Places To Eat in Southwestern Ontario: A Local's Guide
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The larger cities in Ontario, such as Toronto and Ottawa, get a lot of praise for their food scene, and with so many eateries available everywhere you turn that’s understandable. But what about other, less heavily populated parts of the province? Southwestern Ontario, which is where I grew up, is known for a number of things but most notably its the region’s agricultural ties that draw in a lot of visitors. This part of Ontario has an abundance of farmers markets, farm shops, distilleries, breweries, and some delicious farm-to-table restaurants that are worth stopping at - and you’ll be supporting locals too!
There are too many places to eat in Southwestern Ontario to fit into one blog post so I’ve picked some of my favourite eateries based on my recent trip home. Most of my choices are located in larger cities, but if you’re looking for some small towns in southwestern Ontario to visit or want some tips for places to eat in Stratford, Ontario I have a couple of separate posts for those. This list will keep growing too, whenever I make it back home, so don’t forget to keep checking back!
Places To Eat in Southwestern Ontario
Miijidaa Café + Bistro
The historic centre of Guelph, Ontario isn’t on everyone’s list of places to visit, but if there’s one reason to go it’s to dine at Miijidaa Café + Bistro. This restaurant in Guelph celebrates Canadian roots through their menu, drawing on inspiration from all of the different cultures and culinary landscapes that make up Canada. The name of the restaurant itself comes from the Ojibway language which translates to “let’s eat” - and that’s exactly what you should do!
We happened to visit during Ontario Agriculture Week so a lot of the dishes heavily featured local producers. The dishes at Miijidaa are beautifully presented with an abundance of colours and flavours that reflect the current season. The Crispy Woolwich Goat Cheese, the Beverly Creek Beef Cheek Boats, and the Piri Piri Cauliflower Steak were all perfect examples of how this restaurant uses local farms to their advantage. This is definitely one of the best hidden gem restaurants in Southern Ontario.
Camellia Bake Shop
If you’re looking for a little touch of Europe in Southwestern Ontario then look no further than Camellia Bake Shop. This allergy-friendly cafe is located inside a 19th century building that’s been beautifully decorated inside to reflect a cozy European cafe. They offer visitors a small brunch and lunch menu as well as ethically sourced tea and coffee and some delicious baked goods that were practically flying off the shelves when we visited. If you happen to visit Camellia Bake Shop for breakfast I would recommend ordering the Breakfast Brioche which can be made vegan-friendly too. The next time you’re in Waterloo make a point of stopping by this charming cafe run 100% by women under 30.
Mediterraneo Family Restaurant
A lot of cities have a large number of Greek restaurants or takeaways available, but I may have found the best one in southwestern Ontario! Mediterraneo Family Restaurant is located in Waterloo and has been in operation since 2003. Their menu is based around authentic and traditional Greek and Mediterranean cuisine - all freshly prepared, of course. If you’ve never eaten at a Greek restaurant before then the menu may be a little overwhelming at first but there are plenty of delicious options available.
Their lunch menu is served until 3pm, so popular dishes such as souvlaki pitas, Greek salads, gyros, and traditional starters such as spanakopita and hummus are all available throughout the day. The meat here is grilled to perfection and is full of flavour so you won’t be leaving disappointed - that’s a guarantee. If you can’t decide where to eat in KW then this is a great option to tickle your tastebuds.
Poppy’s Bagel & Bakery
Struggling to find the perfect Montreal bagel in Southwestern Ontario? Waterloo has your answer with Poppy’s Bagel & Bakery. They make fresh hand-rolled bagels daily using high quality and sustainable ingredients. You can either grab some to take home with you or order one of their incredible loaded bagels that are perfect for breakfast or a light lunch. It’s hard to choose just one bagel to try, so if you absolutely can’t decide I would recommend either the Wake and Bake or The Classic Mama. Make sure you arrive early because once they sell out of bagels they close up early and you’ll have to wait until the next day to get your Montreal bagel fix.
One of the best places to eat in Southwestern Ontario with a view is Cambridge Mill. Located in the historic centre of Galt, Cambridge Mill offers diners an unrivalled view of the Grand River from their 19th century restored mill-turned restaurant. Food lovers from far and wide travel to Galt for this dining experience, and if you happen to visit on a Sunday you can fully indulge in their Sunday Brunch offerings The brunch includes bottomless drinks, both a hot and cold food section, and a carvery. You’ll be spoiled for choice here and all of their food is prepared fresh and presented in an eye-catching way. The only question left is what food will you pick first?
Kitchener may not be known as one of the best food cities in Ontario, but it’s got a pretty good contender for one of the most unique places to eat in Southwestern Ontario. The Civil combines two of my favourite things, pizza and cocktails, into one menu and if that wasn’t enough they’ve also added cocktail flights to the mix. Their pizzas are some of the best that I’ve ever tried so you really can’t go wrong with any options on their menu.
They have “The Cause” pizza where $3 goes towards a Waterloo food bank and when we visited it was a ravioli pizza which was amazing! Even if you don’t live in Kitchener-Waterloo, The Civil is definitely worth driving to - just make sure you have a designated driver because you won’t be able to resist their various cocktail flights and expertly crafted single cocktails.
If you’re on the hunt for the best rural restaurants in Ontario then Anna Mae’s has to be at the top of your list. This bakery and restaurant is located in the small town of Millbank, around a 30 minute drive from Stratford. It allows visitors to experience Mennonite culture through food with everything in their bakery and on their menu being handmade using local produce and ingredients. The menu isn’t huge but their broasted chicken is extremely popular as is their fish and chips. And you can’t leave without trying a slice of their famous cheesecake either!
Southwestern Ontario really is a dream for food lovers, with many incredible places to eat that vary from locally run family restaurants to more upscale dining experiences. And there are new eateries popping up all of the time so you never know what new and exciting culinary experience to expect next. Hopefully you’ve found something that gets your tastebuds flowing from my places to eat in Southwestern Ontario food guide!
If you have any recommendations about where I should eat next or have any questions regarding the eateries that I’ve listed above, please feel free to reach out via email or on Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Happy eating!