FOOD AND DRINK
Five Places to Eat in Thunder Bay Right Now
Creative young chefs and newly expanded access to local ingredients have transformed the Thunder Bay culinary scene over the last decade. Here are five standouts to try while you’re in town.
From the exposed brick walls and high ceilings of the heritage building to the view of the kitchen and its colourful cast iron pots, everything about Tomlin encourages you to settle in for a casual, relaxing night. Chef Steve Simpson’s menu changes frequently. Last we checked, the lineup included pork belly with goat milk yogurt, beets, apple and hazelnuts ($11); and linguine with grilled squash, charred garlic scape pesto, guanciale and parmesan ($18). One of the house specialties is terrine ($10), and if you’re in a group of four or more, go for the chef’s tasting ($45 and up per person). Burger Night happens every Tuesday, featuring house-made buns. Toast the evening with a great selection of craft beer, fine wine and cocktails. No reservations.
202½ Red River Rd., 807-346-4447
Caribou Restaurant and Wine Bar
Among the first T-Bay restaurants to embrace creative cuisine and local ingredients, Caribou has been a regional go-to since 1999. Don’t be fooled by the just-off-the-expressway location. The food makes up for the charmless locale. Helmed by executive chef Craig Vieira, the kitchen offers “North American modern” cuisine with global influences, including piri piri chicken ($30), Korean flat iron beef with kimchi fried rice and egg ($30) and watermelon-feta salad with shaved fennel and mint ($13). There’s a well-curated wine list and a nice range of craft cocktails, wine and beer too. Reservations recommended.
727 Hewitson St., 807-628-8588
Both Hands Wood-Fired Pizzeria and Bakery
For those days when only pizza will do, head to Both Hands. A maker of both rustic bread and wood-fired ovens for more than 15 years, Derek Lucchese combines his passions at Both Hands. The thin-crust, wood-fired pizza, made with local ingredients frequently earns comments of “best pizza I’ve ever had.” Pizzas like the “Angry Hawaiian,” “Fungus Among Us” and “Bohemian” go for $6 a slice, $11.50 for an 11-inch and $23 for a 16-inch, or you can create your custom pizza. Pair your pie with Sleeping Giant Brewing Company beer (yes, that’s local too) and Ontario wines. On your way out, grab a crusty loaf of artisanal bread or organic granola for tomorrow’s breakfast.
297 Park Ave., 807-286-4263
The Growing Season Juice Collective
This tiny north end café serves up mostly vegetarian fare with a few meat dishes thrown in, and it’s all well-priced, fresh and fantastically tasty. The menu doesn’t really change, and that’s just fine with the loyal patrons who nosh on menu items including rice bowls, sandwiches and wraps, all of which star a variety of local ingredients and their signature sprouted lentils. The “juice” in the name comes from custom-blended concoctions with names like “Liver Alive,” “Big Red” and “Elevate.” Created by four friends who blend eclectic backgrounds in wellness and business, the space is decorated with local art for sale.
201 Algoma St. S., 807-344-6869
Man vs. Meat
With a name like that, you know exactly what you’re getting – and it’s delicious. Opened in 2014 by trained butcher-turned-restaurateur Jasen Dowhaniuk, Man vs. Meat has quickly became the take-out lunch hotspot in the city’s south end. Little wonder: the portions are generous, the cuts are excellent, all the meats are smoked and roasted in house. Choose from a rotating menu with the likes of pulled pork sliders ($8-12), grilled cheese tomato soup ($5), Cuban sandwiches ($8-12), beef dip ($8-12) and an “extreme” BLT ($8-11). You could also go for lighter fare like Thai chicken salad with coconut cilantro dressing ($12). But at a place like this, why?
1101 Victoria Ave. E., 807-263-3287