New restaurants in Waterloo Region for 2016

From bourbon-spiked milkshakes, to Indian-style Chinese food, CBC-KW's food guru, Andrew Coppolino profiles the latest restaurants, cafes and bars to sprout up this spring in Waterloo Region's restaurant scene.

Spring into succulence: Andrew Coppolino's lists the region's latest and greatest eateries

Among the newest eateries in Waterloo Region is Theos' [sic] Meats in downtown Kitchener, which offers take-away meats such as smoked brisket and sauerbraten. (Theos' Meats/facebook)

Spring is upon us (at least according to the calendar) and that has coincided with entire new vistas of food and dining appearing in Waterloo Region following the cold of winter.

Despite the obstacles thrown up by LRT construction in critical points in the downtowns of Waterloo and Kitchener, a remarkable number of new businesses, like the first spring crocuses have popped up since the new year.

Here is a list of some of these new ventures, both those now open and those whose opening is imminent. (There is no critical evaluation of the food: I leave that up to you and your palate.)

Downtown Kitchener

​Entertaining Elements has given way to Rhapsody Barrel Bar near the heart of Kitchener's downtown. The inside has been refurbished and includes regular live music, along with spirits, cocktails and sharing plates. (Interestingly, Rhapsody also shares space with its allied business, a clothing store.)

Heading toward the east-end of the downtown, you might have seen a small Toronto chain, Amaya Indian Express, which has set up in the former Niko Niko Japanese restaurant at 20 King Street.

Just around the corner on Eby Street, there is a pop-up food outlet of sorts: Theos' [sic] Meats is only open on Friday afternoons for take-away proteins like smoked brisket and sauerbraten.

Belmont Village

Kitchener's Belmont Village continues to add restaurants to its landscape, making it an increasingly busy food destination. One of the neighbourhood's latest additions is the Berlin Bicycle Café, a shop that combines bicycles and coffee and light lunches.

Across the street, in the former space of Lilies White, beside The Culinary Studio, there are rumours (via liquor license notifications on the window and Kijiji posting looking for a head chef) that Arabella Park Beer Bar, calling itself a "forward-thinking beer bar," is in build-out phase. That will be a nice addition to the neighbourhood.

Deer Ridge and Cambridge

In Kitchener's Deer Ridge area, Pierogi House opened a few months ago and more recently, Bombay Bhel, a Toronto-based Indian restaurant has opened next door.

If you continue down Shantz Hill and wind your way through Preston and into Galt along the Grand River, you will find Brick & Mortar Market on Grand Avenue, a store dedicated to local food near the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

On Hespeler Road, Hakka Hut has recently opened: it is likely the only Indian-style Chinese food restaurant in the region. It is a unique cuisine.


It seems there is always something new in food opening up in Waterloo. In the heart of Uptown Waterloo, Settlement Co. is an eatery, meeting place and coffee roaster on King Street between Erb and Dupont.

For fresh grab-and-go eating, a second Freshii quick-service healthy eating outlet has landed on Northfield Drive near the old NCR property, a sister restaurant to their King and University store.

Speaking of which, that crowded restaurant hub at the King-University intersection has seen the appearance of Caliburger's first Canadian franchise. It's a burger-and-technology joint that targeted the student population and the tech sector near the universities and adds interactive video games to burgers, fries and milk shakes boosted with bourbon.

Across from the Laurier athletic complex on King Street, and tucked in just out of view, is a new noodle house with hand-spun noodle dough, Song Shi Fu.

West on University Avenue takes you to the University of Waterloo and the wide array of restaurants and fast-food joints in the plazas near Phillip Street. Morals Village Hot Pot, however, is a premium hot pot restaurant which has earned distinction as one of Toronto's best hot pots. It's a little more expensive than your average university food outlet.

Craft Beer and Bread

Four Fathers Brewing Co. is preparing to open in Rockwood, Ont., near Guelph, and an Ottawa business has taken notice of Waterloo Region's flourishing craft beer scene: Brew Donkey beer tour and delivery service is headed to Kitchener and Waterloo.

Otherwise, TWB Cooperative Brewing has a new home on Mill Street in Kitchener, while Descendants Beer & Beverage Co. continue their build-out on Victoria Street at Lancaster.

At just about the border of Kitchener and Waterloo, you might have seen CE Food Experience – that's the name Forest Heights Collegiate and Stratford Chefs School grad Cecilia Smith has given her new bakery and pastry business. It's located on Moore Ave. South near Union Boulevard.

Coming Soon

From the folks who brought you the popular Death Valley's Little Brother (DVLB) coffee shop in Uptown Waterloo comes Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters and café on Ahrens Street near Weber Street. It's right beside the VIA Rail station in a refurbished building that was once a produce warehouse along the train tracks in the heart of the city's former industrial core.

In north Waterloo, Dawn and Phong Tran of Matter of Taste in downtown Kitchener have plans in motion and are creating a new space for roasting and coffee retail near Conestoga Mall. Relatively close by, a growing chain based in British Columbia called The Chopped Leaf is coming to Northfield Square this summer: the restaurant serves healthy food in a quick-service setting.

Adding to their Uptown Waterloo location, a bigger Abe Erb Brewing Company is slated for the Tannery building in Kitchener near the corner of King and Victoria streets. Its sister business, Settlement Co., is also expanding into the condominium tower at that corner.

 There are hopeful rumours that the recently closed MacIntosh Dry Cleaners on Victoria Street near Park Street could be a coffee shop or pub. It would be a great addition to the neighbourhood just a few blocks south of Google Canada and Communitech.


Andrew Coppolino

Food columnist, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo

CBC-KW food columnist Andrew Coppolino is author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press). He is the 2022 Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewcoppolino.