While romance is in the air in February, not everyone in Edmonton has his or her eyes set on romantic dates for two. Some are happily single, some have significant others in other cities while others simply haven’t found the right one. And, while diners and restaurants will be filled to the brim with couples, Avenue has located some of the best spots in town to ditch the dating scene and enjoy a meal alone.
Prairie Noodle Shop
You can’t love someone until you love yourself. And you can’t love yourself until you’ve really treated yourself to one of the biggest, thickest, most succulent soups Edmonton has to offer.
Sound depressing? Because it really isn’t. While you could dine with someone at Prairie Noodle, it’s almost a blasphemy. Ramen like my favourite, the spicy garlic miso, is enough to warm you up inside for a few reasons. Featuring a rich and thick pork broth accented by a mix of miso, garlic and chili oil, the soup packs just enough heat to warm your insides. It doesn’t hurt that it’s served up hot in front of your eyes either. I recommend sitting at the restaurant’s bar which lines the kitchen; if you’re not chatting up the culinary creatures, you can watch longingly as your ramen is crafted. There’s only one thing more satisfying than watching the spicy garlic miso come to life, and that is savouring the experience on your own. Focus intently on slurping up every ounce of succulent, roasted pork belly and a healthy heap of smoked pork shoulder surrounded by loads of sweet corn marinated bean sprouts and the city’s best umeboshi (pickled plum) egg before that new love of yours grows cold. –Cory Haller
Upscale seafood joints might be synonymous with date night, but when the venue has been transformed into a kitschy ship – complete with fish nets, maps, barometers and riggings – it’s a different story. Black Pearl Seafood Bar offers a 12-seat bar, so you’ll want to take in the party-of-one experience. Go on a Tuesday when it hosts its popular Buck a Shuck night, featuring a variety of the freshest oysters from the west and east coast. Try the miyagi – it sell outs fast, so get there early – a west coast variety with a crisp flavour and mild brininess that works well with the supplied tabasco and pickle juice. For an east coast variety, order the raspberry point, which are meaty with a sweet finish. Sure, oysters might be relationship fodder, as they’re said to be aphrodisiacs. But, oysters are good for solo eating as you won’t want to share. Plus, paying a buck or two for oysters won’t break the bank either, allowing you to take full advantage of the underrated cocktail menu. Solo dining means you can indulge yourself, so you don’t have to worry about the niceties of having just one drink. Trust me, you’ll want to order a few. –Jasmine Salazar
In the evening, Cafe Bicyclette is the perfect spot for a date – the warm lighting, brick wall and rustic French dishes will have you feeling like you’ve travelled to a brasserie in Paris. However, in the mornings and for weekend brunch, it becomes an ideal spot for solo dining. The floor-to-ceiling windows fill the space with light, and there are plenty of smaller tables and little nooks perfect for settling in with a good book. And, in the warmer months, you also have the option of enjoying your petit dejeuner al fresco on the patio. There’s really no better way to start your day off than with a crepe – sweet or savoury, whichever you prefer – and steaming cafe au lait.-Adrianna Szenthe
For those who have travelled to Italy, the standup bar should be a familiar concept. Cafes and restos are more relaxed. Rather than ordering a grande latte or giant feast from your seat, you’re encouraged to hit the bar, order an espresso and a quick bite and come back a couple hours later for your next boost. At Uccellino, the third restaurant in Chef Daniel Costa’s Jasper Avenue empire, the concept of the standup bar is alive and well in Edmonton.
It’s the perfect respite for those on the go, moving from one evening event to another, or getting that quick glass of wine after work.
While one could sit and dine on large plates of pasta, the standup bar encourages a more playful tone of interaction with the bartender and patrons standing with you.
The bar’s menu is paired down to the spuntini – quick eats and bar snacks – such as the culatello (covered in a vast amount of parmigiano and saba) and the palpette di pane (crispy fritters stuffed with a metled pecorino cheese and salami). Enjoy with a prosecco, wine or a cocktail while chatting it up with others on the go like yourself. –C.H.
Any spot near the University of Alberta is great for dining alone, because chances are it’ll be filled with students working on papers or catching up on their assigned reading – you won’t be the only solo diner, if that’s something that concerns you. The Sugarbowl has become a Garneau institution, and the warm atmosphere will have you making new friends in no time. Plus, there’s often a line snaking out the door, so having a party of one is actually an advantage – just pull up a seat at the cozy horseshoe bar. The bartender can help you navigate the extensive beer list and steer you towards something new, and the comfort food options can’t be beat. If you’re there in the morning, sample the legendary cinnamon bun, and for evening dining, the lamb burger is a must – it remains one of my most recommended dishes, and pairs impeccably with many of the beers on tap. –A.S.