While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the foodie highlights of my extended visit:
Elm Cafe- I was very fortunate to find myself staying a block away from this little gem during my month-long stay in Edmonton. Not only do they have GREAT coffee (they serve Bows and Arrows coffee from Victoria, BC) but also excel in the food department. I was a big lover of their muffins (oat-carrot, zucchini chocolate, berry bran, etc etc.) and many others obviously were as well as they were sold out by about 10am every morning. I was even more impressed by their daily sandwich board, with 2 breakfast sandwiches and 3 lunch sandwiches that were as creative as they were delicious. Braised pork, onion jam, garlic aioli, pancetta, roasted cauliflower- the ingredients were about as diverse and original as you can get. Add to that a daily salad that was equally as creative (the french lentil salad with roasted peppers and goat cheese was my fave) and you have a cafe fit for kings and queens.
Transcend- Transcend has several locations but my go-to was their spot on 109th St. The vibrant space was always packed with U of A students wanting to hunker down for a good coffee and a few hours of studying. This was my favourite place in town to do some weekend reading without ever feeling rushed.
Cafe Credo- This last coffee hotspot, located right in the downtown core, is always bustling with the business crowd and just about anyone else that recognizes good coffee when they see it. The folks here are serious about their Intellegentsia Direct Trade coffee and offer great pour-overs. Add to that a great selection of baked goods (their granola bars are really tasty) and super friendly staff, and you have a real winner.
Wild Earth Bakery and Cafe- This mighty fine bakery has a staggering number of baked goods to choose from which is just about the only "fault" I can find in it. I visited their flagship store on 99th St. and bought a nice assortment of goodies, including a scone, a strawberry rhubarb square and a vegan granola bar (no, I did not eat them all at once!), and they were all excellent. They also offer very nice lunches (daily soups and sandwiches) as well as "take and bake" items that you can pop in your oven and pretend you made them from scratch. Whether you are in the mood for sweet or savoury, Wild Earth has you covered!
Dauphine Bakery and Bistro- This Edmonton favourite has a nice location near Jasper in downtown Edmonton. Quite conveniently, the Saturday Farmer's Market sets up right in front of their storefront, allowing them to bring out a nice spread of their goodies to eager market-goers. Of all their delicious treats, it was the apricot square that stole my heart with its oat crust and dried apricot filling. A little tip- they sell giant ones at the Farmer's Market that are much larger than the ones in their store and when something tastes this yummy, you will for sure want more of it:)
Padmanadi- After enjoying both a brunch and a dinner at Padmanadi, I can confidently say that this place is well worth a visit. Their brunch menu is very unique in that it puts an Asian twist on brunch favourites, like the Tom Yum Tofu scramble and the Thai Benedict with bean sprouts, basil and a peanut hollandaise. I finally decided on the Spicy Eggplant "Omelet" which was wrapped in fried bean curd instead of egg and served with a delicious medley of root vegetables hashbrowns and toast. It was certainly one of the most original brunches I have ever had, portions were VERY generous and, most importantly, it was really yummy!
Because I enjoyed my brunch so much and have am partial to eggplant, I played it safe and ordered the Spicy Eggplant for dinner when went back the second time. It is easy to understand why it is a Padmanadi favourite. The large pieces of eggplant are stirfried with a balanced sauce of sweet and spicy.
Padmanadi is definitely worth the visit for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Not only is the food great, but they space is very inviting and "home-y", with subtle (not tacky) Asian accents and family photos on the walls. It is no surprise that there is usually a packed house of happy customers here!
Culina at the Muttart- Culina has several locations in Edmonton but we decided to visit them at the Muttart Conservatory, a horticultural attraction housed inside pyramids that are one of the city's iconic attractions. Unfortunately, we did not have time to enter the gardens on this visit but it is definitely on the bucket list the next time we are in town.
Culina is located right inside the entrance of the Muttart and in the summer, it has a outside patio for guests to enjoy. The inside space is quite small and fills up quickly on weekends (reservations recommended). They are open for lunch during the week and offer a selection of soups, sandwiches, salads and baked goods. They also do great local coffee (Iconoclast) and even offer some great local beers. Brunch is available on the weekends, with a menu complete with lunch favourites like my soup of the day (broccoli and kale) with a side salad, as well as more traditional brunch fare enjoyed by Hubby and our friend like a breakfast burrito and eggs benedict.
Overall, we enjoyed the experience but did find service to be a little less friendly than other places in Edmonton (this comes up frequently in other reviews as well). I would be inclined to visit on a visit to see the gardens, especially in the summer when I bet the outdoor patio is quite charming.
Sugarbowl- One of the necessities of any university town is a place for students to grab a hearty breakfast after a night out on the town. And that is exactly what Sugarbowl is. There was a 45 minute wait when we arrived at around 11:30 am on a Sunday morning but we are glad we waited. We really enjoyed the lighthearted vibe and the friendly service. Although the food is nothing too out-of-the-box, it is solid and they have some good daily specials (Hubby loved the meatloaf). It is easy to tell why this little spot has become somewhat of an Edmonton establishment.
I have previously blogged about the two outstanding dinners that Hubby and I enjoyed in Edmonton. Check them out!
As you can probably tell, I was quite impressed with all that Edmonton has to offer in terms of coffee, baked goods and restaurants. It seems that its culinary scene is growing and I expect they will keep getting better and better with each passing year.
I hope to be even more impressed when I come back again next year!