Windsor Independent’s Best of 2013: Eat & Drink Edition

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We asked, and you answered – here are the winners of our Best of 2013 Awards, as voted by Windsor Independent readers. Below, you’ll find all of the best places eat and drink in Windsor to fit any budget, taste or hangover.

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BEST ON A BUDGET: ACAPULCO DELIGHT

Heading to the Acapulco Delight after a night out downtown is one surefire way in which to keep the party rolling. With odd hours that compliment the city’s nightlife, this Mexican restaurant serves up arguably the best cuisine to accompany a side of inebriation. Affordable and authentic options are served with gratis nachos, hot salsa, and pico de gallo. Don’t make the mistake of judging the restaurant from the outside (or inside), as it’s not known for its decor, but rather for being one of the best late night stuff-yourself-to-prevent-a-hangover dining experiences in our city.

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BEST STEAK: THE KEG

One of the only chain restaurants to make an appearance in this list, The Keg came out on top as the best place to get a steak. As fanatical as our readers are about supporting local (rightfully so), the fact that the Keg took first place in this category is a true testament to the quality of the slab of meat that they serve. Runner up, The Cook’s Shop, grabbed a heavy handful of the votes, proving they are not only a great place for a date, but also an excellent establishment for any self respecting carnivore to get their fill.

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BEST POUTINE: FRENCHY’S

Despite our proximity to Detroit, Windsorite’s have stayed true to the Canadian stereotype of loving a well-made and delicious poutine. In a close race with the Phog Lounge, Frenchy’s came out as the King of cheese curds, fries, and gravy. In a similar fashion to the Acapulco Delight, mentioned above, Frenchy’s is the perfect place to stuff yourself after a night of vodka bombs and $3 beers, in a desperate attempt to ward off an oncoming morning hangover. Apparently they also serve sliders, but we know what we’re all really looking for.

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BEST ASIAN CUISINE: BASIL COURT

A strong competitor in the  Best on a Budget category, Basil Court took the lead for Best Asian Cuisine. The decor may not leave you overly impressed, but the food is widely considered some of the best in the city. If you’re able to get past the sketchy basement vibe, the pad thai is highly recommended. In second place, Pho Xic Lo is another Windsor fave with an almost cult following. Basil Court is nestled downtown, while Pho Xic Lo is located on the West side of the city.

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BEST PLACE FOR A DATE: THE COOK’S SHOP

Downtown isn’t completely known for being the best date destination, but one place stood strong against Erie Street and Walkerville and that was The Cook’s Shop. Winning two Best Of awards in this survey, The Cook’s Shop is the undisputed best place to bring a date. Mastering the art of dimming the lights just right, it’s the perfect romantic atmosphere that provides the magical movie moment of Lady and The Tramp, while still staying classy and elegant. Keeping the same menu (and pricing) since opening it’s doors in 1980 is risky, but The Cook’s Shop has beaten the odds, proving that passion and love of what you do can conquer all.

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BEST SEAFOOD: RED LOBSTER

In a similar fashion to the best steak category, another chain restaurant took home an award in this locally dominated survey. Proving that they offer the best seafood in the city, Red Lobster beat out Lilly Kazzilly’s as King of the sea. Claiming that they ‘Sea Food Different,’ Red Lobster prides itself on their passion, and their  commitment to quality and freshness.

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BEST BURGER: MOTOR BURGER

Bet you can guess who won Best Burger . . . Motor Burger! Since re-opening their doors in 2009 Motor Burger has made its place on Erie Street. Embracing the culture of the classic burger joint with a 21st Century touch, Motor Burger will make your taste buds jump for joy with every bite. Using hand ground brisket and chuck, grilled to perfection anyone if their 8oz burgers are sure to delight. From their Motor Burger classic of “grilled beef, lettuce, shaved red onion, seasoned tomato, pickles, motor sauce,” to the Lamb-Orghini using “ground fresh lamb, sun dried tomato tapenade, goat cheese, mixed lettuce,” to Smart Veg-Engine with a homemade veggie patty of “mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, corn, butter beans, chick peas, lentils, garlic, cilantro, curry motor sauce.” You really can’t go wrong, they have a burger for all tastes and ages. Plus being able to pair these masterpieces with their Motor Craft Ales, that’s just icing on the cake.

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BEST FINE DINING: MAZAAR & THE COOK’S SHOP (TIE)

Mazaar is an authentic Lebanese restaurant that prides itself on friendly service, energetic atmosphere and of course, delicious food. Located on Ouellette Avenue, gather friends and family to enjoy a healthy Lebanese meal that is packed with flavour. The Cook’s Shop is a heavenly and romantic experience for an intimate gathering of Italian cuisine, fine wine and low lights. Both will please your fine dining needs from the second you sit down till you glide out the door on cloud nine. Shout out to the Cook’s Shop for picking up their second win in these awards. If you haven’t been, it might be time to.

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BEST SHAWARMA: SHAWARMA PALACE

A walk through Windsor’s downtown looks like it could be the birthplace of the Shawarma. Every block features one of the restaurants, but there is one clear winner that stands out from the rest. In a landslide victory, Shawarma Palace brings home the first place prize, with many locals testifying that the Palace has the most flavour and the best service out of all of them.

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BEST PIZZA: TERRA COTTA

With fresh local produce, a hot wood burning oven, and vegan gluten free options, it isn’t hard to see why Terra Cotta took home the top spot in the Best Pizza category. While walking up to the restaurant you are greeted before even making it to the door, as you pass by the kitchen staff working away behind a large pane glass window directly in the front of the building. It’s not unusual to catch a wave. Second place goes out to Cheez Wheelz, another local favourite.

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BEST COFFEE: GREEN BEAN

Anyone waking up before 8am, anyone pulling an all-nighter, and anyone that needs that extra pick me up throughout the day can agree on one thing: coffee is life. Green Bean Cafe opened four and a half years ago on a dream of community, caring and a love of the brew. Owners Ben and Michelle hoped to create a home away from home, and a place to relax and catch a breathe. With all the votes that came in we see that they have succeeded. Now available in two locations.

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BEST BUFFET: CAESAR’S WINDSOR

Caesars Windsor Buffet is your pick for Best Buffet in Windsor. The Market Buffet has seven different themed stations to satisfy any quirky desires. With Asian Flair, to Little Italy, a fresh salad bar plus a delectable dessert station, the Casino will delight every taste bud in your mouth. You’re able to watch firsthand as cooks prepare stirfrys, made to order crepes, and flavourful pizzas, in an environment that is perfectly suited for shoveling plate after plate into your hungry body.

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BEST BREAKFAST: THE TWISTED APRON

Renowned for several takes and twists on the Eggs Benedict,  The Twisted Apron took home the top slot in the Best Breakfast category, beating out runner-up, The Lumberjack. Continued expansion on a classic theme has become appreciated by all who experience this top notch restaurant, located in the heart of Walkerville. Sourcing as many local, wild, organic and free range foods as possible, the Twisted Apron has an upcoming feature on the hit show, “You Gotta Eat Here.”

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BEST SUSHI: SUSHI CALIFORNIA

In a tight race to determine who among the many sushi restaurants in Windsor would take the top position, Sushi California pulled ahead. A bit of a higher notch above a few of its competitors, the restaurant is known for the care that is put into each dish. Wait times may vary, depending on the time in which you dine, but it is widely considered to be worth it.

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BEST WINGS: THE LOOSE GOOSE

Not only did the wings at Loose Goose win the Best Wings of Windsor category, but we’re pretty sure that they could beat us in an arm wrestle. These things are seriously meaty, and seriously delicious. An ample amount of flavours and varities to choose from helped secure the Goose as the victor, and the top of their game. This is a tough category to win in, and they were up against a lot of strong competition. Special shout outs go to Hurricanes and Rock Bottom for pulling in a respectable amount of votes.

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BEST BEER SELECTION: THE BEER EXCHANGE & ROCK BOTTOM (TIE)

A newcomer and an old favourite. The later part of 2013 saw the introduction of the stock market to the Windsor beer scene, while the salty floors of Rock Bottom continued to draw in fans of hops and barley. The Beer Exchange took over the old Navy Building on University Avenue in November, and has been serving craft brews from the likes of King Brewery, Mill Street, Lake of Bays, and our very own Walkerville Brewery. Rock Bottom is located in the heart of Olde Sandwiche Towne, and boasts thirty beers on tap, priding themselves in constantly updating their selection with new and unique flavours. Oh, and did we mention the complimentary peanuts?

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BEST BEER AVAILABLE: WALKERVILLE

Serving small batches of handcrafted beers, the Walkerville Brewery has been a staple of the area since 1890. New owner, Chris Ryan, has led the resurgence of the brewery, showing that he is a strong supporter of the community, and a man who truly understands beer. The Honest Lager, Loophole Ale, IPA, and Walkerville Black were voted as the best beer available in Windsor, defining the essence of supporting local.

So there you have it, folks – the best places to spend those dollars and hours in Windsor. Support local, and party on.