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Eastern Canada, a Hot Spot for Craft Beer and International Food

Are you seeking a travel destination with craft beer and international food options? Eastern Canada should be at the top of your list. This Spring, we’ll explore Eastern Canada with stops in Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and finally, Quebec City . Via Rail offers direct routes by rail, so renting a car is unnecessary. The craft beer and international food scene will rival the Eastern United States cities of Boston, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City. Each destination is worthy of a weekend getaway, or like us, visit all five over a 14-night vacation.

Our adventure begins with a flight to Buffalo, New York, the closest U.S. city to Niagara Falls, Ontario. We found Buffalo the least expensive flight option, with access to BuffaloAirportShuttle.com, which directly connects us to the hotels in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We’ll get into the specifics of each stop a bit later in this report. Via Rail connects each city along our route, but with only one train per day between Niagara Falls and Toronto, we opted for Flixbus.com for the 2 ½ hour trip. Our flight home was a bit more complicated as we were flying home from Quebec City with a 6-hour layover in Newark. Flight schedules were a bit more accommodating from Montreal, but we didn’t want to double back on our route.

With Craft Beer and International food being our primary focus, we didn’t want to neglect the region’s local foods. So yes, we will enjoy Poutine, Peameal Bacon sandwiches, Smoked Meat, Bagels, Meat Pies, and Beaver Tail! As for international food, the options are endless! With huge Asian communities in each city, you find delicious food options that are incredibly high quality and traditional. Indian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai, with the bonus of more obscure cuisine from Nepal, Malaysia, and Indonesia! Foods from North Africa, Ethiopia, and Mozambique offer a taste of the African continent! If there is one problem, the number of food options far exceeds the meals a person can comfortably eat during a visit! Even my family’s home of Malta was represented, with visions of Pastizzi (a ricotta or meat-filled flaky pastry) dancing in my head.

The Craft Beer scene in the Canadian Cities of Toronto and Montreal rivals some of the best in North America, on par, and in some ways better than Seattle, Denver, Washington DC, or Boston. They certainly should be on the radar of craft beer enthusiasts and be classified as a must-visit destination.   Beer Tours are the best options for those with limited time. Beer districts with several breweries within a short walk of each other are great for those with time to explore.

Niagara Falls... Eastern Canada, a Hot Spot for Craft Beer and International Food

Niagara Falls, Ontario

We booked two nights at Niagara Falls, staying at the Embassy Suites Hotel. The higher floors have excellent sightlines to the falls and represent good value for your money. The hotel is known for the spectacular nighttime views of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. While Niagara might be short on breweries, the area is known for its wine. If you have time,  explore Niagara on the Lakes area, which has many wineries. The Falls area is touristy and slightly overpriced but should still be visited. A short stay with the typical activities is all that’s necessary.

Eastern Canada, a Hot Spot for Craft Beer and International Food

Toronto, Ontario

Our hotel of choice for our 3-night Toronto stay is the Toronto Hilton, located downtown, just a short walk from the Metro. The city’s top attractions are all relatively close, just a short walk or a Metro ride away (Day Pass works excellent). Be sure to include the Distillery District, C.N. Tower, NHL Hall of Fame, and the many parks and museums on your list. Beer enthusiasts will be in paradise, with over 70 breweries in the Toronto area, and that number is growing, with many featuring outdoor patios. The Junction neighborhood is a renovated downtown district packed with must-visit breweries, including Steadfast and Rainhard Brewing (10-12 breweries are in the area). This city is perfect for brewery tours, and Canadian Craft Tours should be first on your list. They offer public and private guided tours to the three central beer districts, East and West ends, and The Junction. Round-trip transportation is provided in their Toronto Beer Tours by Minibus from Keele subway station.

As for food, St Lawrence Market is a must, and Kensington Market is a fun visit with its eclectic vibe.   The best locations for foodies are the fantastic ethnic neighborhoods, including Little Italy, Little India, Little Ethiopia, Greektown, Koreatown, and Chinatown! Choose a food tour or discover the best experiences on your own. For those who prefer a guide, Viator offers several fun street food walking tours with ethnic and regional foods.


Ottawa, Ontario

The next stop on our tour is Ottawa, The capital of Canada. Like Washington DC, Ottawa has global representation through foreign embassies, which are international cultural bases that include cuisine from every corner of the globe. We are booked at the Lord Elgin Hotel, a quick Uber from the train station within walking distance of most sights we hope to visit. Watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Parliament Hill and visit the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum.

ByWard Market is a historic farmer’s market and shopping district by day and a favorite gathering place with restaurants and clubs in the evening. There are 48 breweries in and around the Ottawa area, many within the downtown area. If the weather is great, take advantage of those offering outdoor seating. Brew Donkey offers a great bus tour of the Ottawa breweries and is a convenient way to explore outside the city center, with the pickup location just a block from the Lord Elgin Hotel.

Montreal craft beer and international food

Montreal, Quebec

Moving east from Ottawa, the International flavor ratchets up as we cross into Quebec. This part of Canada is predominantly French-speaking; you see and hear it everywhere. Our base in Montreal for the next three nights will be the Le Nouvel Hotel, just a short walk from the train and metro stations. The cobbled streets of Old Montreal are within walking distance, but you will find a DAY Pass to the Metro to be a time saver. While International food is everywhere, the Brasserie (Brewery Restaurant) is the way to go in Montreal. Explore the neighborhoods, from the touristy Old Montreal down Saint Laurant Blvd to Little Italy. Visit Schwartz’s Deli for smoked meat and the famous St Viateur Bagels. Jean-Talon Market is the largest farmers’ market in the city, located in the Little Italy area.  Two craft brewers in the same area are Birra Bar a Bieres Maison and Vices & Versa. The Plateau and The Village are also nearby, dotted with breweries you shouldn’t miss. We have a Happy Hour beer tour scheduled with City Brew Tours, a company we have previously worked with through their offices in Boston and Washington, DC. Using a tour provider is an advantage to exploring Montreal because of the significant number of breweries scattered across the city. Using this service, you’ll save time and energy since they provide transportation.   

Quebec City - Craft Beer and International Food

Quebec City, Quebec

We go to the last stop in our Canadian Beer and International Food Adventure, Quebec City! This city carries a vibrant European elegance. The historic Chateau Frontenac dominates the Quebec City skyline, standing high on a bluff overlooking the St Lawrence River. We were fortunate to have stayed in this beautiful hotel on previous visits. During this visit, we’ll be staying at the Hotel Palace Royal, located just outside the gate to Old Quebec City, offering the perfect base to explore the area. The city has over 30 craft brewers, with several more opening annually. We have targeted ten brewers in the city center we hope to visit, all within walking distance or a short Uber from our hotel. Highlighting our list is La Souche Limoilou, a cozy brewery offering creative beers and a tasty menu filled with Canadian specialties. Noctem is a favorite for those who enjoy IPAs, although they provide many different beer styles. They feature a menu rich in Canadian fare, including variations of poutine, burgers, and smoked meat. Look for the familiar cat as the recognized theme of this fantastic brewpub. For those looking to enjoy a beer garden style, La Barberie is the place to go when the weather is excellent. The shaded terrace welcomes all, including kids and dogs. Enjoy an incredible selection of beer in this beautiful tree-covered urban setting.

Eastern Canada is truly an extravaganza for those who enjoy craft beer and international food. The ease of travel from U.S. cities makes it a must-do without the long flights needed to visit Europe. Follow our 14-night adventure through our “Beer Centric Traveler” Facebook page and follow-up articles on the many activities we experienced on this trip. Special thanks to the Beer Tour providers in Toronto (Canadian Craft Tours), Ottawa (Brew Donkey), and Montreal (City Brew Tours). Please use the attached links and mention “Beer Centric Traveler” when you book!


Play Harder Tours



Play Harder Tours craft beer and international food