Nobody wants to listen to jazz music on an empty stomach. There’s at least two or three stories (myths?) about Charles Mingus eating steak for a reason. Those who know me have probably heard me rant at least once about ‘dinner jazz’ and ‘cocktail music’ but there’s no denying that we all gotta eat and the better we eat, well, the better. Last year I made a few recommendations of good spots to grab a bite before attending shows at Artword Artbar (all of which still apply), but the culinary landscape of James North (and area) has continued to expand and develop. And so on the eve of the 2015 Steel City Jazz Festival I present to you three more picks for good grub before the show (and one for after):
Saltlick Smoke House 282 James N:
A recent favourite of mine, Saltlick Smokehouse serves up the best meat on the street. They offer modern spins on classic barbeque fare, with a good mix of menu items to satisfy both the adventurous and the BBQ purists. Their fried chicken was the best I’ve had in Hamilton (or elsewhere, to be hoenst), and their Banh Mi Pork Belly Sandwich (available at lunch) has me wishing I’d ordered two. Go with a group for dinner and order a few dishes to share.
The Butcher and the Vegan 61 Barton E:
If you’re grabbing food with a vegetarian friend Saltlick is probably not their top choice, but the Butcher and the Vegan might be. New to the area, the Butcher and the Vegan are off the main James N strip, just a few blocks east on Barton. Offering a wide-ranging menu including (as you might guess) plenty of vegan options and with a focus on farm-to-table, sustainable eating, the Butcher and the Vegan are a perfect choice for those looking to discover something new.
Knead Pizza 274 James N:
Okay so maybe you don’t have time for one of these fancy ‘sit down’ meals; you want something fast on your way over to the jazz fest. Well luckily Knead Pizza have got you covered. Located directly across James St from Colbourne (where Artword Artbar is located) in the spot that Euro Pizza used to occupy, Knead Pizza is one of the newest eateries on the block but they’ve started off very strong. I tried a slice of their mango/jalapeno/pork belly and was instantly impressed. Perfect for a quick bite on you way to the show!
The Cat N’ Fiddle 174 John St S:
The Cat N’ Fiddle is a Hamilton music community institution; I’m not exaggerating when I say that their dedication to jazz music in Hamilton is what makes the Steel City Jazz Festival possible. We do jazz two weeks a year; they do it fifty-two. I first heard many of the artists who have played at the festival at the Cat’s regular Wednesday night jazz jam. Seeing as tomorrow night is Wednesday, I strongly recommend that anyone coming out to see the Scott Taplay Group and the Tom Altobelli Group join us at the Cat N’ Fiddle after the show to celebrate the opening of the 2015 festival! Oh, but this post is about food. Well, the Cat N’ Fiddle has the best deep fried pickles in the city. If that isn’t enough for you (really it should be), the rest of their menu is also great! Whether you come for the music or the food, the Cat N’ Fiddle never disappoints.
The Steel City Jazz Festival starts tomorrow (Wednesday, October 21). We hope you will come eat some good food, hear some good music, and enjoy everything this fine city has to offer.