For stick-to-your-ribs comfort food in a sophisticated but not stuffy atmosphere, there’s no place like Hardware Grill. The food is approachable but has an added twist that leaves an impression. Chef and owner Larry Stewart’s seasonal menu of prairie cooking puts pastas and proteins front and centre, each with fine details, such as the braised short ribs cooked in red wine and finished with a black coffee barbecue sauce for $18. Since offering a no-splurge afternoon menu in 2010, it’s become the ideal place for downtown power lunches. (9698 Jasper Ave.) –Ana Maria De La Fuente
Maybe it’s the famous mac and cheese – which gets decadently transformed with a mix of three cheeses and bchamel – that makes this one of downtown’s busiest lunch spots. With generous portions, agreeable mid-range prices and truly adventurous entrees, the Blue Plate is a gourmet spot that fools you into thinking it’s a cozy diner. (10145 104 St.) –Steven Sandor
For $10, this Thai restaurant serves you a sweet mushroom soup, two vegetarian spring rolls, a bowl of steamed rice and a dish of chicken, beef or tofu in a curry of your choice. For coconut rice? Add a buck. At this value you might expect the restaurant to look rough around the edges, but Numchok maintains calming Buddhist decor that welcomes any business meeting. (10623 124 St.) –Omar Mouallem
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