by Andrew Coppolino
Uptown Waterloo: pick a block. Any block. From Union Street to Central Street, the centre of the city is chock-a-block full of restaurants and eateries, brew pubs and bars.
Let’s start at Erb Street and head south on King toward the railway tracks to Abe Erb Brewing Company for crafted beer that captures the essence of the Pennsylvania-Dutch founders of Waterloo. The menu complements their wide range of beer with poutine, traditional pretzels and charcuterie, to name only a few dishes.
Next door is Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria creating traditional-style deck-oven pies that bake at nearly 800-degrees Fahrenheit and cook in mere minutes. The traditional Margherita is simple and allows flavours to shine. Ask for a spin or two extra to get a bit of crispy char on the crust.
After the tracks, Beertown Public House is a raucous good time with an epic selection of beers and infused beer beverages. The menu and the kitchen can keep up with the suds too.
Continuing toward William Street, cross King Street at the lights and just behind the HSBC bank building is Marbles, a refurbished livery stable that dates to the 1870s. The Fat Sparrow Group, which includes Taco Farm and Uptown 21, has re-vitalized the anchor restaurant in the downtown and serves craft beer, burgers, lamb kofta and a salad, the lettuce of which was grown 9,600 meters away in Bloomingdale. That’s local.
Now, heading north on King, you pass a few potential restaurants to pop into: 21 Fir Whiskey Bar + Kitchen for flatbreads, antijitos, pork and bean tacos and nearly two dozen cocktails.
Next is Ray Woodey’s Craft Chippery where you can get jerk chicken, smoked meat and about a dozen freshly made potato chips.
The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro has eight burger patties of Canadian beef and a wide selection of hand-dipped milkshakes.
The Copper Branch is serving 100 percent plant-based “power foods,” including power bowls, kamut or mushroom burgers and tempeh sandwiches.
Next is Lou Dawg’s Southern Barbecue preparing smoked meat tacos, wings, nachos and veggie chilli and offering live music and a late-night menu.
McCabe’s Irish Pub and Grill is resplendent in its green exterior trim while inside there’s Irish nachos and a host of pub favourites.
In the last few steps on this mini-tour, you’ll find a refurbished Empress of India, which has moved from several blocks further up the street. (At the time of this writing, they are open for take-out only.)
At Café 22 Coffee and Wine Bar, there are coffee beverages, light lunches and sweets and desserts with a European touch.
Finally, Crystal Palace, a long-established Uptown restaurant, serves a classic dim sum or, if you prefer, a lunch buffet.