BY ANDREW COPPOLINO | JANUARY 2022
The old saying is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While that might be true, what is certain is that breakfast always tastes better when someone else makes it. A quick glance at just about any breakfast menu around will reveal a wide range of dishes from pancakes, an ancient version of which is mentioned as a morning food in Homer’s “Odyssey,” written around the 8th-century BCE, to more recent creations such as avocado on toast or various kinds of yogurt and granola “parfaits.” Breakfast has been with us a long time and will continue to be, if its popularity in Waterloo Region is any indication.
The list of possible breakfast venues would be a long one, but here a few selections from Elmira, Kitchener and Waterloo.
5 Must-Try Breakfast Spots in Waterloo Region
Darlise Café, Kitchener
Chef and co-owner (with partner Liz Howie) Darryl Howie pretty much cooks everything at Darlise from scratch, including the Hollandaise for eggs Benedict and some stellar hot sauces that he puts up. Chorizo and turkey sausage could be part of your basic breakfast and then there’s Howie’s omelettes, scrambles (including a vegan option), a hash and French toast sticks served with Foster sauce, a classic preparation of caramelized brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Darlise also prepares six Benedicts including the Norwegian that captures the essence of a well-loved savoury appetizer in breakfast form with smoked salmon and capers, making it a hearty Nordic way to start your day.
Jack’s Family Restaurant, Waterloo
A broad menu of 80 items, large portions and consistent quality are the hallmarks that Jack’s has established. Near St. Jacobs Market, Jack’s offers a wide range of breakfasts from the hip, urban avocado toast and poached eggs to the Broad Street rough-and-tumble Philly Cheesesteak skillet. Other dishes run the gamut from traditional protein and two-egg breakfasts – always with fresh shredded hash browns and baked beans – to sandwiches, breakfast burritos and omelettes. “We also cook a lot of French toast, pancakes, waffles and crepes,” says owner Saddy Kulafi. You can also enjoy a Mimosa, Bellini or a Caesar.
While lighter dishes are available – fresh fruit and yogurt parfaits – Kulafi says the best sellers are the meaty dishes. “The biggest draw is the five breakfast skillets with hash browns mixed with a variety of combined ingredients and topped with melted cheese and eggs. The meat lover’s skillet is four meats while the veggie skillet with seven vegetables are large portions and very popular,” he says. There’s late breakfast (11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.) served Monday to Friday too.
Sip and Bite, Elmira
At Sip and Bite, you’ll find a baker’s dozen of breakfast dishes (plus several for kids). The menu is smallish, but everything is popular, according to owner Naide Schnider. “People come in and know what they want – the breakfast special – and they just ask for that automatically,” she says. Schnider throws out a little challenge when it comes to one of the restaurant’s favourite dishes, the home fries: “People love them,” she says. “They are simple enough with cubed potatoes deep-fried, but it’s our secret seasoning that really makes them special. People try to guess the ingredients, but no one has gotten it yet.” Maybe you can be the first? In the post-pandemic future, Schnider wants to see the breakfast menu grow: “Our breakfast menu is simple, but I’d love to see it expand to include waffles, breakfast melts and breakfast burritos.”
Pupuseria Latinos, Kitchener
The breakfast at Pupuseria Latinos is “from home,” he says. “But depending on where you go, a big city, a small town or in the country, the breakfast is going to be a little bit different,” says co-owner Andres Guerrero who came to Canada in the early 1990s with his partner and Pupuseria co-owner and cook Blanca.
The platter – the Deluxe Latino breakfast – comes as a combination of nicely moist scrambled eggs and chunks of veg that add crisp texture alongside fried plantain, Salvadoran sour cream, a delicious salsa verde and rice and beans (much like the unspiced Jamaican dish) called “casamiento.” The word refers to “marriage” in Spanish – the intermingling of the different colours of the beans and rice representing a man and a woman (traditionally, at least) who become one when mixed together.
You can order the always scrumptious refried beans, too, but Andres explains that that’s more traditional to their region of El Salvador. Also popular are enchiladas and tamales, but remember on weekends, especially market day, the small dining room (pre-Covid) can be packed.
Korner Kitchen, Waterloo
It’s a busy corner, to say the least at Weber and Lodge, and the ever-popular venue has roughly five dozen breakfast-menu items to satisfy the hungry hoards. Having outgrown their Victoria Street location, the restaurant re-appeared bigger and better (with 176 seats and the ability to serve 650 people on a busy Saturday) at the end of 2020.
Lineups for a table move fairly quickly, according to co-owner Kate Papadopoulos, and they serve a wide-ranging clientele. They could be coming for the Monday-to-Friday bacon and eggs special or the smoked meat hash skillets, tofu scramblers, California Benedict, biscuits and gravy and breakfast steaks, as well as a Greek asparagus omelette, peanut butter and banana pancakes and crepes. There a good choices for vegetarians and vegans, along with kombucha and cold-brew coffee. Or perhaps the smashed avocado toast with chiles and pickled radish that’s served on rustic bread with poached eggs and rösti-style potatoes that have the satisfying balance of soft and crispy textures? That bit of pickled radish really adds a layer of flavour.
Andrew Coppolino is a writer-broadcaster, and is a food columnist with CBC Radio in Waterloo Region. Following a stint as a cook at a restaurant in Kitchener, Andrew chose to work with food from the other side of the kitchen pass. As a food writer, he is dedicated to promoting and nurturing culinary businesses and advocating for local chefs and restaurants. Andrew’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the United States and England. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.