Getting what you want in Kingston

A quick primer on movies, restaurants, music, and even the grocery store

Credit: 
illustration by Margaretha Ysselstein

When you get to Queen’s, you’ll be oriented to death on campus, but if you’ve never been to Kingston before, you still have to make sense of the rest of the town. Here’s a partial list of where to go for food and fun.

Do-it-yourself dinner

1. Food Basics

33 Barrack St. at King St. E.

The cheapest grocery store within striking distance of campus. It’s a bit of a walk, and you’ll need to bring your own bags, but the low-cost food is worth it.

2. A&P

310 Barrie St. at Princess St.

Pricier, but a much quicker walk and a better selection. You choose.

3. Loblaws

Kingston Centre, Princess St. at Sir John. A. Macdonald Blvd.

This one works well if you’ve got a bike. They also offer a free shuttle through campus and the Ghetto on Tuesday nights.

Dining out

4. Atomica

71 Brock St.

A mid-range, funky Italian eatery, where you'll find the closest thing to authentic Italian thin crust pizza in Kingston.

5. The Grizzly Grill

395 Princess St.

Don't be fooled by the gigantic, tacky bear head. The adage "don't judge a book by its cover" definitely applies to the Grizzly Grill. It's stylish inside, so it's great for dinner with the parents, and it's good for a pre-clubbing night since it's located right in the Hub.

6. Phnom Penh

335 King St. E.

A mostly family-run place, with fantastic Cambodian/Thai cuisine. It's a very good price for what you get, with large servings that never leave you wanting more. Split two dishes with a friend, share a pot of jasmine tea post-meal, and life will be perfect.

7. Tango

331 King St. E.

A very urban, somewhat European feel to this place. It's the only place we know of that serves Red Bull and vodka, and has a delicious and diverse Tapas menu. The curried ketchup with yam frites is a delightful combination. We also love the illumiated table tops. There are half-priced mussels on Wednesdays, and Friday nights they have a DJ. Very cool atmosphere. 8. Wok In

30 Montreal St.

Not a lot of room to sit down to eat here, and you may feel like you're eating in a kitchen, but that's really all part of its charm. It's got some rather nice Thai, Cambodian, and Vietnamese food in a do-it-yourself sort of atmosphere: you seat yourself, grab your own Brita water jug out of the fridge, put in your order at the counter, and wait. It's good food at reasonable prices.

• Gusto, 424 Princess St.

• Ta Ke Sushi, 120 Princess St.

• Lone Star Café, 251 Ontario St.

• Le Chien Noir, 69 Brock St.

Movies

9. Famous Players

213 Princess St.

Your typical, modern-day cinema.

10. The Screening Room

120 Princess—You have to go in a little office building to find it.

This is Kingston's rep/art cinema house. The theatres are quite small, but you'll be able to see alternative films for very reasonable prices.

11. ASUS Movie Theatre

Dunning Hall Auditorium, University Ave. at Union St.

Looking for a cheap date? The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society offers screenings of newly-released films that are dwelling in that irritating limbo known as post-theatre/pre-video. Movies are shown every Sunday evening in Dunning Aud at 7:00 and 10:00 pm. Tickets are $3.00 in advance at the Used Book Store (UBS) in the JDUC; prices rise to $4.00 each at the door. Get upcoming show information on the ASUS website or by calling 533-6278.

• Kingston Canadian Film Festival, kingcanfilmfest.com

• Reel Out, reelout.com

• Queen’s Focus Film Festival, Queen’s Dept. of Film Studies

Live music

12. The Grad Club

Corner of Barrie and Union

For our money, the Grad Club is the best live music venue in Kingston. Not only does it book many of the best acts, but the venue also creates an intimacy between performer and audience that can often make a good show great. It doesn't look like much when you get in--the stage is quite awkwardly set up, in fact--but perhaps it's the clumsy architecture that gives it its charm. It also has friendly staff, a brand-new patio, and one of the best beer selections in town.

Last year, the Grad Club hosted shows by a primo cast of Canadian indie stars, including the likes of Joel Plaskett, Stars, The Sadies, and even Melissa Auf Der Maur (before "Follow the Waves" hit it big). Bookmark their website, gradclub.ca, to stay up to date.

13. Clark Hall Pub

Above the Campus Bookstore

Not only is Clark Hall the home of Ritual and Players, it can also put on a decent rock show—particularly for campus bands and local Kingston Punk Productions. If you've just started a band and are looking for a place to play, Clark Hall is probably your best bet. They host a new music night every Wednesday and have always been supportive of local talent and hardworking musicians. They also have cheap pitchers.

14. The Scherzo Pub

207 Wellington St.

The Scherzo is the place to play for many up-and-coming artists, as well as those bands that position themselves a little off the mainstream path. The pub's low-key lighting provides a comfortable ambience, the beer selection is far above average, and the servers are always pleasant. Last year, the Scherzo hosted shows by The Fembots, The Organ, and Matthew Barber, as well as a weekly CFRC Thursday night dance party.

• Alfie’s, JDUC basement

• AJ’s Hangar, 393 Princess St.

• Elixir Nightclub, 14 Garrett St. at Division St.

• Grant Hall, University Ave. at Bader Lane

• The Cocamo, 178 Ontario St.

• Rock Crew Productions, rockcrew.ca

• Queen’s Entertainment Agency, myams.org/qea

• Kingston Punk Productions, kingstonpunkproductions.ca

Live theatre

15. Theatre 5 370 King St. W.

Theatre 5 is a non-profit theatre company, staging numerous productions for the Kingston community every year, as well at Saturday Night Improv comedy shows. Their box office can be reached at 546-5460.

16. The Grand Theatre

218 Princess St.

The Grand is among Kingston's largest entertainment venues, and is host to a wide variety of events year-round. Theatrical events this summer include Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, The Second City National Touring Company, and No Sex Please, We're British!. For tickets, call the box office at 530-2050 or check out whatsonkingston.com/thegrand.

• Queen’s Drama Department, 533-2104

• Domino Theatre, 370 King St. W., 530-2050

• The Princess Court Theatre, upstairs at 393 Princess, 531-0331

• Theatre Kingston, 544-2021

• Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque, 382-7020

• The Rogue and Peasant Theatre Company, roguetheatre.org

Fine art

17. Union Gallery

Inside Stauffer Library, main floor

This is the place to find student art, which means a lot of it is experimental, the diversity is astounding and exhibitions change regularly. It's a great place to kill time between classes. "Cezanne's Closet," the gallery's annual fundraiser, is a chance to get your hands on some amazing art at a reasonable price.

18. Modern Fuel Gallery

21A Queen St.

It's a little off the beaten path, but this tiny artist-run gallery is definitely worth checking out, if for no other reason than to see what's new in the world of art. As a gallery that focuses on the emerging artist, Fuel often joins forces with Queen's; it's currently working with Union Gallery and has also provided film students with a venue for their work.

19. The Sleepless Goat

91 Princess St. at Wellington St.

With walls adorned with local contemporary art and chalk boards colourfully outlining the menu, The Goat is a great place to meet friends or read a book over a cup of Fair Trade coffee and some unique, delicious food and desserts. The art reflects the relaxed attitude of the café—very natural and a little abstract. The Goat is also a workers' co-op, so employees split the profits equally amongst each other; they also offer free food to members of Kingston's homeless community.

• Agnes Etherington Art Centre, University Ave. at Bader Lane

• Windmills Café, 184 Princess St.

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