The Best Cafes in Hamilton, Ontario

One of the main questions I get from friends, family, and people online – is where is the best place to get coffee in Hamilton? I’m in no way classified as a coffee snob because as I generally like flavoured lattes that fall on the sweeter side of the spectrum. But, I have had my fair share of visits to a lot of cafes in Hamilton over the years.

There are some cafes that have been my go-to spots for a while now, and some that just recently opened but instantly became favourites from the first step in the door or first sip. I would like to note that these aren’t my favourites due to my chances to take photos in these spaces, please always ask and/or be cautious of others around you. You can follow me on Instagram (@lovenicolerae) to keep up with the spots I visit around town! So let’s dive into the list and find a new spot for you to visit!

Steeltown Garage Co.

This one isn’t a shocker if you’ve been out with me or in conversation with me over the past year or more. In conversations about the best cafes in the city, I usually list this one within mere seconds. Steeltown Garage is not your average cafe. This shop is part motorcycle gear and apparel shop, part cafe, and the rest are just good vibes. They open the garage window during open hours and also take part in “Bike Nights” for more of a community gathering, both in the case that we have warmer weather. They really emphasize the whole “everyone is welcome” mantra. I can walk-in in a leopard print winter coat into a cafe-shop surrounded by motorcycle gear… and knowing that I still perfectly fit in is all I could ask for. Also, they are honestly just super awesome good people.

They keep the cafe menu fairly simple offering the staples, with an extra offering of Aero-specialized hot chocolate and mochas for those with a sweet tooth. They have a lot of ‘death before decaf’ branding on their very own merch, but they also offer some caffeine-free beverages and a tea latte with reduced caffeine for those that don’t want the extra caffeine jitters.

My normal order: a sweetened iced oat milk latte

SYNONYM

If you love staring longingly are beautiful designed patterned interiors with patterns, SYNONYM is next on your list to visit. This James Street North speciality cafe-resto-bar-bookshop is becoming extremely well known for its terrazzo countertop design and overall interior. I walked in and fell in love immediately soon after it first opened, and I make it a point to drop by for a latte every once in a while.

They offer plenty of food options from brunch to more lunch/dinner types of dishes, including vegan-friendly dishes as well. They also serve natural wine and craft beer if that’s more your thing as well. SYNONYM has a wall of hand-selected reading material as well to round out the “bookshop” part of their cafe shop.

My normal order: a vanilla oat milk latte

trueshot coffee

One of the newest cafes on the list, just having had their soft open in December 2019 and now officially open in January 2020. I was excited to visit this James Street North spot from the preview interior photos I had seen on Instagram and made sure to stop in during their soft opening weekend. My smile kept getting bigger as I looked around and learned more, including having oat milk, which most cafes know is a staple by now. As soon as I knew I could have a vanilla oat milk latte, I was sold and then was pleasantly surprised with a large mug. It could have just been the new mug shape to my eyes, but there were no complaints here and I sipped it all up.

I am excited to see what’s in store for trueshot coffee and can’t wait to return again soon! They have an extended seating area downstairs from the main cafe, so this would be a great spot for nearby students to cram in some studying or writing time.

My normal order: a vanilla oat milk latte

Redchurch Cafe + Gallery

Do you enjoy your cafe visits with a side of art? This Downtown Hamilton cafe is a 2-in-1 cafe and art gallery with a rotation of art collections in the gallery at the back of the cafe. Redchurch Cafe + Gallery offers coffee, food, drinks, and a wall of miscellaneous coffee and non-coffee related items! I hope to return soon to start trying some of the alcohol beverages they offer as well!

If you’ve seen a neon sign at a Hamilton cafe in photos, this is likely the one. It is a great spot that allows for a communal work table, and great people-watching window seats at the front window.

My normal order: a vanilla (or seasonal flavoured) oat milk latte

Cafe Oranje

One classic cafe that I keep returning back to every now and then, is Cafe Oranje. This Dutch-inspired cafe has been around for a handful of years and their orange-accented branding and cups are always easy for me to spot. They offer a full cafe menu, along with soups, sandwiches, sweet treats, and more! They have vegan-safe food items to stay in an eat, as well as to takeout with you.

Parking tip: The parking is usually free in some areas in the Hamilton Downtown core on Sundays, and you may be able to snag a parking spot right out front of this cafe if you’re lucky!

My normal order: a vanilla oat milk latte

Salty Espresso

If there is someone in your life that you want to impress with a brunch/lunch out – head to Salty Espresso. Yes, this is a list of cafes, and I will gladly go for a coffee, but I hop and leap at the chance to make a brunch date here. This Australian-Canadian brunch spot is sure to please everyone, even with meals for the vegans and dairy-free people in your life (points to self). I’ve ordered a few different things from their brunch menu over my many brunches and am always struggling to finish because the portion sizes are bigger than my stomach, but usually just perfect for the average human.

This one is a crowd pleaser, but you have to get there early or just lucky with timing if you have a larger group due to seating availability.

My normal order: sweet potato + avo and a vanilla oat milk latte

Nuttybutter Café

*permanently closed*

If you love macarons, and even if you don’t, you need to step into the world of the Parisian-styled Nuttybutter Café. I don’t often get to eat macarons due to their ingredients, but Nuttybutter makes dairy-free macarons, so I spoil myself with a box of 5 every once in a while. The macarons even maintain well if kept chilled and I can make them last a couple of days before I eat them all. Even people that have claimed not to care for macarons are often shocked at how good they are when they finally try them.

They offer a simple and straight to the point cafe drink menu, along with some speciality sweet treats that they make in-house, such as their cookies and creamy dairy-free/vegan gelato (velato). Go for the treats, stay to marvel at all the hard work that went into every detail of the interior.

My normal order: a box of 5 macarons + an oat (or macadamia) milk latte

1101 CaféBar

*permanently closed*

Another newer cafe on the list, and one that I’ve visited several times already. 1101 CaféBar on Cannon Street is a mixed bag of surprises and is attached to the also fantastic Osten Beerhall, which food and drinks can cross paths. It really helps to go to a beerhall for brunch but getting a tasty latte from “next door” with your meal. I’m happy there are more mid-town cafe spots for me to get to as I come from the East of the city.

Cafe by day, a bar at night, and good tunes playing at all times. This isn’t your average top 40 playlist as they have carefully collected vinyl to play from. I definitely will be returning soon for more caffeine, but also to try some drinks! They take part in some weekend brunch specials – so be sure to check them out. It’s also super convenient that my favourite pizza place, Shorty’s Pizza, is on the other side of 1101 CaféBar.

My normal order: a vanilla oat milk latte

This is in no way a blog post about me saying only to visit these cafes – as there are so many other great cafes in the city. These are just typical cafes that keep me coming back on a more regular basis or even ones that I even think about visiting on a daily basis. Other great cafes in the city include Cherry Birch General, Emerald Coffee, The Cannon, Detour Cafe, Vintage Coffee Roasters, Ward IV Coffee Bar, and so many more.