Niagara on the Lake perennially ranks as one of Canada’s prettiest towns. Throw in the nearby falls, gorge, whirlpool and riverside parks, a wealth of wineries, and popular annual Shaw Festival, and the town is a favourite destination for visitors (especially again from across the border) plus day-trippers from the GTA and around southern Ontario.
I found myself there on a recent weekend and the place was packed, pandemic be damned, which might be the only negative thing one can say about the place.
Beyond the boutique shops on the main street, there’s certainly no shortage of eating and dining establishments, many of them with lovely patios – which brings us to The Irish Harp Pub, a little gem just off the main drag on King Street at Platoff/Johnson (not that anything in tiny NOTL is hard to find).
But the pub’s location is critical, offering respite from the bustle and line-ups of the Queen Street. A little further along (shh!) is street parking without fee or frenzy, and the five-minute walk past the pub to the business district takes one past charming cottages and leafy homes guaranteed to make you wish you lived there.
As for the pub, it knows its place, with a sidewalk chalkboard cheekily identifying itself as “Husband Daycare,” declaring “Ladies! Need time alone? Need time for shopping? Drop your husband here, we will take care of him. All you pay: food and drink.”
For all its charm, non-shoppers of any denomination can cover the town proper in five or 10 minutes, so settling in somewhere to enjoy a drink and simply bask in the ambiance is ritual, and the Harp has a patio out back and benches and a few tables along the sidewalk in front to allow guests to do so (and plays to the notion that a nice day is often part of the motivation behind visiting). There’s also inside seating, of course, when required or desired.
In or out, patrons will find an extensive beer list, both on tap and in bottles, including house, local craft, domestic, and Irish – among them Guinness, Smithwick’s, Kilkenny, and, of course, Harp lager. Flights of both house ale and an Irish mix can be sampled.
Being in wine country, Jackson Triggs and Inniskillen highlight the local offerings and there are international vintages, plus cocktails.
The Harp gets its Irish up on the food side, with dishes like Irish egg rolls (corned beef and cabbage), Gaelic nachos, Irish stew, steak and Guinness pie, Irish hot pot, various fish dishes, sticky toffee pudding for dessert, plus much more (there is “non-Irish” fare as well).
Of course, the pub is more than just a shopping detour, offering live Irish music nightly (with the exception of Wednesday and most Mondays) and other ongoing pub-style activities, such as music trivia nights on Tuesdays. And there are three rooms upstairs (with handcrafted Irish décor) to accommodate stayovers.
Located at 245 King St., the Irish Harp Pub is open 11 to midnight daily, 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Note that proof of vaccination is currently required as per Ontario provincial regulation.
With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:
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