Canadians love their coffee. As a nation, we drink on average three cups a day. But in Waterloo Region, it is independent coffee roasters and vendors who are staking a claim as the favourites of local coffee aficionados.
The intersection of Highland Road and Belmont Avenue is a busy one. It can also be a destination for delicious and varied foods in Kitchener where there is a flavour and a taste for everyone concentrated in less than a city block of area.
You could start at McMullen’s Canadian Pub and Pizzeria where many say you can get a pretty good pub-style pizza and a domestic and imported beers. It’s a popular sports bar with a decent-sized patio for summer.
Next door is Churrasqueira os Tugas, specializing in grilled chicken with potatoes and rice, bifana pork sandwich and the luscious pasteis de nata custard tart. A churrasqueira is a Portuguese, Brazilian and South American charcoal grill, while “tugas” is a colloquial term Portuguese folks use to refer to themselves.
Kishki World Foods has wonderful halal butcher, a grocery store of middle eastern foods, fresh baked breads from a variety of countries and ready-made foods such as fattoush salad, shish tawouk and beef kofta, depending on the day.
On one side of Kishki is Chopan Kabob, a family-run restaurant for Afghani aushak (steamed dumplings filled with leeks and topped with a meat sauce) and bolaani (flatbread stuffed with mashed potatoes); on the other side is Highland Halal Shawarma for gyros and falafel for inexpensive take-away. Both are popular venues for locals – many say the shawarma is among the best in Waterloo Region.
Across Highland is a fairly common hybrid food establishment in the Region: the Latin American grocery store with a snack bar. The Rincon Latino Mini Mart menu includes dishes such as arepa corn cakes (as part of a Colombian breakfast), sancocho meat and vegetable stew and ajiaco chicken, corn, potato and herb soup. There is calentado for breakfast on weekends and tamales on alternating weeks. The menu is ever-shifting, and they boast of making 65 different soups.
For lovers of Ethiopian fare – and for those eager to try – Muya is must that is a restaurant door or two down from Rincon. The owners make the unique injera bread (a fermented, thin pancake-like bread which they sell into the Greater Toronto Area, as a matter of fact) that is used as your utensils for eating dollops of lentils, potatoes, carrots, doro wot chicken stew, beef and lamb. It’s a great venue for vegetarians too.