While downtown is technically the centre of Hamilton, for many people the East End is the heart of the city. Whether it’s the working class folks, the long-standing businesses, or the stadium acting like a beacon seen from anywhere in the city, the whole area gives off this amazing, hard-working, timeless vibe. The restaurants in this area reflect that classic, “been here forever for a reason” feeling.
It was tough to narrow down to just ten, but here is Steeltown Chowdown’s Top 10 East End Restaurants.
Todd: You all know about Bonanza by now, many of you probably know about Duarte’s, but hidden away in a sleepy neighbourhood of war time homes just off of Woodward Avenue is a small groceteria with its own hot table and fresh sub station. I was one of the first cars that dropped in at 11:20 am to grab a sub and when I left the lot was full — street parking only. Truly the epitome of the blue collar lunch stop, I felt out of place for not being in coveralls and having dirt under my fingernails from working hard since 6 am. I highly recommend you seek this gem out for their foot long subs, starting at $4.00.
Mush: I think you still earned it, Todd… you probably had been working medium strength since 10:30 am? Anyway, it’s amazing how many great mixed subs there are in this city. There might be more awesome mixed subs in Hamilton than any other food item. We could (and will at some point) do a Top 10 Mixed Subs in Hamilton and still leave some places off of the list. Is it possible this is Hamilton’s signature food?
Mush: You can’t really go wrong anywhere on the menu here, but my pick is the Peameal Dagwood — a ton of peameal bacon and cheddar cheese on a fresh portuguese bun. Also served with their fresh cut fries. Very solid wings here as well.
Todd: Did I ever tell you the story of Mush and I going here as kids with his family? Oh that was in our first top 10 list… well, I for one look forward to a top 10 list that doesn’t include Rankin’s. That wait may be longer than I think and for good reason as they continue to do it all really well here.
Mush: Rarely would a restaurant make a Top 10 list on the strength of one item alone, but the egg rolls here are that good. They’re the only egg rolls in town that even come close to matching the quality of the old Ding Ho restaurant on Upper James (RIP). Plus they have a sweet gong on their front counter.
Todd: Only strike the gong and ring the bell at the same time if you are really hungry though! Honestly, the egg rolls are the main reason I keep going back because the rest of the items on their menu are relatively standard fare. Typically we visit one of the other locations on this list for dinner and go to South Pacific for Egg Rolls for dessert. They also make amazing leftovers, so I recommend picking up at least a half dozen.
Todd: Red Rockets is perfect for when you’re feeling takeout chicken wings. They have big fat wings with a great honey hot sauce. Their combos are perfect for serving at a party and they do delivery. Whether you’re a Green Bay Packers fan or not, do not miss out on the deep fried cheese curds as a side. They offer them at a discount as an add on via their online order form, which has never failed me yet.
Mush: Like the Nature Boy Ric Flair, Red Rockets is often imitated, but never duplicated (Woooooo!). I have just one question: Can they add pizza to their menu??? I have been looking for a take out place with amazing pizza and amazing wings my entire life and still haven’t quite found it. Maybe I’ll just order Aceti’s for take out instead.
Mush: Nothing fancy here, just a neighbourhood restaurant with retro ambiance, friendly service, and awesome pizza and wings. You can taste the quality of the toppings on a nice thin crust, and the wings are some of the biggest you can find in the city. Go Sundays and watch the game with Pizza and Wing specials.
Todd: I have one question, who is Aceti? I kind of like that name. The Pizza and Wings are always good here but what always surprises me is the bill. How is it so little? What do I do with all the extra money I have? I walk out and go and buy egg rolls for dessert. Okay, turns out I had two questions.
Mush: Ask any blue collar worker near Parkdale where to go to lunch and this is where they will send you. Mountains of deli meat, on a fresh bun at a rock bottom price. And they have the lunch service down to a science, which is key when you need to get back to the grind fast.
Todd: I can’t believe Mush didn’t mention the .99 cent cold pizza option that he’s so sure could make a killing as a business model. While certainly a hotly debated topic about the merits of cold pizza between the two of us, there is no doubt that Springer’s is one of the best value, quick serve meals in the city.
Todd: While Mush and I were trying to track down the city’s best breaded chicken wing restaurant, we stopped into F&F. Sure they have good wings but they also have these Jalapeno Cheese Wonton Wraps. You only get six (rather large) pieces, but be sure you’re with someone you love if you’re planning to share. The whole vibe of this establishment is perfect: friendly wait staff, kind managers and the exact experience I look for in a pub atmosphere. There’s a lot of teachings some other “pubs” in town could learn from spending just a couple hours here.
Mush: Todd is a bit higher on this place than I am. There’s nothing wrong or bad about F&F, but it’s lots of good to great things instead of a few outstanding things. That said, the homemade jalapeno poppers Todd speaks of are truly inventive and delicious.
Mush: My favourite of the two locations in the city. Obviously the burgers are the star of the show here, but they also have great chicken sandwiches, insane milkshakes, and solid poutines. My pick here is the panko breaded onion rings with INCREDIBLY GOOD buttermilk ranch dipping sauce. Pro tip: Regardless of what you order, make sure to ask for ranch sauce on the side
Todd: Hambrgr has really done a great job of setting the standard for gourmet burgers in town. Like most people I talk to, I prefer the Ottawa street location as well. It’s a little more spacious and they offer those ridiculously instagrammable and tasty milkshakes.
Todd: The EndZone has the best breaded chicken wings in the city, probably the most TVs per square foot of any independent sports bar in town, and some amazing daily deals. Tuesdays are wing night for 79 cents a piece. Don’t overlook the Buffalo Bleu sauce!
Mush: I’m 100% in on any place that has a giant Ti-Cat logo on one wall and a giant TSN1150 logo on the other (shout out to Marsh). Now that the final Chaps has closed their doors, EndZone is the new king of chicken wings in the city. Massive, super-crispy wings with a ton of sauce options. Just a phenomenal all-around sports bar.
Todd: Caro is currently leading the charge for my 2018 restaurant of the year and no competitors look to be challenging it. A beautiful open space with minimalist charm, including a small menu that is still difficult to narrow down what to order. For dinner I cannot more highly recommend the Braised Short Rib Lasagna. As for lunch, ask for The Omar, a secret menu item (you’re welcome) of honey barbeque breaded chicken pizza — a homage to the location’s previous owner. Their dough is perfect by my standards.
Mush: Since Todd hates breakfast and brunch (I know, terrible take, right?) let me tell you that their brunch is equally as good as their lunch and dinner food, and that’s saying something. The star of the show here is their wonderfully crispy smashed home fries. My favourite part is that if you order coffee they bring it in the french press and leave it for you on the table. A VERY welcome addition to the area.
If you’re looking for more great restaurants, check out our places page for more suggestions!
Let us know your fav east end spots in Hamilton in the comments below!
Authored By: Todd & Mush of Steeltown Chowdown (IG: @steeltownchowdown)