Shop may not have the biggest menu, but they have perfected the fritter. With new and seasonal fillings all the time, you’ll always find something that catches your eye. Check out the Fritter Shop at the next farmer’s market or head down to St. Thomas to get a taste for yourself!

The Best Veggie Burger in London

Giving up meat doesn’t mean you have to give up the delicious sandwich that is the hamburger (yes, it is the official stance of SKB that a hamburger is a sandwich). Vegetarianism and veganism have both gained a lot of mainstream traction in the last few years, and with it, the rise of the veggie burger.

Some of the restaurants on this list are purely vegan, while others do have meat on the menu. It’s good to know both, depending on who you’re going out to lunch or dinner with! Regardless of what else is cooked in the kitchen, all of these patties are completely meatless and completely delicious.  

Plant Matter Kitchen

Neighbourhood: Old South
162 Wortley Rd. (map)
https://plantmatterkitchen.com/
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Best Veggie Burgers in London: Plant Matter Kitchen

Plant Matter Kitchen is one of the leaders of the plant-based trend in London, being one of the first fully vegan restaurants in the city. They are dedicated to great food without compromise – no additives, no chemicals, and certainly no animal products. Their menu consists of wholesome, delicious, organic food that is globally inspired and locally produced (they’re even Feast On certified). While their entire menu is incredible, we’re here today to focus on their burgers.

On the lunch menu, Plant Matter Kitchen offers three burgers: The Village Vibe, the 162, and the Scoville. The first burger, the Village Vibe, is their classic burger with the unique addition of hummus and vegan sour cream. The 162 is Plant Matter Kitchen’s take on a bacon cheeseburger, utilizing smoky tempeh strips and Chao cheese melted over the top. The Scoville is named for the units of spiciness, so you know you’re in for some heat. Only the Village Vibe is currently available on the dinner menu, so you’ll have to make a midday trip if you’re interested in the 162 or the Scoville.

As for the patty itself, Plant Matter Kitchen has recently begun to offer the Beyond Meat burger patty on their menu. For those not in the know, Beyond Meat patties are said to be the most realistic plant-based alternative that you can get to a real beef patty in terms of taste and texture. Anywhere it’s offered, the Beyond Meat patty has a tendency to disappear quickly – people are that in love with it!

However, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some vegetarians and vegans aren’t looking for realistic meatiness in their burgers. In which case, Plant Matter Kitchen offers their original house-made patty, an awesome blend of veggies formed into a patty that will never disappoint.

Plant Matter Kitchen also constantly has specials, which are often crazy and awesome burgers piled high with different toppings. Previous burger specials have included a Hawaiian burger, which was topped with crispy pineapple slices and a ginger rum sauce, and a chili cheese burger. Stay tuned to their social media to find out what their new specials are on the daily!

Globally Local

Neighbourhood: Huron HeightsDowntown London
1141 Highbury Ave. N (map) & 252 Dundas St. (map)
http://www.globallylocal.ca/
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Best Veggie Burgers in London: Globally Local

Most people seem to think that vegans and vegetarians have given up on fast food when they commit to their dietary restriction. Globally Local proves that is not the case. This vegan fast food joint offers all of the classics you grew up with, from sandwiches to tacos to breakfast, but without the animal products.

Globally Local offers a variety of burgers, some of which replicate the style and toppings of the fast food chains that vegetarians and vegans can no longer frequent. For instance, the Famous Burger bears an eerie resemblance to the Big Mac, with the middle bun and the special sauce. The Vopper is a portmanteau of “vegan” and Burger King’s “whopper,” topped with dairy-free American cheese, smoky bacUn, pickle, tomato, onion, lettuce, ketchup, and mayo.

Their most recent addition to their menu (at the time of writing, they’re constantly adding and updating) is the Preposterous Burger, the restaurant’s made-in-house answer to the popular Beyond Meat burger, stating that it’s “scarily similar” to the “real” thing. The patty is thick and juicy, and even has a little bit of beet in there to give it a red tinge like rare beef.

The burger patties, except for the Preposterous Burger, are made with a base of chickpeas, ensuring that you’re still getting protein from your burger, even without any meat. However, there are some breadcrumbs in there, so celiacs be warned – these patties are not gluten free! In the style of most fast food burgers, the patties are thin and cooked on a flat top, giving it an appealing crispy outer layer when you bite down.

No one is saying that Globally Local is gourmet, but that’s not what they’re going for. Cravings for fast food cannot be satiated by anything else, and now plant-based Londoners have a place to turn, even in the middle of the night!

The Squire Pub & Grill

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
109 Dundas St. (map)
https://squirepubandgrill.ca/
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Best Veggie Burgers in London: Squire

Welcome back, Squire, we’ve missed you! It’s been a couple weeks since you’ve appeared on one of our lists! As regular SKB readers know, the Squire is an amazing downtown bar and restaurant right across the street from Budweiser Gardens on the corner of Talbot and Dundas. We featured them on our Best Burgers in London list, and their veggie burger is just as amazing!

It all starts with the patty, made in-house. Made from a combination of black beans, beets, and quinoa, the patty is hearty, fresh, and best of all, vegetarian. Take that patty and place it lovingly on a perfectly toasted bun, then top with lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, onion crisps (that’s right, two kinds of onion), and herb mayo.

If you’re feeling a little extra when you’re ordering, you can add feta for just a couple bucks more. Feta adds some extra saltiness and cheesiness and when they put it under the grill to get the cheese a little melty and caramelized, it takes this already-incredible burger to the next level.

Upon request, the burger can easily be made vegan as well. You’ll have to sacrifice the herb mayo and obviously can’t add feta with this request, but those are easy alterations to make sure not a single animal product is on your plate!

To make this burger even more ridiculous, on Tuesdays it’s only $8. That’s right, this is no typo and your eyes aren’t lying to you: Eight freakin’ dollars. You might end up paying more for parking downtown than you will for your burger! If that’s not a great bang for your buck, then I don’t know what is.

The Squire continues to be one of the overall best eateries in the city. Their ingredients are fresh, the cooking is impeccable, and the prices are so reasonable, it’s almost not even fair. If after reading all of our lists, you haven’t checked out the Squire because you don’t eat meat and thought there wasn’t anything for you, now this veggie burger will give you a reason to go!

The Root Cellar

Neighbourhood: Old East Village
623 Dundas St. (map)
http://rootcellarorganic.ca/
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Best Veggie Burgers in London: Root Cellar

The Root Cellar believes that fresh and local are two of the most important things when it comes to food and business. Everything on the menu of this Old East Village restaurant is made from scratch in their kitchen from ingredients grown by local farmers – they even have a map in their restaurant to show where in Ontario each ingredient came from! The menu changes every season to stay fresh and seasonal, but one of their mainstays is the Root Cellar Organic Veggie Burger.

The patty is comprised of black beans, mushroom, and quinoa, which is then brushed with vegan miso gravy. The gravy makes the burger feel juicy, and combined with the mushrooms gives it an awesome umami (AKA savoury or meaty) flavour that is hard to find in many veggie burgers. Take that perfect patty and top it with aged cheddar cheese, caramelized onion, sautéed mushrooms, Dijon, garlic aioli, house-made pickles, and greens.

If you’re worried that going meatless will leave you hungry, let your worries fade away: You will not be leaving the Root Cellar with an empty stomach. The veggie burger is absolutely massive, it’s almost intimidating when your waiter sets it down in front of you.

Ask for the burger to be made vegan, and your wish will be granted! The cheddar will not burden your burger any longer and you can dine without any animal products in your food.

The Root Cellar offers many vegan options, but their veggie burger is one of our favourites. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just not feeling like eating meat for one meal, the Root Cellar Organic Veggie Burger is a fantastic idea.

THE CHAINS

With the drastic increase in demand for plant-based options, a number of chain restaurants have begun to offer non-meat options at their franchises. While they aren’t born and bred in London, these restaurant chains have heeded the call for vegetarian and vegan options and added delicious veggie burgers to their menus.

South St. Burger

South St. Burger has just opened up two locations in London (one in the north, one in the south), and alongside their 100% angus beef burgers, they have an awesome veggie burger.

The patty is soy-based, and they promise it is “low in fat, high in fibre” and it is vegan friendly.

Build your own burger from their plentiful topping options, including classics like lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Go off the beaten track with tomato salsa, maple infused onions, or green olives on your burger. If you feel like splurging, add one of their premium toppings like ginger glazed pineapple or sautéed mushrooms and you’ve got quite the unique and delicious burger on your hands.

A&W

A&W struck a deal with Beyond Meat and brought the plant-based patty to the Canadian masses on a scale that had not been seen before for the meat alternative brand. There was some serious hype around the A&W Beyond Meat burger, and it paid off. It was so popular on the first run in July 2018 that they ran out nation-wide faster than they could restock. The introduction of the veggie burger is considered to be one of the fastest and most successful product launches in Canada!

After a short Beyond Meat drought, A&W has restocked and the Beyond Meat burger is back as a permanent menu item across the country.

The A&W Beyond Meat burger comes with classic burger toppings – lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. Ask for no mayo to make it truly vegan!

A&W also offers the Veggie Deluxe burger, which is made with a portobello and veggie patty, topped with mozzarella, pickles, onion, lettuce, and tomato.

Harvey’s

Harvey’s has been the unsung fast food hero for vegetarians for a long time. They were one of the first large Canadian chains to add a veggie burger to their menu, even before the plant-based trend gained mainstream popularity.

Just like any Harvey’s burger, the veggie burger is flame-grilled, giving it an extra layer of smoky, charred flavour. The patty even goes above vegetarian and is completely vegan! Top the burger with your choice of toppings, whatever floats your veggie boat, and you’re off to the races!

As is the Harvey’s slogan, your hamburger will be a beautiful thing, made even more beautiful by the fact that there are no animal products involved!

The Best Ramen in London

You may mostly know ramen to be those 25 cent packages cause the sodium levels of broke Fanshawe and Western students to skyrocket, and technically you aren’t wrong. But the world of ramen is so much more than instant noodles. The dish originated in China and came to popularity in Japan, then spread across the world. This delicious soup is known for its delightfully chewy noodles and a rich and hearty broth, with so many variations on the other ingredients and toppings that you can add.

Londoners can experience the true essence of ramen in a few different restaurants around the city. They offer authentic representations of the awesome Japanese soup that is filling, comforting, and delicious. So no, you won’t be finding Dollarama on this list with the recommendation of grabbing some chicken-flavoured Mr. Noodles. Here’s some real ramen that you should get acquainted with instead!

Kenzo Ramen

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
192 Dundas St. (map)
http://www.kenzoramen.ca/

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Best Ramen in London: Kenzo Ramen

Kenzo Ramen is a small chain offering authentic and amazing Japanese food at their restaurants across southern Ontario. The first Kenzo was established in Toronto in 2003 and in the intervening years, have opened many more in Mississauga, Waterloo, Hamilton, and, of course, London. The 11th branch of Kenzo Ramen found itself in downtown London in September of 2017, nestled into the Century Building on Dundas St. The storefront itself is small, so you have to keep a keen eye out for it on your first trip down. But after tasting their ramen, you’ll never forget where it is – because you’ll be back so often.

Kenzo Ramen is proudly traditional. Their quality relies on all of the noodles and broth being made in house. Their noodles are made daily, so you know it’ll always be fresh and delicious. Their unforgettable broth is stewed for at least 24 hours, creating great richness and depth of flavour that you won’t find anywhere else. When the two are put together, it’s truly magical.

Kenzo offers a wide variety of ramen preparations, hailing from many different regions of Japan. Each have their own special flavour profile to satisfy your taste buds. Of course, they have the classic Tonkotsu Ramen, a Hakata-style pork bone soup that is one of the most popular ramen styles worldwide.

One of the most popular bowls at the restaurant is the King Shoyu Ramen, a levelled-up version of their Shoyu Ramen. This bowl has twice as many noodles in a savoury soy sauce-based broth, topped with roasted pork shoulder, soft boiled eggs that have been marinated in soy sauce, narutomaki, bok choy, wakame, scallions, and nori. You need a big appetite to go for the King Shoyu, but if you do, you’ll enjoy it to the last drop of broth.

Kenzo also offers a rare vegetarian version of ramen. The creamy broth is described as “tonkotsu-esque,” inspired by the taste of the pork bone broth that so many bowls of ramen are filled with, but without any meat or seafood used to create the flavour. They make no claims that it is vegan, however, only vegetarian. The Creamy Vegetarian ramen isn’t just broth and noodles, however. Your bowl is also packed with fresh tofu, wood ear mushrooms, baby bokchoy, menma, scallions, and red ginger. There are also many of their other ramens that have a vegetarian option available, such as their Sapporo Miso Ramen or Orochong Ramen.

Kenzo Ramen may not have started in London, but their appearance in the Forest City is more than welcome. The ramen that they’re bringing to the table is artisanal, authentic, and absolutely impossible to turn down.

Sakata Ramen

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
219 Queens Ave. (map)
http://sakata.ca/
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Best Ramen in London: Sakata Ramen

Sakata Ramen is another downtown establishment that has ramen all figured out. They offer Japanese cuisine with a menu ranging from sushi to ramen. While their sushi is great, that’s another Best of London list for another day – we’re here to talk ramen.

There are a handful of options at Sakata when it comes to ramen, but all of them fall into two categories: either tonkotsu (pork) or chicken. Once you’ve picked your protein, decide whether you want the traditional preparation or whether you’d like to add miso, spiciness, or black garlic to your bowl to give it something a little extra special.

While your soup comes with many toppings, there may be a chance that you’re looking for even more. In that case, you can add extra of basically any element for a small extra charge. Add some BBQ pork, an extra egg, fried tofu, or even more ramen to your ramen. Additional charges range from $1.50 to $4.95, but that’s the price you pay for the perfect bowl of ramen!

Sakata utilizes an iPad menu to allow you and your table to peruse the menu and evaluate your options before calling the waiter over. This allows for more streamlined service for the ordering of sushi and offers no real advantage when it comes to ordering your ramen over a paper menu, but it’s still a fun experience.

Sakata also offers cold ramen, which is more akin to a pasta salad (though graciously no mayo is in sight) than the hot soup that ramen is often known to be. Cold ramen involved chilled ramen noodles topped with veggies, meats, and garnishes and then often tossed in a dressing of sorts. At Sakata, you can get cold ramen either with chicken, pork, or vegetables. The dish is refreshing, as opposed to the heartiness that you find in a hot ramen soup, but it’s just as filling and delicious. It’s definitely worth the exploration if you’re interested in trying something different!

To accompany your ramen, regardless of hot or cold, Sakata is equipped with a full bar, including a variety of sake options. There are also some delicious dessert options such as Japanese style cheesecake, crème brûlée, and black sesame ice cream.

Ben Thanh

Neighbourhood: Medway Heights, Downtown LondonWhite Oaks
665 Fanshawe Park Rd. W, 57 York St. & 1070 Wellington Rd. S(map)
https://www.benthanhlondon.com/
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Best Ramen in London: Ben Thanh

Since 2011, Ben Thanh has been voted Best of London every single year in various categories including Best Asian Restaurant, Best Thai, Best Vietnamese, and Best Take Out by Londoners in the London Free Press. There are three Ben Thanh locations in London and even more spread across six other cities in southwestern Ontario. They introduced ramen to their menu in January of 2017 and it quickly became one of their top selling menu items!

Ben Thanh’s take on ramen is different than many other restaurants. Where other establishments typically have a set menu of preparations, Ben Thanh allows you to create your own perfect bowl, customized exactly to your preferences. While this may seem intimidating, Ben Thanh makes it as simple as can be in just three steps.

The first step is to pick your broth. Your options include beef, chicken, Szechuan, laksa, and sate – the last three of which are spicy. Your broth is an important consideration, as it is the base of your soup that you will build upon.

Step two is topping selection. With a variety of meats to pick from in various preparations, you’ll be able to create a truly unique ramen. Perhaps you would like to add some chicken skewers, a pork dumpling, or even some BBQ short ribs and kimchi. If you’re feeling a little more on the fishy side, add the mixed seafood option, which includes shrimp, squid, crab stick, mussel, and fish cake to your ramen.

The third step is extras. If you feel like treating yourself a little bit and want some extra dumplings, skewers, or a soft-boiled egg, this is the step for you to enjoy. It costs extra to add these toppings (ranging from $1.95 to $5.95 depending on what you want to add), but if it’s going to put your bowl of ramen over the top with delicious flavour, it’s worth shelling out a couple extra bucks.

Ben Thanh’s ramen may not have the most traditional preparation, but the quality ingredients and the customization options are exciting and unique, you won’t find this anywhere else. You can find the perfect combination of broth base, protein, and extras that you enjoy and stick to it, or try something new every time. The possibilities are endless!

Tanakaya Japanese Restaurant

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
130 King St. (map)
https://www.tanakayajapaneserestaurant.com/
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Best Ramen in London: Tanakaya Japanese Restaurant

It seems that downtown is the place to go if you’re craving ramen. Every place on this list has been located in the centre of the city, and Tanakaya Japanese Restaurant is no different! Found in the Covent Garden Market building, Tanakaya is serving up some of the best Japanese food in the city, offering sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, and even bubble tea, but we’re here to talk about their noodles.

The ramen at Tanakaya uses a soy sauce base for the soup, offering a great salty kick. They offer a variety of proteins to bulk up your soup, like BBQ pork, beef, seafood, and even chicken katsu, which is a breaded and deep-fried chicken cutlet.

Tanakaya can also deliver your delicious ramen through your food delivery app of choice. They are currently available to order through Uber Eats, Snabb Food Delivery, Skip the Dishes, and London Food Market. So, you don’t even have to leave the house to get your fix of amazing soup!

Despite being in the market, they have their own special entrance through their patio so you can still satiate your ramen craving even when the Covent Garden Market is closed. Small but mighty, Tanakaya has some seriously delicious ramen that you should definitely check out the next time you’re hanging out at the market.

Since all of the restaurants are on this list are downtown, it’s going to be a tough call. But you can be sure that after a bowl of ramen at any of these places, you’ll be more than satisfied. You’ll never go back to the dollar store packages again!