Being vegetarian/vegan/flexitarian is great and all, but things get a little more complicated when you go out to eat. I was out for dinner recently and had a frustrating experience where there were only two vegetarian options out of a huge selection. This had me dreaming of a menu where I could eat everything on it, so I decided to check out some of the vegetarian food in Kitchener-Waterloo. 

Each restaurant's review is based on their food, as well as overall atmosphere and how enjoyable the experience was. A lot of the restaurants are also vegan and friendly to those who are gluten-free. So here you go: the best places to get vegetarian food in Kitchener-Waterloo. 

Jane Bond // 5 Princess Street W., Waterloo, ON

Danni Zuo

This is one of my favourite places to get vegetarian food in Kitchener-Waterloo. I’ve been a few times for dinner, but it is also a cool spot for drinks, as the venue has a disco ball and is filled with funky lights. They also host lots of live music events and have a DJ. 

I have never been disappointed by the food. This time I ordered the smoked tofu & three bean chili with jalapeno cheddar cornbread and it was awesome. Jane Bond is also accommodating to those who are vegan and gluten-free.

Cafe Pyrus // 16 Charles Street W., Kitchener, ON

Claire Elder

The restaurant is a cozy café located in downtown Kitchener. There are board games stacked in the corner, hamburger-shaped ceramic salt and pepper shakers, and they give you plastic animal figures to take to your table instead of an order number. We were also drinking water out of jam jars without the lids. This would be a great place to go on a rainy day or to get some studying done, and the food was great.

I brought my friend with me to this restaurant who laughed at me for trying to make him eat vegetarian food, and he commented that the crispy tofu sandwiches we ordered were not a noticeable difference from (very) tender chicken.

Their menu is vegan-friendly, and according to their website, they make an effort to use sustainable packaging and fair trade, organic ingredients.

Thrive Energy Lab // 191 King Street S. #105, Waterloo, ON 

Claire Elder

While having less of a café vibe or a cool night out, this place screamed trendy and healthy. They offer vegan takes on cool menu items like banh mi and Philly cheese sandwiches made with tempeh. They have shakers of pink Himalayan salt rather than table salt, and their self-serve water station is filled with activated charcoal. I highly recommend the turmeric ginger tea. It was amazing.

They are very accommodating to dietary preferences. Their smoothies are made with gluten-free oats, and they have a huge selection of juices that you have the option of adding ingredients like probiotics, maca extract and turmeric to for that extra #health.

Freshii // 225 King Street N., Waterloo, ON

Danni Zuo

Although technically not entirely vegetarian, most of the items on Freshii’s menu don't include meat unless you choose to add it. This excludes the southwestern soup made with chicken broth and a few of the breakfast items which include bacon and steak.

The meals generally have a lot of protein on their own, and you can add tofu or falafel for only a couple extra dollars. I ordered the Khao San burrito with tofu which was delicious. Freshii is a good option if you are looking for some fast take-out vegetarian food as it is so close to the Laurier campus.

Rawlicious // 718 Belmont Avenue W., Kitchener, ON

Claire Elder

For those of you who are not familiar with this chain, Rawlicious serves raw vegan food. I’m going to be honest, I went into this place with lower expectations than the rest. I was very intrigued by how menu items like tacos and bolognese could be made without heating them up, but I also imagined that I would not enjoy raw food as much as cooked food.

However, I was very impressed by what they were able to do with their menu. I ordered a cheeseburger made with a nut, seed and veggie patty and a bun made of buckwheat, carrot and flax, and it was actually very good. A little hard to eat, as it was open face, but nevertheless pretty tasty.

The venue was cute: they had artwork for sale hung on the walls and the staff was friendly. They also had a decent selection of raw vegan desserts. 

Raintree Cafe // 220 King Street N., Waterloo, ON

Danni Zuo

This one gets major brownie points because it is so close to Laurier. This hidden gem is in the plaza where Phil’s is, just across the street from campus.

Unfortunately this place does a lot of catering, so is often unexpectedly closed. It took me three tries to actually get food at this place. 

I asked for the “tacos”, referring to the tempura brussel sprout tacos that are on their menu online, and what I received wasn’t quite the same. They served me something very similar, however, the tacos were made with broccoli instead of brussel sprouts which was slightly strange. 

Despite my negative experiences trying to get to this place, Raintree Cafe still made this list because the tacos were really, really good. They were full of bright colours, and made with fresh vegetables. They were sweet and tangy, but somehow the cheesy flavour from the cashew cheese still worked in it. They were very unique; each bite was filled with different flavours and I was left thinking this place was worth the wait. 

So there you have it: the best places to get vegetarian food in Kitchener-Waterloo. Feel free to check out these places if you're vegetarian/vegan, or if you just want to enjoy some good meat-free food!