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Good (authentic) ethnic restos in Edmonton

I suppose ethnic is very general, but I'm open to pretty much anything... on a student budget. I recently discovered Langano Skies (Ethiopian) and loved it. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. This is really really general (a bit too open ended), but i'll do my best in the short time i have to give some recommendations. These are all in what i considered to be a "student budget" end - IE meals for $10-$15 including tax and tip. All addresses are "approximate", as im never quite sure of the exact cross street/ave.

    1. Churros King - Whyte Ave, about 102 street. Chilean.

    Billed as South American. the owners are Chilean. They have great south american sandwiches for 8-9 bucks, and good empanadas at $5 a basket (a great deal). Get the chile sauce for dipping. A lot of food for the price. Very similar to food i had when i was in .Chile

    2. Lunch at Dadeo - Whyte Ave, 105th Street - Cajun

    Po Boy's are cheap during lunch, and they have an extensive lunch menu that are in the 8-12 range. Food is really tasty here, but the decor is diner style. Dinner costs a bit more, but can still be fairly affordable.

    3. Pagolac, though many Vietnamese restaurants in town suffice - 2 locations (97street, 53rd avenue) and downtown on 97 Street and 105b Ave. Vietnamese.

    Yummy. Soups and vermicelli. 6-10. Really hard to go wrong!

    4. Lunch at Tropika - 2 locations - Calgary Trail S and 62 ave, and west end, 149 street and Stony Plain Rd - Malaysian - this is really pushing the "authentic bit", but it's good.

    They have great combo's and laksa's for lunch in the 6-9 range. Dinner is a pricier propsal, but M-Thu is half price Satay so you can often get away with the higher end (15) if you eat mostly Satay and rice, and share a Sambal Bunchies (a must for me!) and Roti Canai with your frend(s)

    5. Punjab Sweet House - or other Indian Buffets - 34th Ave, 95(?) Street.

    Great Indian buffet at lunch and dinner. Fairly wide selection (not Haweli, but decent), the food is hot and good.

    Haweli downtown isnt bad either (though it's $14 for the buffet at lunch)

    6. Spinelli's - Italian Center Shop - 2 locations - 97 Street and 105(?) ave, and 51st Avenue and 105 Street.

    Grocery store, but with really good Italian sandwiches. 6-7 bucks, can't remember exactly. But big serves, nice bread, good meat.

    7. There is no #7 (cheap Greek)

    That's about it for off the top of my head. Sorry i couldnt do any better... im not in Edmonton very often anymore. When Bob comes back, he'll be able to provide you with more options.

    1. Try Tony's Pizza Palace. It's in the North end, not too far from the Italian Centre Shop (I'm not sure of the exact address). They make fantastic New York style pizza; definitely the best in the city!

      1. Thank you yen and weaser2. Those suggestions are awesome and very much appreciated! Sorry for the generality - I really am open to anything that's worth it. Haven't had much luck with dining in Edmonton since I moved here, except for Bistro Praha (which is so yummy ... but I have a soft spot be/c I'm Czech), Khazana (good but a little expensive). Tried Koutouki Taverna and felt like I was being gauged. Langano Skies renewed my hope. I'm super-excited to try your suggestions. I'll let you know how it goes!

        7 Replies
        1. re: littlegreenpea

          Bistro Praha is great - i just figured it was a bit out of your price range.

          I completely agree with you about Koutouki, finding the entire chain (Yiannis etc) excessively expensive. Your thoughts on Khazana are about right as well.

          If you're willing to pay Bistro Praha type prices (which were 12-20 last time i was there), you open up a whole new variety of options. Oh, btw, a former employee of BP runs Milan's, which is also Czech just off Whyte Ave.

          A few other places i just thought of:

          Acajulalta(sp?) - Central American. 107th Ave and 113 (?) Street.
          I think they position it as "Mexican", but the owners are from El Salvador. This is fairly inexpensive as well (10-15), and quite authentic for Central American. At least it's similar to Casa de Latina in Calgary.

          Garage Burger Bar - 106 Street and 103rd Ave, by the Metro. This place isnt ethnic, but it used to serve the best burgers in town when i worked a few blocks away. Some friend's still go, and say it's still really good, and really cheap.

          A more upscale burger destination is Deluxe Burger Bar (142 street and 96th ? avenue). I really like it, as the burger and fries are really good, but it costs more in the 10-15 range than in 5-10.

          You can add Korean to the list at the higher price point. Bow Bulgogi is the old Edmonton standby (92 street 88 avenue), and is pretty good. Lee House is fairly comparable, but not as busy (Calgary Trail S and 80th avenue). For all you can eat, table grill, Ginseng Palace (34th Avenue and 97 Street) and Korean Village (77th Avenue and 85 Street) are $20.

          The food at the Savoy (turns into a drinking establishment at night) - Whyte Ave and Calgary Trail S (104th Street) used to be very good, but i havent been in a while. It's bistroey kind of food, at a good price. I enjoy the food at Suede Lounge (also a drinking establishment) too, which is on Jasper Ave and 113? Street.

          Lastly, it may be outside your price range (more like 25 range if you share an appetizer), but Sofra is awesome Turkish food. It's on 106 Street and 104th Avenue.

          Anyway, i could talk forever, but hopefully someone else with more recent knowledge can step up. Happy eating.

          1. re: yen

            Word up -- Milan's closed, spotted off Whyte Saturday! Sorry.

            1. re: Beetnik

              Thank you. This is what i get making recommendations based on sporadic trips around Edmonton :)

              1. re: Beetnik

                It has actually relocated and has a changed name. It is the same owner and apparently the same menu. The new place is called Accent located next to chili's, across from the next act pub on 82ave. To die for veggie stack there!

              2. re: yen

                Actually, isn't Bow Bulgogi in Calgary? I think this one in Edmonton still goes by Bul-Go-Gi House, and I think they still throw in the Juicy Fruit. Not far from there, about a block east of Bonnie Doon (8110 -82 Ave.) is some real deal, hand-tossed New York style pizza that rivals Tony's. In fact, I think the owners are related to Tony. The place is called Pizza Boys Ragazzi Bistro – everyone I know just calls it Pizza Boys. Pricey, but worth it. And Eddie, the delivery guy, gives it an authentic flavour with his New Yawhk accent (think he's from the Bronx).

                1. re: BIG jim

                  Yes, thanks for the correction. It is Bulgogi house.... it has been for years and years. Heck, i even went to school with the owners daughters! Sorry for the mix up - traveling between the two cities gets a bit confusing sometimes :)

                  Pizza Boys is really good. I got the Boys Deluxe, which was awesome. Alau2 clued me into this place on her blog.

              3. re: littlegreenpea

                Went to Koutouki Taverna just on a whim. After our lunch we pretty much felt gauged too. Our lunch was an app and two entree of chef's special. The waitress upsold us on a small pita which they billed at $3.00 and we didn't realize they bill separately for the tziki sauce for our calamari at $6. No wonder very few people were in the resturant.

              4. Hong Kong noodle/cafe style - try Spicy Garden. Garden Bakery is cheaper, but not as tasty.

                Dim sum - there isn't really a good, cheap place around anymore. The better places are probably Century Palace, Jumbo, Noodle Noodle and Golden Rice Bowl. All those places have sit down dinners as well.

                Chinatown has a lot of Vietnamese sub places too, and they're very cheap. The one I usually go to is across the avenue from Pagolac (sorry, can't remember the name). And Yen's suggestion about Pho (beef noodle soup) is a definite as it's filling, tasty and cheap. Although, according to my brother's Vietnamese girlfriend, all the good Vietnamese places are temporarily closed right now for new year's.

                For Greek I like the moussaka and calamari at It's All Greek To Me. I usually go to Cosmo's if I want a different dish. Both are in Rice Howard Way.

                And if you want to try something ethic but more modern, the best bubble tea (originally from Taiwan) is at the Tea Cottage in Chinatown or Bubble King inside T & T at West Edmonton Mall (same owner).

                For a good value bento box, I like going to Shogun. But if you want to splurge on sushi, go to Mikado.

                2 Replies
                1. re: anonymoose

                  I personally prefer the Bubble Tea place next to Royal Pizza on Calgary Trail and 80th avenue - though i thought it was called Tea Cottage too.... maybe not. Not a huge fan of Bubble King.

                  But great call on It's All Greek to Me. I didnt realize it was still open! I used to go for lunch there all the time, and their quality is high with prices 50% less than other greek establishments in town.

                  Another place i used to eat a lot (this is 7 years ago mind you) was Spicy Hut, a food court location in the basement of Canada Place. Just left of the escalators as you went down. Dunno if it's still there or not, but very authentic Indian food (not scrimping on the spices.. real cardamon pods!), and lots of it, for what was 5.50 at the time. Not sure if it's still there or still any good, but maybe someone can check it out sometime.

                  1. re: yen

                    Dream Tea House, 79 & 104 St. :) Still existed in January...

                2. The best food and value in Edmonton is served in its ethnic restaurants. Here are a few more:

                  Lashish, a small Lebanese restaurant off Jasper (on 117th?), excellent shwarma, falafel, shish-anything, very reasonable, good quality. As authentic as it gets in Canada (e.g. no lamb). A must if you enjoy middle-eastern food.

                  Golden Bird and Ninh Kieu, both good Vietnamese restaurants in the same area as Pagolac. Golden Bird spring rolls are legendary

                  Bualong (spelling?) a six table Mom and Pop Thai restaurant on 97th and 106th, probably as authentic as it gets .

                  Saiwoo, excellent Cantonese, open only for dinner, across from the Pagolac. (their deep fried calamari is the benchmark for that dish in Edmonton). Be prepared to wait for a table on weekends.

                  Wasabi, Furusato and Mikado for traditional Japanese, Sankyu for noveau Japanese. Kyoto used to be a good value , but stopped going there because the quality was inconsistent ( a problem with Mikado too, to a lesser degree). Japanese is not inexpensive though unless you stick to lunch dishes or catch an special. (by the way Sankyu just opened a lunch location downtown on Jasper.

                  Good pizza can be found at Pharos ( famous for its spinach pizza) at the south end of the high level bridge, Greek style though.. I haven't been to the Royal and Rosebowl for a while but are often mentioned by others. Tony's is overpriced.

                  The Happy Garden and the Double Greeting, for good inexpensive Sichuan and Cantonese respectively, if you don't mind the decor and the smells.

                  For Din Sum, Mirama downtown has good authentic din sum and prices, the Golden RIce Bowl on Calgary trail North is competent and reasonable, and the Cha For Tea Palace in the west end serves some of the best din sum at a reasonable price in nicer surroundings. The Noodle Noodle convenient location in Chinatown is popular with us Gweilos (non-chinese) and is both overpriced and a notch above mediocre.

                  I don't know of an "italian" restaurant worth recommending, at any price. Ginos’s, the Tasty Tomato, Ill Forno, Allegro, Piccolino, they are all “red sauce” restaurants which are very popular.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: felix the hound

                    Hmm... I found Cha for Tea to be incredibly expensive, and their Ha Gow horrible, although I did like other dishes. I was at Mirama just this past Sunday and they really disappointed in that a lot of regular Dim Sum dishes were either unavailable or had to be special ordered. I did really like their curried squid though; the squid was very tender.

                    Happy Garden - do you mean Spicy Garden or are you referring to someplace else?

                    Pharos has a great whole wheat crust for their pizza. As for Italian, I know there are some people who don't like it but I still say Il Portico is expensive, but good.

                    1. re: anonymoose


                      I believe he means Happy Garden - Parkallen area (southside, between 109 street and 114 street, and 72nd avenue and 63rd avenue). Chinese restaurant in a little strip mall next to a used bookstore and Buns and Roses Organic bakery. I really dislike it, but it's dirt cheap.

                    2. re: felix the hound

                      Um, Felix? Since when was no lamb authentic lebanese?

                      I second Bualong (no idea how it's spelled either), Saiwoo, Wasabi, and Furusato.

                      Rose Bowl Pizza is often good, but sometimes, i think the kitchen staff are too busy partying or not paying attention, is the pizza occasionally is a bit burnt on top. The wait is also quite long. When they do get it right, it's very tasty.

                      I do NOT second Happy Garden, nor Golden bird. After a horrendous experience at Golden Bird (i've eaten there dozens of times), and seeing the state of how they handle meat in the kitchen, i wouldnt go back. I'll concede it is very popular though.

                      1. re: yen

                        La Shish is "as authentic as it gets in Canada" i believe I wrote.The first time I went to Ottawa, which would seem to me has the claim to being the shwarma capital of Canada, I was surprised that I could not get lamb. There seems to be two explanations for this. Ive been told that lamb is not popular with Canadians. I' ve been also told, more than once, by Lebanese-Canadians, that the lamb "that we get here" has a strong smell,.

                        Your comment about the Golden Bird kitchen reminds me of the time I took my father there and made the mistake of parking behind the restaurant and coming in through the kitchen. I was already inmune to it and forgot of the kind of impression that it might make on a new customer. Having said that, there aren't many restaurants in Edmonton that would allow customers to see their kitchen conditions like the Golden Bird does. Had the very popular Rose Garden in the west-end allowed customers in their kitchen maybe it would not have gotten to the point it did. I never ate there, by the way, not because I was prescient, it just didn't look "authentic" enough to me.

                        1. re: felix the hound

                          I don't know if you recall, but you took me through that kitchen so many times, and while it was mildly disturbing, i was willing to deal with it. I eat Asian street food after all. But after the "moving greens" experience with the Bun, it was all over for me.

                          I always preferred Pagolac anyway, regardless of what you and Dean thought :)

                      2. re: felix the hound

                        The Happy Garden, started by Mr Shu, of Mongolian Experience fame, more than 25 years ago. He is the man who introduced green onion cake, mo shoo pork, and sichuan beef to Edmonton, or at least made them popular. He now owns Genghis Khan, making frozen foods sold at some supermarkets, including the best green onion cake around here. The original restaurant, no longer owned by Mr Shu, but with the original cook still around, is near 113 street and 72 nd avenue. Be prepared for 1980 facilities, including sticky plastic tablecloths, funny tasting refrigerated water, and oil smells, all at 1980 prices.

                      3. A student...on a budget...how can you NOT try all you can eat jambalaya at Louisiana Purchase? Spoil yourself with the bread pudding for dessert...but order in advance as they often sell out! Cheers.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ureviewcalgary

                          I thought it was just a cheaper price on Monday and Tuesday nights, not all you can eat?

                        2. A gem joint price-wise and bang for your buck (but not all that ethnic, apart from the Ukrainian breakfast platter) is B's Diner (#6 - 10015 - 82 Ave.) tucked way in the back of an antique mall right near the Fountain Tire on Whyte Ave. Killer breakfasts and lunches, cheap like borscht (they might even serve borscht), cool & quirky clientele, and very pleasant staff and ownership.

                          1. Great posts! I have touched on some of our favourite Edmonton eateries(of which the ethnic restaurants are likley the best dolar value) on another post. I would add Los Comales (Central American/El Salvadoran) with the best pupusas in the city, just north of the downtown and Taste of India in Sherwood Park for the $11.95 all you can eat Indian buffet lunch. The food is always fresh, authentic and good. Lots of good fresh Naan to go along with the well stocked ever changing buffet. If you liked Lagano Skies, try it's older brother Blue Nile for more Ethiopian. Ginseng restaurant near the Grey Nuns Hospital in Millwoods is an alternative to the Bulgogi House (and a bit more autherntic too according to my Korean friends). I miss "Le Charles Mansion" (Yes you read the correctly)...wierd one person chinese food operation on Whyte Ave...four could eat, with beers aflowin' for $80. Great thread!

                            1. There's a tiny little Thai restaurant that's nestled between Yotta Yotta and Tropika on Calgary Trail South and 62nd ave, think it's called Siphay (?) - they have the best Thai I've had in a while.

                              Wasabi in the Lendrum shopping centre (111 st, 57th ave) is one of the better Japanese restaurants in Edmonton, followed closely by Furusato, imo. Wasabi has a great red grapefruit dessert. I went to school with their kids way back when, but I've followed the Yoshida's from the Strathcona Chinatown market over to Lendrum when they moved.

                              My other favorites have all been discussed, but I have to plug Golden Rice Bowl for dim sum, as my fiancee's family are co-owners. They're probably the best dim sum restaurant in Edmonton right now... then again, I might be a little biased. Jumbo isn't too bad for dim sum either..

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: taiphun

                                It's Syphay... Thai and Laos food. The food there struck me as great homemade stuff.

                              2. So I thought that I'd just come back and let you all know how we've done so far. Again, thanks for all of your suggestions, they were excellent.

                                We've tried:
                                - Spinelli's (Italian Centre): great coffee, really good sausage rolls, excellent choice for a quick lunch before shopping
                                - Savoy: not bad for pizza and beer, but we had a pretty bad service experience the first time we went and my SO won't go back; I've since returned and had a better experience, but I don't much like that stretch of Whyte
                                -Wasabi: good sushi, great service, but a little on the expensive side... I think I'll just hold off on sushi until I make it out to Vancouver, where I'm sure things can't compare
                                -Deluxe Burger Bar: burgers were pretty good; would return but won't rush given the cost (we paid about $35 for two, incl tax and tip)
                                -Tree Stone Bakery: not exactly a resto, but the bread and brioche here are fantastic, exactly like I used to buy in Quebec
                                - Kabsa: see my review here - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/436543
                                - Ariana: great family-run Afghani resto that opened in January

                                I'd love to try all of your suggestions, but we're somewhat limited without a car. So, on the list for the near future:
                                - Churros King
                                - Acajulalta
                                - Tropika
                                - B's Diner
                                - Los Comales

                                1. Hey there - I just moved to Vancouver after being in Edmonton for 16 years and I'm all about food so I'm happy to help. All of the locations I’ve picked are also accessible by bus or the LRT.

                                  For authentic Italian, try the Sorrentino's in Little Italy on 108 Ave and 95 Street. Much more rustic than the high-end central location, but that's reflected in the prices too.

                                  If you are into Chinese (both of these are MSG free):

                                  Sam Wok (104 St and 80 Ave in the strop mall by Blockbusters) is my all time fave pick. It’s an Edmonton institution – staying open late on week ends for the after bar crowd and do I mean CROWD! It’s a great lunch spot too. The dumplings ROCK and the Black Bean Chicken Chow Mein is awesome and HUGE! The prices are great and the portions are so large I can usually eat for two days from what I order ;)

                                  For Dim, Sum I highly recommend Noodle Noodle in Chinatown (100 St and 106A Ave). The Lo Mai Gai, Sui Mai and especially the baked and steamed Char Siu Bao have yet to be topped for me and I've looked :) Dim Sum is daily from 11-2, but I would go either Sat. or Sun. as on the week ends they make specialties that you only see on those days. Dim Sum in my opinion is a great option if you’re on a tight budget as the items are priced per, and are a decent portion.

                                  For Middle Eastern:

                                  La Shish is as good as it gets for shwarma in Edmonton. I was sad when they moved from their former more central location but you can find them on Jasper Ave and 118th St, on the north side of Jasper facing 118th. They have lots of other offerings, such as Fatoosh salad, tabouleh and dolmades. It’s more of a lunch spot than a dinner joint.

                                  The BEST deal however (for Middle Eastern) can be found at the Sunbake Pita Bakery on 10728 134 Avenue. This is a tiny little place (they supply most of the shops in Edmonton w/Pita) – but the Lebanese Pizza is amazing. Baked fresh from their pita dough in a wood fired oven, priced at 1.50 it can’t be beat and the lady there churns it out in a bout 5 mins so super fast too! You can either have beef and tomato or spinach and cheese but do try it – or try both, you can afford it ;) Also, the area that the bakery is in is called Little Lebanon. There is a Mediterranean strip mall a few blocks from the there (can't track down the addy but the fold at Sunbake will tell you) to get great stuff like feta, good olive oil, parlsey, olives, chickpeas and such to have your own Medi-feast at home. Also in this strip is a baclava bakery (don't know the name) that is fantastic. Every variety you can think of (pistachio, almond, walnut etc.) and you can buy it by the piece. Last time I went there I got stuck in traffic comming home and the baclava was all gone before I ever got home ;)

                                  Good luck!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                                    Excellent!! Thanks eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife. I'll check them out and let you know how it goes. I'm especially excited about the Middle Eastern recs!

                                    1. re: littlegreenpea

                                      My pleasure - let me know how it goes - I'm missing Sunbake Bakery and the baclava already :)

                                  2. I liked the Cheese Factory somewhere on Whyte near Bonnie Doon Mall. They are a restaurant that makes and sells their own cheeses as well as specializing in Quebecoise and Balkan foods. I'm not really sure what the connection between these two regions is but i was really pleased with the cheese platter and poutine (I lived in Montreal the last two years and ate a lot of poutine so that is saying something).

                                    I've heard they also sell their cheeses at the farmer's market.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: blond_america

                                      Thanks for the rec. I had no idea they did poutine there.

                                    2. try 3 Amigos for authentic Mexican. It's a little hole in the wall type place in Duggan (106st & 40th Ave.) but great tasting food, homemade cornflour tortillas etc.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: nofishy4me

                                        I tried this place this week I would not say it was great tasting food.

                                        1. re: sleepycat


                                          Miso (Stony Plain Rd.) for Japanese.

                                          Dynasty (Calgary Trail NB) for consistent dim sum (the har gao and curry tripe are delish!) I disagree with the other hounds on Noodle Noodle - I found the selection limited and geared towards a downtown Caucasian clientele - in other words, bland and overpriced.

                                          El Rancho for authentic Mexican and Salvadorean fare

                                          Mexico Lindo for true Mexican food

                                          Double Greeting Wonton House - a dive yes, but the best wonton soup in the city and the prices are low! Also, try their beef and green onion hot pot and their crispy yet fluffy green onion cakes.

                                          The Cheese Factory for simple yet very good Yugoslavian food (very friendly owners)

                                          Nhon Hoa in Chinatown for cheap Vietnamese subs (try the assorted)

                                          Tea Cottage (downtown or WEM location) for bubble tea (my fav is the avocado with sago)

                                          Ariana for Afghani food

                                          Sofra for Turkish food

                                          B Bim Baap for Korean

                                          Il Pasticcio for Italian

                                          Happy Noshing!

                                      2. You must, must try Lan's Asian Grill by NAIT. Mostly Thai food. Reasonable pricel. Absolutely amazing. Very charismatic owner - Tom. I guarantee you will become a regular there.