One of the perks of committing to one area for several years is discovering the best local foodie restaurants near home. Having lived in Toronto for over 6 years during my university days, I knew of numerous local hot spots that my friends and I would gravitate to, and often. Now, living out of the city and in the suburbs for the last 5 years, I’ve had to rediscover what constitutes ‘the best restaurants’ in my neighbourhood – the best in the ‘Tri-Cities’ area. Here are a few of my favourites!
Best for All Palates: Mongolian Grill, Waterloo, ON
For groups of any size, for those with varying degrees of dietary restrictions, and for those who like to get creative with food (because you build your own meal) – this place is awesome! Super fun dining experience and lots of options to explore. Choose from a buffet of options: pasta, noodles, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, calamari, green peppers, celery, broccoli, chickpeas, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and at least 6 different sauces, plus a salad and soup bar. Watch the grill guys make your meal (and ideally tip them too), then taste-test your creations. Great social and family dining atmosphere.
Tip/Recommendation: Try mixing 2-3 sauces in one dish, and there is no such thing as too much sauce!
Best Pizza: Famous Pizza, Cambridge, ON
The owner, Sal, is always in and working hard in this tiny, family-owned Pizzeria, but pizza is clearly his labour of love. The pizza is always fresh, loaded with cheese, not greasy, and the crust is perfect – every time. The value for the quality of the pizza is amazing. We’ve tried a few other local pizzerias and we don’t even consider other options anymore. We now know this is the best pizzeria in a 50km radius. Try it – you won’t be disappointed!
Tip/Recommendation: Ask for the hot pepperoni topping (this is not your typical pepperoni – so tasty), and order from the ‘Famous Deals’ list for the best value (and to have leftovers for lunch)
Best Sushi: Sushi Feast, Cambridge, ON
This sushi joint still uses the paper and pencil ordering method, but boy do they do their sushi/sashimi right. Sure, you might be experimenting with a few dishes because you have no idea what they are, but it’s only on a very rare occasion that something comes out that you weren’t prepared for – most of the time it’s a pleasant discovery. If you appreciate fresh fish and plentiful options for sushi, handrolls, teriyaki, tempura, sashimi, noodles, and even sushi pizza, this is the place for you. Service can be a bit hit and miss, but the food is always good. Take-out is also an option, though I can’t yet comment on their take-out.
Tip/Recommendation: Try the hot & sour soup (it’s apparently a very close to the real deal) and try the Hawaiian roll – it’s one of our favourites!
Best Luxury Experience: Langdon Hall, Cambridge, ON
I may be slightly biased on this one, but the reviews speak for themselves. The food is authentically local, fresh, pleasantly presented and full of flavour. Service standards and a the staff’s passion for hospitality rank well above a 10 and the kitchen will accommodate any and all dietary restrictions. High Tea is also incredibly popular and truly a treat for any foodie!
Tip/Recommendation: Book in advance, especially on weekends. Also, the Wilks Burger may be the best burger I’ve ever had.
Best Bang for Buck: East Side Mario’s (all locations)
Pasta is filling, tasty and cheap. Combine those with all you can eat bread AND soup or salad = huge win when satisfying those hunger pains! Whenever we dine at East Side’s, was always opt for the All-You-Can-Eat option, and for dinner, that starts at about $16 – not a bad price when you can pack away multiple servings. Food is always hot and fresh and service is generally the same across all locations. Lots of good special on to on a regular basis too.
Tip/Recommendation: Go hungry and choose a dish that qualifies for All-You-Can-Eat bread, plus soup or salad (and take half of your entrée home with you)
Best Romantic Evening Out: Wildcraft, Waterloo, ON
Wildcraft is a special place for us because it was our first ‘monthiversary’ meal out. The atmosphere and service is upscale, but not overwhelming, and the food has always been good. The menu is a little on the pricier side, but the overall experience is well worth it.
Tip/Recommendation: Request a seat by the window or by the fireplace for a more intimate evening out.
Best ‘Authentic’ Asian (non-buffet): Ben Thanh, Cambridge, ON
Discovered Ben Thanh within the last year, and it is good! Tons of options to choose from and at reasonable prices. Come with family, go as friends or dine as a couple to enjoy a Viet-Thai night out. P.S. They do take out.
Tip/Recommendation: Try the shaomai (pork dumpling) or Phở – both are really good! Bubble teas here are also a real treat…
Best Pub (because monstrous chicken wings): Morty’s, Waterloo, ON
A real sports bar, complete with surround viewing TVs (featuring various types of sports), a large bar and female servers in short skirts… but, even though I am not a sports fan and don’t come for the atmosphere, the wings are awesome! Really tasty and LARGE chicken wings! One of my favourite pub foods…
Tip/Recommendation: Go on Monday or Thursday, when wings are on special!
Best Indian: Bombay Bhel, Kitchener, ON
We have dined in and ordered out from this location, with positive feedback each time. The food servings are quite generous and the food is really good (especially the lamb vindaloo and chicken korma). You can go for a casual meal, though the dining atmosphere has a more upscale vibe. Service is also good. Great value dining in or out.
Tip/Recommendation: When it says spicy, it really is burn your mouth off – take caution when ordering.
Where are your favourite foodie spots? Why are they the best? I’m always open to suggestions 😉
I'm a 20-something woman working my way through life in Canada, traveling when I can afford it and seeking out my passions one day at a time.