Freshly cooked healthy and delicious meals while you shop


Earlier this year, Loblaws launched Globōl, a new grocery concept at its Maple Leaf Gardens store. Unlike hot fried food tables, salad bars and take-out containers, the quick-service restaurant reflects today’s dining and lifestyle changes.

Combining sought-after international flavors with digital convenience, customers can get bowls of freshly cooked food (or bōl food) – including butter chicken, jerk chicken and pad Thai – using screen kiosks on-site touchscreen and online platforms for contactless ordering, pickup and delivery.

These behavioral shifts are affecting traditional grocers, who have seen consumer food spending shift elsewhere. Older generations have headed to supermarkets for ingredients, while today’s younger consumers have different lifestyles and attitudes towards food and diet. We’re cooking less, eating out more, and restocking the pantries of big-box stores, online vendors, and specialty vendors. Grocers (a grocery and restaurant portmanteau) allows large grocers to update their image and role by offering meal solutions that are easy to prepare and healthier than fast food.

Of course, getting freshly cooked meals while shopping is nothing new. Around the world, stalls of cooks offering meals and snacks stand alongside vendors of bread, produce and meat in mercados, souks and other markets. This traditional experience, which satisfies cravings for traditional international flavors, can be found at some local independent shops.

Lucy Mendoza opened Mi Tienda Latina in Kitchener more than 20 years ago, when the closest local dining options for Latino cuisine were often truck stops or Tex-Mex fast food joints. From the start, customers could purchase Latino ingredients alongside freshly baked pupusas.

Today, Lorena Canjura continues her aunt’s legacy at the store, sharing Salvadoran culture. She sells ingredients and offers ideas to those exploring the kitchen, while her cooking inspires soups, arepas and ready meals like pescado frito and carne a la plancha.

“My mom keeps it completely traditional,” says Natalie Rubio, Canjura’s daughter. “The dishes we prepare are the same as they will be prepared in El Salvador. We don’t mix recipes”, adapting or merging cuisines.

Traditional recipes also underpin Kitchener’s six-month-old Yum Yum Kabob. Much like bazaars in the Middle East, it sits in the back of KW Wholesale, a treasure trove of homewares and canned and dry foods supporting the Middle Eastern community.

The spark for the take-out spot began last year, when Somaya Mohammadi offered meals cooked by her husband, Hussein Ferdos, to local channel Persian Telegram. Ferdos, who was a chef in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Syria, prepared and delivered 12 orders over the weekend.

“People ate the food and they liked it. They put those comments in the group and the next day I received 20 orders,” says Ferdos. “Now I have customers from Guelph and Hamilton every week, some buying three, four or five meals.”

Today they offer both Afghan and Iranian dishes. Although they have falafels and wraps, they specialize in charcoal-grilled and braised meats served with salad and saffron or dill rice.

While the businesses of Mi Tienda Latina and Yum Yum Kabob are rooted in traditional food for their expat communities, the wider community discovers them through word of mouth and delivery apps.

For those of us who enjoy cooking and eating from a range of cultures, small store kitchens like these offer flavors and dishes that are sometimes hard to find.

“It’s the closest you can get, if you want to try something authentic and can’t travel,” says Lorena Canjura. “People come here and say, ‘It feels like home.'”

If you arrive when Mi Tienda Latina’s large and hearty Sopa de Res (beef soup), which is packed with beans, cabbage, corn and other veggies ($14), isn’t on the stovetop, have their Tacos Birria ($17). Drizzle a little savory juice over the silky corn shells stuffed with braised beef. They are way beyond your usual tacos.

Generous skewers of charcoal-grilled meat live up to the Yum Yum Kabob name. Served over saffron rice, sprinkled with pomegranate arils, the Chenjeh Bakhtiyari ($18.99) features succulent pieces of lightly flavored beef tenderloin and chicken breast, grilled tomatoes with tangy herb yogurt and a red cabbage and glowing onion salad.


The Restaurant Columns focus on foods available for pickup, takeout and delivery in Waterloo Region, as well as patio and restaurant dining. They are based on orders or unannounced visits to establishments. Restaurants do not pay for any portion of the examiner’s meal. Jasmine Mangalaseril is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter like @cardamomaddict.

Mi Tienda Latina

103 Ontario Street, Kitchener




Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Menu: Fresh Salvadoran dishes cooked according to traditional recipes. Pupusas, tacos and arepas. Dinner dishes include bandeja, grilled fish and grilled steak. Daily specials include soup of the day. Some vegetarian options.

Payment: Cash, Debit, Mastercard, Visa,

How to get your food: Walk in. Call ahead. Dine-in — a communal table is set up in the store.

Delivery: DoorDash, Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats

Yum yum skewers

27 Scott Street, Kitchener (back of KW Wholesale)


Hours: Every day, from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Closed on Tuesdays.

Menu: Freshly prepared Afghan and Iranian dishes with an emphasis on grilled meats served with cabbage and onion salad and saffron or herbed rice. The menu also offers dumplings and wraps. Some vegetarian options.

Payment: Cash, Debit, Mastercard, Visa

How to get your food: Walk in. Call ahead. Dinner – a communal table is set up near the front of the store.

Delivery: DoorDash, Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats


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