As I reflect on 2018—particularly in terms of food I ate, made, or places I tried—I wish I had blogged more! The drafts of my blog backend would tell you the same. When it comes to eating out in 2018, I was fortunate enough to try a lot of amazing spots in and around Edmonton (and beyond), but didn’t actually get around to fully blogging the experiences.
But it was a fine year for Edmonton eats trying both new and old favourites, even without the individual blog post chronicle.
Below, I’m sharing a year-in-review / recap featuring a bunch of restaurants I ate out at in 2018 that maybe you’d like to try in 2019! There are so many great options for dining out in Edmonton, I’m glad to see that 2018 found myself back at a lot of my favourites but also new eateries too. If the year was longer, and I had more money (lol) there are a lot of old favourites I wish I could’ve revisited too (I can’t wait to try them again in 2019!)
Note: this is not an exhaustive list of everywhere I ate in 2018 (if you can believe it… I ate out a lot in 2018. lol This next year will likely be a slimmer list though as I hopefully focus more on homecooking). It’s more of a ‘some selected highlights’ list.
Where was your favourite places to eat this year? Any places you look forward to trying in 2019?
Let me know in the comments!!
2018 Food Year in Review: Eating Out in Edmonton
The year started off strong with visits to favourites like Chartier in Beaumont (the best brunch!) and Northern Chicken on 124 Street (love the hot chicken and all the sides). We tried new (to us) spots Biera in Ritchie Market (get the samplerdoodle, and share all the dishes), El Fogon Latino on 118 Avenue (the most delicious Venezuelan arepas), Saccomanno Bros in the northeast corner of the city (housemade pasta and pizzas), and The Holy Roller (green beans, pasta, chicken and pintxos were lovely) and Cat Cafe on Whyte in Old Strathcona (for some lattes and cat-themed macarons). We also revisited the always lovely Nongbu Korean (the ssam lettuce wraps and ddukbbokki spicy rice cakes are the best), tried the new brunch menu at The Rec Room West Edmonton Mall (Breakfast of Champions poutine ya’ll!), and tried the Beer Buffet at Urban Tavern in Jasper Ave. (they also have great housemade kettle chips!)
Travel Eats: in January, we also ate our way through Fort McMurray visiting Mike’s family up there. The sandwiches at Mitchell’s Cafe were lovely, and we had a nice time at the Wood Buffalo Brewing Co.
This month was all about repeat dishes. We ate at Bodega Tapas & Wine Bar on 124 Street twice (those wild boar cheeks are incredible, as is literally every single thing on the Bodega menu). I also had two separate lunch dates to The Moth Cafe, for some delicious vegan fare (the spaghetti and “meatballs,” jack fruit crab cakes and soup are quite good). There were multiple visits to both Love Pizza and Blaze Pizza (BYOP build your own pizza is the greatest). And we went back to some favourites including Kazoku Ramen on the west end for Mike’s most preferred black garlic ramen and my tonkatsu curry, and Seoul Fried Chicken just off Whyte for their wicked lunch set deal (a wicked deal, which includes their unbelievably phenomenal pesto mac n cheese). Some new-to-us spots we tried included Let’s Grill Izakaya downtown and Saviours Cafe and Bistro in St. Albert.
Travel Eats: in February we also ate at the Fairmont Banff Spring’s Waldhaus Pub (the chocolate fondue banana pancakes are to die for), tried the eggs benedicts at Tooloulou’s in Banff, and had the very best sandwiches (seriously, the porchetta and the cubano!!!) from Empire Provisions in Calgary!
We tried two new restaurants for brunch in March including the Rooster Cafe on Whyte Ave. and the new Buco Pizzeria + Wine Bar in Windermere. We also returned to a brunch favourite The Local Omnivore for their meat board and pirate poutine (one of the best poutines in the city!!). March also means the return of Downtown Dining Week, visiting local downtown restaurants including a favourite—Rostizado (those to-die-for churros!!!!) I returned to Prairie Noodle Shop for ramen and we tried Island Cafe and Bistro for a classic Malaysian dinner. Speaking of Malaysian cuisine, we also revisited Tropika on Calgary Trail (those skewers!) Lots of Korean restaurants seemed to open in the last year but in March I went to try an old Korean spot Don Day in the south side. Poke became super mainstream with longstanding Japanese spots like Kyoto starting to offer a dish, and this month I got to have one of my favourite dishes—XIX’s Chef Andrew Fung’s ahi tuna twists at NAIT Ernest’s Alumni showcase night.
Travel Eats: in March, we indulged at Devour Food Film Festival at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. It was amazing—from chilli to charcuterie and a fancy multi-course meal inspired by really lovely short food films. We also headed out to Saskatoon for the very first time with Tourism Saskatoon, falling in love with all the amazing local restaurants there, like the Odd Couple, Sticks and Stones and Baba’s Homestyle Perogies (a perogy drive-thru spot!).
April was the start of a few visits to Nuovo Bistro on 124 Street, and I fell in love with the kimchi nabe hot stone glass noodle chicken bowl at Noodle Bar by Nomiya in Oliver Square. I started having more bingsu shave ice dessert including trying the offering at Snowy Village downtown. Also downtown, I discovered the deliciousness of Bar Clementine’s food and drinks (any order will bring you happiness here). There were multiple King Noodle House Pho Hoang soup stops in Chinatown (thanks mom and dad!), spam and poke visits to Ono Poke Co. on 104 Street, a stop just off 124 Street to RGE RD, some 97 Street Hot Pot and I got to try tasty noodle dishes from lots of local restaurants as a judge at the Mount Royal Culinary Arts Cookoff competition / fundraiser. I went for brunch at Central Social Hall and also had some sausage at Salz and treats at its sister-cafe District
Travel Eats: in April we made our way down to Calgary again (love Calgary!!) for the Calgary Expo and returned to a favourite food spot: Ten Foot Henry, along with some new-to-us restaurants like Two Penny, The Tea House and Bridgette Bar.
May was busy with the Edmonton International Cat Festival but we still managed to squeeze in some great eats. In Chinatown, we tried the new Kanto 98 Street Eatery (twice!) for delicious Filipino comfort and street food (the fried chicken, bao and garlic fried rice is awesome. I also love seeing what their daily special is!) I also went back to a Chinatown favourite Gui Lin Noodle House with my dad. May signals the return of food truck season so I got to eat some tasty baos at Kabao (the shiitake mushroom bao is my favourite!), and an awesome cubano sandwich and pina colada at the new Lil Havana Food Truck. We seafood feasted at the new Captain’s Boil, and hit the patio at our neighbourhood Original Joe’s. Another favourite of ours—HanJan got a couple visits for their delicious Korean food (the pork belly and strawberry bingsu dessert are MUST ORDERS!). I also got a chance to try and talk up the new food options at RAAS (now Fourpost) in West Edmonton Mall, devoured a creamy, comforting carbonara udon at Izakaya Tomo, and got some of my favourite ice cream flavours at 80 Flavours Ice Cream—matcha green tea and black sesame!
In June, we spent a lot of time on 124 Street, visiting the magical backyard patio at Bodega (we go here a lot), finally tried Zwick’s delicious and cheap pretzels, stopped into Nuovo for some more pasta, and had brunch at Tiramisu Bistro including their spaghetti eggs benny! On Alberta Avenue, I had some more cheap and delicious eats at Paraiso Tropical Latin Food Market, and went into City Hall to eat one of the best lunches I’ve had all year at The Hallway Cafe—food made by Edmonton youth. We also used Skip the Dishes a bit this month, including a delivery from Chateau Beirut (their garlic sauce is incredible). Cactus Club helped us kick off the summer with their awesome patio party (where we had a serious number of delicious chicken sliders and ravioli). We returned again this month on their patio for even more sliders and ravioli. We also returned to a pasta favourite vivo ristorante, and a sandwich favourite Farrow. I helped host a bridal shower in June which included the cutest cookies from The Hungry Hippo Bakery, and I got to eat some of favourite seared salmon sushi and bento box from Japonais Bistro.
Travel Eats: a work trip brought me out to Regina, where I got to try the tasty Avenue Restaurant and Bar and Victoria’s Tavern. Plus, I was back in Calgary (lol I told you I go to YYC a lot) for SocialWest social media conference, and while there, got to try all you can eat sushi at Oishii Sushi.
In July (my birthday month!) Mike and I hit the patio at XIX and shared a bunch of delicious dishes. This month was also all about festivals and events—including eating our way through Taste of Edmonton, K-Days, and Northern Bite’s saskatoon berry picking and pie making night. I was also invited to experience The Shaw Conference Centre’s multi-course Chef’s Dinner and judge the K-Days New Foods Contest. My friends and I got together to cook a meal for families at the Ronald McDonald House, tackled the giant Texas Mule drink at Cactus Club, devoured the devilled eggs at Baijiu in the Mercer Building, returned to An Chay on Jasper Ave. for vegetarian Vietnamese, got a wicked burger and duck tots from WHY NOT Cafe & Bar, took an Explore Edmonton pilot green onion cake making class at Get Cooking, couldn’t stop eating the chicharrines puff snack and chicharron cheese crisp at Huma Mexican, beat the heat with black charcoal ice cream cones from Y’elod Ice Cream and Bake Shoppe, ate all the tasty thin crust pizza at Leva Cafe, Taco Tuesday-ed at El Cortez Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar and had an awesome jazz and food night at The Vintage Fork in the historic Rutherford House.
August was another busy travel month, with trips to both Montreal, Quebec and Kelowna, British Columbia to celebrate the marriage of our lovely friends. We also took trips all over Alberta to film videos with Travel Alberta, and drove up to Grande Cache, Alberta working with their tourism board to try out the food up there (Grande Cache has Alberta’s best prime rib, and an amazing sushi restaurant!)
Eats out back home were therefore a bit more limited, though I did get to squeeze in a few Yum Noodle Soups for lunch from Chix Shack (SO YUM!), try the new Wilfred’s in the Brewery District, and became a repeat visitor to Mama Asha Cafe along 118 Avenue. I also got to try Caribbean’s Finest (those plantain chips are addictive!) as part of the Eats on the Ave food crawl. My family also gave 852 Hong Kong Cafe a try for a pretty satisfying multi-course family dinner, returned to MEAT for brunch (so good!), had the chorizo butter/spiced popcorn from Meuwlys (along with their housemade condiments and pupsicles!) and tried the delicious Bacon Fest offering (pulled pork and candied bacon on cornbread) from the new Revival House located in the same building as The Starlight Room downtown. We also celebrated sustainable seafood at SABOR for their annual Seafood Festival.
Additional travel food highlights included a family-style dinner at Perch rooftop patio in Kelowna, ice cream at MOOLIX, organizing a Kelowna bachelorette food and drink crawl and delicious Montreal eats at Canada’s largest food truck festival, all the smoked meat at Schwartz’s, bagels at St .Viateur and breakfast poutine at L’Ensoleillee.
After a busy summer eating out, we toned it down just a bit in September. Rostizado launched a new lunch menu so I was totally there for that. I was invited to Workshop Eatery for Chef Paul Shufelt’s annual Bacon Day in support of YESS as well as the FEASTival of Fine Chefs dinner at the Shaw Conference Centre. My dad and I frequented Midnight Sun on 124 Street for very satisfying Vietnamese/Chinese lunches. I was back at Mama Asha Cafe, returned to The Melting Pot for some fondue with friends, and tried the live music and brunch at Station on Jasper. Continuing from the summer, I also visited Tsujiri Japanese Green Tea House several times for O-Matcha teas.
September also included another weekend trip to Calgary that was very food-focused, where we made macarons at Ollia Macarons & Tea, became obsessed with Bread & Circus Trattoria, had awesome shakshuka at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, brunch at The Beltliner, and dinner and drinks at ONE18 Empire in the Marriott Hotel Downtown. We also did a Savouring 17th Ave. food crawl with Alberta Food Tours which included several tasty stops!
In October, Mike and I were away for most of the month on our five-year wedding anniversary trip to Italy, France and Spain, so there were just a few eating out adventures back home. I returned to NAIT Ernest’s for an awesome lunch, tried the Korean food at Wing Chicx, got some macarons at Duchess Bake Shop, croissants from Chocorrant, had the most delicious and cheapest hot and sour soup and green onion cake meal at the new Green Onion Cake Man storefront on 118th Ave., returned (again!) to Mama Asha Cafe (also on 118th Ave.) and celebrated the opening of the new and very delicious OEB Breakfast in the old Kelly Ramsay (Enbridge Centre) building downtown.
For travel eats, Mike and I had quite the meals in Europe. Check out my Travel Guide: 10 Foods to Eat in Rome, Italy for just a taste of what we eat during our awesome anniversary trip.
In November, my family tried the new-ish Miga Korean Restaurant which I’d happily return to. A new spot I also tried was Jang Korean on Jasper Ave., which is another spot I’d love to return to. I was also invited to the grand opening of Louisiana Purchase’s new north Edmonton location. But the rest of the month was all about return visits. I was happy to dine again at the amazing Uccellino, SABOR, Clementine, HanJan, Kanto 98 St. Eatery, An Chay, Kyoto and Mikado, Noodle Bar by Nomiya, Chix Shack, and Workshop Eatery.
The latter part of December was filled with home cooked meals and hang outs for the holidays, but the first half included lunches and dinners out at Dorinku Izakaya, Bundok, Chinese Hot Pot Buffet, the new Hui’s Wontons (southside), Seoul Fried Chicken, Jack’s Drive-In and Broadway & Grand in Spruce Grove, Khazana, and Van Loc’s Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.
Mike and I also found ourselves in Banff two weekends back-to-back in December, where we got to dine at 7,510 ft. at Sky Bistro (Banff Gondola). We also indulged at the Fairmont Banff Spring’s Sunday brunch buffet in The Vermillion Room.
When I look back on this slice of eats I experienced in and around Edmonton in 2018, I feel really full and fortunate.
As a long-time food blogger, people often ask if I get most of my dining experiences for free. The answer is no. I spend almost all the money I have on eating or travelling—those are two very important, life-fulfilling items for me, and seeing just some of where I ate in 2018 in a year-end review like this makes me very happy about my life choices, lol.
As mentioned, there are a lot of old favourites I didn’t get a chance to visit in 2018 that are top of my list for 2019, but I also hope to do more homecooking this coming year as well. In particular, I’ll be leaning on my mom to share her Vietnamese recipes with me, which I hope to blog as well.
I hope this year-in food review inspires you to explore your backyard, neighbourhood, city, and beyond, too!
There’s certainly no shortage of damn good food in the Edmonton area.
Happy New Year!!