16604-109 Av NW
Tue-Wed,Sun 11am-6pm; Thu-Sat 11am-9pm
In the west end of Edmonton there’s a strip mall. Next to the Mayfield Inn, long ago, there was a Mexican restaurant out here before Mexican restaurants existed. It was my first experience with Mexican food that wasn’t fast food, and it was delicious. A whole different world of flavours. I loved eating there. Unfortunately, the owner, tired of Edmonton winters, retired, and went back to Mexico.
Years later, word came out that there was a new Mexican restaurant open in the same strip mall. I was hoping some of the magic had rubbed off on the new establisment: Mexico Lindo.
Clean and a bit spartan, there’s a bit of an odd feel about it. However, the service is friendly and warm. I’ll take service over atmosphere any day.
O-toro previously wrote about this now five-location strong pizzeria based in Edmonton known as Famoso that is trumpeting some true ingredients that go into a classic Neapolitan pie. So on my recent visit to the Alberta capital, I knew I had to give it a try myself, as there is no sign of it coming to the west coast any time soon, and I don’t have immediate plans to visit Calgary (where they have one of their five locations).
As it was on the city’s south side and thus closest to the airport that still is way too far for my liking from the city’s downtown core, the South Edmonton Common location was visited for this lunchtime meal. [I did manage to see the location for the one downtown later during my stay]. It was quite busy for a mid-week day, although I’m sure the pending holidays had something to do with it, but the access to this shopping area wasn’t as bad as it ended up being days later (and of course for Boxing Day). First impressions were positive. Bright, clean, with a nice buzz about the place. The centralized glass display that housed many of the desserts and drinks anchored the room, with the pizza cooks working in the open towards the back where I could also spot the wood burning oven. Everything fit the “fast casual” claim they spout out in their marketing.
#650-3803 Calgary Trail
New concepts, especially in the do-it-yourself kind seem to be sprouting out all over the place these days. Perhaps its a way to cut labor costs, but having customers/diners do all the heavy lifting and giving them countless choices to suit their every need and desire, seems to be partly (in my opinion) due to the ever burgeoning something-unique-for-everyone ethos that has arisen from the Starbucks business model (“super venti mochachino with quarter-whole, quarter-skim, and make the rest half & half, decaf with a few shavings of nutmeg”" anyone?). No single item will do, you get as much leeway as you want. Kind of a steroid-driven upgrade on the old “have it your way” style of one of the major fast food burger chains.
I wouldn’t even try to come up with all the permutations of configurations you can get with your Twisted Yogurt dessert. Rather than try to come up with something both accurate and witty, I’ll let the marketing gurus of the operation themselves tell you how they would give their elevator pitch:
“Twisted Yogurt is all about exploring your creative side, because you get to create your own frozen masterpiece. You start by choosing one of our eight flavours of fresh, natural non fat frozen yogurt and then add on as many of our over 50 toppings as you can load into your bowl.”
Shogun Japanese Restaurant
10125 – 121 Street NW
With one of the oldest pedigrees when it comes to serving Japanese cuisine in Edmonton (in particular being home to the first real full-fledged sushi bar in the city) and still in the same location when it opened back in 1983, Shogun is one of the real classics that has survived the test of time. Despite this longevity, I have a sense its not really well known by local bloggers as I don’t really hear much about it through other sources. If you’ve been around as long as yours truly has and are as familiar with the Alberta capital, you might recall the current major longtime stalwart in the Japanese food genre in Edmonton, Mikado, did have a much smaller location on the north side (not the present flagship spot near Grant MacEwan), also in the Eighties. But it was Shogun who really brought to Edmonton a full scale Japanese restaurant complete with the culture-crossing phenomenon better known as teppanyaki.
Inside some of the display cases lining the restaurant floor, you’ll find some of the artifacts of yesteryear; Polaroids of some of the local celebrities that frequented the place back in the day. Personally, I still have some autographs direct from the hands of the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Kevin Lowe from the early- Eighties that I collected from them when they were spotted dining here numerous times during those Oiler glory days (including one from their night of dining on New Year’s Eve 1984!). The decor hadn’t really changed much from its early days – the dark wood beams, the noren, the general layout of the tables and tatami rooms. Though I did note that in the ten years since I last came here, the sushi bar is now at the front of the house, where the former bar/lounge used to be.
Leon’s Wonton & Noodle House
10634 97 Street
Edmonton’s Chinatown district while a long standing one, is not as large as the editions that thrive in other major Western Canada centres such as Calgary or Vancouver in my mind. At least it doesn’t seem that way in terms of the variety and choice when it comes to dining in the zones often flanked by the distinctive gates that signify you are “officially” inside Chinatown. My sense of the heart of the Alberta capital’s version is 97th street, stretching from the south end at Jasper Avenue and up to perhaps 108th~110th avenue to the north. The relatively smaller size thus gives a more cozy and neighborly atmosphere to the place, almost like if you live and work here, you would know everyone on each street corner. When I see some of the elderly ethnic Chinese seniors strolling the streets or sitting inside some of the businesses (no doubt run by their younger relatives), I must say some have probably lived their whole long life in this east Asian cultural bubble in Edmonton.
Leon’s Wonton & Noodle House is one such place that brings to mind this tradition. The proprietors (a couple, she in the front of house, he cooking in the back) have been in this city for over twenty-five years, after emigrating from Vietnam. Some supporting articles that can be viewed inside the restaurant under the glass covered table top’s which mentioned their history and business operations. A loyal following seems to exist as far as their customer base is concerned if you were to read and believe the narratives and quotes. My kind of place. Homey, simple, comfortable, lots of choice if you come here often and so you don’t get sick of the menu, and modestly priced.
3803 Calgary Trail NW
Thought it was open now didn’t you?
Well, as of 10pm MST last evening, this is what the front door looked like.
Still covered up with ‘opening soon’ paper noting just the information of a local contractor doing the work inside apparently, I’m not exactly sure when the doors will open to customers as it was difficult to see through the small bit of uncovered space at the entrance in the freezing Edmonton night I might add. With some flurries coming down, this was a quick drive by and shoot, as the trigger finger on the shutter felt like it might just fall off from the cold.
1056 91 Street SW
True to its name, Mini Mango is a tidy little space set up within a strip mall (of which there are many in Edmonton) on the city’s southside. But contrary to so many Vietnamese noodle joints that I’ve frequented, this establishment has applied some more modern touches, thus resulting in a chicer, compact environment that should appeal to those who are less inclined to visit more hole-in-the-wall type of restaurants. Four and two-top seating arrangements, a corner booth, and even a special section with high stools for solo diners completes the picture here, though I imagine they do get their fare share of take away customers. According to my local contact, the lunch hour here can get hectic, and seemingly a popular place for the stay-at-home moms who perhaps want to have a mid-day meal that is more on the “exotic” side. Such is the life of Alberta suburbia I suppose…
The system in place was very much like Famoso, that I’d visited a few days earlier. Step up to the front counter, place your order, pay there, and then go to your seat and your food would be brought out to you. I don’t think I saw any menu cards or booklets at the tables themselves and my only reference of what there was to eat was the sign board pinned to the wall in the employee-only area connected to the kitchen. Appetizers hitting on things like Vietnamese spring rolls and salads were interspersed with a few other Asian-themed dishes such as kimchi and “Thai” deep fried prawns in wonton wrappers.
MRKT (Market) Restaurant
10542 Jasper Ave NW
My poor camera was dropped at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the lens no longer retracts. I loved that camera – but after extensive research, im back in the game with a new camera! Happy to do my first post with pics from my new baby.
On a rainy dreary day, we head down the “ugly” part of Jasper Avenue to try the new restaurant by Carla Alexander of Soul Soup and Sal Di Maio who owns the gastropub downstairs, Red Star. MRKT Market is simply that – a “fresh market” concept restaurant where the limited menu provides you with a few choices in terms of sandwiches, soups, and specials. 3 sandwiches, 3 soups, one special the day we were there.
The interior feels like a wooden airplane fuselage. I’ve heard canoe, and upscale log cabin (rather generous i’d say), it is nonetheless hip, while managing some warmth. The most prominent feature of MRKT market is the long table that allows many diners to share a meal.
Its been said many times, but there is something special about the big blue skies of summer in Alberta. On a recent visit to Edmonton, I had the pleasure of driving around a bit, seeing some rural and urban landscapes that reminded me of how great the scenery can be where there isn’t that abundance of grey clouds and gloomy rainy weather that dominates the west coast in June. I guess that has something to do with the large quantities of great produce and livestock product that comes out of this oil-rich province. Good eats under sunny skies, what could be better!
During my stay, I made a completely random jaunt to 97th street just north of the downtown core of Edmonton that resulted in a trio of stops all within the span of about an hour! While the Alberta capital’s Chinatown isn’t as pronounced nor expansive of say Vancouver’s version, it does have some of the same classical appeal and is worth checking out. Alas, this early Saturday morning resulted in stopovers at least than traditional Chinese places for the most part, but hope you can follow the story…
Hudsons Canadian Tap House (Campus location)
11113 87 Avenue
An impromptu rush out to catch the start of the World Cup match on the first Friday of the tournament led myself and a buddy to a nearby pub on the University of Alberta campus. Funny, I used to remember this location as another drinking hole, ironically called The Library in years gone by. It was once we stepped inside that I understood it was part of the Hudsons chain – the first outlet on Whyte Avenue another former stomping ground on yours truly in yesteryear. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but see now that its grown to five location in Edmonton and also one in Calgary.
Sticking with the Canadian theme of this establishment, I opted for a standard domestic draught to wet the whistle as we settled in to watching the game. We were stuck in the basement however which resulted in a very dark space. My pal enjoyed the views of the attractive, perky, young waitress however, that seem to be the norm of places like this and she was working hard for a big tip. Read more…
Sneaky Pete’s Bar & Grill
12315 118 Ave NW
12402 118 Ave NW
Two days to refresh my first-aid training at the St.John Ambulance centre, and two pubs within viewing distance, meant an opportunity to conduct a head-to-head pub-food battle. After a long morning of tying splints, we headed across the street to Sneaky Pete’s Bar and Grill.
With only a few patrons at the bar, service was friendly and attentive. Skipping the tempting option of a liquid lunch, I ordered the steak sandwich special for $9.95. We were going to ask about the advertised “free lap dance with your beer”, but this was obviously an inside joke, we weren’t privy to.
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Downtown: 11750 Jasper Ave
Magrath: 14123 – 23 Ave
South Common: 1437 – 99 St
[All outlets visited on separate visits; photos from Magrath location]
Caputo ’00′ flour from Italy, tomatoes from the Campania region of Southern Italy, fior-di-latte mozzarella ,fresh herbs, and 900F – does make for very good pizza. The ‘Famoso Story’ tells of their training with the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana but like others in Canada (i.e. Pizza Prima Strada), they have not registered with the VPN. For Famoso, this could possibly be difficult due to the franchise structure of this organization.
Entering any one of their establishments – first find yourself a table. Peruse the full menu of salads, flatbread, pagniotielli sandwiches, pizza, gelato and tiramisu imported from Italy. When you’re ready, proceed to the counter and place your order (remember your table number).
Korean BBQ House
6111 – 28 Avenue
As I started writing this post, I noticed that fellow Edmonton blogger ‘eating is the hard part’ was also through this restaurant recently (and quite possibly the same day, a few hours apart). While he took the adventurous route, we stuck with the better known classics. Our dinner started with the same trio of banchan: savoury sprouts, sweet daikon, and spicy kimchi — all good.
I have a secret obsession with Pajon, a.k.a. Puchingae. Shokutsu probably has haunting memories of me dragging him through the streets of Seoul into the wee hours of the night, in my desperate hunt for a quality vendor (with only hours before my flight out). The hunt in Seoul was a success, but this local option was fairly basic – with green onion, squid, egg and a vinegar based dipping sauce. It is an acceptable base representation, but sadly not great.
Pad Thai Cuisine of Thailand
10159 – 82 Avenue
I have driven past this location on Whyte avenue (just east of the train tracks), a countless number of times in my lifetime. On a quest to try somewhere new – we stopped in for lunch.
There was a solid lunch crowd already seated in this small little restaurant, so we ordered a couple appetizers right away fearing a slow lunch service. I was proven wrong – as the food quickly started arriving at the table. Starting off with an order of spring rolls and satay skewers – the skewers win the appetizer battle. Spring rolls & sauce were good, but not memorable; however the sweet chili sauce with the satay was a definite winner. Nothing against the peanut sauce, but it looked unlike any peanut sauce I’ve ever seen and tasted like every other peanut sauce I’ve ever had.
6010 – 104 St.
(780) 438 – 8338
We have mentioned Syphay on this blog in the past, and have identified it as one of the better Thai restaurants in the city of Edmonton. I personally have yet to find a dish on their menu which I have not liked; from their salads, soups, stirfry’s and especially love their fried fish dishes.
Syphay Platter, includes the sweet pineapple shrimp, spring rolls, and garlic shrimp rolls. We noticed a slight alteration to the platter on our last couple visits – as they removed the Tod Paa Mun (fishcake), but have padded the quantities of the other items to compensate. I do miss the fishcake, but this fried platter of goodness will probably continue to find its way into our order.