The Best Spots to Eat + Drink in Thunder Bay | Ontario Culinary
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overhead shot of sticky bun, breakfast ray, breakfast sandwich and two coffees at Sweet North Bakery

The Best Spots to Eat + Drink in Thunder Bay

If you’ve talked to our team recently, we’ve probably mentioned Thunder Bay’s epic food scene. It’s hard to keep it to ourselves! Thunder Bay’s geographically-isolated position along the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario makes it tricky to import exotic ingredients from distant locations. Instead, Thunder Bay chefs, food producers, mixologists, bakers, and farmers must rely on one another to produce and create. This has led to the development of fantastic partnerships, cool tastes of place, and a food story that is totally and completely unique to Thunder Bay.

Keep reading for our round-up of the must-visit spots in Thunder Bay.

Where to Eat and Drink in Thunder Bay

From restaurants and breweries to cocktail bars and farms, here are the many places we think you should check out! Keep scrolling or use the links below to navigate to a specific category:

Breweries and Cocktail Bars

Lakehead Beer Co. + Tomlin Subdivision

Where: 206 Park Ave. Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Lakehead’s IPA + the Detroit-style pizzas at Tomlin Subdivision
A grid of two photos from thunder bay: on the left, Gabby holding a beer and on the right a close up of the Detroit-style pizza at Tomlin Subdivision

Right in downtown Thunder Bay, Lakehead Beer Co. and Tomlin Subdivision share a home that is full of flavour. Lakehead does three flagship beers really well: an IPA, a Pilsner and a Light Lager, all served straight from the brite beer tank for the freshest pint possible. We recommend checking out the IPA for a juicy, dry-hopped little number made using Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops.

Order up a pint or two, then head over to the counter at Tomlin Subdivision to grab one of their famous subs or some of the best dang Detroit-style pizza you’ll ever have. We love the Buffalo chicken ‘za.

Finally, we recommend checking out this spot on a Tuesday for trivia or a Thursday for open mic night—this is your chance to see a great lineup of talented local musicians.

Dawson Trail + Station 22

Where: 1181 Golf Links Rd, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The Plinth German Pilsner + Potato Skins

shot of the bartender at Dawson Trail with two flights of beer

Priding themselves on crafting simple brews well, Dawson Trail is a no muss, no fuss kind of brewery. Step inside and order up a flight; we loved the German pils, but don’t hesitate to ask the staff for a recommendation based on your palate. Their team brews using locally-grown grain malted just down the road, and you’ll taste the care they’ve put into sourcing fresh ingredients.

Next, slide yourself just down the counter and put in an order at Station 22, the in-house restaurant. We enjoyed feasting on their nachos made with corn tortilla chips, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, bacon, green onion, spiced ground beef, tomato, banana peppers and salsa roja, served with a thick sour cream. The potato skins were pretty top notch, but if you’re looking for something a little different, try the pancetta leek dip—yum!


Where: 15c St. Paul St. Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Rice Tipsy Treat Cocktail

two cocktails at barkeep, one pink one with a cedar spring being singed by a brulee torch and the other shorter and orange with an orange peel twist garnish

Barkeep might just be the coolest spot to hang out in Thunder Bay. Inside, you’ll find a large u-shaped bar, ambient lighting and a cocktail list curated with an impressive amount of care.

We recommend starting with the Rice Tipsy Treat, a fun homage to an epic meal savoured by the owners featuring tequila, umeshu, tamarind, toasted rice, lime and chilli. We also tried the Crooked Little Heart, a cocktail made with gin, white rum, curaçao, aperol, cranberry, egg white, served smoking thanks to the torched cedar that adds an aromatic note to the experience.

Looking for alcohol-free options? That’s no problem either! The menu includes a range of zero-proof cocktails, like the Pomelo Nojitos featuring pomelo, grapefruit, mint and soda, or the Virgin Barkeep Caesars among other great options.

Pair your drink choice with a few delicious snacks like their Little Pickle Plate, Sea Salt Pistachios or Soy Sauce Almonds—yum!

Sleeping Giant Brewing Company

Where:  712 Macdonell St, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Citra Saison

Couple enjoying a beer and snacks on the patio at Sleeping Giant Brewing Company

Found on the outskirts of town, Sleeping Giant Brewing Company is a pretty big player in the Ontario craft beer game. Around since 2012, they’re known for their fun takes on classic brews like the Stouty McStoutface or the Mr. Canoehead Hoppy Red Ale.

Book a tour in advance, join in on one of their fun events or grab a spot outside on the patio on a beautiful day (our favourite option!). Our summer go-to is their seasonal Citra Saison with notes of orange and lime. Before you leave, be sure to shop their in-house gift shop stocked with tons of cool merch, local products and more.

Farmers’ Markets and Food Producers

Thunder Bay Country Market

Where: 425 Northern Ave, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
When: Wednesdays 3:30pm-6:30pm; Saturdays 8am-1pm

Crate of garlic at the Thunder Bay Country Market

This local farmers’ market is your gateway to understanding what Thunder Bay is all about. The market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday, and it’s full of great vendors selling their delicious wares.

You’ll find familiar faves like Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. and Thunder Oak Cheese alongside lesser-known vendors who are building local businesses from the ground up! This is a great spot to grab a few savoury souvenirs or to source your next meal.

Box of dyed wool from Borderland Farms at the Thunder Bay Country Market

Here are three must-see vendors at the market:

  • Hoito Pancakes: Try their famous Finnish pancakes on-site or grab some of their mix to try at home or have them served up warm to enjoy on the spot.
  • Big Lake Pasta: Lake Superior-shaped noodles, need we say more?
  • Borderlands Farm: Knitters will love their woolens and hand-dyed yarn, while foodies will enjoy the fresh lamb meat.

Goods & Co.

Where: 251 Red River Rd, Suite #3, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The Bop Shop, Woodside Bar, Three Seeds, Uncommon Baked Goods

a grid from the woodside bar. On the left, a woman sipping on a purple drink and on the right, two cocktails back lit by the bar- one purple, one yellow

How do we describe Goods and Co.? It’s like a mall if malls were full of cool, local businesses making craft cocktails, serving unreal bipimbap and selling local produce, maple syrup, pottery, clothing, jewelry and more. This collective of Thunder Bay businesses is all kinds of fun to visit, and there’s something for everyone.

An overhead shot of bipimbap, japchae and two miso soups plus hot sauce from BopShop. The bipimbap has a hand holding two chopsticks in it.

We recommend taking your time to explore the whole thing at your leisure but if you’re tight for time here are a couple of can’t-miss suggestions.

  • Uncommon Baked Goods makes amazing giant cookies, flaky croissants and even breakfast sandwiches with crinkle cut chips inside for a tasty crunch.
  • The Bop Shop serves up fresh Korean food with unreal flavour combos. We love their bipimbap and Japchae as well as the homemade kimchi, which comes in a few variations.
  • Woodside Bar crafts dreamy cocktails at their breezy bar, perfect for whiling away an afternoon. We love the It’s Thyme to Dream cocktail featuring fresh thyme from Three Seeds Corp. grown vertically on-site!
  • Superior Seasons offers fresh produce from Belluz Farms alongside Ontario cheese, herbs from Three Seeds Corp, freshly-baked bread, and more.
  • Mamakeesick Roots features beautiful Indigenous art by local Oji-Cree artist Jessica Mamakeesick.
  • Canada West Maple Syrup is a spot to stock up on all things maple along with a few other Ontario-made products, like TBay’s own Prime Gelato. Try their Forgotten Lake Blueberry Maple Syrup, made in partnership with Lake of the Woods Brewing in Kenora.

Thunder Oak Cheese

Where: 611 Boundary Dr, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Dill Gouda

cheesemaker holding the cheese in aisles of Gouda

Run by the Scheps, a Dutch family who immigrated from Holland with a longstanding cheesemaking pedigree, Thunder Oak Cheese specializes in crafting traditional farm-to-table Goudas on their farm just south of Thunder Bay. Take a relaxing road trip out of the city to the Thunder Oak Cheese farm, where you can sample all sorts of Goudas including dill, cracked black pepper, Fenugreek, and even cumin & cloves.

In addition to the cheese, the farm shop is also home to a number of Dutch specialty goods like stroopwaffels, cookies, herbaceous licorice and more. Trust us, it’s really gouda.

Slate River Dairy

Where: 8, Ontario 608, Neebing, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The chocolate milk

slate river dairy cow statute and exterior of building

Slate River Dairy is an homage to what our food should be—fresh from the farm. Owners Jim and Wilma Mol are passionate about their products, which becomes very clear when you strike up a conversation with them! Named after the Slate River that bends right through their property, Slate River is a beautiful spot to explore, but you’ll have to head inside the building to find their flagship product: fresh milk.

Girl drinking milk outside at Slate River Dairy straight from the bottle

We recommend grabbing a bottle of their regular milk as well as the chocolate milk and enjoying a few sips outside before heading on your way. This is a milk experience unlike any other: Slate River milk comes straight from the cow! Unlike standardized milk from the grocery store (think 1%, 2%, homogenized, etc.), the only process this milk goes through is pasteurization at 63 degrees Celcius. It tastes a wee bit sweet and a whole lot of good.

Also on deck? Yogurt, buttermilk, butter, cottage cheese and more. Don’t forget your cooler!

Bay Meats Butcher

Where: 282 Bay St, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The maple jerky

wall of jerky at Bay Meats Butcher Shop in bright packaging

Bay Meats Butcher is run by two former tax accountants! This shop full of preservative-free goodness. Find a great selection of jerkies, pepperettes (or mints as we like to call them) and smoked products that are sure to hit the spot.

If you’re heading to one of the many epic hikes available around Thunder Bay, we recommend stopping in and stocking up. Try the maple jerky or teriyaki jerky (all made with Canadian beef) for a tangy treat. You can also shop their line of smoked spices (you need the smoked paprika in your life) or pick up ham and garlic kielbasa for sandwiches—yum!


Where: Thunder Bay International Airport, 100 Princess St, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
photo of wild rice from Tea Horse

Part café, part gift shop, part market, part-restaurant—we weren’t really sure where NOMAD should fit on this list, but we knew it had to make an appearance. NOMAD takes airport shopping to a whole new level, and we can’t wait for this to become the new normal in airports!

misc souvenirs: postcard, stickers

Conveniently located in the departure terminal, consider this your final stop to stock up on the essentials: beer from Sleeping Giant and Lakehead, Heartbeat Hot Sauce, goods from Tea Horse, art by local artists, coffee from St Paul Roastery, and so much more. You can also grab a coffee, gelato, or a treat from Pine Tree Catering. Whether you were worried about fitting your goods in a carry-on or forgot a souvenir for somebody back home, NOMAD is a life saver.


Great restaurants abound in Thunder Bay! Keep reading for some of our go-to spots.

Thai Kitchen

Where: 11 Cumberland St S, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The curry puffs, Tom Ka Gai

overhead shot of spread at Thai Kitchen

Thai Kitchen is busting at the seams with rich, bright, vibrant flavour! Located right downtown on Cumberland Street, you haven’t really visited Thunder Bay until you’ve visited Thai Kitchen. Seriously, ask any local.

Thai Kitchen pride themselves on harmony in their food (sweet and spicy, Western and Eastern, savoury and bright), and you can see (and taste) that philosophy in every dish. We recommend diving into the Tom Ka Gai with coconut chicken, fresh mushrooms, chilies, lemongrass, lime leaf and galanga, or the well-known Ginger Chicken Stir Fry made with zingy fresh ginger.

Hint: Top it all off with their well-spiced curry puffs and a jasmine bubble tea for maximum enjoyment!


Where: 202 1/2 Red River Rd, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Family-style tasting menu
Hot Tip: Tuesday is burger night. There will be a line and it will be worth it.

overhead shot of the corn and sausage dish at Tomlin

Farm-to-table is the name of the game at Tomlin, where the menu changes regularly and its curation is a collaborative effort by the whole kitchen team. A true foodie stop in the city, we recommend heading here if you’re celebrating something special or are seeking out a great cocktail.

While we can’t guarantee that these dishes will be on the menu when you visit, past seasonal faves have included pork belly with kimchi-jigae, charred broccolini, a sweet corn and sausage dish, and so much more. We recommend ordering the family-style tasting menu,which will have you on your toes and pleasantly surprised every step of the way!

Dawson General Store

Where:  3130 Dawson Rd, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The smash burger, the meatball sub

burger held up in front of Dawson General Store sign

Dawson General Store is a general store with a secret: inside, you’ll find some of the best damn food in Thunder Bay. Think house-made smash burgers topped with pickly perfection, scratch-made soups and what many call the best sticky bun in the city.

close up of the meatball sub at Dawson General Store

Their meatball sub is a must-try in all its massive, saucy glory. Only available on Thursdays, this bad boy will really hit the spot. Pull up a stool to the counter to enjoy or grab it to go. Whatever you choose, your stomach is sure to be delighted.

If you’re traveling through, you’ll find the convenience store classics: nostalgic candy, a great selection of pop, and all the road trip snacks you can dream of.

Sound good to you? Read about some of the other unforgettable things we ate on our last trip.


Where: 2201 Sleeping Giant Pkwy Unit 100, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: the matcha crème brûlée, pork tenderloin

exterior shot of Bight all lit up at night

Located right on the harbourfront, Bight boasts floor-to-ceiling windows around the perimeter of the restaurant for maximum scenic views. In the winter, the skating rink is just steps from the front door and fireplaces keep the whole place cozy. In the summer, the patio is buzzing with folks grabbing a cocktail right by the water. Try the London Fog Whisky Sour if it happens to be on deck when you visit!

closeup of the pork tenderloin at Bight

The menu is full of splendid ingredients and is regularly updated to reflect the bounty of the season. During our visit, we couldn’t stop talking about the Big Lakes Harvest Pasta and the succulent bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin served with an apple and squash bake and pickled cranberries.

Close up of the matcha brulee at Bight

The matcha crème brûlée was another showstopper; the bright, vibrant flavour was a welcome twist on a dessert menu classic. Topped with pickled blackberries and a sesame tuile (a thin and crisp black sesame cracker), this is a perfect way to end a delicious meal.



Where: 727 Hewitson St, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Pear and fig wood-fired pizza

close up of the fig and pear pizza at Caribou

Caribou is practically the godfather of the local food scene. They’ve been slinging sizzling steaks, dreamy pastas and wood-fired pizzas since before it was cool—we’re talking over two decades of culinary swagger.

Their pièce de résistance is the fig and pear pizza. This sweet-savoury combo is wood-fired with olive oil, mozzarella, Italian ham, aged Gouda and arugula, then pulled from the oven and topped with house-roasted pears and black mission figs. It’s perfect for sharing alongside a couple of appetizers. Don’t forget to ask your server for the perfect wine pairing!

Grotto Trattoria

Where: 28 Cumberland St N, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The Lasagna Grotto

The lasagna at Grotto Trattoria, rolled up like a croissant on a bed of tomato sauce

This dark and moody spot is all about putting a modern twist on Italian classics: think deconstructed cannolis, deep-fried burrata and gnocchi bianco with pistachios and parmesan chips. Order a glass of red wine as you peruse the menu and share that aforementioned deep-fried burrata with a friend (or keep it for yourself!).

When it comes to main dishes, we’re obsessing over the Lasagna Grotto. This modern take on grandma’s lasagna comes is rolled and topped with tons of cheese, like an ooey-gooey lasagna croissant. Get ready to savour every bite!

Norteños Cantina

Where: 235 Red River Rd, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Birria tacos
Hot Tip: They also have a Norteños Taqueria location on the outskirts of town

Tacos and margaritas? Yes please! How about a little live music? You bet.

Grid from Nortenos. On the left, a hand holding a birria taco dripping with beef broth, on the right, a hand holding a nacho in avacado lime crema

Norteños Cantina is located in downtown Thunder Bay, just a few steps from Goods & Co., and this spot is a bright and colourful party! With a variety of Mexican tacos on the menu, it’s hard to decide what to order. We opted for the birria with a side of beef broth for dipping into and our tacos did not disappoint.

This is the perfect spot to kick back with friends and enjoy a few drinks. Their cocktail menu has something for everyone! The classic Cantina Classico margarita is perfect for purists and can also be ordered as a pitcher to share. The Frida Marghlo margarita is a twist on the classic, with cherry brandy, watermelon-mint shrub, lime, agave syrup, and pink Himalayan sea salt. For the adventurous cocktail fan, the Harvest Moon is made with whisky and a maple-pumpkin syrup.

Bartender at Nortenos holding out two margaritas - one pink and one yellow

Norteños also has a great lineup of events and live music, so be sure to keep an eye on their socials for details.

The Bannock Lady

Where: 1000 Fort William Rd, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The bannock burger, hangover soup

The Bannock Lady is an institution in Thunder Bay. Located inside the mall and owned by Jeanette Poisine, this spot is well-known for its bannock creations that truly hit the spot. Burgers, hot dogs and tacos are all served up on Jeanette’s homemade bannock bread for a unique taste of place.

The bannock burger is a must-try: the saucy patty sandwiched between two bannock buns is delicious!

Feeling a little rough after a night spent enjoying Thunder Bay’s epic cocktail scene? There’s a remedy for that! Head to the Bannock Lady and order up Jeanette’s famous hangover soup. This hearty and wonderful soup is made with tomatoes, tomatoes sauce, veggies, ground beef and macaroni noodles to cure what ails you.

Red Lion Smokehouse

Where: 16 Cumberland St S, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Heartbeat hotsauce chicken and bacon dip, deep-fried olives

Grid of Red Lion Smokehouse, bacon and heartbeat hotsauce dip from two angles

This BBQ joint and smokehouse is nestled in the waterfront district of the city, just steps from several other spots on this list, including Thai Kitchen and Tomlin. This lively hangout boasts a delicious menu of low-and-slow BBQ classics, like their maple bacon and smoked cheddar burger, pulled pork sandwiches, classic ribs and more. Inventive snacks round out the menu: we loved the deep-fried banana peppers and Heartbeat Chicken and Bacon dip. Just look at the photos above and try not to drool!

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

Want to know a secret? Cardinal Chocolate Company is a speak-easy chocolate and wine bar located inside Red Lion. They craft beautiful truffles served alongside a carefully-curated selection of Ontario wines. Want to get in on the fun? Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming event info, private event bookings, or to order their chocolates through Red Lion.

Love a sweet treat? Us too! Read more here: 6 Ways to Get Your Sweet Tooth Fix in Thunder Bay

Kangas Sauna

Where: 79 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Finnish pancakes, borscht

overhead shot of diner food at Kangas Saunas

When you think of a sauna, you may not immediately think of a spot to get a great meal, but Kangas Sauna is the perfect place to relax with a Nordic sauna followed by a classic diner meal. They specialize in Finnish pancakes—a very thin, crêpe-like creation topped with whipped cream, strawberries and maple syrup. Fun fact: did you know that Thunder Bay is home to the highest Finnish population per capita in Canada? Cool, eh?

We recommend ordering the classic borscht topped with sour cream and dill for a simple and delicious meal. You can get the pancakes and the borscht to go if you’re on the move!

The Eddy Restaurant

Where: 4744 ON-11 #17, Kakabeka Falls, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: The Eddy Burger

Heading to Kakabeka Falls to see Ontario’s second highest waterfall? You won’t be disappointed—it’s gorgeous! As you make your way back to Thunder Bay after your hike, stop by The Eddy Restaurant to refuel.

Nicole holding up the Eddy Burger in Thunder Bay

This roadside restaurant is perfect for a summer day and will hit you with a bit of nostalgia if you’re from a rural community. Grab a seat on the patio and take in the rays while you enjoy a cold beer from Sleeping Giant Brewing Company, or get into a big ol’ Eddy Burger made with two patties, jam, bacon, housemade pickles, tomato and smoked cheese. It’s juicy and delicious and best topped off with a slice of homemade pie to round out the experience.

Cafés + Bakeries

Need a pick-me-up? Thunder Bay is a great place to grab a coffee and baked goods. These spots will not disappoint!

St Paul Roastery

Where: 11 St Paul St, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Cortado

Paul holding a coffee and leaning against a table at St. Paul Roastery with a coffee

This cozy coffee shop roasts their beans on site and you can taste the attention to detail in every sip. We recommend grabbing a seat at the bar in the front window and sipping a delightful cortado or cappuccino as you look out onto the street.

In the mood for a regular cup of joe? St Paul Roastery roasts single-origin brews that allow you to taste the terroir of the region where the beans are grown. Try a few to find your favourite!

Swell Bakeshop

Where: 15a St Paul St, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Literally everything

Attached to St Paul Roastery is Swell Bakeshop. This is a super-popular spot to grab croissants, danishes and an ever-changing variety of mouthwatering pastries.

They’re open Wednesday-Saturday from 9am until sold out, so we recommend grabbing your coffee from St Paul early and sipping away as you wait in line for this bake shop to open their doors. From the front window, you can watch head baker and owner, Emily, in a three-day dough process as she crafts this array of sweet and savoury treats.

Emily rolling out dough on machine at Swell Bakery in front window

When the door finally open, you’ll be greeted by the smell of freshly-baked croissants, chocolate éclairs and blueberry danishes. Once you’ve secured the goods, bring your bounty back over to St Paul to enjoy alongside your coffee.

Sweet North Bakery

Where: 10 Court St S, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)
You Need to Try: Breakfast Rays, Sticky Buns

overhead shot of sticky bun, breakfast ray, breakfast sandwich and two coffees at Sweet North Bakery

We cannot say no to a hearty breakfast and Sweet North is the perfect place to indulge. Known for their sticky buns, they keep things simple here with cinnamon, vanilla and a few other key ingredients you’d expect to find. We also feel like there’s something special in there but we can’t quite be sure … Either way, there’s even a bake-at-home option because they’re so popular!

For savoury breakfast lovers, The Breakfast Rays are a real treat. A soft, doughy pastry with a flaky exterior swaddles a nest of scrambled egg, sausage and cheese. It’s so delightful we wish we could snuggle right in there and take a nap.

Pair it with a cappuccino or a breakfast sandwich and you’re on your way to a great day!

Hot tip: They also have a drive-thru location if you’re in a rush, you busy bee.

Upshot Coffee

Where: 111 1/2 May St S, Thunder Bay, ON (View Map)

grid from upshot coffee. On the left, the two owners and on the right, Nicole staring at a birthday cake latte

Variety is the name of the game at Upshot! From birthday cake lattes with rainbow sprinkles to iced matcha, there’s something for just about everyone. The selection changes monthly, if not more often, so stop by, grab the craft beverage of choice and savour one of their sweet treats as you get your caffeine fix.

While we can’t guarantee these will be there when you arrive, past favourites have included lavender scones with lemon-vanilla glaze, chocolate raspberry ganache donuts and stuffed ginger cookies!

Beautiful, Delicious Thunder Bay

Whether you’re visiting for the adventure, the views of Lake Superior or the food scene itself, you’re sure to stumble across some delicious gems in Thunder Bay. Enjoy!

Thunder Bay