Eating Edmonton

I’ve spent a lot of time in Edmonton this year – more so than usual – and because of this happy coincidence I’ve had the chance to eat my way around the city, which is a Very Good Thing. For a long time, Edmonton was known as the chain restaurant capital of Canada. This isn’t the case anymore – Edmonton is a city of great restaurants and farmers’ markets and local producers and coffee shops, and an impressive slowfood convivium. Some of my very favourite food people are doing their thing there, and I feel the need to share some of the things they make and do, in case you find yourself in Edmonton. I wish I could just tug on the highway and pull the whole city closer.

(Below are chefs Blair Lebsak of Rge Rd, Ryan O’Flynn of the Edmonton Westin, and Brad Haffner of The Local Omnivore, plating dishes for the A Seat at Our Table long table dinner about a month ago.)

Edmonton collab 2

Of course every time I travel, I spend more time researching where to eat – and what good coffee shops are easily accessible by my hotel or meeting places – than just about anything else, including planning/packing. This is becoming less necessary with Edmonton as I get to know the city better; whenever I go, I go to Corso 32 if I can swing it; I’m afraid I’m not doing the place justice with my pictures, hastily taken in a haze of good wine and hunger, but suffice to say it’s worth a visit. Even the plain pasta with butter and Parm W orders is better than just about anything I’ve ever eaten.

Corso-32

Corso is right downtown on Jasper Avenue, small and divine – my strategy is always to go right when they open at 5, so that I’ll be sure to get in. Order the house made goat ricotta with rosemary oil, Maldon salt and an order of arancini right away, before you even take your coat off. (Bar Bricco next door is pretty fab too – but you can’t bring kids.)

corso 32
Corso 32 pasta

Of course everyone knows the Duchess Bakeshop. It’s an incredible spot, unlike any other I’ve been to – the pastries are worth the pilgrimage themselves, but they also sell soups and sandwiches and other good things. And coffee! And the owners are so lovely.

Duchess 1

Giselle’s new cookbook, which won for best single-subject cookbook at the prestigious Taste Canada Food Writing Awards this fall, is stunning – an “award-winning 288-page treasury reveals the secrets behind everything from the bakery’s renowned tea-time treats and legendary tarts to more complicated French classics: buttery brioche, delightful macarons, showy mille-feuilles, and the glorious St. Honoré cake.” It’s truly beautiful, with thick, glossy paper and a linen binding – particularly stunning for a self-published work – with step-by-step photos that must have taken them forever. 80 recipes are divided into 10 chapters—Macarons, Croissants, Brioche & Bread, Tea Time, Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Pâte à Choux, and Sweets.

provisions 1

Anyway. Giselle and her team are wonderful, and the bakery is a must-visit, especially now that they’ve opened Provisions next door, where they sell the kitchen tools of my dreams (Weck jars! copper cannelle molds!), small bottles and bags of sweets and spices and elixirs, alongside a small and well-curated wall of cookbooks. This is my happy place.

provisions 2

It’s in the same area as RGE RD – one of Edmonton’s best-known restaurants, owned and run by chef Blair Lebsack along and his partner Caitlin Fulton. I’ve been lucky enough to have spent a ton of time with Blair this summer and fall, harvesting veggies and tramping around in the mud at Natures Green Acres in Viking, Alberta. (My friend Liane Faulder wrote a great piece on the family living off the land for an entire year – with three kids!)

Blair lebsack

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RGE RD is inspired by local, seasonal ingredients – named for the rural addresses where their ingredients are raised and grown. Blair and Caitlin have relationships with farmers and producers around the province, and often host long table dinners in farm fields around Edmonton.

blair 2
Blair lebsack 2

He built a cobb oven out of clay and rock from the riverbank out at Natures’ Green Acres – we cooked in it one afternoon in August, as a storm began to roll through.

Edmonton

Blair and other chefs around town work with Reclaim Urban Farm, a couple who grows vegetables in borrowed inner city land – I had the chance to help them out with their harvest one rainy day this fall. We plucked out all the zucchini and pattypan squash we could find before the first frost. For coffee, I tend to go to Transcend (where I found that cinnamon swirl croissant above) or Credo, which has a location on 104th, conveniently located beside Jacek Chocolate.

jacqueline-jacek
jacek chocolates

Jacqueline Jacek is one of those people you immediately want to be best friends with – and not only because she knows how to make some pretty amazing chocolates. She’s just the nicest person, and has built this business from scratch, starting from home and working her way into her own chocolate studio (who knew that was a thing?!) in Sherwood Park, and then expanding to a second small chocolate boutique on 104th. She does couture and bean-to-bar chocolate, and is generous and a perfectionist in the very best sense of the word. She brings joy to people, and that’s her goal.

Jacek Nanaimo bars

Jacqueline creates chocolates inspired by fashion icons – the Audrey, the Jackie, the Frank, and so on – as well as seasonal truffles and her own bits of brilliance, like the Nanaimo bar chocolates, which I heartily endorse. She gave W a tour of the factory – any disappointment he had over the lack of oompa-loompas was dispelled by the racks of chocolates and molds and their brand-new enrobing machine. He now asks for “Jacquie chocolates” my name, as if his ten year old palate had suddenly outgrown Hershey’s, but really I think it’s because he loves her as much as everyone else does.

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brad 2

A block over, my old friend chef Brad Smoliank has a new kitchen studio – he has this great space where he can hold classes, do recipe and product development, make things to sell at the market, and generally do whatever kind of food event he feels like. So fun. He’s made a career out of having kitchen parties and making bacon jam.

There are a few spots I don’t want to miss, but also managed to not get photos of – Tres Carnales Taquería is one of my favourite lunch spots, and their newer, larger restaurant Rostizado is one of my favourite places – a fun spot with great food – and the best guys there running the joint. And I got the chance to try a new Mexican spot on my last visit – El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar specializes in modern latin food and tequila. Chef Lindsay Porter has created a menu ranging from tapas to street foods & tacos, to nuevo latino fusion dishes. They carry over 140 well-curated 100% agave tequilas and mezcals, and are one of only 9 establishments in the world certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (The Tequila Regulatory Council).

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El Cortez

The Tequila Cellar in the basement is open weekends, and often hosts bands and other artists – it’s a fun place upstairs and down, has a great patio and makes a killer guacamole.

I’ve been compiling this post for two days, and it’s occurring to me that there’s still plenty to tell – so perhaps I’ll make this a to be continued post, and follow down the road with a part 2. Meanwhile, I’d like to hear your favourite places to eat in and around Edmonton? I have a copy of the gorgeous new Duchess Bakeshop Cookbook to give away (I haven’t done that in ages!) – to enter, leave a comment here! If you haven’t been to Edmonton, no worries.. you should still have a copy for your own kitchen.

I love showing off my home province – thanks to Travel Alberta for helping me do it! As always, words and opinions are my own.

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62 comments on “Eating Edmonton

  1. Kait
    November 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I would love a copy of the Duchess cookbook – it would be excellent to have on hand this holiday season. :-)

  2. Knittinchick
    November 30, 2015 at 11:29 am

    My grandparents were homesteaders outside the Edmonton area and my uncle maintains the farm as a side ‘hobby’ now… so always am happy to hear of Edmonton restaurants that are supporting local Edmonton and area farmers.

    I think that you should pick me to have the Duchess cookbook… If I can’t go there, then at least I could make a taste of their yumminess!

  3. PATT
    November 30, 2015 at 11:30 am

    OMG I am so happy to see an article for Edmonton foodies! Cannot wait to try some of the places you mentioned and am hoping I might be lucky enough to win the cookbook!

  4. Larissa
    November 30, 2015 at 11:33 am

    You just made me homesick! Edmonton has soo many yummie things, I can’t wait to go home for Christmas :) I would also love a Duchess cookbook!!

  5. Jody
    November 30, 2015 at 11:35 am

    To have a cookbook like this added to my collection would be an honour!
    I love The Dutchess Bake Shop!

  6. Leanne
    November 30, 2015 at 11:38 am

    It sounds like a gorgeous cookbook. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a copy…

  7. Lael
    November 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

    These places are all part of the reason I adore my home city!

  8. Laura Di Lembo
    November 30, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Would be thrilled to have a copy of The Duchess Bakeshop cookbook!!!

  9. kickpleat
    November 30, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I’m sending this post to my friend who will be visiting this December! She has the Dutchess cookbook and loves it and I’m sure I’d love it too!

  10. Gillian
    November 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I moved to Calgary a year ago and quite honestly, think of & miss all of these mouth-drooling restaurants that you mentioned so much! Another favourite of mine is MRKT on Jasper Ave. It’s not as busy as it once was but the food (charcuterie plate!! cornbread!!) and cocktails are heavenly. The Common puts out so many great dishes too, plus you can dance them off to a great dj set afterwards :) In my old hood there’s a little bakery that makes enormous and tasty treats – Buns and Roses (great name too). And no omelet can ever compare to those at Tasty Tom’s; especially with their homemade curry ketchup! I always have a bottle in my fridge. Oh I could go on and on. Thanks for this post and making my tummy rumble!

  11. Susan
    November 30, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    We do not live in Edmonton, but go there frequently, LOVE the Red Ox Inn, The Marc, Ampersand 27, and Canteen. Just to name a few.
    Had some food from the newly opened Alberta Hotel and Bar restaurant in the CKUA building and it was lovely.
    This city has so many great places to eat and it’s hard to choose when we are there. Actually we have started a list of places and checking them off as we go there.
    Your suggestions, well most of them are on our list and I see a couple more that we can add.
    Thanks for showing everyone that Edmonton has awesome food !

  12. Erica
    November 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    That cookbook is on my Christmas list!

  13. Michelle
    November 30, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I moved from Calgary to Edmonton two years ago, and discovering Duchess was one of my favourite finds.

  14. Lisa
    November 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    A good friend just introduced me to Corso 32 a couple weeks ago on a trip to Edmonton. OMG the homemade ricotta was devine!! I could have just eaten that all night. But seeing as we were there for four hours we obviously tried a number of delights. The service was impeccable, the wines and aperitifs were fabulous, and can I recommend everyone try the Parmigiano Reggiano with black truffle honey? I thought I’d melt.

  15. Dilettee
    November 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I would love to have a copy of the dutchess bake shop cook book. My hobby is baking and I think it would be an interesting challenge to try some of their more sophisticated recipes.
    I really enjoyed this post as well. Olive in Edmonton and didn’t even know some of these places existed. I wil have to try them out. Thank you.

  16. Katherine Germaine
    November 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I love Edmonton and its food scene and would love a copy of the cookbook!

  17. Kim
    November 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I love Rostizado and Tres Carnales! The Glass Monkey is on my list to visit soon as well as Cured Wine Bar. The cookbook sounds amazing. The Duchess has the best macarons

  18. baconhound
    November 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    FYI- If you’re not lucky enough to win a free cookbook, you can still get it online from duchessbakeshop.com.

    Great list Julie! Next time you come up let’s plan to hit a few more favourites! I can’t wait to read volume 2!

  19. baconhound
    November 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    FYI- If you’re not lucky enough to win a free cookbook, you can still get it online from duchessbakeshop.com.

    Great list Julie! Next time you come up let’s plan to hit a few more favourites! I can’t wait to read volume 2!

  20. Carolyn
    November 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    I was drooling over the Dutchess cookbook at Chapters a couple of weeks ago. It’s one that I would love to add to my collection (and I was in Edmonton, based on the many rave reviews I’ve heard it would be one of my first stops — especially the provisions store!)

  21. Carol S-B
    November 30, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I do like Edmonton, although I’m a born and raised Calgarian and I know it’s not fashionable to like YEG. That river valley? so lovely. I get to Edmonton every couple of months to take my (almost 90- yr- old) Dad to a health appointment. I would love to go to Corso… I don’t think I can convince Dad to branch out, though. We always eat at The Italian Place @ Hy’s centre: very pleasant staff, and convenient to the Royal Alex as well.

  22. Kirsten
    November 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    With kids we don’t get out to eat much, but for coffee with friends I really like Duchess (big surprise!), but we also enjoy the Italian Centre.

  23. Julie Fischer
    November 30, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I have a trip to Edmonton booked for next week and can’t wait to visit these wonderful finds! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Kim
    November 30, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    What a fabulous list! Would love to enter the draw for the Duchess Bakeshop book. I remember specifically making a trek out there from Calgary for macarons back in the early days….

  25. Danielle
    November 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I too love Tres Carnales! Went there on the weekend and had a fantastic meal once again. The experience transports you a little to Mexico every visit. I would love to have the cookbook!

  26. Liliana
    November 30, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you for recognizing (if I may) a small slice of the amazing food scene in Edmonton. We were part of the scene 12 years ago and sadly had to exit, however I remain thrilled to experience and enjoy all of the food innovators in and around our city. There are many gems around that make this city a gem into itself! Iconoclast, dovetail and many farmers’ market vendors to start. Just last week my 9 and 6 year olds were asking me to buy the cookbook, so it would be a thrill to win! thanks!

  27. Jenny
    November 30, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Lattes from Transcend, Credo and Little Brick are divine.

  28. Diane
    November 30, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Would love a copy of the Duchess cookbook! Jacek chocolates has been a destination stop every time I visit family in Edmonton. Jacquie is superb in every way…divine chocolates, a charitable and giving heart, a lovely and welcoming business. Support local!!!

  29. Brenda
    November 30, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Great to see all the Edmonton recommendations.
    And I have been eyeing up the Duchess cookbook, so to add it to my collection would be a terrific treat!

  30. Jessica
    November 30, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I have been coveting this book for ages! I would love to be ab,e to bake my way through it :)

  31. Kathleen
    November 30, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Next time you come to Edmonton, you must try Cafe Amore. It is the most amazing local, family run restaurant just north of Grant MacEwan. This summer, they opened a second restaurant on 104st downtown called Black Pearl.

  32. Lillian
    November 30, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Perhaps no one has mentioned it because it doesn’t exist anymore (???) but when I lived in Edmonton 3 years ago, our go-to place for a wonderful meal was Hardware Grill. And Always a fun tasty meal at Dadeos. And great brunch at SugarBowl

  33. Sarah
    November 30, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I LOVE El Cortez; such a neat vibe in the restaurant to compliment the amazing food.
    Julie, next visit I recommend trying Cafe Amore Bistro downtown for excellent home-cooked Italian and if you’re in to seafood, the same family that runs Cafe Amore opened a restaurant called the Black Pearl on 104st – their seafood mac and cheese haunts my dreams it is so good!!!
    In further support of Sherwood Park home baking turned store-front successes, Confetti Sweets cookies are unreal. They sell them out of a bakeshop in Sherwood Park, one in the Windermere area and in all of the local markets; I have tried a dozen times to replicate the coconut cookie but just can’t seem to hack its amazingness!!!

  34. Jen
    November 30, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    The Marc is fantastic for lunch. My friends and I don’t even look at the menu…its Mushrooms on Toast for the three of us everything time.
    Cibo and Vivo are also fantastic Italian places. Cibo is up there with Corso 32. Vivo serves everything family style which is great for groups and parties.
    We are excited to try The Workshop Eatery this weekend. It’s opened to rave reviews.

  35. Susy
    November 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    The night we got engaged, my now husband took me to the Red Ox Inn. It was worth every penny!

  36. Linda C
    November 30, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you Julie! I always felt that Edmonton was under-appreciated for food and markets. Would love to win the cookbook. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Edmonton – Dadeo was fun (is it still there?) and the diner by the High Level Bridge. I also love Acquired Taste tea – not dining, but a great place for a fine cuppa.

  37. Seth
    November 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Ooh Julie I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Edmonton, the food scene is only improving there!!

  38. Michelle
    November 30, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I don’t live in Edmonton so haven’t spent nearly enough time exploring all the amazing places to eat. But I dream of one day going to Duchess Bakeshop so would love to have her cookbook :)

  39. Karen
    November 30, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for the great list of restaurants to try. Duchess Bakery a wonderful place to meet a friend for coffee and a treat. Provisions is an excellent place to buy gifts for your foodie friends including the cookbook. I would love to win a copy :)

  40. Anonymous
    November 30, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Luckily, I live in Edmonton, and have had the pleasure of eating at a number of the restaurants you mentioned including the Duchess Bakery. I would love to win a copy of their cookbook.

  41. Kristyn
    November 30, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    I absolutely ove all the places you mentioned. I would recommend Canteen, Cibo, XIX (Nineteen), and The Mark as well! I’m glad the Edmonton restaurant scene is getting the credit it deserves :)
    I would love a copy of the Duchess cookbook!!!

  42. Margaret
    November 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    When you’re up in Edm. again, head for Paul Shufelt’s new restaurant, “The Workshop Eatery” which just opened in south Edmonton. Totally awesome food. Check out his website:
    http://theworkshopeatery.com/
    or on Facebook to read all the positive comments.
    Would love to win the cookbook.
    Thanks.

  43. Lana
    December 3, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Look at your fancy new website! WOW! I read this post a little while ago but then checked back today to find it all different. Congrats!! And I haven’t been to Edmonton since I was 18. Didn’t eat anywhere but the Mall but would love to check some these places out sometime!

  44. Sue.D
    December 3, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Hey – I love the new site! Stylish and clean and altogether great!

  45. Cynthia Lee
    December 3, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Your new web page is wonderful. It looks so clean and inviting and modern. The article about Edmonton made me want to visit. I am looking forward to part two.

  46. Carol S
    December 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Really love your new web page – very classy! Winning the Duchess Bakeshop Cookbook would be a special treat for my upcoming birthday on Christmas Day!

  47. Brianne
    December 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Website looks great Julie. Awesome post about Edmonton, they are doing some really great things there! Hopefully your post can close the distance between our two lovely cities. The Duchess Bakeshop cookbook sounds like a perfect book for me to improve my baking skills!

  48. Jackie H
    December 5, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Wow. I have not been to Edmonton in many years and I had no idea their food scene had evolved so much. Thank you Julie for taking the time to pick out some gems for my family to try next time we go!

  49. Melissa
    December 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    No trip to Edmonton could be complete for me without a stop at the Tasty Tomato for their linguine alle vongole. Thankfully the portions are large as it is lovely fresh, but even better the second day!

  50. Kira
    December 6, 2015 at 8:17 am

    So nice to see an article showcasing Edmonton and the great farmers around the area. Thanks for sharing so many options for our next trip to Edmonton.

  51. Kristi A.
    December 6, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I have lived in Edmonton for several years, and have not tried these restaurants… Perhaps due to the children who get to come along to dinner… But thank you for the overview. There are definitely some places on the list now for a date night! I have seen the Duchess cookbook. It is beautiful! I would love to win!

  52. Kathie V.
    December 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Love the new website! Well done. I would love to win the cookbook, sounds like it would be a beautiful addition to my cookbook collection. I’m heading to Edmonton at the end of January for my daughter’s ringette tournament. After reading this post, I’m inspired to sneak away for a couple of hours while there, to search out the Duchess Bakeshop and their kitchen store.

  53. Avril
    December 7, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I have a cookbook constrainment rule: I must get it from the library first to review if I’d really love it, AND I can only buy 2 a year. The Duchess cookbook was a TREAT to read this past summer (after a loooooong wait from the library) and I would DEARLY love to add it to my collection. I introduced my husband to macarons in NYC years ago and only Giselle’s cookbook truly taught me how to make them.

  54. Ingrid
    December 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    I love your new website! The cookbook looks great too-I would love to win it !! I never get to Edmonton….

  55. Melissa
    December 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Love the new website! And would love a new cookbook too :)

  56. Katie
    December 12, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Love all your suggestions and agree with another poster that you should try CIBO on your next trip!

  57. Ilona
    December 15, 2015 at 7:18 am

    So happy to discover your blog, and as a transplanted Edmontonian now living in Toronto, I celebrate whenever my hometown gets a little love! So may thanks, and know that Duchess is a regular stop for me whenever I am home, (I still have bags of Provisions cardamom and cinnamon in my cupboard, though getting dangerously low! Time to visit Mom!)

  58. Lisa dekleine
    December 22, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Would love to have a copy of the Duchess cookbook. My daughter has just returned home for the holidays and she has been baking up a storm. I have just introduced her to your blog .

  59. Vivian
    December 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Is it just me or does your header take up almost half of the new re-designed webpage? Ouch!

  60. Vivian
    December 28, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Okay, found the proper click…sorry.

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