As much as we love the fine establishments that surround the McMaster campus, there comes a time in every student’s career that calls for venturing past that comfort zone to see what else Hamilton has to offer. Any bus heading downtown will take passengers past Locke St., an area known as a hub for independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, and clothing stores, just to name a few. After some website surfing and a trip down to Locke, we decided to give these businesses some special attention.
Ole Gourmet Mexican Grill 82 Locke St. S.
Located at 82 Locke Street South, Ole Gourmet Mexican Grill is one of the first places you will see after getting off of the bus. The counter of the shop contains a large window where you can see your taco being made right in front of you. Every Tuesday, Ole Gourmet offers up pulled pork tacos at the reasonable price of $2.
The Button Pushers 119b Locke St. S.
Just before the hill is where you will find this beloved vintage hot spot. As the awning boldly declares, they provide customers with “vintage clothes, custom buttons, art and propaganda.” The Button Pushers has a variety of buttons available to buy, but if nothing quite peaks your interest, you can always request a quote for small or large orders and get custom buttons made. The schedule for new batches of clothes varies so be sure to check often to find one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else on campus will have.
Johnny’s Coffee 129 Locke St. S.
If you blink, you almost miss this quaint Locke St. café- but don’t let the outside fool you. With approximately ten tables, it provides a cozy environment, not to mention the friendly barista who greeted us with a warm welcome. Equipped with board games and a house chess set, sit down and enjoy the unique coffee shop that is Johnny’s Coffee. And while you’re enjoying one of the two featured coffees, or a vegan biscotti, follow a tip from their website and be sure to ask about the “Train Game.”
Shirin’s Fine Foods 139 Locke St. S.
Shirin’s Fine Foods hosts a variety of food to suit every taste. From tarts to cookies, coffee to chocolate, and ice cream to gluten-free brownies, Shirin’s should have something for everyone. They also surprisingly carry cabbage rolls and perogies, including dessert perogies, for those who cannot get enough of these European dumplings. They have a great selection of ice cream from birthday cake to chocolate peanut butter, but it’s only available for a few more weeks! Shirin’s is open six days a week, and closed on Mondays.
SC Consignment 162 Locke St. S.
This sleek boutique located at 162 Locke St. S. is for those who love to find designer pieces at a lower price point. They accept consignment by appointment Monday through to Friday. For those fashionistas who love designer brands, perhaps a trip to SC Consignment will mean finding a dress for one of the many upcoming formals being hosted at McMaster.
Democracy/Locke Street Coffee 202 Locke St. S.
It is not hard to miss this coffee shop on Locke, mainly because you can literally walk in from the street. A large garage-like door stands between Democracy/Locke Street Coffee and potential customers, but on the hot, sunny day that we went to Locke, the door was open so there was nothing to stop people from checking it out. The walls are painted with chalkboard paint and coloured chalk is in abundance for those who wish to express their creativity. Do not expect to be surfing the web or checking your Twitter feed in Democracy, as the chalkboard message bluntly puts it, they do not have Wi-Fi, they would rather you talk to each other. With a variety of pastry, desserts, and bagels from the Locke Street Bakery, enjoy a treat, a cup of coffee and conversation at Democracy.
Epic Books 226 Locke St. S.
Right now, Epic Books has a large tree in the front window. The large paper tree is from a recent Locke Street festival where people were asked to write their favourite children’s book on one of the corresponding leaves. But as the woman behind the counter informed us “it’s not just children’s books.” Epic Books is a warm environment where browsing is made comfortable. They have a section dedicated to local Hamilton authors for those who wish to keep it close to home. After some browsing, our personal favourite was Bun B’s Rap Colouring and Activity Book which includes a page that requires the reader to draw a freehand picture of Jay Z with a pre-printed outline of a New York Yankees hat because, after all, he made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can. Clearly that fine piece of literature is not a children’s book.
Bitten 219 Locke St. S.
After checking out the Bitten website, we knew that a visit to the cupcake and whoopee pie store was non-negotiable. Decorated in white, green and orange, it mirrors the playful look and atmosphere of the website to a T. The shop has a large window overlooking all the confectionary creations customers can choose from, including red velvet, peanut butter, or Rolo cupcakes and pies, just to name a few. If you want to have the larger selection from their extensive menu, the best time to go is around noon, just do not go on Mondays, as that is the only day of the week that they are closed.