11 new restaurants open in downtown Hamilton

Downtown and want something Peruvian for lunch? Maybe some Pollo a La Brasa and Aji Sauce? How about some Empanadas?

Culantro Peruvian Cookery on King William, a block west of the Lister Block, is just one of a growing number of independent restaurants popping up in the core. Last year, the city says 11 restaurants operated by independent owners opened downtown, not including the growing Ontario-established Burrito Boyz chain.

Kathy Drewitt, executive director for Hamilton’s Downtown BIA, explained they are all independent mom and pop shops rather than the typical restaurant chains.

“There are a lot of new restaurants coming in offering very eclectic palates that will appeal to anyone who likes different flavours of food,” she said. “We just had a new Peruvian restaurant open up and who would’ve thought a Peruvian-themed restaurant would appeal to those in Hamilton?”

Culantro Peruvian Cookery opened up on Dec. 1 and Drewitt has been told the restaurant keeps running out of food because they have become quite popular.

Another popular restaurant is Jack & Lois on James Street North, which was voted best new restaurant by Hamilton Magazine last year.

Named after his grandparents, owner Eric Bowden opened his retro-styled restaurant in February and has seen a steady increase in clientele.

“I wanted to open on James Street North particularly because of what was going on down there,” he explained. “I was working in downtown Hamilton at the time and decided to look up some properties on Craigslist. I looked at the neighbourhood and I decided I wanted to make this happen because Hamilton is far more interesting right now in terms of rejuvenation.”

He said it is easier to operate in Hamilton than Toronto because costs, such as rent, are lower.

“There is a lot of undiscovered gems in Hamilton,” Bowden said. “It’s a great place to shoot films, the arts is developing, there is a music scene; it’s burgeoning. The city is setting itself for success right now and councillors are changing antiquated laws for new business owners. They’re not perfect but they’re listening and making changes.”

Drewitt pointed out the usual corporate models, such as Kelsey’s or Jack Astors, don’t fit well in downtown storefront units.

“They usually want bigger spaces and lots of parking,” she said.

The proximity to entertainment facilities, including Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place, is also a plus, she added.

There are more than 180 restaurants in the Downtown BIA, which is the area within MacNab, Rebecca, Mary and Hunter streets, as well as James Street North and South.

“You can see all the different flavours of restaurants that we have and you don’t have to go far to find a good restaurant downtown,” Drewitt said. “There’s a lot of variety, which is great for everyone.”

New restaurants that opened in 2012:
Culantro Peruvian Cookery, 47 King William Street, 905-777-0060
Baltimore House, 43 King William Street, 905-526-3408
U Shao BBQ, 27 John Street S., 905-521-8880
Corner Tea House & Asian Bistro, 29 John Street N., 905-527-0739
8090 Tea House, 149 King Street E., 905-525-8788
It’s a Food Thing, 49 King William Street, 289-808-2155
Jack & Lois, 301 James Street N., 289-389-5647
Ben & Thanh Thai & Vietnamese Restaurant, 113 James Street N., 905-528-6888
Appleberry Café, 312 King Street E., 905-962-8488
Radius, 151 James Street S, 905-393-1658

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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