The City of Guelph has always been Ontario’s epicenter for agriculture; surrounded by farms and fresh food it is therefore one of the best places in Ontario to dine. Guelph restaurants are like no others!
It is 2021. Ontario is finally starting to open up and it’s time to get back out there and explore. You’re looking to ease yourself back into traveling and need somewhere new and possibly nearby to enjoy. Maybe you are a foodie looking to tantalize your palate in newly reopened restaurants; you really should check out some of the places to eat in Guelph. One might even consider it a ‘foodie haven’. Lucky for me, I spent the weekend checking out some of the best restaurants in Guelph enjoying their summer weather and their patio program. Here are some of my favourite restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries the city of Guelph has to offer.
So let’s dig in to some of these Guelph restaurants, shall we?
Best Coffee Overall
Planet Bean is more than a coffee shop; it is a coffee roastery and it is gourmet. Planet Bean focuses on fair trade and organic arabica coffee, so if you are looking for the best of the best coffee shops in Guelph, I recommend this place. The well trained baristas will make you a brew of freshly roasted single origins coffee made via a slow pour-over at the perfect temperature. Trust me, when I say, it’s delicious. The coffee is roasted in small batches and is available to purchase by the bean in the café along with a number of Planet Bean branded coffee-making tools. For the coffee drinker’s soul, Planet Bean does focus on a cooperatively driven workplace, ecological sustainability and ethical coffee production. I do think though, the magic is in the flavours, aromas, and variety of coffees. The roasting team are members of the Roasters Guild, and therefore committed to improve and provide the best coffee experience for consumers of caffeine. Planet Bean is located right downtown, so if you are in the neighbourhood and are looking to experience coffee in excellence…Planet Bean is the premier Guelph coffee shop.
Best coffee shop to hangout at
Going to The Common for coffee in Guelph is like going to a place where everybody knows your name. That’s the draw here, the frenzied friendliness that lives at this downtown Guelph coffee shop. Lining up for coffee at The Common, it is evident that this is a place people go to hangout. Picnic tables line the street out front of this coffee shop in Guelph, where chatter amongst friends fills the air, making for an overall pleasant experience; and the coffee and treats are a delicious addition to the mood. Espresso based drinks meant that I enjoyed a hot Americano with brown sugar in the sun next to this classic, antique-like building. The mismatched, yet aesthetic furniture inside blends with the flea market next door and the quality caffeinated libations to bring the overall vibe of The Common together. If you are looking for a coffee shop in Guelph to hangout in, this is the place.
Baker Street Station
Best for: Food, comfortable atmosphere, meeting friends for a casual dinner and drink, staying later than your reservation, the beer menu
Baker Street Station is an upscale gastro pub tucked away behind the main square in downtown Guelph…on Baker Street. Serving craft brews and creative plays on traditional pub fares, this Guelph restaurant is located inside a 2 story house with two layers of wraparound decks for a patio and a court yard.
Baker Street Station comes with a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere like any traditional pub. What sets Baker Street apart, however, is the exceptional quality of food. While visiting Baker Street Station, we chowed down on four appetizers for dinner comprising of the soft pretzels and dip, the deep fried antojitos, wings, and ceviche. All of which were delicious. The beer menu is also quite extensive, so beer lovers rejoice. Finally, the prices at Baker Street are what I consider to be reasonable for the quality of restaurant and experience provided. From the food, to the drinks, to the relaxed yet still upscale atmosphere, it is no doubt in my mind that Baker Street Station is one of the best restaurants in Guelph.
Best for: Traditional Neapolitan pizza, chic family night out.
Piatto Pizzeria had the unfortunate experience of opening their downtown Guelph restaurant during the pandemic. However, this east coast based pizza chain is off to a great start, despite the odds, which speaks to its tasty menu.
If you are visiting Piatto, it is no doubt to try their delicious Neapolitan pizza, for which Piatto was granted the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana certification. This means that Piatto is serving up real, traditional Neapolitan pizza. Using hand stretched dough over marble countertops, San Marzano tomatoes, and hand-sliced Fior di Latte mozzarella. The pizzas are baked in a special wood fired oven which heats up to 900 degrees F and cooks the pie in just 90 seconds. A little charring around the edges adds that extra bit of texture to the pizza experience. You can see why these pizzas stand out, they are made with care. Piatto also offers gluten-free pizza crusts, which according to my celiac sister-in-law, are quality.
While Piatto also offers soups, salads, antipasti and pasta, the real treat here, is in the pizzas. The interior of the restaurant is clean, simple, and open-air, which means you can watch them cook! The patio opens onto the street and on a sunny day makes for a pleasant experience. Topping it all off, the staff are family-like and welcoming, making you feel as if you have stepped into a very chic “Nonna kitchen”. The prices are in line with what you would expect for a gourmet pizza experience. Hop on board because Piatto Pizzeria might just become one of the best places to eat in Guelph.
Best for: Aesthetic, young professional crowd
La Reina is one of downtown Guelph’s core restaurants. It has two expansive patios on either side of its corner location and is right in the heart of Guelph’s patio program. This means that from Friday to Sunday the streets around the restaurant are closed and the patios can expand to their hearts desires.
Serving up traditional Mexican delights, La Reina is as stylish is you could imagine with a Dia de los Muertos theme. La Reina is a pretty expensive restaurant for Guelph, so when visiting, be prepared to empty that wallet. You’ve been warned. The food is tasty, with a number of different taco options, nachos, and my personal favourite, street corn. Other Mexican dishes you can find here include enchiladas, quesadillas and burritos. They also have a pretty extensive margarita menu if you are looking to party. Overall the restaurant gives that ‘young professional’ feel as far as its audience, prices, menu and aesthetic. The staff could not be more pleasant and definitely added to the warm experience. If you are looking for places to eat in Guelph, and the young professional vibe fits your niche, go for it!
Park Grocery Deli & Bar
Best for: Casual Dining, good vibes, fresh eats, local and organic drinks.
If you are looking for somewhere in Guelph to grab lunch, let this be your choice. Park Grocery Deli & Bar might just be one of the best restaurants in Guelph. There is just something warm and welcoming about this place that makes you want to stay awhile. Its got that quaint neighbourhood vibe that makes you feel as if you are at your friend’s house for a sunny afternoon. The location has been serving up food since 1890, and this latest installment is a compliment to its origins.
The food is fresh, local and organic. Think salads and soups made from scratch, smoked meat sandwiches and trout platters. The fries are not too bad either! There is a small grocery out front where you can purchase deli items and a bar that serves up a selection of local beers, ciders, wines and spirits. Park Grocery is also home to an exceptional cafe offering organic fair-trade coffee and teas along with artisan sodas and milkshakes. Across the street is ‘With the Grain“, a bakery that so compliments the vibe of Park Grocery, so pay them both a visit if you can. The trout platter and goat cheese salad we enjoyed were delicious, and the salad dressing was to die for. All things were absolutely fresh and flavourful. So if you are looking for a casual place to eat in Guelph, do me a favour and check out Park Grocery Deli & Bar, it’s great.
Best for: Interesting craft beer list, trendy night out, right downtown
Brothers Brewing is a bar, bottle shop, clothing brand and community hangout located in the heart of downtown Guelph. With 12 taps of house-brewed craft beers on the menu, this Guelph brewery is a beer lovers dream. The atmosphere at Brothers Brewing feels on trend if you know what I mean. The brewery itself is open air so that the industrial beer brewing vibe mingles with casual seating, making for a pretty cool night out. The lighting at night is on point with steam punk elements, Edison bulbs and string lights tying the look together. If you were a young professional or student, there is no doubt this would be one of your top choices of breweries in Guelph.
At Brothers Brewing there are 10 rotating taps of traditional, seasonal, and unique beers as well as a Kombucha tap and a cider tap. There is also an array of non-alcoholic drinks as well as some food options. As the tap list does change often, you have to continue to check their instagram for up-to-date beer menu items.
As my brother is a bit of a beer aficionado, it just seemed right to bring him along to Brothers Brewing as a test subject. We sampled the seasonal drinks. Trying to keep it summerlike, we started with the Mango Lime Berliner Ghost which is a super light beer, almost a Kombucha…and then we sampled the Kombucha itself, which was delicious. We moved on to the Hail Mary Brimestone, another fresh summer brew of 4.5% and finished off with the grapefruit seltzer, all delicious brews. As far as breweries in Guelph go, Brothers Brewing is a top notch experience all around from the atmosphere, to the brews themselves. Be careful, you might end up spending more than you expect!
Breakfast/Brunch in Guelph
Best for: Comfort foods, Guelph History
The charm of the Vienna falls within its history. This brunch restaurant in Guelph has been serving up breakfasts since the 1900’s making it one of the oldest operating establishments in Guelph. The Vienna originated as a coffee bar and bakery and served countless individuals over a fairly long time line until the original building was demolished in the 1960’s. However the restaurant was relocated down the street where it remains a family run business to this day.
Using locally sourced ingredients means that the Vienna offers not only quality service, but quality products to its guests. The Vienna focuses on providing reasonably priced comfort foods which make for a great post-night out brunch. You will find your classics here including bacon and eggs, waffles and pancakes and of course eggs benedict. Aside the classics, you will also find the Vienna’s famous schnitzels. Yes, this is technically a schnitzel house and you can bet that the Vienna has included its schnitzel in its breakfast menu. So if you are looking for a place to start on this menu, I suggest the schnitzel based options. As far as downtown Guelph’s restaurants, The Vienna should definitely be on your radar especially if you’re looking to have brunch in Guelph.
Rise and Shine
Best brunch in guelph
Rise and Shine is a Caribbean inspired restaurant located in downtown Guelph and it just might be the best tasting brunch in Guelph. I mean, its tag line is ‘Island Flavour’ for a reason. Rise and Shine puts a Caribbean spin on breakfast classics bringing things like jerked bacon to the table. It’s like adding a pop of ‘wow’ to classic comfort foods. Owner Taj Marshall and Chef Vivek Agarwal come together to showcase some of the more popular items in their Indian and West Indian cultures and cuisines…and what a combo. It is an impeccable blend of a traditional Canadian brunch and Caribbean cuisine. Not to mention the incredible mimosa menu.
The atmosphere of Rise and Shine is comfortable, welcoming and little (lot) bit tiki. Part of Guelph’s patio program, on the weekends the patio extends into the street. Surrounded by tiki decor, dining here feels like a miniature vacation getaway. Would I dine here again? Absolutely! Do I think this is a Guelph restaurant you should keep your eye on? 100%.
Eric the Baker
Best Bakery in Guelph
This bakery located in downtown Guelph is a fan favourite for a reason, the baked goods are simply delicious. You can tell by the line coming from this establishment seemingly all day long. If you are looking for buttery croissants, you’ve got to pay a visit to Eric the Baker. He comes by baking honestly, with his grandmother opening one of the first bakeries in Toronto. She is the originator and teacher of the delicious croissants I write about. Eric’s uncles also own bakeries around the world and so with his familial bakery history, it is no surprise that Eric the Baker is one of the best bakeries in Guelph.
The menu is filled with typical things one might find in a traditional cafe in France. You can find butter croissants, custard and fruit filled tarts, cakes and all of the breads you could dream of. Treats like cinnamon rolls, pies, and éclairs grace the display window of the bakery while the aroma of savoury options float in the background.
If you have the chance, or are looking for one of the best places to eat in Guelph, I urge you to take a visit to Eric the Baker. There will be a line, but I promise it is worth it, so add a bit of extra expected time to your visit. Also note that Eric the Baker is cash only.
With the Grain
Moving slightly away from downtown, but still well within walking distance is the absolutely pleasant “With the Grain Bakery”. It’s right across the street from ‘Park Grocery’, a favourite amongst Guelph restaurants, making these two places the perfect combo experience. With the Grain is located on Woolwich Street in Guelph in the quaintest of buildings. Inside is a light and bright store front filled with all of the sweet treats you could ever dream of.
From jelly filled donuts, to muffins, cinnamon buns, cookies, and treats filled with Nutella, as a bonified sugar fanatic, I almost shed a tear. Behind the sweet treats were rows of delicious aromatic breads and savoury options. There was also a very cute selection of cookies to go, a few of which I picked up for myself. With the Grain also stocks a number of specialty coffees. Adding to the experience was of course the bright eyed and interested staff whose interactions could be explained as nothing more than smiles and pleasant vibes.
A quintessential Guelph Experience
Visiting The Boathouse really is a quintessential Guelph experience, it’s just beloved. At the Boathouse you will find the best ice cream in Guelph. Combined with a locally sourced tea room offering both a view and access to the speed river for paddling, it is a Guelph restaurant that counts as an experience for the whole family. You can find more about that here
Focusing on the food, The Boathouse has been slinging ice cream since 1997.
The restaurant offers a number of unique flavoured ice creams complete with vegan options available, and yes you can buy it by the tub. The ice cream is quality, creamy, and you can’t beat the flavour selection. Once you have acquired your ice cream there are a number of benches and Muskoka chairs along the Speed River for you to enjoy your snack, as well as a nearby park and tons of parking.
The tea room and patio serves high tea daily from April to December for $21/person which I think is pretty fun. In addition, you can find things like wraps, soups, salads, and sandwiches as well as delectable desserts with both vegan and gluten-free options available. The Tea Room patio looks out over the Speed River, where canoe and kayakers from ‘Speed River Paddling’ entertain as they paddle by. So not only is The Boathouse of the best places to eat in Guelph, it single handedly is also one of the best things to do in Guelph. Don’t sleep on this ice cream experience.
As you can see, I wasn’t lying when I said Guelph is one of the best places to dine in Ontario. Guelph Restaurant options are plentiful, flavourful, and thoughtful, which is why you should plan a visit a.s.a.p. The patio program means that downtown Guelph restaurants are more accessible than ever with extra seating outside and no cars to disturb your dining experiences. You can move fluidly from coffee shop, to bakery, to restaurant, to brewery, and Guelph has them all. No matter which meal you are looking for I am positive there are places to eat in Guelph to meet your every need, as well as a plethora of things to do. With Ontario on the rebound, Guelph is a great option for foodies, travellers, and locals looking to explore Ontario through the adventure that is food, and these 11 Guelph Restaurants will help you do just that.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank team at Visit Guelph for hosting me as media for the weekend. While Guelph Tourism planned my trip, all of the opinions on this blog post are my own.