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Best of Guelph

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  • corinne Mar 9, 2006 02:09 PM
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It would be great to hear your recommendations on your favorite restaurants in Guelph. We enjoy ethnic foods but any suggestions are appreciated. This will be our first trip to Guelph.

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  1. I go to the University of Guelph, and usually go to the places which are reasonably priced. They don't have the best food, but I think its great for what you pay:
    - Diana Downtown (great Indian food)
    - the Cornerstone (vegetarian)
    - Cafe Aquarius (vegan)
    - Sushi Choice
    - Babelfish Bistro (which was on restaurant makeover) and Parallel.. I've never been to either, but apparently Parallel is always packed.

    Those are the best suggestions I can give to you... I wouldn't say there is that much great dining in Guelph, that I know of...

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayseeca

      If you are already up Guelph way, Take a short drive to Elora and have an unbelievable meal at "Alex's Kitchen". Located near the Elora Mill Inn, world renown Alex Sgroi, will prepare a meal, second to none.I have eaten there a few times, driving in from Toronto!!
      Worth the trip everytime!!

    2. How about the Bookshelf Cafe - been going there for 10+ years and it has always been decent.

      Link: http://www.bookshelf.ca/

      1. Ah... Guelph. I did my undergrad there. I haven't been back since (that was about 4 or 5 years ago) so take my suggestions knowing that much.

        Bombay Cafe was always reasonably reliable Indian. Diana's downtown was also decent.

        Wok's Taste used to be decent Chinese, but I've heard it's gone down quite a bit since they changed owners.

        I loved The Bookshelf Cafe while I was there.

        There's a vietnamese pho place on Speedvale just east of the Hanlon (the name of the restaurant escapes me) that was decent.

        There was a good Lebanese place on Edinburgh, but I think that's closed down now?? Not sure.

        There was a good fish and chips place downtown across from Trappers bar that served fresh cut fries - perfect after a night of partying.

        There was a great soup and sandwich spot on the corner of Woolwich and London.

        And the Black Mustard bistro on Wyndham was as "cosmopolitan" as it got - not sure if it's still there.

        Anyway, there wasn't much in the way of chowfinds in Guelph while I was there. Those are the spots that were obviously memorable enough to stick with me for the last 4 or 5 years though. Hope that helps a bit. :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Juniper

          The pho place is Speedvale is called Pho Saigon, solid vietnamese food. A new place which has popped up in Guelph is Red Papaya... their food is good, but sometimes I find it inconsistent, especially the vietnamese dishes.
          There isn't a fish and chips place anymore across from Trappers unfortunatly. But there is Tony's Billiards for pool, drinks, and food. The food isn't that great, but the staff is very nice.

          1. re: Juniper

            >There was a good Lebanese place on Edinburgh, but I
            >think that's closed down now?? Not sure.

            Yep, Emir's is now closed. Goodies on Woodlawn and Speedvale is now your best bet for Lebanese, but it's very different.

            > There was a good fish and chips place downtown across
            > from Trappers bar that served fresh cut fries -
            > perfect after a night of partying.

            I think you might be thinking of MacDonel Grill - which last I checked was still there, but it may not be, I haven't looked since August or so.


            > There was a great soup and sandwich spot on the
            > corner of Woolwich and London.

            With the Grain

            > And the Black Mustard bistro on Wyndham was as
            > "cosmopolitan" as it got - not sure if it's still
            > there.

            Black Mustard is no longer there, but Parallel that has replaced it is very nice.

          2. Latino's has always proven reliable, even though their new location (in the plaza at Paisley and Norfolk) lacks the atmosphere of their old location on Cork St. Good, homemade meals - the daily specials are always good and I can't eat there without having their ceviche. Used to go there as a treat while attending university there.

            Though I haven't been to it for years, Carden St Cafe was a good spot for tropical-inspired dishes - I recall their rotis were good.

            Greek Garden (York & Victoria) offers standard Greek fare, but less greasy than what you get on the Danforth.

            1. Bistro Six is pretty good. Don't let the fact that it is located in a plaza (on Harvard St.) dissuade you. The present owners used to own the Bookshelf cafe. Please see the link below.

              Carden Street Cafe was a nice place for curries, rotis, etc. I haven't been there for a few years but I do remember it being fairly good and reasonably priced. It seemed to be a very popular spot on the weekends.

              Link: http://www.bistrosix.com/

              1. Guelph is an amazing place for food. So many choices, so little time...

                Einstien's Cafe - good food, good price, nicest patio ever in the summer.

                Latino's - mostly chilean, but billed as 'south american' . best strawberry margaritas anywhere, they make their own fresh juices. they also have the most amazing desserts. if you're not being too health concious i can't reccomend the cheese empanada's enough. but generally spectacular food. i have not yet found it's equal for this type of food in toronto, and very reasonably priced. (they also serve breakfast with some standard options and some not so standard options)

                Greek Garden (in the phone book it's listed as cafe greek garden) - most amazing greek food ever. again, i have not found it's equal in toronto and i've been all over the danforth. VERY busy on weekends, i highly reccomend a reservation.

                Goodies - what it lack in atmosphere it makes up for in delicious lebanese type food, wonderful tarboosh salad. also very cheap.

                Carden Street Cafe - another wonderful place, most of the food is a little bit spicy but if you ask they'll show you the less spicy stuff. a fabulous atmosphere with colourful jungle scape murals. not a place to go if you're in a hurry. the service is basically very nice people, who are over worked a bit so things are a bit slow, so it's a nice linger over food kind of place.

                Salsateria - take out, rodolfo's salsa is stunning.

                Bombay Cafe - wonderful indian food with a great lunch special that runs tuesday - saturday. $8 for three curries (1 meat, 2 veg, or 3 veg if your vegetarian), naan or parantha, dessert. basically you just take what their serving. an a la cart menu is available too, but i never eat from it.

                Pennywhistle pub - also has amazing indian food.

                Samura - good japanese

                Red Papaya - cheap and cheerful and very tasty thai / vietnamese

                The Albion - very cheap, very good. you go to a food counter and order and pay and bring it to your own table. great burgers, great fries.

                Woolwich arms - lots of nice microbrew and some very good food including things like bison burgers etc.

                Angel's diner - if you're in the mood for smoked meat it's the place to go. they have a special that is two smoked meat sandwiches for $6, and you can have the second one wrapped up if you aren't with someone who wants smoked meat. they also have huge salads and have a great garlic ranch dressing (i don't usually like ranch, but this is an amazing homemade dressing). this is now a chain of sorts, but it started in guelph.

                Eggcetera - makes a mean breakfast with very nice fresh squeezed orange juice. i think they have non-breakfast stuff too, but i've only been there for breakie.

                With the Grain Bakery - the most amazing treats you've ever had. seriously, amazing. and muffins. amazing muffins. apparently they do nice soup and sandwich lunch type stuff too.

                Wok's Taste - absolutely amazing chinese food. i had toronto friends who would come to guelph just to eat there. no atmosphere whatsoever. florecent lights etc, but wonderful, a great place to go with a group of friends so you can get a million things and share, but even just a couple people can enjoy a lot.

                Boathouse Cafe - afternoon tea and crumpets are lovely here. scones with strawberry preserves and creme fresh is a damn good way to spend a couple hours in the afternoon.

                Toppers - i know this is a weird one on the list, but it really is the greatest delivery pizza. sooo good.

                If you're looking for fancy and don't mind paying for it (expensive by Guelph standards, pretty average by Toronto standards...) then I suggest:

                Bistro Six - run by Alvin and Glenna Rebic, all of their restaurants are consistantly in 'where to eat in canada'.

                Parallel and Babble Fish Bistro - owned by the same folks, not sure if it's the same chef, both lovely

                Personally I wouldn't bother with the bookshelf. I love the concept, and I love going to a movie there, and I even like the green room and the ebar a lot. but i find the restaurant overpriced for what you get since alvin and glenna left. i think they're still riding the reputation from when alvin and glenna were running it.

                Guelph is an amazing food place. It's one of the things I miss about it. In fact, beyond my friends, it's possibly the only thing I miss about it. Which is funny since I now live in Toronto. But the variety, quality and price in Guelph can't be beat.

                Also, close by is Elora which has a few lovely places too (like Desert Rose Cafe).

                Enjoy your food exploring!

                5 Replies
                1. re: mainja

                  oh, i forgot Manhattan's. Very tasty reasonably priced lunch, and very tasty more expensive dinner. Live jazz (it's a jazz club) and generally a very enjoyable atmosphere.

                  1. re: mainja

                    I forgot to mention that the curries at Carden Street Cafe tend to be West African curries.

                    Okay, I'll stop now, I promise.

                    1. re: mainja

                      I second the recommendation for deserts at Latino's. They made my wedding cake, and I have to say, it was the tastiest wedding cake that I've ever eaten.

                      1. re: mainja

                        So nice to hear about all my favorite foodie haunts during my undergrad years...

                        Completely agreed on how amazing a foodie town it is. Mostly unknown to GTA'ers, which I guess is not surprising.

                        Wok's Taste was our "after the bar eating place", have yet to find a bakery like "With the Grain" in TO, LOVED Carden (was a regular), and completely second you on the Greek Garden (although I loved it even more before the renovations), and the Bookshelf was definitely better before they added the full service restaurant. I'm getting sentimental just thinking about it.

                        For a town of this size (approx 90,000), it always blew me away how varied, and unpretentious these places all were (and still are according to you). I compare this to my experience in TO, where 99.9% of the places I've tried are amateurish, overrated, and COMPLETELY pretentious. Get over yourselves Toronto!

                        And oh...the Farmer's Market on the weekend!!!! Fresh baked goods from the local Mennonites, and Rodolfo's salsa, and fresh incredible seasonal produce etc... My weekly food shopping to cook meals with friends. And like others, I have never found anijitos anywhere outside of Guelph. Delicious!

                        And in response to Marion, Georgian Creeds was one of the best high end places I've ever been. So tiny (I think it only sat max about 30 people from what I remember), so intimate, and incredible simple French cuisine. Lovely...

                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                          to be fair, Guelph has a population more in around the 126,000 people. And that's not including students. I think the students add something in around another 12,000 to 15,000.

                      2. It's time warp cuisine, much of it reminiscent of 80s TO--for better or worse.Its real plus is a general lack of attitude that makes up for the so-so grub. Make a trip out to Rockwood for Saunders Bakery--killer old-school donuts and squares. Wellington County beers and ales are also worth investigating.

                        1. Guelph has got some decent places -
                          The Albion Hotel is a pub type place downtown that serves great great food - one thing in particular, which I've never seen anywhere except guelph is an app called anijitos (AN-A-HEE-TOES) - they are a MUST try.
                          Also Babel Fish Bistro is good as is Parallell for a schmancier experience.
                          Don't bother w/Red Papaya is made me sick.
                          Pho's there as well can't hold a candle to Toronto choices.
                          Enver's is outside of Guelph in Morriston (other side of 401) and I've heard their food is spectacular.
                          There is a steak house as well downtown (neeve st. I think) that has an excellent chef from what I understand.
                          The Bookshelf is cafe'ish and would be nice for lunch ,it has a wonderful atmosphere.
                          Not too crazy about Latino's at all, can't comment on the deserts though...
                          If you want a nice pint the Woolwich Arms is a nice pub as well.
                          Have fun, I'm going through this w/end and will be stopping by The Albion for some of those delish anijitos.

                          1. Thank you so much for your great suggestions!

                            1. My comments on the downtown places.
                              For the package of good food, often superbly cooked, relaxing atmosphere, very good service, one of the best places is left unmentioned:
                              Georgian Creeds, a small resto in a handsome old house on Douglas St., just off St. George's square. Tends to get booked up. Best for 6 or fewer. Leaves you glowing with well-being. Cooking is 1980s (French influenced), but so are the prices. Possibly cheaper than Parallele, a couple of blocks away. U of G faculty and lawyers more likely to be the other diners than folksingers.

                              Parallele is more adventurous in cooking than Georgean Creeds but is also a bit inconsistent; it has a lot of choice inclduing pastas which would bring the price well below GC's. Handsome interior, exposed stone, ceramic floors. Well=heeled folksingers would feel happy here. Possible to just walk in .

                              On Cork ST, a block from Parallele, in Latino's old location is the Bollywood Bistro, superb INdian food exquisitely presnted in a beautiful room. i don't think that there is an Indian place in Toronto that comes close. REminds of the food and presentation at the best palace and Raj hotels in India. A big hit, so book ahead.

                              Carden St. Cafe around the corner from Parallele on Cardigan is underpraised by other chowhounds. It has lots of 3rd world =influenced food but does its own thing. Delicious mushroom pate with roasted vegs to start. Berry crumble desserts are scrumptious with fresh berries. Huge servings, cheap wine, extraordinary value for money. Very popular so book ahead.

                              Up the street from Carden St are two quite recent very College St. influenced places, Atmospheres, which now has good dining as well as drinks and nibbles. MOre expensive (esp for wine) is Bin 203 a few doors away, which I haven't tried.

                              Bookshelf on Quebec St. doesn't have the night= out- for- a- treat feel of the others, but it's not bad, and is open on Sunday night. A big success for me when I took a group there on Sunday. Also, the patio is marvelous and my favourite place to eat in the summer, esp. for lunch. Bargain wine. At least two veg options.

                              And I love the atmosphere and food of Cornerstone (down the street, but on the east side of Wyndham, from Parallele) for a quick, very cheap, veg meal (with wine or beer) among the Guelph counter-culture. Disaffected philosophy grads will be your servers. DElicious noodle-based and other 3rd world dishes. If it's too popular they take it off the menu because the cook gets bored. It's that kind of place.

                              Bistro 6 is excellent but its suburban plaza location is too depressing for me to take unless I'm pushed.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Marion

                                Bookshelf is just too inconsistent for my taste. I've frequented this lumpenintelligentsia dump for years and wonder how the hell it stays afloat. Food is pedestrian and uninspired, not to mention overpriced. It doesn't even work particularly well as a bookstore! Looks like a "Restaurant Makeover" candidate to me!

                                1. re: Marion

                                  This past Saturday I was actually able to try Carden St. Cafe since my friend had a gift certificate.. I have to say I was quite unimpressed. Maybe I was expecting more. The soups were OK, better than other ones I've had, but i've had much much better. The mains were also alright, but again, I've had better dishes for cheaper. One friend got the Fresh Fruit Crumble, and sadly there was not one piece of fresh fruit, except for the 1/2 strawberry garnish. There were 2 raspberries which were still frozen, and the rest was cooked cranberries and rhubarb on oats (the oats were good), but this dish could have been made at home. The lunch was fine, since it was all free, but I don't think I'll be going back. I don't really understand the long line ups.

                                  1. re: Marion

                                    I've now tried Bin 23 and it's the best restaurant in Guelph, if I had a typical experience. Inventive menu, at least by Guelph standards, excellent green salad with nuts or seeds and the best duck I've ever had in Guelph. Not as expensive as I'd thought. Not much over $200 for four (after tip), although we only had one bottle of wine.

                                  2. For a reasonable & well stocked brunch, try Jose Noodle Factory on Woolwich St. next to the Beer Store. Good selection & good price.
                                    Portly Penguin on Harvard Rd. is a cheap & cheerful place for dinner or lunch. They have a good selection of beers there & have a patio in the summer.
                                    The Homestead on Woodlawn Rd. is a great place for breakfast. Greek food as well as other dishes too.
                                    Tell Leo I sent you :)
                                    Delainey's on Woodlawn Rd. is also a greek fare. More of a fancier place for dinner. Good meals there.
                                    Angel's Diner on Wellington Rd. is excellent for breakfast during the week it is $3.49. Also their Caesar Salad to to die for. A very unique taste.
                                    Cagney's is another great place for dinner. It is located on York Rd. E. Sometimes it's a little noisy, but the decor & the food is good.
                                    Peter's Steakhouse on Victoria Rd. is a new place in town. It's a little on the fancier side with good portions of food. You'll take home a take out container from here. The owner came to all of our tables in the restaurant the night we went to welcome us to his restaurant & to ask how our meals were.

                                    1. Parallel doesn't exist anymore. It has been replace by a martini lounge bar called NV.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hungryyet

                                        NV rules, beautiful room, very nice food - move of an appatizer menu but definately worth a go for drinks and snacks

                                      2. Anyone know of a fancy restaurant that is open (in the Guelph and nearby surrounding area) on a Monday night?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: hungryyet

                                          I believe Bin 23 is open on Monday nights for dinner, and it's a pretty nice restaurant. We had a great meal there during the summer, the food was deliscious (the party at the table next to us kept talking about how much they loved what they were eating, but we didn't mind since we agreed!), the service was great, and we were recommended a very good value red wine to go with our meal that was fabulous. I would definitely go back there. Give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's priced really well for what you get: Dinner appetizers, $5 to $9. Mains $14 to $24. Their address is is 6 Carden Street, and their telephone is 519-780-2246. Hope this helps!

                                        2. This is going back many, many years, but there used to be an Afghani resto in Guelph. The cuisine was exactly what you would expect, geographically speaking - a cross between Indian and Middle Eastern.

                                          Had many an enjoyable meal there, back in the day.

                                          Anyone know if it's still around?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Webdude

                                            no, in a painful twist of fate they closed about a month after I discovered them. *sigh*