THINGS TO DO:
Food & Dining
The food scene in Edmonton is ethnic, eclectic and creative, like the city itself.
It's a place that's known for fun and festivals - think folk, fringe and global film fests - so joining one of the regular city "dishcrawls" seems like the perfect way for a serious foodie to fit in.
Time for a Restaurant Crawl
The organizers of tonight's Westmount crawl along Edmonton's trendy 124 Street aren't revealing the four stops we'll make, so this is a real voyage of discovery. But in this charming neighbourhood, where art galleries and eclectic shops share space with lots of new restaurants, we can't go wrong.
Alberta's capital city sprawls along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, overlooking a strip of parkland that changes with the seasons, like the food we find on our plates. Edmonton's eclectic restaurant scene seems to be growing organically - unique places where passionate chefs turn out everything from world class pastries to perfect pasta, often designed to share.
We duck into lush little wine bars like Tzin and Somerville, then head to some of the many independent restaurants, where owners like Patrick and Doris Saurette of The Marc, Larry Stewart of Hardware Grill, or Frank and Andrea Olson of Canteen are always there to welcome you.
We jostle for a seat at the little Three Boars Eatery to get a taste of Brayden Kozak's small plates - think spicy lamb meatballs and lentils or lamb neck confit poutine - then move on to Corso 32 for the carefully curated menu of authentic Italian tastes. Tonight it's European, but tomorrow we'll try the authentic Mexican fish tacos from Tres Carnales Taqueria, head to Guru for their butter chicken samosas, or opt for quiet jazz and charcuterie at Niche.
With its deep ethnic and rural roots - the country's largest influx of Ukrainian settlers arrived here a century ago - Edmonton celebrates its diversity with down-to-earth, comforting prairie food, with a twist. And with farms and market gardens surrounding the city, it's no surprise that farm-fresh ingredients remain a priority. The beets on my plate may have been plucked from a local garden, but instead of baba's borscht, we're having roasted beets with local sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.
At Culina Mill Creek, it's a warm wild mushroom salad with wheatberries and hazelnut pesto, while The Marc makes pork hock rillette and brown butter root vegetable mash. Hardware Grill highlights the region's locale, adding the ethnic twist to its 60-day aged local Spring Creek beef steak with an authentic chimichurri sauce.
Despite the explosion of eclectic eateries in Edmonton, an old-fashioned, prairie spirit of sharing truly permeates the place.