I moved to Waterloo a little more than a year ago and since then have been discovering area restaurants. Most are huge disappointments. Some that (in my opinion) seem to be good are:
Hannah's, Sole, Rude Native, Wok Wagon
Others I avoid;
Does anyone else have any recs. to add?
I left Waterloo in 2004 but up to then, Charbries was one of my favourites. I hope it hasn't gone downhill. Charmaine's caesar salad (and most things except her potato and veggie sides) are amazing. I even went for a cooking class there (won it in a charity auction) and respected their kitchen even more once I saw how it worked. I would highly recommend Bhima's Warung - it's expensive but you get tons of memorable food. I too loved Hannah's. The Rude Native went downhill long before I left, and I wouldn't recommend it. When it first opened in its former location, it was affordable (nothing over $13) and deliciously interesting. I've also always liked Sole. In Cambridge, Mimosa is terrific as is afternoon tea at Langdon Hall. In Kitchener, try Taka Sushi on Bleams - it's a step above what's available in the region. In St. Jacob's, the market-style Vidalia's is reliable and affordable.
Not sure if it's still there (I haven't visited since mid-2004) and not a restaurant, but totally chowish: Akropolis Bakery on Ontario St. in Kitchener. I miss it and have insane cravings for their touloumbes.
Sad to say that K-W seems to be lacking in memorable dining experiences -- we usually go to Toronto when we are feeling adventurous. We can't figure out why with the Stratford Chef's School so close-- its graduates so rarely choose to open up restuarants in this area. That being said, here are a few local places that we frequent: Yukiko's in Waterloo(great little bistro -- amazing desserts)Cafe Bijou (in Stratford-- another great bistro -- a bit higher priced), Carden Street Cafe, in Guelph -- which by the way, has a much greater selection of funky restaurants. With The Grain is a great Bakery and light munchies place also in Guelph, and we also like the restaurant Friends In Our Kitchen in that town. Hannah's has reopened by the way -- have been there twice, with mixed results.
Here are some places in Kitchener-Waterloo to try:
-*New* Bakery Mi Colombia - a Columbian bakery. Great breads, empanadas. (10 King St. E. Kitchener tel: 579-6388)
-the Kitchener Market (market shops providing all types of food from Mexican to Indian and everything in betweeen... I have been very impressed by the food 'stalls' at the market!); shops open most days; the market itself operates on Saturdays (6 am to about 2 pm during the winter, also on Wednesdays from about Victoria Day to September or early October). The vendors sell fresh (mostly local) products. Great butchers, bakers (we like Sproll's for authentic Germans-style pastries), farm produce
-the Acropolis bakery on Ontario St. in downtown Kitchener is great - they are changing ownership, but it's rumoured that it will still be great
-good Indian food at the Classic Indian Restaurant, Wissler Road in the North end of Waterloo
-decent Greek food at the Three Kretans on Frederick St., close to downtown Kitchener
-*** best bakery in town is Nugat cafe/bakery on Queen St. in Kitchener
-AM Africa Restaurant on King St. in downtown Kitchener - Ethiopian food that is pretty even
-I have heard great things about the Carribean restaurant on Charles St. across from the Kitchener bus terminal, but haven't been there yet
Good luck! The best places in Kitchener-Waterloo are 'hidden' gems!
I myself really like Salute, I have yet to have a disappointing meal there. The wild mushroom crostini and their caesar salad are favourites of mine.
I recommend Zen Garden on King St. in Uptown Waterloo for delicious vegetarian cuisine.
The Grill in University Plaza on University Ave., Waterloo has probably the best burgers in town and an amazing turkey burger.
AM Africa is consistently great Ethiopian food and I just found out that if you call ahead, they can customize the spiciness of your food, or prepare items that weren't going to be on the menu that day.
Caffe Bolero (Water Street, Kitchener) has affordable, delicious thin crust pizza in a great atmosphere. Their goat cheese salad is also very tasty.
Ammar Halal Meats Food Mart Inc. at 315 Lancaster Street West, Kitchener has a wide range of middle eastern grocery supplies and is where I buy a lot of my spices and supplies to make hummus/falafel. It was recommended to me by a Lebanese friend.
Modern India near the 401 is my favourite Indian restaurant in Kitchener-Waterloo. 4355 King E., near Pioneer Sports World. They have a buffet and also do take-out. Everytime I'm in there the customers are mostly East Indian, which I always take as a good sign.
For Egyptian food, the Almadina Restaurant at 150 University Avenue West in Waterloo does a pretty decent buffet, although I am still mourning the loss of their tent room that could be rented for special events.
Frederick's Restaurant (open during the day on weekdays - 58 Frederick Street, Kitchener - 742-0231) will prepare a fabulous middle eastern spread if you call ahead to order for eat-in or take-out. Hands down they have the best tabouleh salad I've ever eaten.