When was the last time you bit down into something so warm and rich, cheesy and flavourful that your heart said “thank you!” and your belly said “more please!” The best comfort foods are rich and calorie-laden, and best enjoyed in a warm, cozy restaurant or at home on the couch in your comfies.
These are the dishes that often have recipes handed down to generation after generation, plain and homey meals like cheesy lasagnes, everything-on-it pizzas, and hearty pasta dishes. We’ve gone on a search for the best comfort foods in the region, and guarantee you will not be disappointed with our finds.
Dig in to these gooey, cheesy, and oh-so-delicious dishes that will comfort as you savour.
*These destinations also offer take-out options so you can dine at home in your comfy clothes.
When it comes to pizza, we all have a little Italian in us, and we like our ‘za the way we like it. Whether it’s thin crust, thick crust, drenched in cheese, or lightly sprinkled, pizza is without a doubt the ultimate in comfort foods. This is the dish we turn to when we celebrate a move or are on the run and need something that will soothe our soul and our belly.
Where to get it: For pizza with a view, try Joe's Italian Kitchen, overlooking Almonte's famous waterfall. For a fantastic pizza found in an unusual spot, try a fresh pizza from Franktown Grocery & Gas Bar. Its stomach-growling aroma has stopped more than one traveller. In Haliburton, McKeck’s Tap & Grill really dives into the Italian heritage of pizza with their pizza baked in a stone oven.
Pierogies are small, deep fried parcels of gastronomic bliss that combine all the things that make a comfort food…well, comforting. To make the perfect pierogi you take sharp cheeses, carbohydrate-dense mashed potatoes, salty bacon, and wrap it in a dough that’s fried to add even more flavour and richness (just one combination but there are many!). This typical Polish fare is often paired with a frosty pint (or two) and there’s plenty of it.
Where to get it: For a Polish dish like pierogies you need to go to the Polish Capital of Ontario, Wilno. There, the Wilno Tavern makes jumbo sized pierogies! Try their Wilno Platter with pierogi, Polish sausages with spiced red cabbage and salad for a truly Polish experience.
Better-Than-Homemade Mac and Cheese
As if the regular old mac and cheese wasn't delicious enough! These days ingenious chefs are elevating the plain and homey mac and cheese with additions that will make your mouth water. With a few well orchestrated twists in flavours the new and improved mac and cheese delivers on both flavour and contentment.
Where to get it: In Renfrew County, Whitewater Brewing Company makes a killer mac and cheese with old cheddar, parmesan, and a Panko bread topping. You can also add bacon, mushrooms, or jalapenos if you’re feeling adventurous. Pair it with their Farmer’s Daughter brew.
Towering Homestyle Sandwiches
When you’ve had a bad day, isn’t a hearty and towering sandwich the perfect pick-me-up to make you feel just a little bit better? Stuffed thickly with meats, cheeses, and preserves, a good sandwich can cure just about all woes, and fill your belly to boot.
Where to get it: For a good old fashioned sandwich fixings, head for a deli like Ullrich's Fine Food in Pembroke and pick up some local meats and cheeses. In Smiths Falls, The Pickled Pig makes sandwiches that are so big you may need a knife and fork to eat it.
The Schnitzel must be the most popular of German dishes, and after one bite you will understand why. This dish is often made of pork which is tenderized, breaded, and deep or pan fried, schnitzel has been called a good way to have a “food coma” and we can relate to the bliss found in this dish. No two restaurants make their schnitzel exactly the same, which makes the search for the perfect schnitzel that much more inspiring.
Where to get it: You’ll have a few options to choose from for truly excellent Schnitzel – The Granary Schnitzel Haus in Eganville makes a mean Bavarian Schnitzel, stuffed with smoked meat, sauerkraut, Havarti and mustard. In Bancroft, Cafe BC is known for their Yeager Schnitzel, their own creation that’s smothered in a homemade Yeager sauce made with onions, bacon, mushrooms, red wine and cream. At Maximillian Restaurant in Perth, you’ll want to try their famous Wienerschnitzel. This dish comes paired with their butter potatoes for a truly European flair.
Lasagna (And Other Italian Dishes)
It’s definitely a thing that Italians know their comfort foods – when you think about most of the best comfort foods have a distinct Italian edge. Lasagna is so rich and hearty it’s a dish that takes Italian fare to the next level.
Where to get it: Comfort is on the way at Vito’s Pizzeria in Bancroft. Made with their own secret meat sauce recipe, this lasagna is coated in pizza cheese and baked in the pizza oven. Vito’s is open Thursdays to Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. If you like your pasta authentically Italian, try a dish from Bistro 54 in Perth.
Bonus: Sweet Comfort
Comfort food deserves a sweet endings, don’t you agree? For some added sweetness order the carrot caramel cheesecake at the Sharbot Lake Country Inn and the Crossing Pub or the pumpkin spice donuts at Cardinal Cafe + Shop, both in Sharbot Lake. In Hastings County you can stop for a warm-from-the-oven cinnamon bun from Sun Run Cafe & Bakery, or head south to pick up some of Hidden Goldmine Bakery’s famous butter tarts for a gooey addition that will brighten any day.
And when it comes to comfort foods, we all know chocolate is where it’s at. Visit Hummingbird Chocolate Maker in Almonte and sigh in chocolate bliss with a cup of their drinking chocolate or one of their award-winning bars.
Looking for more inspiration for connecting to food in Ontario’s Highlands? Click here to find more information about making an edible connection in the region.