Downtown Cambridge will come alive with the sounds of folk music from around the world on August 4, 5, and 6 at the Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music.
With ION light rapid transit and bus rapid transit construction behind us (for the most part), all roads and rails lead to some great food and beverage in Waterloo Region. That includes many new venues, some more recent than others, that have opened in the past several months with more anticipated openings in the months ahead.
While it is not possible to fit each and every new location into this space, here are a few selections in the Region – along with the anticipation that there will be more new restaurants and food and beverage businesses opening soon.
[Please check with individual restaurants for hours of opening.]
21 Fir Whiskey Bar + Kitchen
On King Street near Willis Way, 21 Fir blends southern and classic dishes from the kitchen (Clams Casino, for instance), amidst a Roaring Twenties and prohibition-inspired atmosphere (Remember: 100 years ago, not far down the street at the current site of Stark and Perri, there was lots of mobster and rum-running shenanigans going on with wise-guy Rocco Perri.). What Prohibition though? There are a lot of inventive cocktails and an extensive collection of whiskies at 21 Fir.
A popular vendor at St. Jacobs Market, Ray Woodey’s Craft Chippery has a new bricks-and-mortar location in the newly refurbished Uptown Waterloo on King Street between Willis Way and William Street. The chipping technique is in part made possible by using potatoes – local potatoes – that are high in starch and low in sugar: that means a light golden colour and crispier, tastier chips (according to Ray).
An anchor in Waterloo that has specialized in diner-style pork sliders and mountains of grilled and caramelized onions since 1930 has been refurbished and re-imagined by Nick Benninger and his Fat Sparrow restaurant group. The same great old bones with a few fresh updates to the décor.
Lou Dawg’s Southern BBQ
Virtually next door to the Chippery is another barbecue joint (it’s okay: it fits a barbecue restaurant’s brand to be called a “joint”): Lou Dawg’s serves traditional southern favourites for brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night eats.
McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill
On King across from Waterloo Town Square. A pub menu, but one that includes burrata, samosas and charcuterie. Daily specials too.
St. George Restaurant (at St. George Banquet Hall)
Located at the border where city meets country between Waterloo and St. Jacobs, St. George Restaurant features the rich and hearty fare of eastern Europe – itself a rich part of the food culture of Waterloo Region. Chevaps, goulash, cabbage rolls and other Serbian dishes are mainstays on the menu, along with vegetarian omelette wraps and fish and chip Fridays.
J & P Grocery
Chic but casual downtown grocery store with unique products by local producers. The J & P kitchen prepares take-away lunches like chimichurri red rice salads and falafel wraps. Upstairs is a mezzanine café they serve the popular Smile Tiger coffee.
Taste at the Tannery
Located in the hot tech hub near Communitech, Taste at the Tannery features what they call
“Craveables” and many shareable dishes from cider and chorizo mussels and wonton nachos to wings and a charcuterie board. There’s brunch on Saturday and Sunday too.
Having been a long-established Germanic-style restaurant for three decades, Two Goblets moved into the downtown core less than a year ago. It has been modernized and brightened and is on Ontario Street, between King and Duke streets. Same great schnitzels, though.
Public Kitchen + Bar
A hugely popular – and small venue – in Kitchener’s Bridgeport neighbourhood, Public is moving closer to downtown and into a larger space on Victoria Street near Lancaster. It’s also (happily) right across the street from the popular Descendants Brewing Company, adding to the small food hub that is forming in the area with Jimmy’s diner and Sam’s Kitchen for dim sum. (Rumour has it that another food operation will open in and around Public.)
Unicorn Coffee Brew Bar / Show and Tell
Co-owner Andrew Thom says the focus is on great coffee by industry-leading roasters committed to transparency along the entire coffee chain in order to provide an option “outside the corporate craft movement.” Die-hard coffee aficionados expect no less.
Bruce Craft House
Led by Chef Aaron Clyne and the team at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, Bruce Craft House serves a wide range of dishes from Italian classics to favourites such as dumplings, fish tacos and Korean bibimbap. They make their own breads and bagels in-house, and craft beers on tap can be paired with menu items using ingredients from local producers.
Baden Brewery and Restaurant
Opening soon, the Baden Brewery and its restaurant is the newest craft brewing outfit to join the bustling food and beverage scene in Waterloo Region. Sources say that the food will run the gamut from country fare to steak house flair.
Imperial Market & Eatery
In a revitalized Imperial Hotel in New Hamburg, the Imperial Market & Eatery prepares rotisserie meats, Cubanos, mac-and-cheese and more for dine-in or take-away, as well as house-made products to stock your larder.