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Aug 6, 2010 10:14 AM

New and/or Overlooked Dining Gems in EDMONTON

My partner and I just returned from NYC and are refreshed and excited by the culinary experiences we had there. Of course, few places rival NYC for experimentation and finesse, but I'm hoping you can help us find some.

We dine out regularly but have grown tired of our usual spots. I know there must be places out there that we have yet to discover. We are interested in both fine dining places and holes-in-the wall places.

Any suggestions to help us continue to explore and appreciate Edmonton's foodie scene much appreciated!

For your reference, places we frequently dine and, although like very much, have tired of: Culina Millcreek, Culina Highlands, Red Ox Inn, Ruth's Chris, Wildflower, Cafe Select, Urban Diner, Pub 1905, Century Grill, Hardware Grill, New Asian Village, Characters, Tony's Pizza, Skinny Legs, Delux, Tasty Tomato, Taste of Ukraine, The Hat

Places we have been and are not keen on: Blue Pear, Blue Plate, Lazia, Sabor Divino, Khazana, 100, Creperie, Pazzo Pazzo (love it, but even their marinara and veggie sauces have meat in them so not an option for me), Manor Cafe, Suede

What are we missing!?

Many thanks.

Urban Diner
12427 102 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5N, CA

Cafe Select
10018 106st, Edmonton, AB T5J 1G1, CA

Blue Pear Restaurant
10643 123 Street, Edmonton, AB T5N 1P3, CA

Culina Millcreek
9914-89 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 2S7, CA

Century Grill & Bar
3975 Calgary Trail, Edmonton, AB T6J 6S6, CA

Red Ox Inn
9420 91 Street, Edmonton, AB T6C 3P4, CA

The Creperie
10220 - 103 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0Y8, CA

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  1. You could try Don Antonio's on 124 Street for great Mexican food in a hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. They have a decent selection of vegetarian options. I like to support these small family owned places.

    7 Replies
    1. re: MrsCris

      You definitely hit all the best places, I will try to help a bit though

      Do you like Jack's? they have a new owner/chef. I loved it as it was (have not been since the change) It gets very mixed reviews here.

      Packrat Louie
      Flavours (hit & miss, but worth a try)
      Manor Cafe
      Il Violino
      Cafe de Ville
      Sage (at River Cree)
      Von's (again mixed reviews, I have always had a decent meal)
      Mexico Lindo (got great reviews on our RROTM)
      Park Allen
      The Melting Pot (another RROTM, loved it!! even though it is a chain)
      Cafe Mosaic (casual vegetarian)
      Padmani (also Vegetarian)

      Packrat Louie
      10335 - 83rd Ave, Edmonton, AB T6E 2C6, CA

      Melting Pot
      2920 Calgary Trail, Edmonton, AB T6J, CA

      1. re: cleopatra999

        Thanks so much!

        @MrsCris: we are desperate for good Mexican food and are going to head there tonight.

        @Cleo: I've tried most on your list except Cafe de Ville (my mom rec it too), Il Violino, Sage, Mexico Lindo, Padmani, Melting Pot and Sofra. That's a lot of new places to check out! Thanks so much. Oh, and re: Flavours, I agree w. you that it was hit and miss but now it's gone--replaced by a beer joint :( Also, I love PA's new makover--it was so overdue!

        Re: Sage--I read in some reviews that it was very smoky due to poor ventilation--was that your experience?

        Once again--thanks so much!

        Melting Pot
        2920 Calgary Trail, Edmonton, AB T6J, CA

        1. re: MsHayworth

          As I was just at Sage at River Cree last week for our anniversary dinner, I'll chime in. I did not find the restaurant smoky at all - I tried, and I couldn't smell the cigarette smoke at all while seated in the restaurant. Walking through the smoking sections of the casino is another story - it's really bad, so you should be prepared for that. But if you walk around the casino and don't go into the smoking areas, I think you'll be fine.
          As for the food, it was really very good, with excellent, friendly service. We had a roasted beet salad (very nice) and on recommendations from others, we had the crispy spicy calamari.I don't order calamari often (very rarely in fact) but this was excellent. A heaping mound of crispy super tender thick slices of calamari served with a medium spicy chipotle mayo. Yum.
          For mains, MrCris had the double cut sterling pork chop, which came with whipped potatoes (oh my - excellent) and bok choy. He devoured the whole plate. I had the fettucini with scampi style shrimp in a creamy lemon sauce. It was really excellent - luxuriously rich with notes of lemon and huge tender shrimp.
          Portions were generous but not stupid - I couldn't finish my main but only because I just couldn't stop eating the calamari. Great wine list.
          I'd recommend Sage in a minute.

          1. re: MsHayworth

            for me (I have not been there in a year), I found it depended on where I sat, just ask for a table at the back of the restaurant.

            re. Cafe de Ville, I like it best for lunch or breakfast

            1. re: cleopatra999

              I agree...do not sit near the door as the smoke 'drifts'. In the back is fine.

              1. re: cleopatra999

                I've had lunch at Cafe de ville too. Loved it!

              2. re: MsHayworth

                I went to El Ranchero this weekend on 118Avenue by the Handy Bakery, and the food was great. Probably the best mexican/Salvadorian I have had in the city. I think they do the Pupusas at the taste of edmonton.

          2. A few places that are more "hole-in-a-wall" types:

            Pagolac - I like the Bun Bo Hue there (spicy pho noodles made with pork hock)
            Boualong Laos - I've been a couple times and quite liked it but found the location too tiny (barely fit 3 tables). However several of my friends highly recommends the new location that's apparently more spacious?

            Also because you have a two of my fav indian restaurants mentioned (NAV and Khazana), I'll also add that Zaika has become one of my favs in Edmonton. I love their fish pakora (doesn't taste like fish at all, more like fried chicken). Also I find their butter chicken to have more depth in tandoori flavour than others.

            Another place that I've plugged on this board in the past but remains a regular spot in our rotation of restaurants is Red Star pub. I truly believe this is one of Edmonton's hidden gems. The chef - Daniel Costa makes simple, rustic, Italian. He took my fav item off (Polpette made with chicken and porcini garnished with truffled creme fraiche) but replaced it with another super yummy dish - the Pembina Pork Pasta... I would bathe in this pasta if I could. Overlook the grungy pub atmosphere for the great crostini's and fresh ingredients.

            1. Murietta's West Coast Bar and Grill on Whyte ave for sure. Not sure why no one talks about this place. The food is so good, great wine list and cocktails, lots of good local beers on tap, live music on weekends, good service....

              Really, really good value for lunch especially. MMM, flatbreads.

              10 Replies
              1. re: upsidedownorchid

                Have to disagree with you on this one, always found Murietta's (in each city) underwhelming and overpriced. JMHO. They do have a good location though.

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  I have to back Cleo and say every experience at Murietta's is underwhelming.

                  1. re: raidar

                    I concur with the last two posters but have not been back to the Whyte Avenue location for quite some time.

                    Nice "physical plant" in addition to the location as is the case with the Stephen's Avenue venue in Calgary above the Cellar wine store. I have eaten at the latter probably more often than here in Edmonton.

                    Had lunch there on a Saturday when there were not a heck of a lot of options in the area. Ordered the halibut and requested it be "underdone" and I am one of those people who prefers his halibut just barely over opaque so that it flakes off in pieces that melt in ones mouth ... you do not need a knife to cut it.

                    Good server told the chef and came back indicating the chef said, "we cook our fish to the temperature recommended by their suppliers"....I laughed, poured myself another glass of wine and in effect said "whatever".

                    It turned out to be ok, but still overdone. Server as an aside said he was confused by the reply but I think of that every time I order halibut...what were they afraid I was going to contract? [smile]...it was not as if ...God forbid...I wanted a medium rare hamburger. Horrors!!!!! Call the health inspectors..............

                    1. re: Bob Mac

                      Good server could have at least topped up your wine!

                      1. re: Dan G

                        That is really wierd, cause they do a lot of rare ahi tuna, they suggest doing their duck breast mid rare, and will do a steak blue rare... I'm really curious about the halibut now. I'll have to try ordering that "underdone" and see what happens.

                      2. re: Bob Mac

                        Oh Bob, you are not alone in your preferences!

                        1. re: Bob Mac

                          I was curious enough to drop by Murietta's today, and while I didn't order halibut ( was there for breakfast) , I talked to the management there, and it really sounds like your 'good server' wasn't and probably didn't actually ask the kitchen. They normally prepare their fish medium to medium rare, but will cook it just the way you prefer (even if you want it *shudder* extra well done.)

                          How long ago did this happen? Wondering if it's staff that is no longer there, cause it doesn't sound like it would happen now.

                          1. re: upsidedownorchid


                            I was talking about the Calgary location on Stephen Avenue in the old Alberta Hotel [?] building not the Whyte Ave. spot here in Edmonton.

                            It was two summers ago as my wife was attending a craft show in the Calgary Convention Centre close by and Centini and Divino Wine and Cheese were not open for lunch.

                            ...and yes I know the server spoke to the kitchen as I saw him do it as the kitchen, again in Calgary, is quite open.

                            1. re: Bob Mac

                              Ahhhhh..... I guess I assumed that since this was an Edmonton thread it was about the Edmonton location, and didn't catch your switch to the Calgary location. How silly of me. That makes so much more sense now. Different chefs, managers and suppliers.

                              Thanks for clearing that up, it really was bugging me, cause it's one of my favorite places and it just didn't sound right.

                              I've only been to the Calgary location once. It was nice, but I only had drinks, shared some appies and dessert. The dessert did blow my mind there though- baked Alaska and banana's foster. Mmmm.

                      3. re: cleopatra999

                        I've always found Murrietta's in Canmore very good, but tend to stay away in the city to eat at "EAT LOCAL" supported restaurants

                    2. Has anyone made it over to Minimango in summerside? It's near the Save on Foods (same parking lot as the new Brewsters). I don't know if it was open yet but, a few weekends ago when we stopped by another store near by, I grabbed a take out menu and noticed supplies stacked all over the place like it was almost ready to open ??

                      The menu looks great. Lots of tasty Vietnamese inspired dishes. Plus it has those Vietnamese style sandwiches I've been reading about. Not to mention the kid's menu made me happy too. Small version of grilled chicken/beef bowl on rice/noodle. So much better than the fare always offered at many restaurants. (This will become more pertinent to us now that our babe is 15months old and I'm sure she'd love the grilled meat :))

                      Back of the menu say " From the creatures of the original Sweet Mango..." Never been, any good?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: livetocook

                        Have been to Sweet Mango 2x. Both were totally sub par. Much better Vietnamese places out there.

                        On another note, MRKT on Jasper ave is now open for lunch, did not get there when I was up to visit, but it was mentioned by a couple of friends. Apparently it is a Charcuterie place and will eventually be opened for dinner too.

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          MRKT does fancy soup and sandwiches for lunch; I think charcuterie is what they are planning for dinner.

                          1. re: anonymoose

                            I had lunch at MRKT on Friday and as I was sitting there, sipping a glass of wine and looking up at the greenboard menu I was thinking to myself, "why am I thinking charcuterie" given that as anonymoose pointed out the emphasis was on 3 soups, 3 sandwiches and daily features of a salad [scallop] and a pasta dish [penne].

                            The two posts above explained the association with charcuterie.

                            Excellent braised beef sandwich and pork soup in a larger portion that what I have come to associate with Cara Alexander's venture at Soul Soup on Rice Howard Way.

                      2. Try Three Amigos for homecooked mexican
                        4035 106 Street Edmonton

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Sunsetwinetime

                          Don't do this if you actually like Mexican food. I'm sorry there isn't any good Mexican in Edmonton, but lying ain't gonna change a thing. This place is worse than the regular greasy donair place that used to be there.

                          1. re: itwillmakeaturd

                            Tend to agree with the above. Really enjoy high end classic Mexican, there is none in Edmonton.

                            1. re: itwillmakeaturd

                              I know that others have said that it isn't necessarily authentic, but I still think Three Amigos makes some darn tasty spicy chicken tamales. Comes with rice and beans for a really good and filling meal.

                              Be warned that if you're eating in, you'll leave the restaurant smelling like the inside of a deep fryer. We still think its worth it though!