Muskoka is a challenging place to open a restaurant, the season is short, the customers are fickle, and local food purveyors are few and far between. But, every season, brave chefs and restaurateurs, many from Toronto, set up shop. Some survive, some don’t. That’s what makes the long-standing Muskoka favourites when it comes to casual fine dining a rarity and something to be treasured. And, let’s be honest, we kinda want to keep these places to ourselves. But, we like you, so here’s our insider’s guide to where to eat well in Muskoka.
About 15 years ago, Toronto chefs Julie and Richard Lalonde loaded their three children into the car and headed out for what they thought would be a little Sunday adventure. That adventure took them to Rousseau, and soon after, they opened Crossroads, bringing a touch of class to cottage country. Rated among the top 100 in Canada by OpenTable in 2022, the ambience at Crossroads is upscale but homey, and its chef-driven menu highlights seasonal ingredients, including pleasing pastas and scrumptious seafood. Crossroads continues to be the bar to which all other restaurants should be compared: quality ingredients, wonderful service, lovely ambiance. It has it all.
Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a warm summer evening in a romantic gazebo surrounded by nature? If dining alfresco isn’t your thing, the historic house at Tall Trees also offers multiple rooms. The food here also stands on its own, and has made this destination a fave for Huntsville cottages and others from further afield. The menu is sprawling so there is likely something that will appeal to everyone in the family. Tall Trees has a few spicy numbers kept on the menu for those looking for something a little blackened, or jerk-style in addition to classic dishes such as duck confit, steak and chicken.
What started as a fishing lodge in 1922, has evolved into an expansive lux resort and spa, complete with vantage lakeside views. Lighthouse45 Restaurant has been overhauled by eco-chef Chris Locke, formerly of Toronto’s first farm-to-table restaurant, Marben. The menu, guided by Locke, showcases a farm-to-table philosophy with ethical, local ingredients. It offers a rustic yet elegant atmosphere, seating 77 indoors and 30 on the Waterside Patio.
Indulge in the delightful ambiance of this beloved Gravenhurst gem, where a spacious patio welcomes both humans and their furry companions with plenty of room inside thanks to a somewhat new dining room addition.Prepare your taste buds for an unforgettable culinary experience crafted by the talented Chef Brett Martin, who collaborates closely with local suppliers to ensure every dish is a crowd-pleaser. Here, you’ll find a slew of cottage comfort classics like fish and chips as well as Mac and cheese as well as dishes on the fine dining side of the culinary equator including delish seafood, steak and pasta not to mention quality vegetarian fare.
Nestled in the charming town of Bracebridge, Wabora is an acclaimed restaurant, earning praise not only in Muskoka but throughout Ontario. It’s a luxurious dining experience that offers incredible sushi and sashimi but do not sleep on Warbora steaks. These could be the best in Muskoka, which is filled with restaurants that just cannot do a good steak justice. Whether you’re seeking a relaxed lunch or a memorable celebratory dinner with loved ones, this restaurant offers a perfect setting.