Where to eat and what to do in Kitchener-Waterloo
The start-up scene has transformed K-W into a glittering hub for cute cafés, fancy restaurants and artisanal toast bars. We picked the best of the bunch
The Dining Destination
45 King St. W., Kitchener, 519-208-8555
Jonathan Gushue, best known for his fabulous cooking at Langdon Hall, spent a year trying to find a restaurant space in Toronto before landing in K-W. The food is inventive, seasonal and ever-evolving, and the name is a nod to Kitchener’s history—the city was called Berlin until World War I.
Eat this: Gushue’s terrines are must-tries: recent options included veal cheek and goose, and hen and walnut.
Drink this: The Kubrick Sidecar: brandy milk punch, dehydrated orange, lemon juice and orange liqueur.
283 Northfield Dr. E., Waterloo, 519-725-1253
Innocente makes more than a dozen beers, plus some pretty cool merch—$97 will score you a two-litre stainless steel growler (filled with the beer of your choice).
Drink this: No Märzen for Error, a malty lager (and perfect afternoon sipper).
Together We’re Bitter
300 Mill St., Kitchener, 519-954-4433
One of the newest players on the K-W craft beer scene, Together We’re Bitter makes a roster of no-nonsense brews with quirky names, including a Belgian wit called Wit the Hell?, and Pumpkin Rie, a spicy English ale.
Drink this: Ale X: The Jupiter Rye Experience, a malty beer with hints of caramel and juniper.
319 Victoria St. N., Kitchener, 226-241-3700
This Kitchener brewery bottles three beers—an American pale ale, a golden rye ale and a Mexican-style lager—but has seven or eight on tap at its Kitchener pub, which also offers pint-friendly snacks.
Drink this: The Harbinger APA is a crisp brew that’s perfect for enjoying the last gasps of patio weather.
The Cultural Hub
The Idea Exchange
81 North Square, Cambridge, 519-621-0460, plus four other locations
The Idea Exchange was born a few years ago, when Cambridge rebranded its public libraries. Now they’re multidisciplinary arts destinations, offering special events (such as a recent ukulele jam night), art exhibitions (there’s a Canadian textile display this fall), book clubs (the Taste Buds focus on cookbooks), film screenings, and more. Bibliophiles needn’t worry: each location is still stacked with stacks.
The Day-To-Night Café
Death Valley’s Little Brother
84 King St. N., Waterloo, 519-208-6211
By day, this cozy café serves the usual roster of espresso-based beverages. At night, the place gets boozy: DVLB specializes in whiskey, and single-malt lovers should be able to spot a dram they like at the well-stocked bar.
Drink this in the morning: The cold brew coffee, which—appropriately—is pulled from a keg. It’s brewed for 16 hours, and is smooth and sweet enough to drink black ($3.84).
Drink this at night: If you prefer your coffee spiked, try the Irish Cold Brew in Hell: a glass of ice, a shot of Bushmills single malt, a dash of cane sugar, and an ounce and a half of cream ($11).
The Board Game Cafés
The Adventurers Guild
36 Ontario St. N., Kitchener, 226-336-2450
This Kitchener café caters to sci-fi, horror and fantasy fans, so expect titles like Sentinels of the Multiverse and World of Warcraft: The Board Game, plus classics like Risk, Scrabble and parcheesi.
Games on Tap
321 Weber St. N., Waterloo, 226-647-5265
For $5, board games enthusiasts can park inside this Waterloo establishment, which offers 700 games, plus coffee drinks like a Nutella latte. Settlers of Catan fans will be particularly impressed: the café stocks 12 variations of the cult favourite.
258 King St. N., Waterloo, 519-781-4358
Crossroads is beloved by students for its game-a-thons, Smash Bros. tournaments and boozy drink specials: we like the $5 caesar for Sunday brunch.
Available at Goodvibes, 336 King St. W., Kitchener
What’s in it: Alkaline water, lemon, lemongrass, maple syrup, Celtic salt. What it does: The juice contains minerals and electrolytes, which makes it an ideal hangover buster. $5.50 for 400 mL.
Available at Pure Juice Bar, 305 King St. W., Kitchener
What’s in it: Aloe, apple, pineapple, lemon. What it does: The fruity blend is a health-conscious cocktail alternative, and the aloe apparently fortifies the immune system. $9 for 500 mL.
Available at Galt Juice Company, 14 Queen’s Square, Cambridge
What’s in it: Beet, celery, ginger. What it does: The bracing ginger purportedly helps with digestion. $7.50 for 250 mL.
The Toast Bar
Settlement and Co.
23 King St. N., Waterloo, 519-954-6622
Rob Theodosiou’s adorable space would fit right in on Dundas West. Settlement specializes in fancified toasts, piled with things like avocado and hard-boiled egg, prosciutto and brie, or Nutella and banana. There’s also a selection of cocktails, including a gin and tonic made with Settlement’s own nitro cold brew coffee (they also sell nitro cold brew tea). The back room—aptly dubbed a “coffice”—can be booked for meetings.