It may be known for its proximity to Northern Ontario’s great outdoors and lakes brimming with delicious freshwater fish, but Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario has much more to offer when it comes to dining than just the opportunity to fish for your dinner. For those of us who aren’t especially good fishermen or women, (what do you mean there’s no talking?!), it’s good to know that there are plenty of restaurant options that don’t require me to bait any hooks. Below are 8 restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, that we would recommend whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks.
1. The Breakfast Pig Badass Eatery
OMG, the Breakfast Pig!! If you are a breakfast or brunch lover as I am, you will absolutely love the Pig. Not just because of its amazing food, but its amazing owner as well. Angie Caputo knew she wanted to open her own restaurant, but she wanted one that embodied her own values of ethically-raised meat and locally-sourced food. So she persuaded a local farmer to invest in the concept and raise pigs for her indulgent pork-based menu. It seems to be working well because the food here is to die for.
Eggs Benny are a signature dish and there are many types to choose from, but Angie gets creative beyond just the classic thick-sliced ham. My favourite: a pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich topped with perfectly poached eggs and creamy hollandaise! YUM!
Chicken and Waffles, too? You bet. As in you’d better try them, too. And if you’ve got any room left (not likely), there’s always her sweet dessert crepes. Yes, the Pig will have you eating like one yourself but with food this good, you have a great excuse.
2. J. Caroline’s for Lunch
Located right in downtown Sault Ste Marie, J. Caroline’s promises “great food always” right on their logo, and owner Jane McGoldrick stands by her tagline. A local from the Soo herself, Jane left to work all around the world in those ‘big cities’ that attract foodies, and then decided to return to her home town to open her own restaurant in 2017.
J. Caroline’s caters to the Soo’s downtown crowd with homemade breakfast and lunch items that include as many local products as possible. We tried the delicious tempura whitefish tacos with fish provided by Agawa Fisheries, a local indigenous-run supplier. If you are on Queen Street and looking for a tasty lunch, this is definitely a great place to go.
TIP: Northern Ontario whitefish is great for tacos as this cold-water lake fish has a delicate flavour and flaky consistency. We had some on Manitoulin Island that we loved, too.
3. Wine Bar and Charcuterie? Try Broers Jansen
The Dutch are everywhere, I always say (having married a Dutchman myself!) and Sault Ste. Marie is no exception. Broers Jansen (‘Brothers Jansen’ in Dutch) is a wonderful little wine bar right downtown where you can order a great selection of wines by the glass and accompany it with a rustic charcuterie plate.
The Ontario grapes may come from farther away in traditional ‘wine regions’, but the wines are all finished here in the Soo, and the resulting pinot grigio and pinot noir that I tasted were terrific. Ditto for the charcuterie board which paired beautifully with the wines and offered a great selection of cured meats and cheese (including some Dutch cheeses, naturally!)
4. Outspoken Craft Beer
If locally-brewed beers are more your drink thing, Sault Ste. Marie delivers with Outspoken brewery, a funky little brewhouse that has a casual vibe with its rec-room décor and low-key open brewery in the back. The name Outspoken reflects the owners’ attitude and unfettered approach to trying out new things, like their ‘lagered ale’ hybrid brew called Deadfall. (worth a try for the name alone!)
And nothing goes better with one of their flights of beer than a giant soft pretzel from the Shabby Motley Cafe right next door. Or if you have a bigger appetite, the Motley crew (no relation to the band!) also provides more substantial burgers and sandwiches that pair perfectly with your new favourite brew.
TIP: In summer, be sure to check out Outspoken’s outdoor patio and its 1970’s heavy-metal-album-cover-inspired mural by local artist Darren Edmond. Game of Thrones meets Iron Maiden, plus beer – what could be better?
5. Rasoi The Indian Kitchen
You don’t have to be an expert in Indian food to love the authentic menu at Rasoi’s, but if you are, you’ll love their recipes even more. Keeta, the owner, comes from a long line of restauranteurs in India, and after moving to the Soo for her husband’s work, found herself looking for a place where she could share her family recipes. What followed was a catering business, and most recently, the opening of Rasoi restaurant in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“Rasoi” means kitchen in Hindi, and Keeta strives to bring a little piece of India to the restaurant scene in Sault Ste. Marie not just with her spiced-just-right samosas, and melt-in-your-mouth butter chicken, but with her occasional Bollywood nights when she shows these fun pop-culture movies right in the restaurant.
My faves? An appetizer with a filling similar to a samosa, but with a fried white bread ‘wrap’ instead of the traditional dough. And don’t miss the Chai Masala tea with ginger and cardamon. Dessert in a cup.
6. Quattro Vinotecca
The “Q” stands for more than ‘Quattro’ at this upscale hotel restaurant: it also stands for ‘quality’. Quattro Vinotecca is part of a revitalization project that transformed a landmark hotel in the city into the premium Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre, which now boasts the only 3 diamond restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie.
The menu here is predominantly Italian, with plenty of pastas and seafood, but meat lovers will find much to love from the grill as well – from the veal chops to the Q filet. If you can’t decide which cut strikes your fancy, order the Triple Turf featured entree which includes a filet mignon, pork chop, 4 lamp chops and all the sauces and sides to accompany them. Perfect for two meat-a-tarians!
And with ‘Vino’ a part of Quattro Vinotecca’s name, you’ll also find an excellent selections of wines here, from dry German Rieslings to new world Syrahs – and maybe a vintage Chateauneuf du Pape if you’re feeling really flush.
7. Whisky Barrel
Not every city the size of Sault Ste. Marie offers a quality whisky bar like the Whisky Barrel, and that’s all thanks to Dunbar Thompson, a former electrical engineer who tapped into his Scottish heritage and opened the Barrel in 2018. Born out of an ‘involuntary career change’ (I can relate!), Dunbar is definitely onto something here.
Not only does the rustic décor at the Whiskey Barrel make you feel instantly at home, but the selection of Scottish whiskies is second only to the traditional pub fare that goes alone with it. (Think homemade savoury lamb Shepherd’s Pie and Scotch Eggs.)
If the whisky and the food aren’t enough to bring you in, the owner’s personality and community-focused philosophy might: Dunbar believes that the idea of the public house is a concept that every town needs as a meeting place for locals and a way to contribute to the neighbourhood. He does that by helping out the homeless in his own downtown locale, playing his own part in the revitalization of the Soo’s downtown core.
8. Fine Dining at Arturo Ristorante
My final option for recommended restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario actually comes from someone else – because whenever I meet a chef I always ask where THEY go when they want to go out to eat. So I asked Angie from the Pig for her favourite places and she mentioned Arturo Ristorante, which most of the city seems to endorse as well.
Consistently ranked as one of the best fine dining options among the restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie, one look at Arturo’s menu and its indulgent pastas and entrees and you know this is somewhere special.
These 8 restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie should give you a great “Taste of the Soo” if you’re looking for places to eat out in the city. And if you have any more to add to the list, feel free to share in the comments below!
Special thanks goes to Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, who hosted a group of us on a dine-around tour to eat at a selection of these restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.