After a rough year, Edmonton’s restaurants return in full form — and so do our Fav Eats. From soup to steaks, pizza to pastries, we live in one flavourful city.
By Edify Staff | August 8, 2022
We asked local personalities to tell us about their go-to dishes in the city — the ones they keep going back for, the meals associated with great memories.
Caroline Stokes has made going to The Next Act a birthday tradition, and she always orders the same special dish.
Her birthday meal of choice is the MEAT Brisket Donair, which has feta cheese, sweet donair sauce, red onion, diced tomatoes and lettuce on naan bread. Stokes tried the dish for the first time in 2017 and hasn’t stopped thinking about it since.
“I crave it weekly, and I like to take myself there on my birthday, on a date, to have that,” says Stokes, comedian and artist.
Stokes has celebrated four birthdays at The Next Act, and visits at least once a month, but hasn’t been back since before the pandemic. She can’t wait until she feels comfortable enough to go out, plop down at the bar and get to know the friendly faces working there.
“I like that they are very inclusive and anyone is welcome there,” says Stokes. “They do a really great job of making people feel comfortable, and that’s another thing I really appreciate about it.”
“Being a north-side guy, I always love to promote the north side. I drove by Lovely Pizza one day and I was like, well, pizza sounds good. So I went in, and I realized that the name is deceptive, because they have pizza, but they also have a full-blown Indian menu. I asked why they have that name, and it’s basically a smart ploy to get people in, because there’s a common misconception with Indian food that it’s so spicy that people don’t order it. So the name gets them in the door, and then it’s the best of both worlds.
I’m originally from Kamloops, B.C., and my mom and grandma and their cooking are still there. And because of my evening work schedule, I can’t really attend Indian weddings, where the buffets are unbelievable. I also can’t cook Indian food myself — I like to eat, not cook.
So I hold high expectations for Indian restaurants, and there were a few dishes that reminded me of my grandma’s cooking and my mom’s cooking. The one dish I absolutely recommend for everybody to try is called the Channa Masala. It’s basically chickpeas marinated in sauce — it can be creamy or a little bit thinner — and Lovely Pizza’s is like the perfect version of what my mom makes. It’s not overly spicy, but it is great with rice, it’s great with naan, it’s great with samosas, it’s great with pakoras. It’s a universal dish that can go with anything and they make it so well. And getting something so close to what my mom and grandma make just makes my stomach and my heart happy.”
Fine Dining can be difficult when you have three kids, which is why Ewa Harbinson chooses restaurants that the whole family can enjoy. Best Kabab, just off the Yellowhead, is a family favourite.
“We love the hustle and bustle of the place with the music and videos playing in the background,” says Harbinson. “When we’re in there, we always say we feel like we’re traveling because my husband and I both love to travel. And, one big thing about travel is the food you get to experience, so this place makes us think of that.”
The family’s go-to meal is a few of the mixed shawarma platters, and Harbinson says the portions are large enough to share amongst everyone. Dinner is followed by baklava for dessert. The restaurant also has a selection of locally made goods like pottery and food for sale.
“It’s family friendly, and it’s a place where our kids really enjoy the food, too,” says Harbinson. “And it’s an opportunity to eat different food than the usual bar food if we go somewhere out with the kids.”
Best Kabab, 12503 127 St NW, 780-761-2829
President of Bottom Line Productions
It’s hard to resist the creamy, doughy Ukrainian treats known as pyrizhki. They’re staples at Christmas, Easter and, well, any dinner, and they’re what Darka Tarnawsky craves the most from Malina Ukrainian Bakery.
“They are very generous with their filling, and they’re just delicious,” says Tarnawsky, president of Bottom Line Productions and executive director of Canada’s Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. “They remind me of my baba’s cooking.”
What is pyrizhki? Essentially, it’s baked buns stuffed with mashed potatoes, dill and garlic.
Typically, pyrizhki are small, but what makes Malina’s Pyrizhki unique is its large hamburger-bun size. You can buy pyrizhki with chicken and mushroom, potato and dill, and potato and bacon fillings at Malina.
Tarnawsky discovered the bakery with her daughter when it opened a year ago in Cameron Heights. Her family visits the bakery at least every two months, and Tarnawsky uses them for catering whenever she gets the chance.
“Anytime we’ve served Malina goods at our house, people always talk about them and end up going to Malina as soon as they can to get their own,” says Tarnawsky. “I think a lot of people don’t know about Malina, and they should because it’s definitely worth it.”