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Mar 17, 2010 06:36 AM

recs for quick & tasty lunches within a 5 minute drive of the University of Waterloo

Can anyone recommend any of the restaurants in the strip plazas located close to the University? Or could anyone recommend a specific dish/meal that is done well at any of the restaurants, even if most of their menu is mediocre/marginal?

I noticed the usual chain suspects like East Side Mario's, Harvey's and Mongolian Grill that I generally avoid, the McGinnis sports bar (or whatever it's called, which is basically equivalent to a Gabby's), as well as several Asian restaurants (Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, etc.), a Persian place, different pita places, and a cevap place.

I noticed that Casa Salsa and The Grill have some recs on this board. Are those 2 of the better options in the area?

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  1. I have had some good meals at Shandiz (the Persian place), with the lamb shanks being the most memorable. There are two burger places worth considering: The Grill, which you mentioned, and a place at the SE corner of University and Weber - the name escapes me. About 5 minutes NW of UW is Hog Tails BBQ, which is quite good.

    1. Hog Tails BBQ is in a strip mall about two miles west of the university. My original "find" is here:

      1. In the plaza west of Phillip:

        I generally like Casa Salsa in terms of value for money for the student deal they have anyway. I think it was like 6 bucks for a burrito, nachos, and salsa. Haven't really ever gotten anything else from there aside from that but it is nice and filling.

        Iron Chef next to Molly's has terrible sushi but their bento box lunches make for a decent lunch. I really like the bibimbap that they have on their menu however.

        I still don't get how the Grill gets recs at all. Their basic burger is cooked from frozen, consistently grey on the inside, and bland as white paper. Their fries are terrible as well.

        The cevap place is actually another chinese restaurant that isn't very good. They attract a lot of people due to its cheap prices. I don't really recommend any of the chinese or korean places in that plaza although I haven't tried any Waterloo Star's (the hotpot place right next to Iron Chef) single bowl meals. Some of the dishes in the Taiwanese place (Home Garden?) are good.

        Kismet is fairly good. Curry in a Hurry is not (Their "hot" is only a mild to my buds).

        Oh, I almost forgot. Directly on campus, the Bomber in the Student Life Centre has some pretty good things on its menu. I haven't been for a long time but I had a friend who went recently who liked it still.

        In the plaza east of Phillip:

        Mirage is the only decent Korean restaurant in those two plazas in my opinion. A negative to it is how long they take to make and serve you your food (but that's just a general lack of staff talking). Never been to lunch but I've been to dinner there 3-4 times.

        I've never been to Al Madina (the egyptian restaurant) but the other end of it Just'n'pita (they share the same space) is pretty tasty. They advertise that all their sauces are homemade and they actually have garlic beets as part of their toppings.

        Golden Mango doesn't do great pho but it's the only pho (since Waterloo Star stopped serving pho) around so it'll have to do the trick if you're ever itching for some.

        I've never been to Meetpoint but I've generally heard good things about it. Their pides are mentioned a good bit as well.

        Phew. That took awhile.

        Golden Mango Restaurant
        150 University Ave W, Waterloo, ON N2L3E4, CA

        Iron Chef
        285 Geneva St, St Catharines, ON L2N2G1, CA

        Al Madina Restaurant
        1008 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1M2, CA

        Casa Salsa
        170 University Ave W, Waterloo, ON N2L3E9, CA

        1. If you can handle an impressive amount of garlic, Al Madina/Just'n"Pita is great. The best shwarma I've ever had, clearly fresh ingredients and great sauces. Their garlic sauce is amazing, and the hummus is by far the garliciest hummus you've ever had. But amazing.

          Other than that, you're in mediocretown. Try out the Bauer Kitchen on King and Allen.

          The Bauer Kitchen
          187 King St., Waterloo, ON N2J 1R0, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: miketoronto

            Mmmm.... short rib gnocchi at Bauer = to die for.

          2. Thanks for the detailed responses.

            Looks like I now have a good short list to work from:
            Bauer Kitchen, Mirage, Just n Pita, Hog Tails, Shandiz, Kismet, Casa Salsa & Meetpoint.