Getting to know your local restaurants

For many, university is a time of acquainting yourself with local fast-food and chain restaurants — there is no shortage of either for students in Waterloo.

Due to familiarity it would be easy to choose McDonalds, Frat Burger or Shoeless Joe’s as your restaurant of choice. However there is a plethora of local spots that students seemingly don’t know about or experienced for themselves, whether it’s due to the unfamiliarity, laziness or lack of willingness to explore the area. I decided to venture into Waterloo and seek out different, unfamiliar local restaurants. After discovering these restaurants, it’s safe to say I’m going to become a regular.

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

1. The Lion Brewery Restaurant

Where: 59 King Street North

Described in one word: Casual

Ideal Setting: Located on the first floor of the Huether Hotel, this is the place to go when you and a close number of  friends want to have a late night drink and socialize. The overall atmosphere is laidback and casual, making it the perfect place to have an easy going night out.

Food recommendations: As this restaurant is best in a group setting, sharing a pitcher and an appetizer is ideal. The nachos are perfect for sharing and are always a crowd-pleaser.

Why it’s worth the visit: The Lion Brewery Restaurant is the definition of a perfect local hangout. The bar in the restaurant caters to students who want a drink after a long day and the restaurant’s laidback atmosphere acts as the perfect place for groups of friends to socialize and have a good time.

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

2. Honey Bake Shop

Where: 100 King Street South

Described in one word: Cozy

Ideal Setting: If you are stuck on finding an inexpensive but delicious place for lunch, Honey Bake Shop should be your number one choice.

Food recommendations: Even though Honey is best known for their assortment of cupcakes and sweet treats, their sandwiches are just as delicious. The sandwich I recommend every time I go for lunch is the sweet potato and avocado sandwich on multigrain bread. At first it might sound like a strange combination, but once you taste it, you won’t regret it. And when you see your lunch come to just over $7, it will taste even better.

Why it’s worth the visit: Honey as a whole does not lack charm. The atmosphere is warm, cozy and sweet for lack of a better word. This lunch destination will also provide you with dessert, which is a selling point alone.

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

3. Thrive Energy Lab

Where: 191 King Street South

Described in one word: Organic

Ideal Setting: Thrive Energy Lab is best for a healthy lunch or for those who are just leaving the gym to stop by and have a post-workout smoothie or green juice.

Food recommendations: Before you criticize vegan cuisine, you need to try the southwest burger. Replacing the beef is a black bean and quinoa patty, which tastes like a regular patty. For $11.50, the burger comes with avocado, pepper jack cheese and a chipotle lime sauce to top it all off.

Why it’s worth the visit: Everything on the menu is vegan and healthy, which is ideal for those who are very health-conscious. The strong emphasis on a plant-based lifestyle reflects through their menu and atmosphere and the restaurant strives to teach their customers about how to fuel their body in a healthy manner.

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

4. Taco Farm

Where: 8 Erb Street West

Described in one word: Easy

Ideal Setting: This is the ideal place to go if you are on a quick lunch break from work or studying. It doesn’t demand a huge time commitment.

Food recommendations: If you want your lunch to be around $5, the fried fish taco is the way to go. The cod contrasts nicely with the sweet and spicy sauce and is rather filling in terms of portions.

Why it’s worth the visit: Not only is Taco Farm budget-friendly, but the casual setting and atmosphere is inviting and caters towards students. The food is authentic Mexican and Latin American cuisine, which offers diversity to students and residents in the area. The tortillas are also gluten-free and are made with no additives or preservatives, adding to that health factor so many people desire.

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

5. Proof Kitchen and Lounge

Where: 110 Erb Street West

Described in one word: Contemporary

Ideal Setting: If you are looking for a great place to do a dinner date, this is the place to go. The ambiance and calming music calls for one romantic night of wining and dining.

Food recommendations: I recently ordered the olive oil poached salmon and was thoroughly satisfied. Served with vegetables and a delectable cilantro sauce, this meal had a hearty portion and I definitely felt satisfied. I actually had to take some home because I couldn’t finish it.

Why it’s worth the visit: The restaurant itself is simply an artistic masterpiece and the large portions make the visit worth it. The menu has great variety and the restaurant acts as a backdrop for any occasion, whether that is a date or a party celebration.

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

6. Solé Restaurant and Wine Bar

Where: 83 Erb Street West

Described in one word: Classic

Ideal Setting: On Saturdays and Sundays, Solé hosts brunch from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. It is the ideal setting for having a meal with your friends and to catch up on each other’s lives.

Food recommendations: Having only been there for brunch thus far, I personally would recommend the smoked salmon croissant. Not only does this plate include smoked salmon on a warm croissant, but it also  comes with a spinach salad with fresh berries and goat cheese. Order with a cup of coffee and the total is just under $20.

Why it’s worth the visit: With mostly Mediterranean cuisine, Solé offers a different food experience to new customers. This restaurant is different than what most students are used to and it offers a diverse menu and an impressive wine and beer listing. Plus, it’s nice to go out to a restaurant where you can dress up a little bit.

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