12 New Foodie Finds in Waterloo Region

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by Andrew Coppolino | January 2023

For each month in the new year, here are 12 new restaurants to add to your dining out agenda – including one that’s ‘coming soon’ to make it an even dozen.

(Please confirm hours of opening and availability of particular dishes with individual venues.)


Bahar Indian Cuisine, 276 King Street West, Kitchener
The name refers to “spring,” and the restaurant strives for bright, colourful flavours. Bahar offers many southern Indian dishes and specializes in biryanis. Owner Stephen Kiran describes Bahar as upscale casual with unique dishes to entice diners hungry for Indian food.

Bodega Rose, 17 Erb Street East, Waterloo
An address that has seen numerous restaurants come and go, Bodega Rose will feature coffee and croissants and a variety of shareable dishes as well as a weekend brunch.

Disko Coffee, 63 Dickson Street, Cambridge
Coming to Galt in 2023. An innovative and appealing combination of café and magazines: a space to enjoy pastries and periodicals focussed on architecture, design, food and wine, sport, politics, fashion and culture. Disko says magazines are a “tangible, enduring medium that allows people to connect with information and ideas in a way that is different from digital media.” That seems very refreshing.

Eby Street Bodega, 16 Eby Street North, Kitchener
Well, it’s not new, but the Bodega has recently re-imagined itself as it makes changes to its cozy dining area, now replete with a mural. There’s a new cheese cooler – “Big Bertha” – and meats cheeses will be cut to order, when it comes to your snack. “In terms of atmosphere, we want it to capture our trip to Bolsena, Italy,” says co-owner Anna Staszewska.  

Firehouse Subs, 587 Weber Street North, Waterloo
A business that began in Jacksonville, FL, now has its 10th location in southwestern Ontario. The Canadian franchises have donated more than $2 million to first responders.

Foundry Tavern 64 Grand Avenue South, Cambridge
Located in the rejuvenated “Gaslight District” in an 1890s industrial building. The restaurant and taproom feature beer by Foundry Brewing Co., and there’s a late-night menu – including wings, Scotch egg and truffle-Parm kettle chips. Eventually, the facility will have an enormous outdoor event space: it’s part of the ongoing and ambitious development of this part the downtown.

Jayalakshmi South Indian Cuisine 265 King Street East, Kitchener
Chef and owner Vikram Subramanian says Indian food lovers won’t find the ubiquitous butter chicken here, but they will find south Indian dishes and flavours at this restaurant which opened in November: a variety of dosas, idly, southern Indian-style dum biryanis and the unique kotha parotta.

Johnny Greeko’s Original Greek’s, 209 Pinebush Road, Cambridge
Located in the former Obie’s Bar and Grille, Johnny Greeko’s has sister locations in Paris and Brantford. Double starch of rice and potatoes and plattersful of Mediterranean eats including large souvlaki, gyro and rib combo-meals, along with lamb chops and spinach-feta spanakopita. (I’m interested in trying “Street Meat Fries” with a cascade of protein choice topped with Feta and garlic sauce.)

Lucero Canteen, 30 Ontario Street North, Kitchener
Formerly Show and Tell but with a hop, skip and a jump to the space next door, Lucero is illuminated beautifully by a thoughtful aesthetic and very good coffee (as did Show and Tell). It is probably the only place in the region where you can find snacks such as crème diplomat-filled Berliners with “ceremonial” matcha from South Korea.

Kung Fu Tea, King near Scott, Kitchener
There’s a location on Lester Street in Waterloo but coming soon to downtown Kitchener on King Street near Scott: a large chain in southwestern Ontario, Kung Fu Tea will have about 60 items on the menu, from lattes and milk teas to a slush series and cheese milk foams.

Rose Café, 185 King Street East, Kitchener
Lattes, espressos and Arabic teas are part of the menu at Rose Café. As are “famous eats” like mana’eesh Arabic pizza, labneh toast with cherry tomatoes and olive oil and aish el saraya, a sweetened bread with thick cream and pistachio.

Bonus: Portuguese takeaway?
City of Kitchener officials could not confirm at the time of writing, but rumour has it that a Portuguese rotisserie-style chicken takeaway could be opening next door to Lotus Sushi at 388 King Street East. Stay tuned because that would be great news!


Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The 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 and Instagram @andrewcoppolino. 


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