Best places to eat in UW plaza

Whether it&rsquo;s for a quick snack between classes or dinner out with friends, many students seek out the UW Plaza for a bite to eat. Located within walking distance of E5 and South Campus Hall, the Plaza is a convenient hub of small eateries and grocery stores catering mainly to students. Here are some must-try places to eat at this year.</p>

When it comes to quick eats, 1B student Lilyn Gao highly recommends Grab-a-Greek: “It’s tasty, not too expensive, and they take WatCard,” she said. Meanwhile, 2A student Nathan Chan votes for Sweet Dreams, a popular little bubble-tea shop that boasts delicious sweet milk teas, a calm atmosphere of light conversation, and stacks of board games to play with friends. “Sweet Dreams’ cold oolong milk tea with grass jelly any day,” he comments. Many other students I’ve talked to support his recommendation, listing their favorite bubble-tea drinks. Personally, I recommend the Taro-filled Bao, which is deliciously sweet and comes with a pile of whipped cream on the side.

Students who are picky on health might enjoy Kismet, a small Indian restaurant located near Phillip Street. “It’s one of the only places without health infractions,” admitted Tom Storwick, who lives at UWP and eats frequently at the Plaza. Another Indian place nearby, Aunty’s Kitchen, is a popular catering choice and serves wonderfully large portions of biryani, butter chicken and fusion foods.

In terms of convenience, many students find themselves drifting toward Chen’s, which is a minute walk from E5 and right across from Sweet Dreams. “Chen’s mapo tofu rocks my world, and it’s really cheap,” said 1B student Kate Illing. “One order feeds me for two meals and only costs seven dollars.” A few students praised the free milk tea for dine-in customers after 5 p.m., but recommended staying away from the Pad Thai.

Frequent users of Yelp may have noticed the particularly high ratings for Waterloo Star, a small Chinese place a little farther down from Chen’s. Its tiny entrance opens into a spacious dine-in area, and many reviewers recommend the xinjiang chicken, which has a large portion of braised chicken in soy sauce, chili peppers and garlic.

Online professor Dan Brown from the Cheriton School of Computer Science has documented his experiences with the Plaza in a blog, titled “Eating the Plaza” (find it at In it, he details his goal of eating at and reviewing every restaurant in the area. When I contacted him, he admitted that many places have changed since he wrote his reviews, but he continues to recommend Williams (“This was a great salad. Coffee was good. I wish there had been no iceberg lettuce.”) and Kabob Hut (“… it was tasty, with very good saffron flavour, a decent amount of chicken breast pieces, and an eggy crust on the rice. I enjoyed the meal.”)

These restaurants only make up a small selection of the wide range of eateries available at the UW Plaza, and we at Waterloo are lucky to have so much good food nearby.