I've been working in Uptown Waterloo (kind of like downtown, but more upscale, or something) for a number of years now and have been too lazy to pack a lunch everyday. Here are some of non-fast food chain places that me and my collegues frequent for a quick lunch. We're pretty frugal when it comes to lunch spots so it'll be rare to find us paying $10 or even close to that on a daily basis. They've become quite repetitive so I'm hoping that the new development next to Waterloo Town Square brings something more exciting and innovative. I'm not holding my breath though.
Food of the British Isles says the tagline. This is the default place to go when nothing else comes to mind. Freshly baked meat pie (steak and mushroom is good, as well as the chicken curry) and soup or salad for $5.49 or sandwich with soup/salad for $5.99. Rotating specials include lasagna, schniztel on a bun, and the occasional one off special such as stuffed pork or meatballs and rice. They also offer a lot of imported snacks and candies, and yes, you can even buy a frozen haggis. And no, I haven't tried it.
A local pizzeria that opened up fairly recently. Standard normal crust you'd find at any chain. Pretty good pizza for reasonable prices. A fair selection of slices available for walk-ins but we find it's a better deal (and fresher) to order a whole pizza and share. Note that if you order zucchinni as a topping you'll get eggplant. We tried it twice (thinking it was a mistake the first time, but it wasn't).
While not strictly in Uptown Waterloo (ok, it's not even in Waterloo) we'll often send someone to pick up sandwiches from their deli. Vincenzo's is a gourmet Italian grocery shop, but it has a deli counter that can be jammed 3 deep at lunchtime. The secret to quick service is to pre-order online. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The sandwiches they offer are build your own - pick a meat, cheese, bun, spread and toppings. The basic sandwich is only $3.95 but you can top $5 with premium ingredients such as rare roast beef, roasted artichoke, or sundried tomatoes. Make sure you order "the bomb" - a spicy bruschetta-like spread.
The stereotypical greasy spoon diner. We used to go here quite often for their all-day breakfast special ($4.50 for eggs cooked to order, bacon or ham, home fries). Eventually the grease got to us but it sure was tasty. Their menu is fairly extensize - all the standard diner dishes are available from burgers to sandwiches to an all-you-can-eat fish and chip special on Thursdays.
A part of the Zehrs/Loblaws company, this grocery store replaced the old and very rundown Zehrs in Waterloo Town Square a few years ago.
This used to be the default place to go because we're all suckers for a good value. For under $5 you can get a small sub, roasted chick or deli sandwich plus pop or water plus a side of fries, soup or salad. Over the past couple of years they've slowly raised their prices, skimped out of things like cheese on the sub, took out red cabbage and shaved carrots from the salads, and used cheaper buns for the sub. So while its still a reasonable value, our fond memories of pay only $3.73 including tax for a hot meal prevent us from returning regularly.
As a side note, I think the "valu" in the name is misleading since I find most of their grocery prices slightly higher than the Zehrs that dot suburbian Waterloo. To be fair, they didn't name it Good Valu-mart.
I've only been there once but it deserves a mention because I'm sure this is the oldest restaurant in town. This is the real-deal when it comes to greasy spoon diner. Where else can you get a burger made by dipping an ice cream scoop into a vat of ground pork and pressed flat on a grill next to a foot high pile of sauteed onions? This place has been around since the beginning of Waterloo and most of the customers seem to have been as well.
A bit above our normal price range but notable for the surprisingly high quality of food. There are two separate restaurants. First is the Lion Brewery in the basement of the hotel (enter off of Princess St) which serves standard pub grub but with an upscale twist. We're not talking high end gourmet here, but much better than you'd expect at a corporate pub chain. In the summer Barleyworks is open as an 2nd floor patio off of King St. Their menu is different but has similar items of similar quality. Service can be quite slow on Thursdays and Fridays so arrive early and order quickly.
Ok, this one is a corporate chain but with the recently lowering of their prices (some of it quite significanly) plus a constant stream of 2 for 1 or $2 off coupons in the mail it has gone from worst value to best value.
Friday, February 24, 2006