7 Things We Ate in Thunder Bay That We Can’t Stop Thinking About |
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burger held up in front of Dawson General Store sign

7 Things We Ate in Thunder Bay That We Can’t Stop Thinking About

Who knew that a quick flight from Pearson or Billy Bishop Airport or an almost 16-hour drive from Toronto could bring you to one of the province’s, neigh, the country’s, most underrated food scenes?

We did actually *pats self on the shoulder*.  We recently got back from a trip to Thunder Bay and have been dreaming of it ever since.

Here’s What You Need to Eat in Thunder Bay

Here are seven dishes we cannot get out of our heads. They haunt our dreams, they wake us up at night with drool on our collective chins. We’re a mess. Keep reading and at least it won’t be in vain.

1.    The Smash Burger at Dawson General Store

Where: 3130 Dawson Rd, Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

burger held up in front of Dawson General Store sign

Dawson General Store is just that- a general store. So pulling up, you don’t expect much. Hah! How wrong you are!

Step inside this on-the-highway spot to find all your road trip essentials: nostalgic snacks, pop, candy, locally-made hot sauces and cured meats…you get it. However, la piece de resistance is behind the deli counter waiting for you- a freshly-grilled burger begging to be bit.

Two all-beef patties sit upon a house-made milk bun (seriously they bake them every morning) with sliced dill pickles, sweet onions, double ooey gooey cheese and a secret burger sauce. That’s it! It’s nothing fancy but it will blow your mind.

Looking to kick things up a notch? If you happen to be around on Wednesdays, check out the Smokeshow Burger- a beautiful little number complete with two beef n’ bacon patties house-smoked, bbq pulled pork. Next up it’s topped with smoked gouda, a secret burger sauce with a Dijon twist, dill pickles and sweet onions once again on that signature milk bun. Daaaamn.

 Plus, if burgers aren’t your thing, the meatball sub is also completely worth writing home about. This Thursday special is complete with three beefy meatballs in a house-made marinara and snuggled into a milk bun. Next, it’s topped with melted mozzarella for a cheesy pull, smoked Gouda and a sprinkle of parm.

close up of the meatball sub at Dawson General Store
You know what? You’re gonna want to visit more than once.

2. The Matcha Brulee at Bight

Where: 2201 Sleeping Giant Parkway Unit 100, Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

Close up of the matcha brulee at Bight

Nestled along the harbourfront, Bight offers up creative cuisine in a beautiful atmosphere. Our favourite dish however comes at the very end of the menu in a short list of excellent desserts.

Their Matcha Brulee is a new and fresh twist on a dessert that has been done one thousand and one times. Replacing the rich and creamy for a zingy matcha custard then topped with pickled blackberries and a sesame cracker, this little number is a new kid on the block but we think it’s got staying power.

3. The Japchae at Bop Shop

Where: Located inside the Goods & Co. Market at 251 Red River Rd Suite #3, Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

photo of japchae at bob shop

For those who don’t know, Japchae is a Korean dish that features both savoury and sweet notes. Essentially a stir fry of glass noodles and fresh veggies, this take brings a twist with each mouthful more flavourful than the next. If you ask us, it’s perfect for wintery days when you’re carving something hearty but still fresh.

The Bop Shop located inside Goods and Co. serves up a Japchae to their patrons that is super satisfying and served in a combo alongside rice and miso soup. While you’re in, grab their homemade kimchi or Gochuchang sauce to use at home. Yum!

4.   Chocolate Raspberry Dessert at Cardinal Chocolate Company

Where: 16 Cumberland St. S. Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

side by side from cardinal chocoaltes: on the left, the dessert in frnt of the cook book and on the right, somebody holding a glass of red wine behind two truffles

“We’re looking for something that is beautiful, has a great story and tastes really good” is a tall order for any restauranteur but we have to say, the folks at Cardinal Chocolates hit this one out of the park.

Cardinal Chocolates is a chocolate and wine bar with a speakeasy vibe. Tucked away in a small room inside The Red Lion Smokehouse, they open for private parties and high teas and will have more regular hours soon.

So- what do you need to try? Of course, a selection of delectable truffles ranging the gamut from hazelnut and coffee to chocolate peanut butter. Yum!

Ask the staff what wine to pair up with and you’re off to the races. However, it’s the dessert menu we don’t think you should sleep on. Their dark chocolate cremoso with raspberries leaves little to be desired.

This dessert was created by head chef and owner, Chef John Murray, for one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks originally. Chef John was working at the prestigious Vinoteca in London at the time. This dessert is as beautiful as it is delicious. Almost too pretty to eat! So make sure you clean up every morsel.

5. Sticky Buns at Sweet North Bakery

Where: 10 Court St S, Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

overhead shot of breakfast sandwich, breakfast ray, sticky bun. cappucino and coffee at Sweet North

Step inside Sweet North Bakery and you’ll instantly be greeted by the warm smell of sticky buns in the oven, fresh coffee brewing and friendly staff. With so much to choose from, check out the case of baked goods for everything from muffins and breakfast sandwiches to breakfast rays (think scrambled eggs in a flaky pastry). Our favourite however, are their famous sticky buns.

This sweet, syrupy roll is a fav amongst locals for its brown sugar and cinnamony goodness- the perfect start to any morning if you ask us. Simple and sweet.

6. The Fig + Pear Woodfired Pizza at Caribou

Where: 727 Hewitson St, Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

close up of the fig and pear pizza at Caribou

This spot is one of the OGs of the local food movement in Thunder Bay. Known for grilling up an excellent steak, creamy pastas and epic woodfired pizza- they’ve made quite the splash and really helped to pioneer the city’s food scene over twenty years ago. Today they continue that tradition by serving up the good stuff.

Our menu item of choice? The fig and pear pizza. This bad boy is wood-fired in house (you can watch it being done from your table) then drizzled with olive oil, mozzarella, Italian ham, aged Gouda and arugula. Next, it’s topped with house-roasted pears and black mission figs. The sweet-savoury combo followed by the punchy hit from the Gouda shouldn’t be missed. Ask your server for a wine or cocktail recommendation to pear (get it?) with the ‘za.

7. Tom Ka Gai at Thai Kitchen

Where: 11 Cumberland St S, Thunder Bay, ON. (View Map)

close up shot of soup at Thai kitchen

When we say you have to go to Thai Kitchen we mean it. You have to go. One of the top restaurants in Thunder Bay, Thai Kitchen’s menu is full of unexpected flavours!

We love their Tom Ka Gai which is a broth-based coconut soup with tangy notes of chicken, fresh mushrooms, lemongrass, lime leaf, chillies and galanga. Topped with fresh cilantro, this flavour bomb is so satisfying and amazing topped with their curry puffs which we highly recommend you dunk in that soup!

Start Planning Your Trip

Do these dishes have you itching to start planning a trip to TBay? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide for three delicious winter days.

A Complete Guide to 3 Delicious Winter Days in Thunder Bay