What do you get when you combine the appetite of university students, the artisan desires of young tech-professionals and the bounty of local farmers all in one place? A booming, diverse foodie scene that is as local as it is eclectic. This is the food spectrum of Kitchener Waterloo. Although the two cities are often lumped together, their restaurants are quiet diverse, with Waterloo catering to students, while Kitchener meets the cravings of its tech hub residents.
Some foodies might think living outside Toronto limits your access to artisan choices and well-prepared food, but Kitchener-Waterloo can proudly prove otherwise. Just have a scroll through Maple Tay and Andrew Coppolino’s popular food websites Table for Maple and Waterloo Region Eats, and you’ll see the abundance of great places to grab a bite in the region. These 14 spots are on our list whenever we’re looking for a meal in town.
The Bauer Kitchen
A great lunch spot with a diverse menu, The Bauer Kitchen bakes a lot of their own breads and feature local ingredients in classic dishes that make sure anyone can find something to get excited about. We especially love their salmon dish.
The Lancaster Smokehouse
Owner Chris Corrigan has traveled throughout southwestern United States and Florida studying the art of Southern BBQ to influence his dishes. One of the best places for ribs in KW, The Lancaster Smokehouse is a must try.
Timeless Cafe and Bakery
For a unique dining experience, the Timeless Cafe and Bakery has retained their original cabin-like exterior and rustic decor. With a constantly rotating menu of delicious items daily, there’s a never ending array of options to experience. We love their Eggs Benedict.
Borealis Grille & Bar
Local, sustainable food with gluten-friendly and vegetarian options, Borealis Grille & Bar can tell you everything about their ingredients and the local KW farmers who grow them. They are pioneers in the Ontario farm-to-table movement, and are happy to give patrons a real, local education while eating there.
A downtown Kitchener staple for many years, Ellison’s Bistro offers soul food with Caribbean, European and urban finesse. Chef Elvis Ellison has French training and applies it to his Caribbean food, bringing a new flavour profile to the region.
Nick & Nat’s Uptown 21
Nick & Nat’s Uptown 21 offers rich dishes which are constantly evolving and changing with wholesome Waterloo ingredients at its heart. Expect complex and unexpected dishes with varying layers of flavour. Sit and watch chef Nick work as he prepares your meal, or enjoy the pre-fix menu with has a seasonal twist depending on the time of year. We’d tell you our favourite dish, but as their menu warns, the dishes are “subject to change at the fickle chef’s whimsy.”
Some of the best pizza in the region, Bread Heads is known for carefully choosing each ingredient from the mozzarella to the dough to create a fresh, delicious and often locally sourced pie.
Death Valley’s Little Brother
Coffee, whiskey and bread make up the DVLB’s menu. A coffee bar turned boozy hang-out by night, stop by in the morning for your cup of Joe and head back in the evening with your fellow whiskey lovers in tow.
Public Kitchen & Bar
Tapas restaurant Public Kitchen & Bar offers a great atmosphere and a wide variety of foods and flavours to choose from. Best experienced with a larger group, you’ll want to order one of everything. Make sure to plan ahead with this place however, as they tend to book up in advance.
Settlement and Co.
A coffee shop with community spirit, Settlement and Co. was born of Rob Theodosiou’s idea for a meeting place that would welcome all locals and visitors, new and old. Specializing in artisan toasts, piled with avocado and hard-boiled egg or prosciutto and brie, it’s the perfect place to start your day, meet for lunch or even an after work cocktail. For those who work remotely, their back room—dubbed the “coffice”—can be booked for meetings.
The Bent Elbow
The Bent Elbow is where KW’s rich beer culture finds its home. Offering a wide selection of beer and beer related fair, including a homemade ketchup beer, owner Harold Kroeker has also crafted a perfectly paired menu to accompany the hundreds upon hundreds of beers to choose from.
For all-you-can-eat, you can’t do better than Kinkaku Izakaya. With great service and an even better sushi rolls, the owner’s and chef’s knowledge of how to prepare Japanese food, came from their time in Japan. A must try is the Crabmeat Tempura Roll.