The west end, Whyte Avenue, St. Albert and the river valley — the Edmonton area has so many great places to eat, and these Edmontonians have delicious stories to tell.
By Cory Schachtel, Liam Newbigging, Steven Sandor | June 27, 2023
Going out to eat isn’t just about the food. It’s about celebrations. It’s about sharing stories. That’s why we care so much about the restaurants we love. We feel as welcomed in their dining rooms as we are in our own homes.
Food carries so many special memories for us. And that’s why, year after year, we ask prominent Edmontonians to tell us about the things they love to eat in this city. There are so many stories to tell, we can’t fit them all into the magazine — look for more throughout the summer at edifyedmonton.com.
President and CEO, NorQuest College
“Rockin’ Robyn’s has been so special to our family ever since my husband and I started going there for breakfast once a week. We’re both really busy at work all the time, and it’s just been such a great place to catch up on our weeks. And because we go there so frequently, we know all the staff and the owner. I just get the same thing literally every single time — they don’t even need to write it down: one blueberry pancake, oatmeal and one poached egg. I’ve tried to get that in other restaurants too, and to a degree it works, but it’s never quite like Rockin’ Robyn’s.
“It’s just all the things that I think are delicious — and then I have one egg, because I should have a little bit of protein to go with all those carbs. And it’s not on the menu — I mean, they have all those things, but they just put it together for me.
“It’s our weekly date, every week, but sometimes the whole family comes along. But they get way more of the rich items. They’ll have cinnamon French toast, or anything slathered with whipped cream or syrup. And my husband has been starting to get these more proper, savoury things like avocado toast.
“It’s a very social thing for my family. And then because we go every single week, it turns into a social thing for the servers that are there too. There’s one server, named Jessir, and we know all about his trips back home and his family and when he’s going again. It’s such a positive way to start a Saturday. And then, if we have time, we go on Sunday too!” — C.S
“First off, they’re huge — they feed like four people. And they’re the most beautiful plate of nachos you’ll ever get. They use the coloured chips, so there are three colours. You have it with the chicken — they do have that pulled pork nonsense, but I’m tired of people wanting to put pulled pork on nachos. It feels like people are trying to elevate nachos. And I’m like, please don’t. I come from the trailer park. I want old-fashioned nachos, something good and greasy, and pulled pork — that’s just not me.
“But I also like them pretty. I want to take a picture of them, because I’m one of those people who take pictures of their food to prove I exist online. And the best part about Spotlight is they’ve got the best patio in town. I work in theatre, and it overlooks the Fringe grounds, so it’s fantastic. Like we’ll finish the show at the Varscona and me and my cast mates will all go up to the rooftop, and you spread the nachos out in front of you, and behind it is the Fringe site, and it’s the perfect framing of composition. Then you dig in.” — C.S
Cecilia Wong was disappointed when her former favourite makers of Xiaolongbao (Pork Soup Dumplings) closed during the pandemic. But she and her group of bowling friends were impressed with how well BaoBao prepared the dish when it opened in 2020.
“It can be hard to come by something that’s authentic and traditional and done really well,” Wong says, reminiscing on BaoBao’s Xiaolongbao execution.
She says these dumplings are about the “balance” between the thickness of the wrap and the weight of the broth. The wrapper can’t be too thick, or it might “feel like you’re just chewing on flour,” and it can’t be too thin — otherwise, it’ll fall apart before it reaches your mouth. — L.N.
Division Marketing Manager, Land Development, Rohit Group of Companies
Marty Pawlina remembers his anticipation for a new restaurant called the Dogpatch. Living in Riverdale, he walked past it over the months it was being constructed, seeing the place come together piece by piece. He recalls reading the story behind its name, which pays homage to the history of one of Edmonton’s historic communities.
“In the 1800s, there was a little area for many newcomers,” says Pawlina. “They built tiny brick houses in this area, and it was called the Dogpatch.”
After months of waiting and a long hibernation from restaurants during COVID-19 restrictions, he could finally take that first bite into the Brickyard Burger. It’s a chuck burger patty with the classic fixings of fresh lettuce, tomato and pickles topped with burger sauce. Pawlina always adds bacon and some gooey Gruyère cheese, and a side of Fried Halloumi Poutine.
“It’s like a pretty hearty, delicious burger,” he says. “It feels really familiar and just has a great taste.”
Now Marty can take his almost two-year-old daughter to the family-friendly restaurant or sit on the quiet neighbourhood patio with friends and take in the vibes.
“It’s a totally different feel. When you go there, it’s not like a loud patio facing a large highway or large road.” — L.N.
“I was actually at Sauce recently, and it’s such a nice restaurant, aesthetically. It’s homey, and it’s a great place to go on a date or with family. It’s really friendly, the service is amazing, and what I love about it is their influence is from Jamaica and they actually know the cuisine. Most of their servers are actually from the Caribbean, so they really know these dishes.
“One of my favourite dishes is the oxtail. You can have it spicy or not, and it usually comes with a cassava kind of dish, but I personally like to substitute rice and peas. They have really good appetizers as well, like the Cod Fish Cakes. They’re a little bit spicy, and come with tamarind sauce, which we use a lot in our dishes.
“I like the Pan Seared Basa, and the Yurimein is a fried red snapper which is crispy outside but has juicy flesh inside, with Sauce’s secret spices. This dish is savoury. For dessert, the Cassava Pone is delicious, with vanilla ice cream and passionfruit drizzle.” — C.S
Sauce Modern Caribbean Cuisine McArthur Industrial | 13655 St Albert Trail NW, Edmonton | 825.401.2535 | saucecaribbean.com
Chief Development Officer, University Hospital Foundation
Sean Price says that all of the small plates on offer at Bodega are amazing. So, you can imagine when he and his wife go out to eat there, they have a hard time choosing. And that would be true, save for one dish — the Bacon Wrapped Dates. “The way that the taste of the bacon and the date combines is amazing,” says Price. We all know that salty and sweet work so well together, but Bodega ups the ante by adding Manchego cheese and quince and balsamic reduction. It’s a good thing these come in a nice, even serving of four on a plate. Because, if it’s a date night, you want to split the number right down the middle. — S.S
Bodega Westmount | 12417 Stony Plain Rd, Edmonton Highlands | 6509 112 Ave NW, Edmonton Downtown | 10220 103 St NW, Edmonton Cashman | 916 103A St SW, Edmonton Sturgeon Heights | 1 Hebert Rd #101, St. Albert 410 Baseline Rd #210, Sherwood Park bodegayeg.ca
Photography by Cooper & O’Hara
Hair & Makeup Tiiu Vuorensola MODE
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