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A Foodies Day Trip to Napanee


I’m a believer that some things are just worth it, like adding guac to your burrito, buying a ticket for the 11 am flight with no layovers (as opposed to the red-eye), or a good set of winter tires in a January snowstorm. I have something to add to that list: a quick trip down the 401 to Greater Napanee, all in the name of food.

Greater Napanee is full of charming historical buildings, outdoor activities like Hiking at Menzel and unique downtown shops. This community has also been building a diverse and delicious roster of foodie spots that are well worth the trip.

I picked up a friend and we headed there for a day trip that included breakfast, lunch, beverages and dinner. It’s worth mentioning that there’s no shortage of stuff to do in between indulging in these lovely eats. Read on for where we stopped and what we ate.

Written by Jack McAvoy

Read time: 4 min

Starting Strong

What better way to start your day than with freshly made croissants and cappuccinos? Ellena’s Cafe & Pantry in downtown Greater Napanee has been serving up community favourites for years. Dishes like their Dill Pickle Soup have an almost cult-like following with the local community. In addition to their eats, Ellena’s has a hand-picked retail section full of goodies for your kitchen and home. 

For me, the unique intersection of French-style pastries, third-wave coffee, a well-curated beer and wine bottle shop and the community feel is what makes Ellena’s so special. Our croissants were flakey and buttery and our coffees were incredible.

two cappuccinos with latte art and croissants, a person in the background holding their drink
a flight of four beers

Can't Skip the Bevs

Scooting to uptown Napanee takes moments and leads us to our next stop: Napanee Beer Company. This award-winning brewery has been churning out some of Ontario’s finest ales since opening in 2016. Their consistent offerings of lagers and Belgian brews accompanied by an exciting set of seasonal releases make it another local favourite. 

We grabbed a flight of samples and a 6-pack to bring home. We were lucky enough to chat with the owner, Geordan, and it was clear he had a genuine passion and love for his beer and this shines through in the results. My favourite was the Deadline, it has a crushable crisp finish and a nice subtle floral aroma.

Lunch Time

Head back downtown for a quick walk in Springside Park to work up an appetite for the next stop: Market Simeon. Just down the street from Ellena’s, this European-inspired market/deli stocks tremendous cheeses, meats, and delicacies and is a hidden gem to grab lunch. Further, they have an extensive selection of house-made sauces and preserves. Simeon (owner) has been crafting tasty sandwiches and soups with a strong local following. 

I was lucky enough to enjoy a Pork Schnitzel sandwich with house-made coleslaw. The slaw was tangy, and the schnitzel was flavourful and crispy. It was the perfect grab-and-go sando.

house-made canned preserves all labeled on shelves in a store

The Main Event

After filling in the rest of the afternoon poking in and out of Napanee’s downtown shops, it’s time for dinner. For this trip, it’s Fool’s Kitchen in Market Square. This Asian fusion stop is a bucket-list spot for any Ontario foodie. The dining area, service and ambience straddle a fine line of cozy, neighbourly, and welcoming. Owner David Yeung has brought vibrant flavours to Napanee’s downtown with a menu that is a revolving door of Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese-inspired offerings. 

We started with Char Sui Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) and Fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls. The Baos were pillowy-soft with a subtle sweetness and the BBQ pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender, while the vegetarian spring rolls were crunchy, fresh and some of the best I’ve ever had. Then for entrees, their Chicken Curry and Pho Ga both blew me away. The curry was rich and robust and the Pho was a warm hug of flavourful broth, fresh vegetables and noodles and outstanding chicken. Be sure to save some room for their Roasted Coconut Custard Baos as well for dessert!

binocular icons
a man riding a wave on top of a surfboard.

Let’s see what we got!

a black and blue logo with the words bay of county.

The Bay of Quinte RMB Land Acknowledgement

The Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board is committed to acknowledging, appreciating and understanding the Indigenous peoples’ historic connection to this land and to raising awareness by building relationships in collaboration with Indigenous partners and communities. 

We recognize and acknowledge that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Mississauga, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee which includes the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte) with whom we work in direct partnership with. 

This partnership focuses on the common goal of celebrating the region with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka who are equal partners within the organization and at the Board of Directors table contributing to the mandate and operations.

This mandate includes listening to, learning from, and collaborating with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka and actively incorporating their culture and heritage into the practice of responsible destination marketing and management of the region.

We understand that this land acknowledgement is only a small step towards the larger process of reparations and reconciliation.

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