Published Mar 15th, 2012

By Gail Hall

25 Best Things to Eat 2012

The fourth annual list of the best delicacies the city has to offer

Harvet Room's lobster ravioli.
Harvet Room's lobster ravioli.

Lobster Ravioli from the Harvest Room

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald restaurant recently reopened and re-launched with a menu that’s as fresh as this seafood pasta. Large, round ravioli stuffed with butter-poached lobster float with tender fava beans on a sweet-and-sour tarragon vinaigrette and concassée, a chopped tomato pulp. It’s crowned with lobster tail meat, perfectly curled around fresh micro greens to create a rich and balanced dish.

10065 100 St., 780-429-6430

Coconut Macaroons from The Art of Cake

They’re made with hearty mounds of shredded coconut mixed with eggs, sugar and butter, and then baked to a delicate crisp on the outside but are surprisingly moist and chewy inside. They’re finished with a thin coating of dark chocolate on the bottom. Pair with a hot cuppa and you may want to work them into your afternoon tradition.

Available at the City Market Downtown, 780-485-5517

Di Giuseppe Pizza from Da Capo

This bianca pizza starts with housemade thin crust and melted fior di latte. The rest of the toppings are added fresh and unbaked — arugula tossed in lemon juice and olive oil, large rosettes of prosciutto di Parma, shards of parmesan and sliced grape tomato.

8738 109 St., 780-433-5382


The Traditional from La Poutine

It’s street food that Québécois would be proud of: Piping hot, hand-cut, skin-on fries (prepared on location daily) topped with locally made cheese curds from the Cheese Factory and a light, zesty gravy (that happens to be vegan-friendly). It’s taken a while, but authentic poutine has finally arrived in Edmonton.

8720 109 St., 780-757-7222

Dry Spicy Chicken from Chicken for Lunch

It’s the longest lunch-hour line up in Scotia Place’s food court, which can be a good thing when you’re tring  to figure out what to order before you meet eye-to-eye with Amy Quon (yes, the head of The Quon Dynasty reality show on Citytv). While many items may entice, this box of Chinese noodles or rice will make your choice easy. It’s loaded with veggies and topped with lightly battered chicken flecked with hot chilies. Amy’s comments are free — and only add more spice to the dish.

Lunch only, served Mon. to Fri., in the lower level of Scotia Place, 10060 Jasper Ave., 780-425-9614.

Cheese Burek from The Cheese Factory

The owners are French Canadian and Serbian with an expertise in cheese and pastry making. Teamed together, they’ve created burek, traditional Balkan scratch filo pastry filled with housemade cheese and spices shaped into long rolls. It’s flavourful, tender and rich. Bake frozen until golden brown and — voilà — an unforgettable hors d’oeuvre, or sit down on the restaurant side and order it as a hot side dish.

8943 82 Ave., 780-450-2143

Falafel Pita Wrap from Dahlia’s Mediterranean Bistro

This wrap is a handful — two large housemade falafel balls topped with parsley, onions, pickled turnip, chopped tomatoes, a touch of sumac, hummus and a generous squeeze of sesame sauce. It’s folded into a pita wrap, gently grilled and served warm. It’s one of the many tasty Middle Eastern treats that owner Fadi Smaidi creates daily.

10235 124 St., 780- 488-7656


Wiener Schnitzel from Bistro Praha

Thin and light as air, the Wiener schnitzel is as good now as it was when the “Bistro” opened 35 years ago. It’s a very generous serving of tenderized inside round beef, dipped in flour, egg and homemade bread crumbs, then lightly fried and served with pan-fried potatoes or Czech-style potato salad.

10117 101 St., 780-424- 4218

Paella from Tzin Wine and Tapas

It’s easy to see why this signature dish is so popular. It’s a combination of west coast scallops, crab, fresh Prince Edward Island mussels and shrimp with andouille sausage (made exclusively by Irvings Farm Fresh), Valencian rice and tomatoes. The kitchen adds a touch of sambal olek to round out the flavours and a finish of beurre blanc sauce.

10115 104 St., 780-428-8946


Coxinha from Transcend Coffee

“Transcend” this city to the streets of Brazil with one bite of this Latin creation (pronounced “co-sheen-ya”), brought back by owner Poul Mark and chef Chad Moss from their coffee travels. Its dumpling shape, said to replicate a chicken thigh, involves a savoury dough wrapped around braised local game from Greens Eggs and Ham. It’s served with a fresh salsa.

Two locations for menu items: Garneau (8708 109 St., 780-756-8882) and Jasper Avenue (10349 Jasper Ave., 780-421-7734)

Tomatoes from Gull Valley Greenhouses

Combine Alberta sunlight with acres of greenhouse glass in Central Alberta and you’ve got a successful formula for growing delicious hydroponic tomatoes without herbicides or insecticides. Available throughout most of the year, these vine-ripened beauties come in red, yellow and orange, from cherry-sized to beefsteak and everything in between. They smell and taste like real tomatoes. Imagine!

Available at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, the City Market Downtown and other farmers’ markets.

Bodhi Tree Burger from Noorish

This new “conscious eatery and superfood elixir bar” features vegan and raw food dishes. The Bodhi Tree burger is a spectacular vegan dish, both artfully presented and delicious, combining sprouted chickpeas, sundried tomato pesto, fresh basil, marinated zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach and a drizzle of cashew chili cheese — all on a substantial whole wheat bun with a side of soup or salad.

8440 109 St., 780-231-9000

Guru Butter Chicken Samosas from Guru Restaurant

Butter chicken is addictive enough as it is, but the chefs at Guru turned this creamy entree into an appetizer of (two or four) samosa triangles stuffed with the delicious East
Indian concoction. So now you can beat that craving at the beginning of the meal and move on to other dishes. 

17021 100 Ave., 780-484-4300

Hurry Hurry Guasacaca from Don Carmelo

This jar of Venezuelan salsa is a complex blend of cilantro, fresh garlic, parsley, peppers, chili peppers, vinegar, onion, habanero and tomatoes. More than a dip, it’s fit as a condiment for roasted or barbecued meats, poultry or fish. Or, just do what I do and eat it out of the jar.
Available at the City Market Downtown

Szechuan Dan Dan Soup from Dumplings the Restaurant

While its namesake dishes are tasty, don’t overlook the soup, in particular the Szechuan dan dan noodle soup. Guaranteed to satisfy two, it’s about half a litre of fragrant homemade broth around layers of ground pork, peanuts, cilantro, noodles and topped with homemade chili sauce. Order it “crazy hot” and add a bit of sweat to the brow.

2431 Ellwood Dr., 780-469-8885


Early Sandwich from elm cafe

Of one thing I’m certain; Nate Box loves to challenge his customers to think outside the sandwich bag. The miniature cafe combines an over easy egg on a crispy water bun that’s soft enough on the inside to hold the yolk (not too runny, not too firm). It’s topped with grilled protein or grilled vegetables that are locally sourced whenever possible. Now that’s a breakfast sandwich that delivers (sorry, no drive-thru).

10140 117 St., 780-756-3356

Stuffed Chicken Wings from Bua Thai Restaurant

This appetizer of four wings can easily be your dinner. These wings are de-boned and over-stuffed with ground pork, Chinese vermicelli and mushrooms, and then served with a sweet and salty Thai dip. It’s one of the most challenging dishes on the menu to make, but worth it.

10049 113 St., 780-482-2277

Yogurt from Bles-wold

What started as a hobby in 1996, shortly after dairy farmers Hennie Bos and Tinie Eilers moved from the Netherlands to Lacombe, has become a full-fledged dairy business producing over 5,000 litres of yogurt per week. Their yogurt is naturally smooth, slightly tangy and creamy, containing only milk bacterial culture and flavourings. It comes in a variety of tastes and sizes.

Available at select grocers, including the Italian Centre Shop (10878 95 St. and 5028 104A St.), Sunterra Market (5728 111 St. and 10150 Jasper Ave.) and Planet Organic (7917 104 St. and 12120 Jasper Ave.).

Traditional Banh Mi Sandwich from Van Loc Vietnamese Submarine Shop

The French influence in Vietnamese cuisine shines through in this hearty submarine by proprietor Loi Van Thai. He’s been making these authentic sandwiches for 14 years, combining cold cuts on a crunchy baguette spread with pâté and butter, topped with crunchy carrots, cucumber, cilantro and a light splash of fish sauce.
10648 98 St., 780-413-8887


Xpresso from The Newget Kompany

This hand-made sweet is built on a foundation of white chocolate, with a chewy centre created from roasted almonds and fresh ground espresso beans. The result is a chocolate treat that’s sweet and spicy. Enjoy Xpresso nougat as a mid-afternoon nosh, a dessert or with your favourite aperitif.

Order online at newget.ca, or at Bon Ton Bakery (8720 149 St.), elm café (10140 117 St.) and
the City Market Downtown.

Gravlax from Sgambaro’s

This fresh Atlantic salmon is marinated in a mixture of sugar, salt, pepper, vermouth, brandy, olive oil and fresh dill to create a Scandinavian style of gravlax that is juicy, sweet and salty. Top it with Sgambaro’s Three Mustard Dill Sauce for a flavourful open-faced Scandinavian style sandwich.

Available at specialty grocers, including Italian Centre Shop (10878 95 St. and 5048 104A St.), Wild Earth Foods (8910 99 St.) and Sunterra Market (5028 111 St. and 10150 Jasper Ave.).


Patatas Bravas from Ousia

This brand new restaurant on Whyte Avenue serves foods from the Mediterranean region. Patatas bravas is a Spanish tapa consisting of large potato cubes lightly fried in oil to a perfect crispiness, topped with a housemade spicy chili aioli (an emulsion of garlic, egg, chili peppers, lime juice and olive oil) and finished with dollop of sundried tomato purée.

10846 82 Ave., 780-761-1910

Sauce of Shiraz, Parmesan & Portabello from Bamboche World Cuisine

Combine locally sourced portabello mushrooms with shiraz, aged balsamic gastrique (a sugar vinegar sauce), lots of black pepper, Parmesan and cream cheese for one versatile concoction that can serve as a dip, spread, pasta filling, finish for risotto, or a sauce. Or, just place a dollop on a steak or chicken as it comes off the grill to add a bit of decadence.

Available at the Italian Centre’s north side location (10878 95 St.) and the City Market Downtown.

Carrot Bread from the Prairie Baker

Hungarian baker Gábor Dobos has a repertoire of healthy European artisanal breads at St. Albert’s Enjoy Centre. A fan fave is the carrot bread, a light rye sourdough loaded with fresh shredded carrots, organic sesame seeds and sprouted pumpkin seeds. It’s well worth the drive, but why not buy two loaves and put one in the freezer? Toast it with a touch of butter and get a taste of heaven.

101 Riel Dr., St. Albert, 780-651-7362

Pescado Tacos from Tres Carnales Taquería

The best thing at this Mexican street food jointis the pescado, or fish, tacos. Three traditional corn tortillas are topped with Mexican red snapper in a light tempura-style batter, then cloaked in avocado tomatillo salsa and a pico de gallo-like sauce with shredded cabbage and adobo style mayonnaise. True Mexican flavours don’t get much better than this.

10119 100A St., 780-429-0911

  • Visitor

    How about Drift??

    Submitted 2 years 16 weeks ago

    Nothing about Drifts sandwhiches??? definitely something everyone needs to try!! Any of them!!!! 108st and Jasper

  • Visitor

    GROSS NOURISH CAFE!

    Submitted 2 years 16 weeks ago

    I heard from many to not check this place out. I did anyway and wish I never did. The food is awful, and worse, it is expensive. Also, the prices they charge for products you can now find on your own are ridiculous! I know all about raw diets and even tested the knowledge of the staff when I discovered the shortcuts they were taking for their dishes- so sad. Most of the people posting positive comments are most likely themselves or friends being encouraging (seriously), because no Albertan in their right mind, let alone visitors would be impressed by this place. Since this is fairly new, it seems they try to take advantage. Bad vibe, weird vibe. Do not bother with this place.

  • Rustam

    The Cheese Factory, Such a treat!

    Submitted 2 years 17 weeks ago

    The burek is number one in my book! It really has that Old World way of filling a stomach up with hot, tasty goodness. If you order it at the restaurant, you get a healthy slab of delicious cheese, meat or spinach pie; personally, my favourite is the meat!I've been looking for a European restaurant like this for quite some time; when I found this place 3 years ago, I knew it was it! Burek is number one in my book!

  • Rustam

    The Cheese Factory, Such a treat!

    Submitted 2 years 17 weeks ago

    The Burek really has that Old World way of filling a stomach up. When you order it at the restaurant, you get a healthy slab of delicious flavoured meat, cheese or spinach pie! I've been looking for a European restaurant with a home-made feel for quite a while, and this place is definitely it! The burek is number one in my book!

  • Visitor

    You forgot Auntie Muriel's Prelmium Peanut Brittle

    Submitted 2 years 18 weeks ago

    This soft, locally made peanut brittle might just be the best in the world. We go to the downtown City Market to get it.
    Try it out and you will see what I mean.

  • Visitor

    Actually, half the menu at next act

    Submitted 2 years 20 weeks ago

    The jalapeño and bacon Mac and Cheese? The burgers... The house salad... So much yum.

  • Visitor

    Missed some staples

    Submitted 2 years 20 weeks ago

    Fish sandwich or any burger at Next Act

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