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Edmonton for 1 week

I'm going to be in Edmonton starting next Wednesday for 1 week for work staying at the Fairmont. I haven't decided if I'm going to rent a car yet but would like some suggestions as to the "must go" places for dinner by follow chowhounds. (if all the good eating places require a car, I will rent one!)
Some background info: I travel 80% for work internationally so I eat everything and anything. I'm Chinese and given I go to Asia quite a bit, any suggestions for Asian food must be very authentic (e.g. stinky tofu anyone?). I would like to stick to my expense account (under $50 inclusive) for the meal. It doesn't have to be fancy...as long as the food is awesome!
I plan to go to West Edmonton Mall on the weekend for 1 day too. Is there anything one would suggest I eat there?

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  1. Renting a car is not necessary, but probably a good idea for this city, even getting out the WEM is not easy. Our public transit system is lacking.

    In your price range I would recommend the following, you would probably get a glass of wine too...

    Downtown:
    Bistro Praha (Eastern European)
    Manor cafe
    Soul Soup (great for lunch, homemade soups that change daily)
    Il Portico (Italian)
    The Dish (comfort food)

    University:
    Culina (this is a must IMHO/ecclectic comfort food)
    Da Capo (panini & coffee)
    New York Bagel cafe (breakfast/lunch)
    Red Ox Inn (more expensive)

    West End: (not a lot out here, mainly chains, these are not at WEM, rather on the way)
    Ban Thai
    Huang Long (vietnamese)
    Pico Lino (Italian)

    East: Bacon (this is also a Must IMHO for breakfast or dinner)

    I am sure other chowhounders will have lots of options foe you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cleopatra999

      Can't disagree with any of these recommendations, but would caution that if you are looking for Red Ox near the university, you will be looking for a long time. It is about 20+ blocks east, and going from Hotel Mac you go across one of the bridges on the east side of downtown, whereas the Univ is on the southwest of downtown.

      Not sure if it would be authentic enough, but Bua Thai downtown is very good. I also think you could get a good meal at Unheardof (in Mill Creek, not too far from RedOx) for just over $50. I haven't been there in a couple of years, but have great memories and am going tonight to see if it still holds up.

      1. re: cleopatra999

        Thanks cleopatra999! especially about the heads-up on public transportation. I'll definitely be renting a car for the week then.
        I'm a huge fan of breakfast (whether actually eaten during breakfast or not). So I'll definitely try out Bacon. I've looked it up on the net and is this the right restaurant: www.eatatbacon.com?

        1. re: larafu

          YES...that is the place! they finally have a website!!

          If you love breakfast, you HAVE to go to Culina for it, they make the BEST bacon & eggs in the city (crispy braised pork with mushroom fritatta).

      2. Culina will be pretty handy to your hotel larafu. It's a quick bus ride across the river. That said, I'm not sure it's a must. It's good, but I find the service and aura of the place to be a little pretentious, and I've not been totally blown away by the food.

        Never had the panini at Da Capo. I've heard the coffee is wonderful. As for the pizza, the crust is good, but I find the toppings and two pounds of cheese that's added ruins it. If you want pizza, you may have better luck at Famoso:
        http://famosopizzeria.com/

        Bistro Praha is one of my faves around here, but I haven't been for awhile.

        Red Ox is a definite hit if you want a higher-end meal. In my experience, the food and service were near flawless. You'll need a car/cab to get there though.

        I've never had anything good to eat at WestEd, though that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Lots of chain restos out there though.

        Also, you may wish to check out the Tree Stone Bakery (in the same neighborhood as Culina). They have absolutely wonderful breads, but if you're on the run pick up a brioche with brandied raisins.

        I'd also like to add Langano Skies to the list. It's down the street from Tree Stone, on Whyte; also very accessible to your hotel. Delicious Ethiopian food, and it won't break the bank.

        I suggest you look into renting a car while you're here. The public transit system, as cleopatra999 said, is lacking, and things are a little spread out here.

        1. If you are staying at the Mac and on foot, I woulld say these are downtown spots to hit:
          - the Harvest Room in your hotel. Lovely, but pricey.
          - Bistro Praha -- have the fried cheese or european weiners, and lots of coffee
          - Four Rooms -- in the Edmonton Centre shopping centre, but don't be put off. It is really quite good, and a pretty diverse menu
          - Madison's in the Union Bank Inn. Again lovely and pricey. But great service.
          - Khazana -- very good tandoori and nice service
          - the Creperie - good French-style crepes and other savoury treats. This is a real bargain for the quality of food and services.
          -

          West Edmonton Mall area - I have no idea.

          1. Wild Tangerine on 104th Ave at around 112th or 113rd St. It's an Asian fusion place but by no means is it trying to be authentic. You can appreciate it for what it is.

            Also downtown is La Shish, on Jasper Ave. Great Middle Eastern food.

            1. Don't forget Sofra - it's a little Turkish place that's about a $6 cab ride from the Fairmont - on a night you don't feel like driving. THE best homemade hot fresh pita you'll ever have. I just went back there last weekend, the adana (Turkish spiced meat) skewer and lamb chops were amazing and quite well priced ($18-22)...

              Sofra
              10345 106 Street NW

              1 Reply
              1. re: alau2

                Thanks for the suggestion! I traveled to Turkey last year and loved the food there but have not been able to find a decent Turkish place near me. I will definitly try out Sofra!

                Thanks fellow chowhounds! I will definitely report back after my trip!

              2. Larafu,

                I'd skip Asian in Edmonton. Certainly nothing for true authenticity, except for a few Cantonese dishes. And if you're looking regional, you won't find it. It's all peking/canton/shanghai/szechuan cuisine all lumped onto one menu. Thai...no. Vietnamese is ok, but without the simple clear flavour notes you get in asia. Japanese is deplorable. NO Taiwanese restaurants to speak of.

                However, all is not lost! There are lots of places worth eating at. My recommendations (most already recommended by people on this thread) for my favorite places include:

                Sofra - Turkish (unlike alau2, im not a huge adana kabob fan - i like the kofke). Pita is a must. Red Pepper dip is the best one of the lot.
                Bistro Praha - Czech
                Culina - great bistro
                New York Bagel Cafe - breakfast (my favorite eggs benedict)
                Red Ox Inn - fine dining
                Sage - good piece of Canadian Prime beef
                Dadeo's - comfort cajun food
                Churros King - pretty decent South American
                Hardware Grill - i still havent had any problems here, though many people on the board have. It's the most expensive restaurant in town though. $50 would only cover entree...
                Madisons Grill you might be able to do for $50... that'd be pushing it though.

                Near your hotel, there are several other places that, in a hurry, are worth going to.
                Four Rooms has decent Tapas.
                Soul Soup has good soup.

                La Shish is ok, but not great imo. Parkallen is a lot more expensive, but better. Im not a huge fan of Wild Tangerine.

                As for West Edmonton, sadly, the mall itself is devoid of most decent food choices. Its either food court, or overpriced chain outlet. I usually eat at the food court, or inside the T&T Chinese Supermarket, they have a bunch of takeout options that are ok in a pinch. If you head north on 170 Street (which is the eastern border of West Ed mall), you will come across a 6 or 7 block radius of restaurants, mostly chains. In that area, I know a lot of people like Dante's, but i dont. That does give you options though.
                My favorite donair shop in Edmonton is near West Edmonton Mall (Stony Plain road and somewhere between 161 and 163 street, south side of the road), called Mr Donair. If you're at all squeamish, i'd avoid it. But it tastes really good :)

                If you're up for a long drive, deep south (34th Avenue between 103 street and 91st street) has a bunch of good Indian/Pakistani.

                Anyways, enjoy.