Top Restaurants In Kitchener, Otario, The Best Local Eats

Jessica Dawdy

Mid-sized Kitchener’s food scene is often overshadowed by Ontario’s larger metropolises but although the city’s dining scene is still finding its footing, there are more than a few innovative restaurants that could give even Toronto a run for its money. Here is our list of Kitchener’s best food joints.

Queen Street Commons Café

Queen Street Commons Café

Queen Street Commons Café is a unique community gathering place based on the philosophy of offering a space where all people are welcome. The cafe is a project of the Working Centre, a local non-profit organization. It is one of the city’s few vegetarian restaurants, with home-style dips, pizzas, soups, salads, and daily lunch specials prepared by a staff of volunteers. Everything is affordable and visitors don’t even need to buy anything, all in the spirit of allowing people of all income levels to enjoy the environment. A large inviting space, the Queen Street Commons Café also hosts live music nights and English conversation practice sessions.

Queen Street Commons Café, 43 Queen Street South, Kitchener, ON, Canada,+1 519 743 1151

Public Kitchen & Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Tapas, Vegetarian, Vegan

271 West
© Illustratedjc/Flickr
Public began as a private catering company run by chef Ryan Murphy and his partner Carly Blasutti. They eventually began offering ‘walk-up Wednesday’ lunches out of their home, attracting a strong following of customers and in turn, prompting the two to finally open a restaurant. With minimalist decor, charmingly mismatched plates, and low lighting, the atmosphere at Public is intimate and personable. The restaurant specializes in tapas and shared family-style dishes. In addition to the regular tapas menu, the restaurant also offers fresh oysters on Tuesdays and wings on Wednesdays.


Restaurant, Indian, Canadian, Italian

271 West offers an Italian-focused menu of fresh pastas and other made-from-scratch dishes. The restaurant’s bread is baked on-site, and both AAA Canadian beef burgers and Atlantic salmon are cut in-house. The decor is simple and understated with friendly, attentive service and a warm atmosphere. Go for the signature ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and a cambazola cream sauce topped with parmesan cheese, and served with garlic bread; or one of the crispy, thin-crust pizzas made with a craft-beer dough and grilled over an open flame.

Stonegate Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, Canadian, Fusion, Vegetarian

Stonegate Bistro specializes in ‘continental fusion cuisine,’ drawing inspiration from culinary cultures from around the world. The menu is a mix of soups, salads, flat breads, couscous dishes, sandwiches, pastas, and grilled entrées. Go for the Mediterranean chicken breast stuffed with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese; or the shrimp and salmon sautéed in lemon-ginger soy sauce. The thoughtful wine list focuses on wines from Ontario, France, Italy, and California. The restaurant’s atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with comfortable seating and a warm color palate.

Charcoal Steak House

Restaurant, Seafood, Steakhouse

Charcoal Steak House is an independent steak house that serves up a menu of slow roasted prime rib, Oxford County AAA steaks, ribs, Conestoga pig tails and fresh seafood. The menu pairs perfectly with the restaurant’s extensive wine selection. Be sure to save room for dessert, with maple ginger cheesecake and charcoal carrot cake crafted by the restaurant’s pastry team. With relaxed seating and a laid-back ambiance, the restaurant is a long-time local favorite for date nights and special occasions.

The Lancaster Smokehouse

Restaurant, BBQ, American

Featured on FoodNetwork Canada’s You Gotta Eat Here the Lancaster Smokehouse is a Southern BBQ restaurant with a menu that features a variety of homemade po’boys, smoked meat entrées, and other Southern classics, along with daily and weekly specials. The restaurant sources their meat and produce from Ontario farms, while other ingredients are brought from suppliers across the southern USA to keep the flavours authentic and rich. Set in the 19th-century Lancaster public house, the restaurant is enormous, but the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. Live blues music blares on Fridays and Saturdays, and there are even special concerts often hosted in the hall upstairs.

The Bent Elbow

Pub, Restaurant, American, Canadian

The Bent Elbow is a laid-back pub with a larger-than-average commitment to good beer. The restaurant features 23 taps, the only cask engine in the region, and an excellent selection of bottles. Diners choose their brew from the thick ‘Beer Companion,’ or the knowledgeable servers can help non-aficionados choose a glass based on their preferences. The decor is simple with comfortable chairs and plenty of wood. The menu includes selections such as ‘From the Garden’ or ‘Knife and Fork’ choices, including the Bent Elbow burger, melted smoked swiss cheese, grilled onions, and crispy bacon.

JLB: Janet Lynn's Bistro

Bistro, Contemporary, Canadian, Vegetarian, Gluten-free

JLB is low-key and rustic with an open-plan room that allows diners to see the action taking place inside the kitchen. The contemporary menu focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients, most of which are sourced from local farmers’ markets. Diners can choose from salads, small plates, or big plates, with dishes like the turkey burger with apples, avocado, feta cheese, and house-made crispy fries; and the Vegetarian, a potato roll filled with black beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, seasonal vegetables, and drizzled with a cauliflower cream.

The Guanaquita Restaurant

Restaurant, Mexican, Salvadorian, Vegetarian, Spanish

The Guanaquita Restaurant is a charming family-owned restaurant that serves a menu of home-style Salvadoran cuisine. Although the menu also includes ‘Mexican with a Salvadoran touch’ dishes, the traditional Salvadoran options are the highlight. The Guanaquita Platter is the perfect option for first-timers, a platter of four traditional dishes: a pork and cheese pupusa, a beef and vegetable pastelito, a beef enchilada, and a chicken tamal. Diners can eat in the airy dining hall, or out on the King Street patio. The restaurant also hosts tango dancing and lessons on the first Friday and third Saturday of every month.
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.