Mel’s Diner was a place I heard about from upper years in Waterloo as the place to go for all-day breakfast. Sadly, the diner (and the rest of the plaza) burned down in a fire a few months before I moved to the city. More about their story can be read here.
Location: 140 University Ave W
Hours: Monday to Wednesday: 7am to 10pm
Thursday: 7am to 12am
Friday to Saturday: 24 hours
Sunday: 12am to 10pm
Atmosphere: Homey diner
Service: Slow and unpredictable
For over a year, all that remained of the plaza were the tiles on the floors from the various restaurants that used to be housed there. In 2012, the owners opened a location in Kitchener that was bit to out of the way for a student to easily make the trip. (The owner is also one of the partners behind Frat Burger, which opened in 2011). Finally, construction began again, and in February 2013, they once again opened their doors.
Once we were back from reading week, we decided to pay a visit to have their famous breakfast. The prices are pretty steep for breakfast food, but there is an ‘off-the-menu’ item, the Mel’s Special, that features two eggs, choice of meat, homefries and toast for $4.99. If you order before 11am on a weekday, you can have it for $3.99. Hands down, the best deal at Mel’s.
The second time we were there for dinner, and as part of the opening specials, the jukebox was free. Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond came on, and the table behind us broke out into song, and ended up serenading the whole restaurant. This is probably one of my favourite memories of Waterloo, and just shows the pleasantly unique atmosphere Mel’s Diner has, located right between the two universities and always bustling with activity.
The food is decent and very filling. There are some menu items that are definitely not bang for your buck, so I usually stick to their breakfast special.
The service has been very spotty; sometimes I’ve had a friendly server, other times there is poor service with a side of attitude. Mostly, we’re used to being ignored until it is time to ask for the bill. This doesn’t always make for the most pleasant experience, and paired with the long wait times (avoid peak meal times!) is a bit of a turn-off.
While I don’t terribly love the service, Mel’s is just a classic part of the Waterloo experience, and always worth a visit if you’re a lover of student budget-friendly breakfast.