If you are a resident of the city off Waterloo, Ontario, or an alum of either the University of Waterloo or Wilfrid Laurier University, then you probably are well-acquainted with a little place called Mel’s Diner, which is a great little 50’s style breakfast spot located on University Avenue at Philip Street.
It’s open 7am-11pm, Monday to Thursday, and it’s open 24 hours Fridays and Saturdays. They have their own loyalty program and they do catering as well. Mel’s is not too big, not too small, and hard to miss if you’re anywhere near it, because of it’s bright, shiny old school red and white sign.
Go To Destination for Grub Around the Universities
As it happens, Mel’s Diner has been around for decades, and there are two locations in Kitchener-Waterloo – one on Westmount at Ottawa St. and the one I’m going to talk about in this review, located very close to the universities. Mel’s has always been one of the go-to spots for students, not to mention the rest of community, and it is famous for its breakfast specials, as well as family-friendly environment. The servers are warm, and when I stopped by to talk to the staff and ask them about what makes Mel’s such a warm place, I was told that it’s because the staff is a real time and so there’s a real camaraderie that customers can feel.
Almost 10 years back, there was a horrible fire which destroyed part of the plaza near the university, including Mel’s, as well as a popular nightclub, and several other establishments. It was crazy, but I don’t think anyone was hurt (if I recall correctly). If you lived in Waterloo back then, for a while there, there was just a black scene of devastation that lasted what seemed like months. It took the clean up crew a while to get the whole mess cleaned up. Here’s a video of the fire I found on Youtube that was taken while it was all happening back in 2010.
At that time, it was definitely weird having no Mel’s in the area, but, luckily, Mel’s sprang back up bigger and better than ever.
I’ve been going to Mel’s since I was a student at the University of Waterloo, which was about 20 years ago now. I would have reviewed it earlier, but I didn’t have a website at the time. Apologies! Anywho, like certain mainstays in Waterloo, like Phil’s Grandsons, the Huether Hotel, and a few other places, Mel’s Diner has always been there for the community when it comes to hot eats. If you’re studying, and want to grab some grub to sustain yourself through hours of torturous book work, you just saunter over to Mel’s for some nourishment. Got a hot date? Mel’s is a nice, amicable spot to take him / her. Are you drunk at 4am and you and your posse are aimlessly wandering the street after a night of debauchery? That’s right, folks – Mel’s.
I don’t want to suggest that breakfast is all anyone gets at Mel’s, because it is a full service diner, not a breakfast pitstop. You can get burgers, of course, homemade beef lasagna, shepherd’s pie, reubens, soups, salads, poutine, clubs, chicken wraps, and the list goes on and on. Their menu is actually quite extensive!
That said, 95% of the time, when I go to Mel’s, I get breakfast. Their breakfast menu is just as long as their regular menu, with omelettes, waffles, french toast, buttermilk pancakes, skillet, and a wide variety of egg combos. Oh man, when you’re hungry, this place is the place to be. Of course, I’m also drunk half the time when I pop by, but even when I’m sober the food is delicious. When I was there last, in the middle of the day, I spoke to a guy who had been going there for 5 years straight while he completed his masters in math in one of the booths for a couple hours a day. Did he ever change it up, I asked him. No – he always got breakfast, pretty much every single time. Nice!
Overall, Mel’s Diner is a great place to eat and I highly recommend it!