Exotica means ‘things excitingly different’. We are a fast casual eat-in restaurant serving sandwiches, wraps, bowls and more. Our food is about flavours that come together for a fresh experience
We are continually evolving. Our mantra, however, remains constant from the day we Opened doors in October 2018, “Eat What Makes You Feel Good, while keeping it exciting too”. We try our best to source local, mostly preservative free, high-quality products; the secret to savouring your meal and feeling good after.
Here’s a snapshot into some of our main ingredients and local partners
Wraps (made by J&D Peters): We buy them directly from the Kitchener
Farmer’s Market; they are authentic, made with NON-GMO local grains and simple ingredients you can read and understand.
Breads: Our breads are sourced from Grainharvest Breadhouse, a local artisan bakery that bakes European style breads which are clean and free of preservatives. Why do you want to eat bread that even mold doesn't want?
Meats: Meats are sourced from our local butcher (Noor Food Market – Halal) and marinated in house for hours with our special blend of spices and prepared in small batches. No easy freezer to fryer quick fixes, we take the long and fun road to food.
Veggie Patty: We use an organic, NON GMO, gluten-free vegetable patty made with carrots, zucchini, peas and spinach, no fillers. It’s vegan too!
Oil plays a big role in home-style restaurant cooking and don’t we love ‘Comfort Food’! Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a place in our kitchen pantry but this oil being sensitive to high temperatures, we use it in cold mixes, like our seasoned chickpea and Southwest veggie medley. Our fried items are prepared in a blend of high oleic canola and medium oleic sunflower oils. These are high in monounsaturated fats, low in saturated fat, and has zero trans fats. We do not use chemical fryer stabilizers to increase oil frying life.
Sauces: We partner with 2 Kitchener – Waterloo based handcrafted sauce makers. These are clean, natural sauces made with simple, real, mostly local ingredients. Bajan Tyga Hot Sauce (made by Island Son Canada) is a Caribbean influenced, gluten free, award-winning sauce that pairs well with many of our menu items; while the Phlippen BBQ Smoked Hot Sauce (made by Phlippen Sauces) has complex layers of taste; sweet, salty, hot and tangy; and makes a versatile spread or dip. These sauces are vegetarian, egg-free, low in sodium and oil free with no fillers. They are an appealing non-mayo dip/spread option. In addition to these, we have other in-house blended sauces.
Back in 2016, Nikhil and I were colleagues at an American company based in Waterloo. 8 months into our jobs, the company closed operations in Canada; our departments were the first to be hit and we were let go. A few days after the dust settled, we thought…, ‘Why not do something on our own, bring a taste of food that Waterloo hasn’t had yet!’ The dream was always there, the moment had arrived and it all came to the forefront.
Nikhil, a trained Chef, with an MBA in Banking & Finance, a passion for everything food from tasting to creating his own version of recipes, took the first leap into the dream. Me, on the other hand with a Master’s Degree in Psychology, no formal culinary background, tweaking around recipes to healthier versions and a love for stirring up something exciting in my home kitchen since my teen years, this seemed like embracing a new and familiar beginning. Close to our roots with our style of cooking; putting time, attention and care from scratch to finish; and with our love for flavours, aromas and spices, we started on an adventure of kitchen experiments. After trials, tests and kitchen disasters we came up with a menu. Our learning curve was steep, making it through survival jobs to pay our bills while building Exotica, making a tonne of mistakes and ‘after thought eye-openers’, our journey was about getting past the next big step and the drive to ‘Make It Happen’. We ‘Opened’ in October 2018 with a lean chalk board menu of 2 pockets, a salad and a handful of drinks.
From a Café to a Fusion Kitchen and Café and now a Sandwich & Wrap Bar, we have something for everyone. We’re a little tucked in to THE HUB, come find us…..