8 of the Best-Kept Secret Restaurants in Kingston

By Jordan Whitehouse

With more restaurants per capita than almost anywhere in Canada, Kingston likely has a few gems you haven’t heard about. Here are 8 possibilities to choose from — a cornucopia of strip-mall restos, side-street Asian spots, and even a back kitchen on Amherst Island.

Go Italian

2815 Princess Street

Keep going west on Princess Street until you hit the cluster of solid strip-mall restaurants near Bayridge Drive. The only Italian one in the group is this small, clean-lined bistro that’s been plating some of the tastiest chicken parmesans, Caesar salads, and pasta in the city since 2012. They also have panini sandwiches, thin-crust pizzas, and plenty of gluten-free options. The wine list is short but good, mainly filled with Italian reds and whites but a few vintages from Niagara and Prince Edward County have made the list, too. You’ll likely leave with leftovers, but if not, think about picking up a take-and-bake pasta on your way out.

Coffee Way Donuts

472 Division Street

Stepping inside this 24-hour donut shop on Divison Street is like stepping back to 1989: brown décor, wafts of strong pots of coffee, and row upon row of Boston creams, crullers, jellies, old-fashioned plains, and fritters the size of your five-year-old head. Made fresh onsite daily using the same recipes for over 25 years, these beauties are hands down, the best old-school donuts in the city. If you’re a cruller or fritter fan, get there after 10 pm — that’s when the fresh ones start coming out.

Bayview Farm Restaurant

4085 Bath Road

The godfather of Kingston fine dining, Clark Day, is back with this new-ish venture at his family’s 19th-century homestead in Collins Bay. He calls it “contemporary farm cuisine,” and basically that means a rotating cast of seasonal dishes, many of them packed with fresh veggies grown on the property, grace tables nightly. Think panko-crusted brie with mix baby greens; Arctic char with wild rice spaetzle, ginger carrot puree, and autumn vegetables; and maple crème caramel. The small, multi-room dining area is intimate and upscale but not pretentious.

Limestone Kabob House

2511 Princess Street

Don’t be fooled by its inconspicuous strip-mall location at Princess Street and Gardiners Road. Limestone Kabob House is all about showcasing the bold flavours of the cuisines Syed Zaidi grew up with: Afghani, Pakistani, Moroccan, and Lebanese. Lebanese shawarma, Afghan tandoori and meat kabobs form the heart of the menu, all of them grilled, all of them flavoured with spices Zaidi grinds himself. The 28-seat dining room is simple, clean, and casual, allowing you keep the focus on all of that made-from-scratch deliciousness.

Eunice Sushi

682 King Street West

Tucked in beside a convenience store in Portsmouth, Eunice Sushi doesn’t look like much from the outside. But inside this 20-seater you’ll find some of the freshest rolls, sushi, sashimi, and tempura in town. There are a few special Korean dishes on the menu too (try the bulgogi), and a good range of veggie options. Depending on what you order, you’ll also likely get unexpected extras like tempura vegetables, fresh fruit, miso soup, salad, rolls, and rice. 

Wok-In Restaurant

30 Montreal Street

This hole-in-the-wall Thai and Cambodian restaurant has its own army of supporters who return week in week out. Chances are you’ll join their ranks after trying to devour the pad Thai, curry shrimp with coconut milk, spicy hot chicken with peanuts and lemongrass, or big and beautiful spring rolls. There are only about 20 items on the menu, but that won’t make your choice any easier. Your best bet is to just close your eyes and point; you can’t go wrong.

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Freshly battered B.C halibut on a bun

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Fran’s Fish and Chips

83 Aberfoyle Road

Fran’s has been around for over 40 years, and while Fran herself is no longer at the helm, the fish and chips at this shop near Sir John A and John Counter Boulevard are still to die for. Choose BC halibut, New Zealand cod or east coast haddock, then watch as the most gorgeous golden hand-battered filets arrive with fresh, hand-cut chips, and homemade tartar sauce. Scallops, shrimp, and calamari round out the seafood menu, though you can find burgers, sandwiches, poutines, and other deep-fried goodies here as well. Taco aficionados would do well to arrive on a Tuesday when Fran’s serves up Mexico-rivalling fish tacos with bright tropical salsa.

The Back Kitchen

5660 Front Road, Amherst Island

A truly off-the-beaten-path gem, The Back Kitchen is a seasonal, not-for-profit, volunteer-driven restaurant on Amherst Island. It’s all about community and homemade comfort food here, where menu items have ranged from waffles to pulled pork sandwiches to spaghetti and meatballs to moussaka to fish and chips. Weird and wonderful creations sometimes show, too, like the Stella Bay Burger — a pure beef patty with pulled pork and two extra crispy onion rings on top.