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Edmonton Restaurants

I notice there aren't a lot of Edmonton posts on here. Just moved here a month ago and here are a few places I've had good meals:

Gabbana (on Jasper next to Sicilian Pasta Kitchen)
- nice original choices in the "asian fusion" type category...e.g. kai lan served as a side with beef

Flavours (on Whyte Ave.)

Wild Tangerine (104th Ave. & about 112th St., same plaza as Starbucks)

Sicilian Pasta Kitchen (on Jasper Ave. & about 112th St.)
- nothing earth shattering here, but very solid execution, fresh pasta, nice salads, and thin-crust pizza (which seems to be hard to find out here....every other pizza I've tried in Edmonton has a very thick "pan" type crust)

Bua Thai (same plaza as Sicilian Pasta Kitchen)

Anybody agree? Disagree? There are almost a million people in Edmonton. There should be way more posts on this board, but Calgary, Vancouver, and Whistler seem to steal the show.

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  1. egon61:

    Don't disagree at all. I think the reason Calgary and Vancouver dominate is because both have a number of passionate "foodies" who enjoy posting and quite frankly, a much more dynamic food sector.

    Edmonton has, in my view, been in a bit of a funk when it comes to dining. The sizzling economic scene in Calgary with all the downtown development has encouraged new restaurants to open.

    I dine better when out of town on business or pleasure. We tend to go for lunches or early dinners rather fine dining so have not, for example, been to either Jack's Grill nor Hardware Grill for a number of years.

    Culina was a good addition but on the week-ends their Saturday lunch for example is primarily egg based, more what I associate with Sunday brunch which I usually avoid. Living in the west end I am unlikely to effectively drive back downtown for dinner.

    Wild Tangerine that you mentioned was a popular spot for us, the shrimp popsicles and marinated octoupos salad in particular were terrific.

    Out in the west end, dining is dominated by the chains i.e. Moxie's, Earls', The Chop, The Keg, Sawmill and the like which even when they provide solid food and at least in the case of Earls' decent priced wine options usually don't inspire anyone to write a report or review....a bigger better burger is a bigger better burger and chicken wings are chicken wings even though the ones grilled at The Chop [Moxie's effort and upper end steak house] are better than average.

    Otherwise not much else. Ok, you have Theo's Koutouki Ouzeria but I am tired of western Canadian "traditional" Greek. I would "kill" for simply spiced and cooked grilled fish rather than deep fried this and that. I have not tried the New Asian Village outlet off 100 Ave.

    I popped in for appetizers and some wine at T-Zin on 104th Street adjacent to deVines Wine Store, Kelsey Danyluk is a dynamic, fun person and I think they will do well but they are so tiny at present. Much more accessible for the condo dwellers and locals of the 104th Street and Jasper Ave area.

    I like Sorrentino's but their Wolf Willow location just does not excite me anymore even with the Garlic Festival now underway.

    Has anyone been to old stand-bys like the Red Ox Inn or the Unheardof?

    What about the Blue Pear? I have not been since it was Anjou years and years ago.

    Oh well, time to walk my dogs and maybe get some inspiration of where to go for lunch on this Easter Monday.

    I look forward to hearing of your "finds" here in the "Chuk"!

    1. There are many very good restaurants in Edmonton...what would you like? For Ethiopian food, the Blue Nile, for Central American fare, try Los Comales, Mexican? Acajulta, for Indian, the best is in Sherwood Park (eastern suburb of the City) at Taste of India, high end burger? DeLUX burger, Dadeos on Whyte for Southern US delights, There is a fabulous Turkish place (forget the name at the moment) on the Avenue of Nations if memory serves. There are many excellent restaurants in the area, they are, admittendly, harder to find then they should be. Greek? Grub Med. Sushi? Tokyo Express on Whyte or Matsuya in Sherwood Park. Czech? Bistro Praha on Rice Howard way in the Downtown core...best steak tartar I have ever had, anywhere, fabulous steaks and chicken too...or just around the corner from the Bistro is Table de Renoir for frogs legs and other French staples (the owner is a grandson of THE Renoir with his (the owner's ) art on display and for sale). Culina off 99th is incredible and consistent...my eldest loves the chocolate sauce on the steak. The Sunday family dinners there are "family style" with big plates of food for sharing on offer fFixed menu, like at home!)and the Unheard of (operated by the Heard family) on Whyte is another. City standards like Jack's Grill on 111th St., the Hardware Grill are world class. Supper at Characters (especially if you treat the appetizers as tapas) is a fine experience as is the restaurant at NAIT (Ernest's). The Red Ox is as imaginative as always. Stay away from the much heralded, mostly lousy Harvest Room at the Hotel MacDonald. No need to hit the chains.

      Edmonton is a feast, literally, with many world class places to eat. We know, we have eaten in many Michelin starred and other restuarant in other cities...I will take Jack's Grill over Bouchon any day. There is no embarassment to be had by the culinary community in this fine city. Albertans love to eat out. There are many eating and drinking festivals like Indulgence (next month) celebrating local food.

      I will try to keep my eye on this forum and will do my (our) best to answer queries in a timely fashion. OH...just read the query below about the Blue Pear....love it! They offered us an amuse bouche on outr last visit that we use for guests....watermelon rounds with homemade fennel salt...easy, different and just odd ennough to impress the guests. Speaking of Blue..the Blue Chair just south of Whyte...small, inventive menu. Worth the trip!...I will stop now, but it is hard to contain my enthusiasm as a local foodie (well 6 of us actually!)...the Edmonton area has much to offer.

      8 Replies
      1. re: foodiesnorth

        Ouch! Tokyo Express for SUSHI? You mean McSushi? Sorry but that just hurts lol. Maybe it's just b/c I've been in Vancouver for a few months now, but McTokyo - I mean Tokyo Express for sushi, it just hurts me to hear that :( Have you tried Tokyo Noodle shop?

        1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

          I concur! The staff at Tokyo Exress don't speak English so trying to communicate with them what you want is impossible. I asked if they would make the maki fresh as the last time the dynamite roll and alberta were not holding too well. They refused to do that. So I said ok forget the order. I was only there since the other resturants were too far for takeout.

          1. re: sleepycat

            It reminds me of the two ladies in the Catskill resort; one complains - "the food is not very good" - "Yes" , the other comiserates, "and the portions are so small...".

            Fortunately there are plenty of good Sushi restaurants in Edmonton, comparable to most Canadian cities except Vancouver (e.g. Tojo's): Sankyu, Furusato, Wasabi, in the first tier, Mikado, Kyoto, Miso, etc. among others. Tokyo Express is just what its name indicates, fast food sushi when you are in a hurry.

            1. re: felix the hound

              Update Dec 2008- Sankyu at Jasper Place changed owners and is no more- Sankyu To Go downtown remains, but it is not the same quality (fast sushi counter)

          2. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

            There isn't a Tokyo Express ON Whyte Ave so maybe foodiesnorth meant Tokyo Noodle House (I think..) on the Ave.

            1. re: Garnetgirl

              You mean I am taking all this abuse from people including my spouse for nothing!!!...the place I meant is right beside the Artisan Bakery on Whyte Ave. Paddy's cheese used to be int he same buidling until they relocated to High Street. I have eaten there (the suchi place) a few times and rather enjoyed the food. I have to admit that anything with "Express", "International" or "Buffet" in the name never attracts my attention. I feel better knowing that I had the name wrong.

              1. re: foodiesnorth

                It's one up from Tokyo Express. Still quite pricey, I'd rather go to a real Japanese resturant.

          3. re: foodiesnorth

            Ouch! Tokyo Express for SUSHI? You mean McSushi? Sorry but that just hurts lol. Maybe it's just b/c I've been in Vancouver for a few months now, but McTokyo - I mean Tokyo Express for sushi, it just hurts me to hear that :(

            Have you tried Tokyo Noodle shop on Whyte? Sushi made to order and the BEST ramen I've ever had.

          4. Two little-mentioned additions to the list:

            * Da Capo, on 109 north of the Garneau Theatre -- a cappucino place with excellent, creative grilled sandwiches and very good pastries. And first rate coffee.

            * Old Szechuan on 107th Ave x 103 St. I lived in Sichuan for a while, and this is by far the most authentic Sichuanese food I've tasted in North America. If you're an adventurous eater and don't need elegant decor, this is a real find.

            7 Replies
            1. re: David Kahane

              Da Capo has some tasty pizzas too, but they really need to step up their service. Far too aloof and inconsiderate of their diners. Plus, they refuse to serve water in anything but a commercial bottle. Extraordinary.

              1. re: David Kahane

                Agreed regarding Old Szechuan. I live in Waterloo now, but whenever I'm heading back to Edmonton that's one of the must visits.

                I've lived in Edmonton for the majority of my life, I have never been to any of the more expensive restaurants but here's my picks for what its worth:

                Chinese - Golden Rice Bowl, Wokkery (their cripsy chicken Fung Sah Gye is the best anywhere), Jumbo, Old szechuan
                Japanese - Furusato or Zen if you're looking for All you can eat sushi
                Vietnamese - Nihn Kieu for pho
                Thai - There's a TINY little place on 97th street near lucky 97... seats about 4 tables of 4, but they have amazing food and it's always busy.. Unfortunately I don't know the name.
                Italian - Piccolino's, Scicilian Pasta Kitchen on the South side
                Cajun - Dadeo's
                Burger - Tasty Tom's on Whyte (I love their garlic mushroom burger)
                Greek - Kantouki Taverna on the west end

                Other noteworthy places
                Blue Plate Diner

                Having been in Ontario for 4 months now, I'll say that the places in Edmonton rival the places here -- that is to say, I have not found any restaurants here that are far and away better than those in Edmonton... yet. The search continues though :)

                1. re: kashirat

                  Out of curiosity, what part of Ontario are you in? It could make a big difference.

                  I have heard great things about Tasty Tom's on Whyte, as well as the Thai place you mention -- I still have to give those a shot.

                  Good luck in exploring out east!!

                  1. re: littlegreenpea

                    I'm in Waterloo, but I've driven into Hamilton a couple times and Toronto 4 or 5 times. Granted, I haven't had the chance to sample too many of the restaurants.

                    1. re: kashirat

                      I'm not too familiar with the Waterloo area, so I can't be of much help to you. Do browse the Ontario board though - there are lots of folks who'll be happy to help you out. And get out there and eat!! Good luck.

                      1. re: kashirat

                        Have you tried The Mongolian Grill yet? It's one of my favourite places to eat in KW.

                    2. re: kashirat

                      The tiny Thai restaurant you refer to is probably the Bualong. The woman who owns and cooks there encouraged her friend to open a restaurant and so we have her to thank for Viphalay.

                  2. I agree with the first and second postings - not so many Edm postings, due to the fact that there are not as many hard core food lovers. I just moved to Vancouver after 16 yrs. in Edm and still love to chat about my Edmonton favourites.

                    My picks:

                    Dim Sum - Noodle Noodle (best Char Siu Bao ever, even in Van!)
                    Cantonese - Sam Wok
                    Sushi/Japanese - Tokyo Noodle Shop
                    Steak - Mirabelle (wicked bearnaise)
                    Italian - tie bet. Il Portico and Sorrentino's
                    Greek - Koutouki South (amazing Moussaka)
                    Indian - Punjabi Sweets (best food/price) and Jewel of Kashmir (fine dining, bit more pricey)
                    Arabic - La Shish Sunbake Pita Bakery
                    Weekend Brunch - Coast Hotel on 105
                    High end/fine regional - Jack's Grill
                    Character/formal - Lingnan (love the 50's placemats)
                    Burger - tie bet. Atlantic Trap 'n' Gill Big Arse burger and Marriott on Jasper's burger
                    Steals 'n' deals - Russian Tea room, 3.00 breakfast, Sunbake Pita Bakery, 1.50 Lebanese pizza.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                      Ooohhh...Lingnan's is still alive and well after all these years??? That is great news. On my next trip west I will definitely not miss it!!!

                      1. re: LoN

                        Yes they still have the awesome place mats too. Get a cocktail - be suave. Just not Rico Suave :)

                        Don't you love the marble hot plates?

                    2. I think that Edmonton has a very inconsistent food scene that has, like most parts of the economy, been hurt by an inability to get and keep staff. Even some of my favourite places seem to be spottier than they were 2 years ago. But there are still a few places that I think stack with the best in Western Canada. I would include Bacon, Madison's in the Union Bank Inn, Red Ox Inn, and Bistro Praha on that list.

                      I think there are several Vietnamese places that have very good food, but they are not always the best for atmosphere or service. I still can not think of any Mexican place that wows me and I ate Don Antonio's 2 weeks ago.

                      Any sadly it is hard to think of place that consistently serves good prime rib that is not way over priced.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pengcast

                        That's a good thought. The labour market definitely has a big effect on the quality of dining experience. I arrived here two years ago, just after Edmonton got hit. At my first meal here my fries were still frozen in the centre. We were given the impression that it was the cook's first day -- it was also the server's first day.

                        I'm not really in a position to compare those restos with the rest of Western Canada, but I did really enjoy the Red Ox. I may have enjoyed it less if I was picking up the tab; I'm not really sure what it cost. I also like Bistro Praha, though I think that has more to do with me than with it.

                      2. My guess is that there isn't a lot of Edmonton posts on here because there aren't a lot of Edmonton restaurants that really would encourage posting. It's hard for me to get excited about dining in Edmonton, or even about the food items available in the stores here. Weekend trips to Calgary or Vancouver keep things liveable around my house! ;-)

                        Anyhow, there are a few places that I adore, for their consistency (something that seems to lack at times in Edmonton, and don't tell me it's because of staffing, Calgary has the same issue but is very consistent) their originality (Edmontonians love their chains, and their basic dishes). We really lack anyone who is willing to try something innovative like tasting or rotating menus and perhaps it is because the market doesn't demand it. I'm not sure.

                        My picks are:
                        La Shish - Amazingly flavourful, bang on dishes. Get the plates to be satisfied for atleast dinner and lunch the next day. My only complaint is they do not use Sunbake pitas, the best in the city.

                        Tony's or Pizza Boys pizza - light, great dough with punchy toppings. Their pastas aren't bad either, but I prefer...

                        Il Portico for pasta. Lunch is a different game, but this is one of the top restaurants in Edmonton for dinner because of their careful attention to detail, rotating menus and seasonal ingredients. Also fantastic just for dessert.

                        New York Bagel Cafe - for brunch. God forbid you go at 11am on a sunny summer Sunday though, you'll never get in. They serve their brunch every day, go and have their Bon Ton bagels and home made cream cheeses with freshly brewed coffees and espressos.

                        Blue Nile Ethiopian isn't in the easiest to get to location, but they knock the socks off of Langano Skies. The spicing and injera are fab, and you don't have to deal with crowds of vegetarian university students. Another fave that is neglected is Mebrat Cafe.

                        Sage - Again, off the beaten track a bit. A place I often dream of at night when I want a steak. Their steaks are good, if pricey, but the well executed sides are really where it's at. Nothing fussy, but all well done. Try the sweet potato fries.

                        Dim Sum - After trying many places in Edmonton, Vancouver, Bangkok etc etc, I've decided the best it's going to get it Cha for Tea in the west end. You don't have to fight crowds if you go relatively early, unlike, say, Golden Rice Bowl, and the items are not oversteamed. They also do special dishes they will come around with (for instance, an octopus treatment for Chinese New Year) and they do not peddle the same items on rotation after rotation of the carts.

                        Ernest's at NAIT - Finally dined here this year; not for the well attended lunch buffet, though. The service was really fussy, the students are new to it and want to be perfect, but it's charming. Again, they rotate their menu and use local ingredients, which I can really get behind. MORE OF THIS IN EDMONTON!

                        I've tried Bacon and been extremely underwhelmed and somewhat ripped off. The concept was great and I was excited to try it out, but was left feeling sad and like the place is just try hard that is popular because it's stylish and has a yuppie fan base. Doesn't pull through in practice.

                        I've dined at unheardof and Blue Pear and while the food was alright, I was disappointed with the service. Somewhat arrogant and show offy; which is unfortunate because Blue Pear is one of the few places that has a new menu every month and keeps challenging itself. I will have to try it again and hope for a less stuffy atmosphere.

                        I should add I just tried MOR Turkish Cuisine in the west end the other night and was blown away. The flavours are great, there are homemade and shipped in ingredients (their soujouk sausage is housemade) and it is nice to see a newer place around. Another newish place is Way of Life, downtown. Only open for lunch; and only serve vegan food. But, she does dishes well, doesn't get too fancy and uses fresh ingredients. Better than most other restaurants in Edmonton, and they do not have the same restrictions on ingredients! I'd like to try Wildflower Grill as well, but I'm disappointed they are associated with L'Azia. I'm worried they'll settle to pandering to office tower lunchers and fade away after a year or two.

                        Of course, it's hard to make me happy about anything right now after spending two months in Tokyo and Bangkok, and then some time in Austin, Texas. I sure hope other cities know how good they have things.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kazzy

                          I couldn't agree more.

                          Can I add Tree Stone Bakery to that list (since you mention food items)? I know it's not a restaurant, but it's the only thing that can keep me going sometimes. I will dearly miss it when I leave.

                        2. Blue Pear and Hardware Grill are still the restaurants I enjoy the most for especial occasions, Jack's Grill has gone mainstream and their menu ( and execution) has declined consistently over the years. I have not been to Characters yet, somehow it has no appeal to me, maybe it is the memory of so many meals that were not worth the price that keeps me away from a new experience. That, and inconsistency, is a common problem in many of Edmonton's restaurants. We usually wait for our periodic trips to Vancouver to go "high end"

                          There is, however, a wealth of competent and fairly priced "ethnic" restaurants: Vietnamese (e.g. Golden Bird, Pagolac, Ninh Kieu; Tau Bay); Chinese (e.g. Saiwoo, Golden Rice Bowl, Cha for Tea); Japanese (e.g. Sankyu, Furusato, Wasabi); Thai (e.g. Viphalay, Bualong, Bua Thai, Siphay); Lebanese ( e.g. La Shish , Westgate Halal deli); Turkish ( e.g. MOR). Foodiesnorth has listed a few more ( Ethiopan, Indian, Latino American) on his/her post below. I must confess however that have not yet found a mexican restaurant worth writing about in Edmonton ( Acajutcla is not Mexican as far as i know).
                          Have not yet found an exceptional "italian " restaurant either, at any price. Hope somebody has a good tip in this regard.

                          Lastly, one of Edmonton's best kept secrets, you should try the "Popeye" pizza at Pharos. Not sure what style of pizza it corresponds to, maybe it is in a category all by itself.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: felix the hound


                            For Italian try Piccolino's or Il Pasticcio.

                            For Mexican - I would suggest El Rancho or Mexico Lindo.

                            Happy Noshing!

                            1. re: felix the hound

                              Good Mexican is hard to find in a lot of places in Canada. It's especially a constant gripe on the Ontario board. Have you tried the steam table at El Paraiso Tropical on Saturdays? It's not a sit-down meal, but I've found it to be pretty damn good!

                              1. re: felix the hound

                                If we're talking about Vietnamese restaurants, I'm surprised I never see the Lemongrass Cafe on the list. I hadn't heard about it until a friend moved nearby, but it's quite a nice little place that seems to be Vietnamese with a few Thai flavours and dishes. (My favorite has to be their chicken and mango red curry)

                                1. re: Sylv F

                                  Sylv F:

                                  It has been quite awhile since my last and as it turned out, only visit to the Lemongrass Cafe. My interest had been piqued by an article in one of the Edmonton newspapers which complemented the food but spent some time on their wine list and interest in providing wines that would complement the food.

                                  We went for lunch. Our food was at best "ok". I only recollect having lemongrass chicken and the special which was tempura tuna and something I have known better than order in a Vietnamese restaurant.

                                  I do remember the wine. A sauvignon blanc from CA I had bought from the Wine and Spirits store run by Gurvinder Bhatia [sp?] on Jasper Ave so I knew what I was ordering and how it should taste.

                                  It was corked or otherwise tainted and I sent it back requesting another. The initial response I received from our server after she had spoken to a gentleman behind the bar [not the female chef/owner who the newspaper article had referred to] was, "...that is the way this vintage tastes". Wrong answer. We won't go back.

                                  1. re: Bob Mac

                                    I'm sorry to hear you had troubles with the wine and the server. I always get either the iced coffee or plain old water there, so I can't say if they've improved or not. I don't even think I've even seen tempura tuna or anything even like it on their menu, so they must have changed it around quite a bit indeed.

                                    1. re: Bob Mac

                                      This brings back memories of a dinner at what might have been one of the first upscale Chinese restaurants in Tel Aviv (many many years ago, I was only 24) and I sent back two bottles of the same white wine, one after the other, for allegedly the same reason, and the owner came and told me he could not tell the difference and implored me to order a different wine. To be honest, I am not sure now that I could tell then either, and I still feel a little guilty when I remember it.

                                2. My wife was at Wildflower and said the food was great, the decor was uncomfortable along with the prices.

                                  Other suggestions in St Albert. Try the River House. Especially in the summer during market season.
                                  Louisa and Nellos for Italian in St Albert

                                  There is a new East Indian Restaurant in St Albert but I haven't been able to get in yet.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Timeats

                                    "Decor was uncomfortable" [?] How so?

                                    Yes, the prices are high.

                                    1. re: Bob Mac

                                      Seats were uncomfortable and smallish

                                  2. I love a few of the places already mentioned (Red Ox Inn! Table de Renoir) but noticed that a few that I like have yet to be mentioned:
                                    - Normand's: because I like meat, and that is really what they do, and also I like that Norm actually is on site and comes around to say hello. (on Jasper by the Druid)
                                    - 4th and Vine: food has been good, and there are some different selections like a duck salad (Oliver Square)
                                    - It's all Greek to me: cheaper than many of the other Greek places at lunch, I love that their tzasiki is made with a bit of sour cream like I make mine (Rice Howard Way)
                                    - Laganos Skies: Good ethiopean. I can't compare to Blue Nile since I have never been, but this place is very affordable (Whyte down by 99 st)

                                    1. I have to add, mainly because I have found the best steakhouse in edmonton and it apparently has been kept a secret!! Vic's Steakhouse in the Mayfield Inn and Suites is absolutely phenomenal. I've been there several times and every time my jaw drops with how good the food is!! The steaks are so far above Ruth's Chris, Chop, the Keg...they're not even comparable. The menu is quite creative although not the best for vegetarians with only one vegetarian dish. But seriously...try this restaurant. AMAZING!!
                                      In addition to Vic's, for thai I really like the Boun Thai which is just off of Jasper on 107 Street. For Sunday brunch, make reservations at Cafe de Ville on 124 Street...they really go the extra mile and the food is fantastic. Really busy though so reservations are required. Happy Eating!