I've Lived In 5 Ontario Cities & I Miss The Food Scene In This One The Most

Take me back. 🍕

Fries and a burger. Right: Madeline in a pink dress holding a drink.
Associate Editor

Fries and a burger. Right: Madeline in a pink dress holding a drink.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

I've lived in several different Ontario cities and, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I love nothing more than a community with a good dining scene.

Having spent years living in Guelph, Kingston, Mississauga, Kitchener, and Toronto, I've been able to enjoy some pretty epic food scenes, but there's one spot that truly takes the cake when it comes to delicious meals.

While Toronto may be an obvious choice for the best food scene out of the five (it has such a huge selection of restaurants), my very favourite city for dining out is Kingston.

I lived in this historic city for five years and probably spent way too much time and money at cute cafes and delicious restaurants. Even though I enjoyed the restaurants in other cities I've lived in, Kingston has a special place in my heart when it comes to food — here's why.

The atmosphere

One big factor when considering the value of a city's food scene is the all-around atmosphere. Are the restaurants bustling with people? What's the vibe? What are the aesthetics like (can we get some Insta-worthy photos)?

Kingston's food scene is special because almost all my favourite spots are located in the downtown hub. In Toronto, Kitchener, Guelph, and Mississauga, a lot of the top spots are spaced out across the city, making it harder to try a lot of them and making the restaurant scene feel a little less intimate.

Not only are Kingston's best dining spots located steps away from each other, but the walk to get to them is picturesque. The historic buildings, cute town square and shining lake create the perfect backdrop for a meal out.

So many restaurants feature water views (AquaTerra is right on the lake), and many are older buildings with exposed brick walls and historic vibes.

No matter what day of the week it is, you can expect the restaurants and bars to be bustling with happy diners, delicious aromas and a lively atmosphere.

The food

Of course, the most important thing about any food scene is the food itself, and Kingston does not disappoint. Despite being a smaller city, the downtown boasts diverse cuisines from Italian to Greek and Thai.

Whether I was grabbing some Spanish tapas at Tango Nuevo or filling up on Greek dishes at Grecos, I was always blown away by the quality and amazing flavours of the food. Plus, the price-point was reasonable (take note, Toronto).

I can honestly say that Wooden Heads serves the very best wood-fired pizza I have ever tasted (and I've eaten a lot of pizza) and that Pan Chancho Bakery has an unbeatable breakfast sandwich (a.k.a The Weekender).

Yes, I've had delicious meals in the other cities I've lived in too, but nothing as consistently good as what I experienced in Kingston. I don't think I ever left a local Kingston restaurant thinking "that was just okay."

The other selling point for the Kingston restaurant scene is brunch. There are so many spots to choose from and they're all so good. Pan Chancho Bakery is, as mentioned, my top pick, but I also loved the Parisian-style creperie, Geneva crepes, or the Toast & Jam, which is a short drive from downtown.

Tommy's was always the go-to after a particularly fun night out. The old-style American diner whisked me back in time and served up all the hangover cures.

The coffee shops

In my humble opinion, the food scene is not complete without its coffee shops, and once again, Kingston comes out on top (Guelph was a close second).

There are endless cafes to enjoy in Kingston, and I've never sipped a coffee there that I didn't like. Plus, so many of the shops serve fluffy scones and sweet treats to go along with your drink.

Sadly, my favourite cafe Sipps closed, but there are still tons of other spots to enjoy, like Juniper Cafe, CRAVE, SENS CAFE, and Coffee & Company.

Toronto and Kitchener are also home to some great coffee shops, but I love that my favourite Kingston cafes are in walking distance of each other. If one spot is full, there are tons of other places to choose from and grab a table. I would often spend entire days cafe-hopping and enjoying drinks and food from various locations while I studied.

So, if I could choose any city for a meal out, I'd be on a train to Kingston, ready to indulge in wood-fired pizza, breakfast sandwiches, and all the coffee.

Madeline Forsyth
Associate Editor
Madeline Forsyth is an Associate Travel Editor for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Toronto, Ontario.