I often blog about local restaurants in Edmonton, and in particular, restaurants that highlight Alberta ingredients in their dishes. But that focus on delivering a local food experience isn’t unique to the city, of course!
If you head just south of the big city, you’ll find lots of food gems in Central Alberta and I’d love it if you copied my local food-focused itinerary for a fun overnight excursion to the area!
I planned this Central Alberta food itinerary as an Alberta on the Plate Ambassador.
I wanted to showcase restaurants that support local farmers, producers, growers, distillers, brewers, in Central Alberta year-round!
This list *obviously* does not capture ALL of the amazing local restaurants in Central Alberta who prioritize and showcase local ingredients in their dishes, but it’s a great place to start (and always nice to just follow someone’s food food steps knowing you’re sure to have a great experience too!)
The photos featured in this post are from each restaurant’s 2021 Alberta on the Plate Dine Around Festival menus which I had the pleasure of digging into as an Alberta on the Plate ambassador, but even if these specific dishes aren’t available for your visit, please know you’ll still have amazing, locally-focused options to order when you go.
Copy my Food Itinerary: 5 Spots to Eat Local in Central Alberta
This post was developed as part of a partnership with Alberta on the Plate
Here’s my Central Alberta Food Tour Route:
- Depart Edmonton
- Head to Wetaskiwin (Stop #1)
- Head to Camrose (Stop #2)
- Head to Red Deer (Stop #3)
- Stay Overnight (Hotel Recommendation)
- More Red Deer Dining (Stop #4 and #5)
- Head home to Edmonton
1. The Glens Grill at Montgomery Glen Golf & Country Club (Wetaskiwin)
Just an hour south of Edmonton is the City of Wetaskiwin. I actually blogged about some awesome things you can do in Wetaskiwin back in Summer 2020 because it’s so close, it makes for a great day trip location, with lots of spots to eat including The Glens Grill at Montgomery Glen Golf & Country Club.
This restaurant has been highlighting local ingredients in their dishes forever, and is known for featuring predominantly locally-grown and produced in Alberta ingredients. You get a beautiful view dining al fresco on their patio, you don’t have to have played a round of golf to order from their menu, and the food is delicious! If it’s on the menu when you go, order pickled cucumber and roast tomato soup—the flavours were amazing. I could have eaten a whole pot!
2. Hart House Wine & Tapa (Camrose)
I LOVE RESTAURANTS THAT ARE INSIDE HOUSES.
They’re so cute. And such a delight when you don’t realize the restaurant is going to be inside a home. So imagine my surprise when I walked up to Hart House Wine & Tapa in Camrose and realized the House in the restaurant name was literal.
This historic home is over 100 years old in the heart of Camrose’s historic Sparling neighbourhood. The upstairs is actually rented out to tenants (imagine living above a wine and tapas joint—the dream). They have a cute backyard patio (literally a backyard, LOL) and a great selection of drinks and tapas (small plates designed to share).
Camrose is just over an hour south east of Edmonton, or a quick half hour jaunt from Wetaskiwin.
If it’s on the menu you go, order their cheesy, spicy, creamy, mashed potato bombs with Irvings Farm bacon. Mm, so delicious!
3. Bo’s Bar & Stage (Red Deer)
In Red Deer, about 1 hour and 40 mins south of Edmonton, locals love Bo’s Bar & Stage, home to amazing food and live entertainment. This restaurant and live music venue has been in the community since 1996 and is well known for their quality dishes and handcrafted cocktails.
The restaurant has got both a front and back patio (you’ll find a beautiful Instagrammable Wall and Instagrammable patio tables in the back!) and—I do not say this lightly—but Bo’s Bar & Stage is home to the BEST mac and cheese I honestly have ever tasted. It features a combination of cheddar and monterey jack, includes bacon, and comes in an individual cast-iron pan, and it is phenomenal!
Stay overnight in Red Deer
At this point of our Central Alberta food journey, while I’d love to recommend you keep eating, you’re probably going to be feeling stuffed after those three food stops, so it’s time to let your tummy digest and settle in for the evening!
During my Central Alberta food tour with Alberta on the Plate, I stayed at the Baymont by Wyndham in Red Deer. You’ve got lots of accommodation options in the city (check Tourism Red Deer’s list here), but I mostly chose the Baymont because I loved the look of their pool / atrium area. How pretty is this?
They also offer a complimentary breakfast (though for the purposes of this food tour, I did not take them up on this offer since I had so much other food to try, lol!) and their hand sanitizer smells amazing, lol seriously.
4. Gasoline Alley Farmers Market (Red Deer)
If you’re like me, regrettably, most of your experience in Red Deer may simply be filling up in Gasoline Alley on your way south, which is the wrong way to ‘do’ Red Deer!
There’s a really tasty reason to plan a longer visit: Red Deer is now home to the Gasoline Alley Farmers Market, a year-round, indoor multi-day market with over 50 local vendors and a ‘Market Kitchen’ with lots of in-house dining options.
So when you wake up refreshed for Day 2 of your Central Alberta food tour, head over to the Gasoline Alley Farmers Market! The market is open Friday through Sunday and the kitchen is open Tuesday through Sunday so make sure you pick your food tour dates accordingly.
80% of market vendors are Albertans who make, bake, grow and sew the products they sell. The market is also home to the Craft Beer Commonwealth, a microbrewery and on-site taproom! Check out spots like Neelam’s Kitchen, Taco Monster, Baba Jody’s Perogies, Birdy Coffee Co., and Organic Ancient Grain Bakery from Dovganyuk, to name just a few options for Alberta eats.
5. Cilantro & Chive (Red Deer)
The final food stop on my Central Alberta food tour was Red Deer’s Cilantro & Chive. If this restaurant sounds familiar, you may be thinking of its original location in the City of Lacombe (just 20 minutes north of Red Deer).
Cilantro & Chive has always supported local businesses, farmers and brewers.
When they first opened in 2012, they were working with three craft breweries. Now they offer over 165 beers and ciders! This restaurant is no stranger to accolades, and I even told them from what I’ve seen, they have something of a cult following.
People are die hard Cilantro & Chivers (also, if you’re not big on cilantro, don’t worry, it’s just a name, not a cilantro-themed menu lol).
From Burger of the Months, which highlights local celebrities and raises money for charities, to unusual and interesting Caesars, and something I really respect—a tip share program that sees all tip go into a pool that is divided amongst all staff (not just servers), the team at Cilantro & Chive are building something really special. They also train staff to fill multiple roles, so you’re not only a host, or only a server, or only a bartender, or only a specific kind of chef, you learn how to execute other roles which then makes it easier for everyone else to take days off, or—something shocking in the restaurant industry—take a Friday or Saturday off. And thanks to that tip share, you don’t need to worry if you’re not working a weekend shift. It’s innovative, but it feels like it shouldn’t be? Regardless, it’s really cool and just one aspect of what makes this restaurant a great one!
So there is my Central Alberta Food Tour itinerary you are so welcome to copy!
I hope that gives you just a few ideas for visiting some Central Alberta area restaurants that focus on local ingredients in their dishes!
I only included five food stops on my itinerary but you could certainly add a third before heading home on Day 2, if you wish (and your stomach allows! lol) If you wanted to extend your visits, you could certainly stay longer in Wetaskiwin and Camrose too.
- Check out my 2020 Wetaskiwin blog post
- Check out my 2020 Explore Lacombe & Red Deer Road Trip blog post
- Check out my 2017 Explore Red Deer & Lacombe blog post
I’m also headed to Camrose to experience and share even more things to see, do (and eat!) in that city, so I’ll update this post with a link to that blog guide when it’s ready.
There’s lots of restaurants across the province highlighting local ingredients on their menus year-round, you can check out Alberta on the Plate as a great resource to plan where to eat next.
If you have other suggestions for Central Alberta eateries with a focus on local ingredients, let me and other readers know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: I was hired as an Ambassador for Alberta on the Plate to dine at and promote local restaurants featuring local ingredients. This does not impact opinions stated in this post. As you know, I am a big proponent of local food and businesses and it was awesome trying restaurants focused on local cuisine in Central Alberta.
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