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University of Waterloo student looking for good eats

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hey fellow CHers,

I'm off to Waterloo for the next 5 years of my life and was wondering if any of you guys and girls had suggestions on where to eat?

I'm looking for cheap (but good) eats, remember a starving student here. Preferably if they were within walking distance of the campus or s short bus ride away as that will be a major factor in my decisions on where to eat. I'd also like to hear about some nicer, restaurants to bring family to when they visit. so send your suggestions my way, any tips are helpful.

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  1. Waterloo is a food wasteland. However, I was there for two years and have a few favorites in the area:

    Raintree Cafe (220 King St N, just below University, across from Wilfrid Laurier U and halfway to Regina street in the parking lot)
    Mirage (korean japanese, stone's throw from UWaterloo)
    Tokyo Ichiban (465 Phillip St, for their gyosas)
    Twin City pizza (500 Glen Forrest Boulevard, just above Bearinger, 15 minutes walk from UWaterloo main campus through RIM park; now that I live in a place where all there is is pizza, or burgers, I have yet to find anything half as good as that place)

    For fine dining (read pricy, not for students), I only remember Verses in Kitchener and another place on King I can't remember the name of (also in Kitchener, I'll have to look it up). But, whatever you do, don't ever bring anyone to Still's Bar & Grill. The worst place I have been anywhere (food, service, everything, and I include filthy truck stops on god forsaken roads in that comparison).

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    Raintree Cafe
    220 King St N, Waterloo, ON N2J2Y7, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: poumonsauvage

      I respectfully disagree that KW is a food wasteland - I lived there for 5 years and found it actually had quite a vibrant food community with a lot of high quality, inspired restaurants around.

      Cheap eats:

      Ben Thanh - Northfield & King st - A small chain restaurant, slightly expensive pho (6.95/7.95/8.95 S/L/XL) but always consistent in their quality. Huge Viet/Thai menu for the non-pho people
      Homestyle Diner - Philip & Albert - Homey diner that I've only been to for breakfast, but they are much better than the other picks. They do up good pan-fried hashbrowns that aren't your standard deep fried bland morning fare.
      Twice the Deal Pizza - Okay, this pizza is NOTHING special, but they have very good prices for an XL, pepperoni-only pizza.
      Vincenzo's - Upscale grocer that sells sandwiches and the like around lunch time. They are good, and I know of people who make the trip out there (King & John, ish) around lunch.

      For restaurants where you may spend 30-75 per person:
      Uptown 21 - Uptown Waterloo - My #1 pick for quality, atmosphere, restaurant ideals, and food. Priced really well too (3-course menu for 35 or 40 I think). I've taken my family here before.

      Verses - Pricey (Cocktails/Apps/Entrees/Wine for two = 200-250 or so), but the service is flawless and if you request a seat in the balcony, it's extremely intimate and you will feel like a King. Save up, and go here at least once during your stay in town - you can't miss it.

      Well, this isn't actually a restaurant, but you probably know that you'll save the most money just cooking for yourself. The Kitchener Market, while perhaps a bit further than you'd like, is an excellent place to go Saturday mornings to get produce/meat/etc, and also some pre-made baked goods if you'd like. There's some very cheap asian supermarkets nearby, too (New City Supermarket and B&T Supermarket)

      There's plenty more, but there is definitely a community here focused on local, high quality food. Unfortunately, the closer you get the UW or Laurier campus, the more the business angle will take over, as it becomes a no brainer to cut corners in the name of profit (as would make sense when you have tens of thousands of students that may not all be particularly discerning).

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      Vincenzo's
      740 Belmont Ave W, Kitchener, ON N2M1P2, CA

      1. re: Chipp

        Let me requalify my statement: I had live for 9 years in Montreal before moving to Waterloo. While a decent Korean restaurant isn't easy to find in Montreal, I was never more than 3 minutes walk away from great food. Around Waterloo, I couldn't find a decent artisan bakery except at the farmer's market in Saint-Jacob (Saturday and Sundays only; never managed to get to the Kitchener market due to lack of parking...), which, except for meat, has a few decent vendors but a lot of non-local pretty standard fare or low quality local stuff. For example, you couldn't find local strawberries beyond a short 2 weeks/3 weekend period between the end of June and the beginning of July, but tons of imported, practically made out of plastic US ones that the locals bought because they were so cheap. With a car, you can find the good places but they are few and far between (I did go to Vincenzo's for cheeses, but prefered Mickey McGuire's at the Sunday market side of the St-Jacob market).

        Anyway, to get back to the topic, there's an Indian restaurant next to Tokyo Ichiban which is also very decent in terms of quality of food and prices.

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        Vincenzo's
        740 Belmont Ave W, Kitchener, ON N2M1P2, CA

      2. re: poumonsauvage

        Morty's has some of the best wings in Ontario. (King st. north of University).

        The Huether hotel has some decent food with their own great tasting micro-brewed beers. (King st.)

      3. For nicer restaurants to bring family when they visit Waterloo, I love Bhima's Warung. Expensive, but portions are huge.

        I like Nick & Nat's Uptown 21 for locally-sourced, upscale continental comfort food.

        This comprehensive KW thread is worth reading: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/109071

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        Bhima's Warung
        262 King St N, Waterloo, ON N2J2Y9, CA

        Nick & Nat's Uptown 21
        21 King St N, Waterloo, ON N2J2W6, CA