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Top 10 casual-yet-classy food joints in Lake of Bays and Huntsville

Blog by Susan Brown | August 8th, 2017

By Susan Brown

Few pleasures can match the discovery of that new favourite place to grab a quick and tasty bite to eat. Whether it’s a little comfort food you're craving or perhaps a meal to take home, Muskoka has seen a tremendous revival in the quality and choice of casual food offerings.

To help you find your own new personal favourite, I’ve pulled together some tried and tested dining locations in this fun list of the Top 10 cottage-casual eateries in Lake of Bays and Huntsville. Enjoy!

Fork in the Road, Baysville

Located in the heart of tiny Baysville, it’s hard to believe Fork in the Road has been serving up Muskoka’s best fries and other cottage-friendly fare for over five years now. Like so many of the best eateries, this delightful spot is open seasonally (summers only), so it’s best to get your fill while you can! Personal favourites include fish and chips (Friday’s only), any of their delicious handmade sausages (try the boar), the excellent ‘paddler’s poutine’, and the always good ‘hot and soul chicken sammich’. And if you just can’t get enough of their tasty offerings, book Fork in the Road to cater an event at the cottage, or even teach you and a group of friends how to make their own sausages.

Pizza on Earth, Dorset

One of the newest additions to the burgeoning casual-yet-awesome food movement taking Lake of Bays and Huntsville by storm, the wonderfully named Pizza On Earth (get it, peace on earth?) ups the ante on the pizza front. Using two specially built wood-fired pizza ovens, Etna and Vesuvius, this joint delivers the goods (ok, but not the pizza – you have to line up for that) with its authentic Italian-style thin crust pizzas. Some favourites are the ‘Firetower’, made with Genoa salami, hot banana peppers and pineapple; and the ‘Lake of Baysil’, made with pesto sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted red peppers and red onion. Other treats on offer include amazing homemade ice cream (always sells out fast), oven-fired bagels and great coffee, including real espresso-based beverages.

Westside Fish & Chips, Huntsville

Quite possibly the longest-running eatery in Muskoka (it’s been around since 1979), the consistently tasty Westside Fish & Chips is, understandably, something of a landmark in Huntsville. While the restaurant now serves much, much more than just fish and chips, including a fabulous all day breakfast, they continue to serve the best fish supper you’ll find anywhere in Ontario. Available in one- to five- piece servings, it’s one of the few places you’ll be given a choice of fish: haddock, white fish or halibut. And for those looking to expand their Westside repertoire beyond this classic, other home cooked favourites available include everything from soups and salads to sandwiches, burgers and pasta dishes. Here’s to the next 38 or so years! Oh, and while you’re there, try counting the teapots. Most people give up at 150...

Moose Café, Dwight

Undoubtedly one of Muskoka’s best breakfast spots, the Moose Café is a must-visit when in Dwight. Big eaters will want to start the day (any day) with a hearty traditional Canadian-style breakfast, choosing from such catchy-named big plates as the Algonquin or Lake of Bays, each served with enough bacon, eggs, toast and coffee to keep you going for ages. Pancake lovers should try the fluffy ‘moose cakes’, or for something truly fancy (and healthy), go for the superb granola pancakes, made with maple cranberry granola and maple blueberry sauce. Lunch and dinner? Favourites include the homemade beerfest sausage (locally made) or their ‘famoose’ burgers, including a variant covered in the cafés amazing maple beer BBQ sauce (those who like things spicy should go for the ‘roadkill’ topped with back bacon, cheddar cheese and hot sauce).

That Little Place by the Lights, Huntsville

In addition to serving great coffees, snacks and treats (it doubles as a café), That Little Place by the Lights in downtown Huntsville has earned a well-deserved reputation for its authentic home-cooked Italian foods (in addition to its always fresh pastas and pizzas, they also serve some of the best gelato you’ll taste anywhere). Their extensive lunch and dinner menus include delicious dishes such as bruschetta and olive tapenade, oven roasted speck, antipasto platters (great for two guests, as are the mussels). Other meals of note include the delicious linguini alfredo, spaghetti (naturally) and a penne with basil pesto. Favourite pizza? Try the calzone
farcito with ham, mushrooms, artichokes mozzarella and, of course, tomato sauce. All pizzas are available with a gluten-free crust in a small size and there is also a gluten-free pasta.

Cheesus Murphy & the Grateful Bread, Baysville

Located in the Country Charm Grocery Shoppe car park in Baysville, the clever play on words found on the menu at Cheesus Murphy & the Grateful Bread is worth the visit on it its own. Offering a fun take on the traditional staple that is the grilled cheese, the ‘pumped up’ versions on offer here – affectionately known as ‘grilled cheesus’ – come in a variety of tasty formats, including:
  • The Lard Tunderin’ Cheesus, served on potato bread with heaps of warm shaved ham along with plenty of Swiss and mozzarella cheese
  • The Weeping Cheesus, made with pepper jack, mozzarella and cheddar with a cheese skirt (also on potato bread)
  • The Sweet Cheesus, complete with granny smith apples, creamy Havarti and a cream cheese and vanilla fruit dip
Other treats served here include homemade burgers and the incredible ‘flamin’ frank’, a jumbo hot dog served on naan bread and topped with pepper jack cheese, mozzarella and homemade pico de gallo.

Café Wilgress, Huntsville

Boasting one of the most pleasant patios in Muskoka, Café Wilgress in Huntsville is one of those unique eateries where you’re just as likely to enjoy a quick coffee and a muffin as you are a full-blown meal. I like both sides of the restaurant’s business, especially during the warm weather when the above-mentioned patio is open. But apart from enjoying an espresso based coffee and baked good, you can actually grab a quick breakfast or a longer, relaxed meal when the place transitions to a wine bar come evening. Menu items always include a variety of locally sourced produce, including the popular charcuterie boards with their mix of meats, cheeses and preserves. For a special treat, visit on a Sunday for a relaxing, late-morning breakfast of baked Spanish frittata, a quinoa breakfast bowl or their classic lumberjack sandwich.

The Farmer’s Daughter, Huntsville

Another popular Muskoka landmark, The Farmer’s Daughter has been at its location on Hwy 60 in Huntsville since 2004, serving fresh food and sweet treats to an ever-growing audience of fans. Serving homemade fare using fresh and often local ingredients in a charming and rustic setting, it’s a great place to grab a delicious breakfast, a quick snack and coffee, or something more substantial to take back to the cottage. Weekend brunches are an especially good time to visit, particularly in spring, when a favourite dish, the farmer’s maple French toast is welcomed back to the menu. Piled high with fresh fruit and cream, plenty of real maple syrup and bacon, it’s to die for! And if that doesn't satisfy your sweet tooth, take home a cookie platter. For a gluten-free treat try the chocolate brownies or the coconut rice pudding.

The Butchers Daughters, Huntsville

After having breakfast at The Farmer’s Daughter, head (quite literally) across the road for lunch at The Butchers Daughters, also on Hwy 60. Equally popular and just as focussed on quality fresh ingredients, lunch highlights include superb homemade soups (always two a day, one of them vegetarian) served with fresh bread or a sandwich, frittata or Panini. It’s also a great place to pick up a take home meal, too. Favourites include an excellent shepherd's pie, pasta dishes (the lasagne and cannelloni are always great), mac and cheese and, of course, a dessert (go for the carrot cake).

Soul Sistas, Huntsville

With a focus very much on healthy and nutritious foods, Huntsville’s Soul Sistas pride themselves on providing tasty dishes to suit all dietary needs, including vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free menu options. Everything’s made in house with fresh, organic and, wherever possible, locally-sourced ingredients. In addition to serving first-rate lunches, it's a great place to visit for a decent espresso-based coffee, or choose from the selection of more than 25 loose-leaf teas. They’re also known for their fresh juices and smoothies, a particular treat come summer when enjoyed on the patio.