2014 Tomato Top 100 Best Things to Eat in Edmonton

Last year, when we asked Tomato readers for their opinions on the best things to eat, we thought it was a one-time feature, a way to celebrate the 100th issue. But, after being deluged with tweets, emails, phone calls, letters, and facebook posts, we realized that once was not enough. Our readers demand to be heard!

This year we welcomed a tsunami of comments, votes, seconders, and heartfelt odes to a dish or a place. Comments were funny, pointed (we were scolded a few times for not talking enough about someone’s favourite restaurant. Duly noted). We rediscovered old favourites and were introduced to tasty new items.

Thank you to all who voted, campaigned for their favourites, and entered the debate with a sense of fun and discovery. It’s been a pleasure. To those nominated; long may you prosper.

A few trends noted: less Asian on the list this year but we remain loyal to our pho; cauliflower is the new kale; and we love our sweets — there were more nominations for cookies than anything else. But, we noticed that several came from the same addresses 😉

We miss the Greek deli off 124 Street, and we said goodbye to Oasia, Bistro Saisons and Niche last year, a reminder of just how hard the restaurant business can be.

Corso Short Ribs
Corso Short Ribs

1. Corso 32
There’s no doubt that Edmontonians love Corso’s food. The Jasper Avenue restaurant tops the list for the second time with the most votes for a variety of dishes. The beloved beef short rib with fresh pear edged out spaghetti bolo, parsnip agnolotti, rabbit ragu, arancini, and the salted hazelnut chocolate dessert for the top spot. We give a shout out for their innovative, mostly Italian wine list, cocktails and amaro offerings. And we’re thrilled that Daniel Costa is opening two new spots this year, right next door to Corso 32— we bet they’ll be hip, stylish and, most importantly, delicious.

Korean fried cauliflower
Korean fried cauliflower

2. Tavern 1903
Tavern 1903’s KFC Korean fried cauliflower. Larry and Melinda Stewart’s second restaurant opened this summer to raves — the room comfortable, the food accessible, the cocktail list fun and modern. The idea that cauliflower can hit number two on a Best Of list points to something: are vegetables being taken more seriously in the land of meat and potatoes? Is cauliflower the new kale? Yes and yes.

Mushrooms with Egg Yolk
Mushrooms with Egg Yolk

3. Three Boars Eatery
Three Boars Eatery changes its menu frequently, which is good, but it does make it more complicated for fans to pick just one thing, so they don’t. The mushrooms with egg yolk on toast topped the list, lamb neck croquette was a close second, with honourable mentions: the addictively crispy anchovy-stuffed olives, toothsome pad thai and chilling with a cocktail and the boys at the main floor bar. We’re looking forward to Farrow, their new sandwich shop next door, slated for a late spring opening.

Arancini rice balls

4. Cibo Bistro
The simple rice ball called arancini is having its moment. The best place to enjoy them, especially at lunch, is at Cibo Bistro. Crispy on the outside, laden with cheese and other good stuff on the inside. We have a friend who does a drive-by several times a week — calls from his car and takes them home in a box. Voters also loved the beef cheeks, lobster tortellini and polenta fritta with salami at this friendly and authentic Italian eatery. We love their $13 lunch.

5. The Sugarbowl
Breakfast at the Sugarbowl: cinnamon bun and the huevos rancheros were mentioned most frequently. If we had a best-casual-atmosphere-with-the-nicest-people-behind-the-bar award it would go to the Sugarbowl.
The Marc’s pommes frites with truffled mayo
Pommes frites with truffled mayo

6. The Marc
The Marc’s pommes frites with truffled mayo. Ok, who doesn’t love french fries? And who doesn’t love French fries shared with mushroomy-scented mayo and a glass of Champagne? That, my friends, is one of life’s affordable luxuries. Another reason to flock to the Marc — they understand hospitality; how it can turn a humdrum Tuesday-night-after-work-dinner into something that feeds the soul.

7. Rge RD
Rge Rd is another restaurant where it’s hard to pin down a favourite dish as the menu changes with the seasons. One thing we know for sure, the unmentionable bits (chef Blair Lebsack’s magic with the parts of the animal we would rather not think about) rewards the brave. Scotch eggs were mentioned and diners don’t forget a dish. Reader Cynthia Strawson is still talking about the green bean and lemon curd appetizer she enjoyed last fall.
pork belly with udon noodles
Pork belly with udon noodles

8. Tomo Izakaya
It’s a dead heat between Izakaya Tomo’s tonpei yaki, pork and cabbage with okonomi sauce; and the pork belly in broth. We know a chef who pops by for a double order of the pork belly with udon noodles. Now, that’s a bowl of deliciousness. Tomo’s delicate salad rolls, seaweed salad, Japanese beers and the credible saké list complete the experience. Ask Chis to pair saké with your dishes for the full izakaya immersion.

9. x1x Nineteen
x1x Nineteen has a winner in the ahi tuna twist appetizer with something like 10 million sold. (Kidding, but it is a big number.) Readers waxed rhapsodic about the hoisin-glazed short ribs, and we are huge fans of chef Andrew Fung’s tender sous vide pork rack and the deeply-flavoured lamb shanks.
The Glass Monkey’s Charcuterie

10. Glass Monkey
We love the relaxed vibe at Glass Monkey. What readers love even more are the charcuterie plates, for their variety, quality and sheer beauty. And who knew roasted broccoli could taste so good? Dishes like this will make vegetable lovers out of carnivores.

11. Winter City drinks
Kudos to all the Winter City drink entries. Here’s to the winners: home-made Rosemary Ginger Beer by the culinary students at Jasper Place High School and the cardamom-scented, rum-laced coffee Birkie Break from Transcend Coffee. Drink up!
12. The Cavern
Cheese boards at the Cavern. We’re seeing more cheese and charcuterie boards, which is a good thing, and the Cavern’s boards are some of the best value in town. The cheeses are in impeccable condition, always.
13. Jack’s Burger Shack
Jack’s Burger Shack in St Albert has rabid fans, plus you have to love a joint that names a burger the Vicki Cristina Barcelona. We’re not sure what the movie/burger connection is but we’re loving it just the same. Howard the Duck, a beef patty with roasted duck, bacon, avocado and lettuce, tomato and mayo was most mentioned.
14. Dauphine Bakery
Dauphine Bakery’s lemon tart has just the right amount of creamy to sour lemon, worth going down the stairs for.
15. Cally’s Teas
Cally’s Teas scones and tea service was mentioned several times. Walshcooks tweeted: ‘Just had the most delish scone jam and cream ever at Cally’s teas.’
16. Duchess Bakeshop
A tweeter called the Courteau family tourtière from Duchess Bakeshop ‘their delicious new Christmas tradition’. We’ll add that to the perennial list of fave dishes from the Duchess; salted caramel macaron, the Duke, the gruyere croissant, double ginger cookie, and the incredible fruit pies.
17. Italian Centre
The pizza at the west end Italian Centre is the real deal, thin crust pizza with a variety of fresh toppings. We like the one laden with Parma ham and arugula with a lavish drizzle of fruity olive oil.
Evelyn and Harold of Gramma Bear’s Baking
Evelyn and Harold of Gramma Bear’s Baking

18. Gramma Bears
Not only one of the best ways to satisfy a sweet tooth, Gramma Bears butter tarts remains one of the most affordable. Take a few minutes to chat with Evelyn and Harold Dickout at their stand in the Old Strathcona market — you’ll be much happier when you leave. Their chocolate chip cookie has fans; and pick up a couple of frozen pies too, we recommend the pumpkin.

Judy Wu’s Banana Cream Pie/Pudding
Judy Wu’s Banana Cream Pie/Pudding

19. Wild Tangerine
Wild Tangerine’s Fork Fest menu is always a winner. Which dish? It’s a toss-up between the amazing slow-cooked Spring Creek Ranch beef or the banana cream pie/pudding dessert. Or their frog legs, or the popcorn shrimp. Actually, pretty much anything cooked by Judy Wu.

20. Woodwork
Nomad Mac’n Cheese with Crackling at Woodwork. Nuff said.
21. Tavern 1903
Tavern 1903’s Desert Shrub cocktail; tequila, prosecco, grapefruit. Heaven!
22. Sabu Restaurant
We tried the bulgogi udon at Sabu and we liked it. Thanks for the reccie @GreenOnionCake!
The Bothy's Kevin Ostapek with their tomato soup
The Bothy’s Kevin Ostapek with their tomato soup

23. The Bothy Wine Whisky Bar
The Bothy Wine Whisky Bar’s bacon tomato soup. This is full-on rainy day soup. Nothing will warm you faster, except a single malt to follow, if you don’t have to be back at work right away.

24. King Noodle House
King Noodle Pho Hoang. One could argue that there is lots of good pho in town, but we remain united on one thing — there’s only one Moustache Man. Go get a bowl right now.
Mojo Jojo’s pickled carrots
Pickled carrots

25. Mojo Jojo’s Pickles
Mojo Jojo’s salted pear caramel is delicious. But what do our readers reach for every day? The pickled carrots. Crisp, colourful, delicious.

26. Characters Fine Dining
Tableside ‘smores for two at Characters. How fun, how delicious, and what could be better than an elegant restaurant with a sense of humour?
27. Cococo
Cococo’s Salted Caramels achieve the divine balance between salty/sweet/chocolate in both the dark and the milk versions. We applaud master chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho’s dedication to his craft; we admire the pluck and indomitable spirit of the Calgary plant’s staff after the floods last year.
28. Bon Ton Bakery
The hearty loaves made from John Schreiner’s Gold Forest Grains, the sandwich breads, the classic ryes with or without caraway, the European cakes and cookies; the fabulous array of condiments, jams and jellies — what a treasure!
29. The Cheesiry
The Cheesiry Rustico Pecorino. All of their cheeses, really. We are incredibly fortunate to have a couple of really good artisan cheese makers in our region. For pics of adorable baby lambs, check out their facebook page.
30. Hardware Grill
Hardware is one of Edmonton’s best restos. The crack kitchen team executes flawlessly whether smoked salmon with truffled perogies or veal liver. Finish with the classic gingerbread cake with mango ice cream.
31. Mrkt Cafeteria
A cup of Carla Alexander’s soul soup makes everything right. Also, delish cheese and charcuterie boards, and the slow braised, deeply-flavoured Spring Creek Ranch beef rib.
32. The Wine Room
The Wine Room experience is second to none — the extensive wine list; the choices on the Enomatic; the cheese and charcuterie boards as well as the cozy booths; the vaulted fir ceiling; the one-of- a-kind washrooms. A must go.
33. Pinocchio Ice Cream
Pinocchio’s Eggnog joins Bacio and Coconut as the most loved Pinoccio flavours. The newish single serving size keeps the craving to a manageable size.
34. Culina
Culina’s house salad is a steadfast lunch favorite for many diners, and we are crazy about the dressing made with Mighty Trio oils, available for sale by the bottle.
35. Newget
Salted Karamel Newget. “So delicious, amazing and wonderful,” says a reader. Oh yes.
36. Massimo Cucina Italiana
Massimo’s veal and pork meatballs; think hearty Italian soul food with a toothsome tomato sauce.
37. Café Bicyclette
The adorable Café Bicyclette is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood, whether it’s for café au lait and their version of a croque monsieur, or a roast chicken sandwich enjoyed on the almost year-round patio. Also noted: poutine and the delicious baked goods by Amy Nachtigall of Sugared and Spiced.
38. Sylvan Star
All the handmade cheeses from the Schalwyk family near Lacombe are top-notch; the one year-old aged Grizzly Gouda is cheese heaven.
39. Bonjour Boulangerie/Treestone Bakery
Bonjour Boulangerie/Treestone Bakery has regular line ups for the rustic loaves, the baguette and their hearty slow-rise loaves made with Park and Marquis, old-fashioned hard Canadian spring wheats, and local ryes.
40. Canteen
Canteen’s roasted cauliflower dip with Vadouvan spices (sort of a French-Indian masala mix) is another example of the vegetable love we’re seeing on menus today. There’s lots to love on Canteen’s menu any time of the day; a vegetarian Scotch egg at lunch; steamed mussels in the afternoon or citrusy cured salmon with cheesy scrambled eggs at brunch.
41. The Common
We are big fans of chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier’s cooking. Last year our readers loved the gluten-free poutine with Korean-style braised pork. The current Italian-style poutine is just as delish, also the pork belly lettuce wraps, chicken and waffles; the roasted mackerel will make you a believer.
42. Japonais Bistro
Reader Stephanie Truong calls the matcha creme brûlée from Japonais Bistro the best in town.
43. Madison’s Grill
We love the elegant room, and the made in Alberta flavours by chef Charla Padilla — elk meatloaf, bison burger and a gorgeous braised Alberta lamb shank.
44. Italian Centre Shop
Beloved of firemen, football fans, and Tomato readers, the foot-long Spinelli’s original sandwich from the Italian Centre Shop involves layers of deli meats and cheeses with a lick of savoury red pepper spread drizzled with an oregano-scented dressing.
45. Belgravia Hub
Readers wanted to tell us about the lamb meatballs with tomato sauce and feta; the sweet potato corn fritters served with a garlic mayo and smoky ketchup; and the beer-braised short rib in that order.
46. Hoang Long
Hoang Long is best known for fresh Vietnamese-style dishes; add their savoury lamb curry to your list of menu faves.
47. Café Leva
“Café Leva’s ham and cheese croissant is worth a diet cheat for sure!” said an entry on Facebook. Also, their pizza, particularly the bianca with kale, roasted sweet potato and Italian sausage. Great coffee too, we love Leva!
48. Under the High Wheel Noshery & Catering
The Under the High Wheel’s breakfast menu is consistently delicious, and served crisply and efficiently every time. If we had to pick one dish it would be the buckwheat crepes.
49. Next Act Pub
The Next Act Pub gives good grilled cheese — two cheeses, apple slices with bacon (Omnivore) or without (Herbivore). Also mentioned, the tequila-marinated chicken sandwich with lime. We remain loyal to the Critic Burger, hold the bbq sauce.
50. Irvings Farm Fresh
From the twitterverse: “Side bacon from @IrvingsFarm was the only bacon I’d happily eat last year!” Also, their deliciously meaty ham and the Cumberland sausage.
51. Gold Forest Grains
Gold Forest Grains oatmeal is the best way to start a day. Readers also enjoy the Red Fife flour, Sturgeon River Cereal and the pancake mix.
52. Sunworks Farm
Ron Hamilton spends almost every Saturday morning grilling turkey sausage for Old Strathcona Market shoppers to try before they buy. Let’s not forget their impeccable organic chicken, meats, eggs and turkey.
53. Acme Meat Market
Bacon lovers can’t get enough of Acme Meat’s bacon. We’re just happy to have a great butcher shop in town.
54. Sailin’On Food Truck
Sailin’ On rocks a vegan menu of hotdogs, burittos, sandwiches and tacos. Even carnivores love their food. Now you can buy the coconut bacon in a convenient resealable bag.
55. Happy Camel.
Happy Camel’s puffy whole-wheat pitas and tzatziki are weekly staples. Ditto their savoury hummous.
56. Langano Skies
Shiro wat – it is amazing how good Langano Skies can make roasted peas taste.
57. Veggie Garden
Chinatown’s Veggie Garden makes a tasty vermicelli bowl, excellent for a cheap and cheerful lunch.
58. Portuguese Canadian Bakery
Coconut-filled sweet buns from the Portuguese Canadian bakery,” wrote Gloria Basarab. The custard tarts are an Edmonton classic, and the sandwiches made from crispy buns hit the spot.
59. Mighty Trio
Mighty Trio’s organic cold-pressed oils especially the nutty canola oil, made right here from Alberta-grown seeds.
60. Prairie Mill Bread Company
The jalapeño-cheese bread is a fave of readers, as is the delicious cinnamon raisin bread.
61. Tzin Wine and Tapas
A reader raves about Tzin’s paella and the lemon dessert, and the pork shoulder is a savoury heap of deliciousness.
62. Drift Food Truck
The summer allows more opportunity to try Drift’s incomparable pork belly sandwich but check their web site for special events.
63. Fruits of Sherbrooke
Fruits of Sherbrooke produces high quality condiments, jams and jellies from rescued fruit. Readers mentioned the chipotle ketchup and we’re partial to the lemon gin condiment to have with cheese.
64. Fat Franks
A juicy Fat Frank’s bratwurst can be a thing of beauty according to several readers.
65. Four Whistle Farm
Four Whistle Farm’s lamb chops grilled with fresh rosemary – fantastic.
66. Kim Tuyet
The Vietnamese sandwich known as banh mi has become almost as ubiquitous as a Subway sandwich, which is good, we guess. Kim Tuyet remains tops for flavour and freshness. Find them at 10645-97 Street.
67. Swiss2GO
People are talking about Swiss2GO’s Matterhorn sandwich – bündnerfleisch (alpine-style dried beef), jalapeno and avocado with fresh cilantro on a pretzel baguette.
68. Gull Valley Greenhouse
Gull Valley Greenhouses’ spectacular tomatoes, available every Saturday at Old Strathcona and in the summer at City Market. This is important because good tomatoes are hard to find.
69. Violet Chocolate Company
The Violet Chocolate Company vanilla passion fruit and honey rosemary chocolate bars were favoured by several readers.
70. Rosso Pizzeria
Pizza for breakfast? Why not? Especially when it’s a chary, smoky wood-fired crust topped with potatoes, fior de latte and Four Whistle Farm eggs. A reader loves their antipasto misto with salumi, cheeses etc, but we can rarely get past the pizza menu.
71. Strathcona Country Kitchen
Strathcona Country Kitchen’s marmalade has the deep, rich flavour of roasted oranges.
72. Everything Cheese
Everything Cheese grilled cheese. The shop offers a grilled cheese sandwich on Friday and Saturday, something different every week; we had Laiterie Charlevois 1608 slathered with Mrs. Bridges Chutney – delish!
73. Transcend Coffee
How to make perfect cup of coffee: watch the wizards at Transcend operate the Clover – the preparation of the machine, the water, the brushing. The result? A cup of steaming, deeply-flavoured brew.
74. Little Village Felafel Truck
“Theo’s falafels are my top pick,” said Joshy 1199.
75. Creole Envie
An entry on Facebook: “Oh my gosh, your fried chicken and collard greens are the most delicious things. And bread pudding,”
76. Shanghai 456
The Shanghai 456 Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork buns) and Wor Tip (fried beef dumplings). We thought they were gone forever, but the city centre airport cafeteria found a new location. If you crave dumplings like we crave dumplings, go here, 14456 118 Avenue.
77. Thailand pavilion at Heritage Festival
Erin Plume tweeted; “My boys vote for the fresh mango and sticky rice from the Thailand pavilion at Heritage Festival.”
78. Upper Crust
The divine coconut cupcake at Upper Crust (Saturdays only), the luscious, caper-studded eggplant caponata, and their array of old school butter-rich cookies; ginger, coconut oatmeal, chocolate chip walnut and oatmeal raisin.
79. Cookie Love
“Cookie Love’s black and white cheesecake cookie are the best and should be a winner,” said a tweet. We’re fans of the Your Chocolate is in my Peanut Butter cookie.
80. Sugared and Spice
Sugared and Spice’s peanut butter, chocolate chip and bacon cookie.
81. Confetti Sweets
Confetti Sweets’ peanut butter cookie. The coconut is darn good too.
82. Bloom Cookie Co.
Bloom Cookie Co.’s dairy and egg free double chocolate mint cookie and the London Fog cookie.
83. Zinter Brown
Zinter Brown’s Gourmet Mediteranno Seasoning. Coat lamb chops, chicken or fish before grilling or add to your burger mix, tasty!
84. K&K Foodliner
K&K Foodliner for butter cheese, recommended by reader Karrie Daly. A visit to this independent local grocer is an introduction to everything deliciously German. We love the massive glass jars of sour cherries in brine; anything pork especially kasseler (smoked pork chops) cut to suit; kasekriener, sausage with cheese, and have on occasion found a jar of schmaltz (chicken fat) tucked into the deli case.
85. Famoso Pizza
Several readers raved about the margherita pizza from Famoso, the chain we can call our own. We especially like the WEM location with the fabulous Clint Zaiffdeen at the helm.
86. Souptacular Soup Company
“Souptacular Soup from St. Albert makes a Lentil Lover’s soup that is to DIE FOR.”
87. Local Omnivore Food Truck
The breakfast bacon and egg sandwich is a deliciously hearty way to start the day.
88. Elm Café
Our readers love Elm, but can’t quite put a finger on a menu item, because their toothsome sandwiches filled with gorgeously fresh ingredients change daily. We do recall one with potato chips inside, yum. Then there’s the excellent coffee. We look forward to their new project, District Coffee Co. opening spring 2014.
89. Raggazzi Bistro Italiano
We can’t talk pizza without talking Ragazzi, especially the Godfather — bocconcini, capicollo and prosciutto with a tangy tomato sauce.
90. Sorrentino’s Bistecca
Bistecca’s halibut, a nice piece of fish. And, their casual menus served on Sorrentino’s summer patios are always fun.
91. West Country Herbs Greg from West Country Herbs keeps several restaurants, the Italian Centre Shops and us in basil almost year round, as well as sturdy thyme, arugula and rosemary plants for the garden.
92. Hazeldean Bakery
The best donut in town, Hazeldean Bakery’s apple fritter, costs about a dollar. It’s what fried dough aspires to, crispy and sweet with an ethereally light and fluffy interior and, probably, really really bad for you. Most $5 donuts cannot hold a candle to these daily offerings made for the kids at Hazeldean School, near the humble south-side neighbourhood bakery.
93. Red Ox Inn
Ling Cod at the Red Ox Inn. We do like their seasonal menu with dishes like smoked beet salad; sure to make the the beets-are-boring contingent stand on its head.
94. Continental Treat Fine Bistro
A friend says the Continental Treat’s steak tartare is the best in town. We’ll take his word for it.
95. First Nature Farm
Jerry Kitt’s entertaining newsletter about farm life is available on the web site and the farm’s clean and tasty meats are at the stand in the Old Strathcona Farmers Market.
96. The Highlevel Diner
A reader raved about the bread pudding saying, “it’s like coming home. Familiar, delicious, heart warming, and great to share.”
97. Numchok Wilai
Readers enjoy the Thai hot basil tofu and the Pa-Nang beef curry at this reliable and delicious Thai spot.
98. Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
It’s a dining experience that must be had at least once. One of the most delicious items on the menu are the bites of linguiça de porco, aka pork sausage.
99. Zenari’s
“Zenari’s Spinach Risotto!” said a reader. We’re partial to their cappuccino and bran muffins too.
100. Tres Carnales
Everybody’s favourite taqueria, Tres Carnales, is the place for fish tacos. Good to know a second location is opening soon near Mercer Tavern on 104 Street.
101. University of Alberta Heritage Eggs
University of Alberta Heritage Eggs Program encourages genetic diversity in chickens by preserving antique flocks. The bonus is the delicious fresh eggs.