Top 10 Latin American Restaurants in Kitchener/Waterloo
KWMotion, June 24th
It is often remarked that authentic spots for Mexican food are especially difficult to come across in Canada in comparison to the U.S. As such, it may be surprising to some that there are a decent amount of restaurants in K/W owned and operated by Latin Americans. Several of these restaurants are Salvadorian and offer some options from Mexican cuisine in addition to traditional Salvadorian meals.
In K/W we have popular restaurants with menus that take inspiration from a variety of cuisines around the world. Many of these places tend to favor comfort over authenticity. That is, you can get fish tacos, New York steak frites, Southern fried chicken or pad thai at Beertown. Inevitably, a restaurant that offers a wide range of different cuisines sacrifices some authenticity (in the sense of being true to the cultural origins of which the food belongs). With that being said, Beertown’s fish tacos are surprisingly tasty.
Additionally, throughout North America there are plenty of chain restaurants that offer Americanized Mexican food, such as, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Qdoba, and Z-Teca. These places tend to prioritize fast service, and low prices over authenticity.
All of that is to say, this list prioritizes both authenticity and independent ownership, among other things. If you’re interested in the restaurant, click on the associated heading or image.
The Guanaquita is one of Downtown Kitchener’s hidden gems. They describe their cuisine as being “a little Mexican with a Salvadorian Touch”. The Guanaqita is the real deal, they are family run with a small staff which makes for very dedicated service. The food is phenomenal, and authentic, prepared with fresh ingredients using family recipes. The yuca frita/casava root is sure to amaze any french fry lovers looking to try something new. For a great sampling of The Guanaqita’s food, you should try either a combination platter, or the El Grande platter, both are sure to exceed your expectations with great portions. If you’re looking to order from them, try out The Guanaquita Restaurant app.
Los Rolling Tacos is a Mexican food truck and catering service based out of Waterloo. Owner Jose Delgado’s grandmother’s taco recipes helped inspire him to open the food truck. Their food is homestyle cooking, combining old recipes with the traditional tacos you would find available on the streets of Mexico City. Los Rolling Tacos is well known for their version of birria tacos which feature locally sourced brisket, chuck and adobo flavor. Another great order from this food truck is their Mexican street corn which features a creamy, spiced coating. To keep track of where, and when, Los Rolling Tacos is available, follow their page on Facebook.
Pupuseria Latinos can be found a block off of King Street, on Eby Street in downtown Kitchener. Pupuseria Latinos features homemade food in a family restaurant, offering Salvadorian, and other Central American, comfort foods. The restaurant features an incredibly welcoming atmosphere, in part due to how well it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. What is perhaps most noteworthy of Pupuseria Latinas is their amazing pupusas. They are always filling and are often referred to as the best in town.
America Latina on Victoria Street in Kitchener is one of multiple Latin grocers in the region that additionally serve great eats. Everything is fresh and homemade, and some of the ingredients used can be found, and purchased in the store. The result is a joint family style grocer and community cafe. America Latina’s food is great for a satisfying lunch, with great beef empanadas, churros, pupusas and tamales, all available within a short wait.
UnoMarketplace is another example of a Latin American grocer that doubles as an amazing takeout spot. Their goal is bringing passion and an authentic homeland experience to the local community, and much of their food is locally sourced. The store has a vast selection of Latin American goods and the family atmosphere is present, especially in their great service. Although a great spot for affordable pupusas, UnoMarketplace’s “house specialties” are consistently delicious. In particular, the tortas sandwich and the tacos are superb picks. Located on Franklin Boulevard in Cambridge, UnoMarketplace’s must-try appeal earns itself a place on this list.
The Cactus is a phenomenal place for authentic Mexican food in Waterloo. The Cactus has an expansive menu, with many different options for tacos and burritos, as well as many other traditional Mexican meals. The restaurant provides an excellent combination between a cozy bar and a sit down eatery. Anything featuring their Mole sauce will be likely to impress. If you’re looking for specific choices from The Cactus, try the tacos de carnitas (featuring pulled pork), the burrito de cochinita (featuring pulled pork), the pozole or for a Tex-Mex option, the chimichanga plate.
Latinoamerica Unida is a quaint restaurant with a calm, intriguing atmosphere. Like The Cactus, Latinoamerica Unida exhibits a focus on authentic Mexican food, providing an expansive menu. The restaurant additionally has some options for groceries. The authentic personality of Latinoamerica Unida in Cambridge has been longstanding and prominent, as they have existed for over seven years. Their taco de cochinta, featuring corn tortillas and tender, well seasoned meat showcases the restaurant’s superb quality.
Tres Chiles Mexican Restaurant has a similar atmosphere to places like Qdoba, Z-teca, and Mucho Burrito. Like these restaurant chains, Tres Chiles facilitates quick, filling meals, however they manage to preserve authenticity in the process. Tres Chiles is a family run business, with friendly, quick service. Their incredibly flavorful food comes in large portions, making the restaurant a great option for a affordable and timely takeout. For the best bang for your buck, try their “best burrito in town”. If you’re looking for a quick, tasty alternative order their 3 piece Tostadas, or Taquitos. Tres Chiles can be found in the Country Park Shopping Centre at 1450 Block Line Road in Kitchener.
Located downtown in a small convenience spot location on King, Variedad Latina has been a downtown must-try for the past four years. Varidad is a family restaurant with options for grocery, takeout eats, and authentic Salvadorian meals. The service is friendly and helpful, reinforcing the calm atmosphere of the restaurant. In addition to great tamales, pupusas, and tacos, Varidad has options for steak, fish or pork chop dinners, Salvadorian breakfasts, as well as incredible options for soup (the Mondogo in particular). In addition to the consistently great food at Varidad, the Horchata is particularly noteworthy.
El Antojo is a Colombian bakery that does takeout food. At El Antojo you can pick up frozen foods to heat up at home, or you can order fresh takeout. The bakery has a range of 10 Arepas to order from that are quite affordable. The traditional empanadas they serve are great tasting, and go well with their sweet pastel de floria (Colombian puff pastry dessert). For a larger meal, their Bandeja Paisa features beef, chorizo, morcilla, chicharrón, beans, egg and rice; it is hearty, and satisfying. El Antojo is located on Weber Street East and can additionally be found on food courier apps.
An additional option for a Latin American grocery store that does phenomenal takeout is Mi Tienda Latina downtown. Two other noteworthy spots are The Village Biergarten in St. Jacob’s for their amazing tacos, and the Mexican Street Food vendor at the St. Jacobs farmers market for their specialty chorizo. If you are specifically a taco fan, you may be interested in the Uptown Taco Trail infographic that showcases some of the great spots for tacos in uptown Waterloo.