A bustling Canadian city located just outside Toronto, Guelph is home to an impressive dining scene where classy-casual eats and locally sourced produce reigns supreme. Check out our guide to Guelph’s best local restaurants and chow down on upmarket pub grub, award-winning Italian and fine French fare.
Delhi Street Bistro | Courtesy Delhi Street Bistro
A laidback, chef-driven neighborhood restaurant, Delhi Street Bistro prides itself on serving delightful plates crafted from seasonal and locally sourced fare. Chef Luke Philp, who opened Delhi Street Bistro in 2011 with partner Kathryn Huszar, works closely with local producers like Thatcher Farms and Pine River Cheese to ensure every dish brims with local flavor. Choose from appetizers that include cauliflower gratin with bacon, shallots, gruyere and porcini cream topped with panko breadcrumbs and hearty entrees such as the braised beef served with chive mashed Yukon potatoes, seasonal vegetables and creamy peppercorn sauce.
A contemporary take on the classic British public house, hence the London Underground-inspired name, Baker Street Station is a Guelph dining go-to for upmarket pub grub and locally brewed beers. Alongside regular specials like Taco Tuesday and Sunday Brunch, Baker Street Station’s menu features plenty of tempting fare like pork pot stickers with sesame-marinated vegetables and cheese curds and a salmon gravlax sandwich with whipped cream cheese, pickled shallots, fresh dill, baby spinach and caper berry aioli. On warmer days, head to one of Baker Street Station’s two patio decks for a refreshing beer from Toronto-based breweries including Mill Street Brewery and Spearhead Brewing Company.
A Guelph dining tradition for almost half a century, Aberfoyle Mill is a fine dining restaurant located in a local historic landmark that first opened its doors in 1966. The building, a gristmill constructed in 1859 by a Scottish immigrant, is a lovingly renovated homage to its past with a dining room decorated in antique tools and furniture lending the restaurant cozy, rustic charm. Aberfoyle Mill’s menu is a mix of traditional dishes and creative, seasonal fare with dishes like Ontario striploin with shallot brandy and green peppercorn sauce and pistachio-crusted salmon with lemongrass-ginger beurre blanc and soy sauce competing for diners’ attention.
After scooping four awards in the 2014 Guelph Tribune Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Italian Restaurant, Best Pizza, Best All Around Restaurant and Best Casual Fine Dining, Buon Gusto is certainly proving its name, which translates from Italian as ‘good taste’, isn’t just a fancy moniker. Opened in 2013 in downtown Guelph’s historic Victoria Hotel building, Buon Gusto welcomes guests with a warm, casual-chic interior, the heart of which is its Tuscan-made wood-fired oven where its much-loved Neopolitan-style pizzas, in varieties like white anchovy or fig and prosciutto, are made. Plenty of antipasti sharing plates and pasta dishes like pappardelle stracotto (braised pork shoulder ragu, San Marzano tomato and grana padano) complete Buon Gusto’s authentic Italian eats.
An eclectic, contemporary bistro nestled in a smart redbrick property in the heart of downtown Guelph, The Joint Café focuses on tasty and creative, yet unpretentious fare. Its constantly evolving menu ensures exciting new food every week, though guests can expect dishes like pulled duck sandwich with brie, caramelized onions, sesame aioli and a hoisin BBQ sauce and roasted tomato and red pepper gazpacho finished with toasted kale alongside The Joint Café’s popular breakfast and brunch items. It’s also a great place to experience southern Ontario’s art scene with works by local artists like Marnie Dallan and Rhonda Hewitson adorning the café’s walls.
Baked Haddock in a cream sauce with spinach, mushrooms and pommes duchesse | Photo by Trina Koster/Courtesy Artisanale
Borealis Grille & Bar
Borealis Grille & Bar’s motto is ‘obsessively local’ and with an interior that boasts a wealth of locally sourced craftsmanship and materials alongside a menu brimming with locally produced ingredients and beverages, it certainly delivers on its promise. Choose from upmarket grill house eats like 28-day aged Ontario strip loin with bacon cream sauce and mashed potatoes or a juicy cheeseburger made with local YU Ranch grass-fed beef topped with Thornloe cheddar, garlic aioli and all the trimmings. Team any of the dishes with one of Borealis Grille & Bar’s signature cocktails or a locally brewed Ontario beer from producers like Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery and StoneHammer Brewing.
If fine French country-style cuisine crafted from local, seasonal produce served in elegantly rustic surroundings whets your appetite, then Artisanale, a casual fine-dining restaurant nestled in a beautiful limestone building in historic downtown Guelph, is a must-try. Kuwait-born chef de cuisine Yasser Qahawish, who rose to local acclaim at Toronto’s classy Osgoode Hall Restaurant, crafts a tempting menu featuring classic Gallic fare like chicken liver mousse on brioche and hangar steak frites made from local Rowe Farms grass-fed beef and served with artichoke salad and chive butter. Finish your meal with a classic French dessert like warm crepes with blackcurrant compote.
Voted the city’s best pub in the 2014 Guelph Tribune Reader’s Choice Awards, The Woolwich Arrow, locally known as ‘The Wooly’, first opened its doors 25 years ago and has since become a local dining tradition known for its traditional British pub ambience and locally sourced craft brews and upscale pub grub. Choose from hearty dishes like fish and chips made with Lake Erie caught pickerel and served with fresh cut fries and house-made coleslaw or game pie with wild boar and elk, red wine, onion, celery, pickled beets and sun-dried tomato basil ketchup. Wash it all down with one of The Woolwich Arrow’s selection of locally brewed draught beers.
Located in Guelph’s South End neighborhood, Manhattans is a popular pizza bistro and music club serving delicious New York-style pizzas in a stylish, inviting space. Since opening in 1997, Manhattans’ chic interior and delicious fare have attracted a loyal clientele while its almost nightly music acts, which have included local talents like pianist Stan Chang and singer-songwriter Ambre McLean, add extra ambience. Choose from one of Manhattans jazz-inspired pizzas like the Gillespie (topped with garlic basil pesto, caramelized onions, chicken, spinach, mozzarella and a drizzle of honey) or a pasta dish. Don’t forget to try its wine list, it scooped a gold award in the 2014 Guelph Tribune Reader’s Choice Awards.
One of the Guelph dining scene’s most recent additions, Vietnamese café and restaurant The Nguyen’s is already charming local diners, with many guests hailing it as the best Vietnamese food in the city. The Nguyen’s offers takeout and dine-in service and is perfect for sampling authentic Vietnamese eats at any time of day. Go for lunch and opt for a hearty banh mi sub sandwich or go later when The Nguyen’s stylish, understated space becomes an ideal evening dining option serving dishes like stir-fried squid and banh xeo – a crispy, savory Vietnamese-style pancake.