Edmonton is teeming with diverse communities, restaurants, and cuisines. Our new Diverse Dining series, with support from the Edmonton Community Foundation, seeks out local experts for their recommendations. This article, the very first in the series, first appeared in the Info Edmonton 2021/2022 City Guide.
Travel the World with Local Cuisine
Whenever choosing a place for lunch or dinner, I’m surprised by the amount of diversity that lies within the restaurants and eateries of this city. The options are endless, and you’ll always be able to find a new place to add to your restaurant bucket list.
Over the years, different types of cuisines have continued to pop up in every nook and corner of the city. Some are more prominent than others, but my goal is to inform you of those restaurants that you probably should have tried by now. After reading, you’ll have new restaurants to try out that specialize in African, Indian, Asian, European, and Mexican cuisines. Plus, these recommendations are only some of the many cuisines that Edmonton’s dining scene offers! The best thing about trying a new place is taking your taste buds somewhere they haven’t been. When we yearn to travel the world ourselves, sometimes we can let our taste buds do the travelling for us.
INDIAN & AFRICAN: Mumbai Dakar
This hole-in-the-wall restaurant situated on 118 Avenue specializes in both African and Indian cuisines. If you’re unfamiliar with these cuisines, Soul, the friendly owner, will help guide you! His inspiration for the African dishes originated from his mom’s cooking back home in Senegal, West Africa, while the recipes for the Indian dishes come from his business partner, Ahmad, who is also a chef at the restaurant. The menu is decently priced, starting at $12 for a main dish, and consists of different meats (chicken, lamb, beef, goat, and seafood) in African and Indian dishes, as well as several vegetarian options. For meat lovers, try Dibi (lamb or chicken) or Yassa (chicken). If you’re craving fish, you can’t go wrong with Thieboudienne, a traditional dish of Senegal. The Butter Chicken (listed as an original recipe from India) is a good option for those who are less experimental. || 4322-118 Ave., 780-474-0833
MEXICAN: Huma Mexican Comfort
Huma isn’t your typical Mexican restaurant. At Huma, they believe in Mexican comfort food, and that’s definitely what it feels like to me. The interior of the restaurant is vibrant, making you feel like you’ve escaped Argyll Road to a family restaurante in Mexico. The menu is on the pricier side, with a main dish averaging around $18, and while they do offer classics like tacos and margaritas, that’s only a small portion of the menu. Here, you’ll find Mexican dishes that won’t be on other menus around the city. A must-try is the Chicharron de Queso, which is a giant cheese crisp made to be dipped into the pico de gallo and guacamole that come with it. Another must-try are their specialty tacos such as Tacos Arabes (marinated pork), Tacos de Lengua (beef tongue), and Tacos de Camarone (chicharron-breaded shrimp). Huma is all about comfort—find your comfort food or step out of your comfort zone here. || 9880-63 Ave., 780-433-9229. humamexicanrestaurant.ca
Although there are many Vietnamese restaurants around the city, Vietnamese dessert is a rare find. Rare, that is, until Bambu opened up on Whyte Avenue last year! It’s a locally owned franchisee that originated from California (which is well-known for their Vietnamese food in certain areas), and this Vietnamese café specializes in ché and beverages. Ché is a Vietnamese dessert that’s usually served in a liquid form—it’s basically a dessert and drink in one! At Bambu, you can find a variety of traditional ché with toppings such as grass jelly, pandan jelly, mung bean, lychee, jackfruit, and more, and each dessert typically averages from $8 to $9. For someone new to ché, I would recommend ché 3 mau, which translates to “three-colour dessert.” This dessert consists of three beans (red, white, and mung), taro, and pandan jelly in coconut milk. The beans are soft but not too sweet, and when combined with the pandan jelly and coconut milk, it’s the perfect amount of sweetness. Along with ché, Bambu offers an array of Vietnamese beverages such as iced coffees, real fruit smoothies, and yogurts. Their café-like atmosphere allows visitors to sit down or take their treats to go while enjoying a walk down Whyte Avenue. || 10347-82 Ave., 780-761-9885. facebook.com/BambuYEG
UKRAINIAN: Uncle Ed’s
Uncle Ed’s is a family-owned Ukrainian restaurant located near the Mundare Sausage House, the related deli. Hit two birds with one stone by eating at the restaurant and then picking up sausage for your homecooked meals on the way out! Growing up, perogies have been on the top of my list of favourite foods. I’ve tried these small delights at many different places around the city, and Uncle Ed’s is probably my favourite. The food here is reasonably priced with large portions, and the Real Deal combos are in fact the real deal. You get perogies, cabbage rolls, baked cheese buns, and cheese crepes for a decent price—and it also comes with a choice of meat! Depending on which meat option you choose and whether you choose a half-portion or full portion, it can cost about $9 to $16 for a plate. It’s definitely an adventure to satisfy your Ukrainian cravings. || 4824-118 Ave., 780-471-1010. stawnichys.com/uncle-eds
KOREAN: Country Coco
Seeking a place for Korean food with cool vibes? Country Coco is your answer! Situated in Edmonton’s K-Mall, this local Korean restaurant specializes in Korean-style fried chicken. Their fried chicken tastes fresh, juicy, and flavourful, and you can choose to have it “original” (without seasonings) or, if you want to get a little more flavour, choose from yang yum, soy garlic, creamy onion, and more. The chicken is served in 10 or 20 pieces—perfect for sharing or for someone with a big appetite. Along with Korean-style fried chicken, you can also get charbroiled BBQ chicken with multiple sauce types. The owners of Country Coco are well-versed in the local Korean food scene, as they own other Korean food businesses in the city such as Gangnam Street Food. || #2, 9261-34 Ave., 780-761-3334. countrycoco.com
ITALIAN: Battista’s Calzones
Calzones are underrated in my opinion. Think of it as a gourmet version of a pizza pop that’s fresh, not frozen. Alberta Avenue has many hidden gems, with Battista’s Calzones being only one of them. This small eatery specializes in freshly made calzones, which they create using dough handmade from scratch, tomatoes, and a blend of herbs and spices then filled with other ingredients of your choosing. Their Classico is made to please every taste—filled with mozzarella cheese, Genoa salami, capocollo ham, onions, red peppers, and green peppers. Each filled calzone is priced at less than $15, making them a delicious way to fill up! If you are planning to stop by for a calzone, take note that their hours are limited: open only from 10 am–6 pm, Friday to Sunday. They’re worth the wait. || 11745-84 St., 780-885-8086. battistacalzone.com
THAI: Thai Valley Grill
Thai Valley Grill is my go-to place for Thai cuisine. This quaint family-owned restaurant is located right off of Whitemud Drive in southside Edmonton. The owners have been in the Thai restaurant business for 20 years, firstly with Boun Thai Restaurant (now closed) that was located downtown and then switching over to Thai Valley Grill. They immigrated to Canada nearly 40 years ago from Thailand and were inspired to open up a restaurant to share their Thai culinary skills with Edmontonians. All of the recipes cooked in the restaurant’s kitchen were learnt growing up in Thailand. Here, the menu is chock-full of traditional Thai dishes, and their specialty items are Basil Beef, Pad Thai, Green Curry Chicken, and Coconut Rice. I would recommend ordering a variety of dishes to share, as it is served family-style. And make sure you wash it down with a freshly made glass of Thai Iced Tea! || #149, 4211-106 St., 780-413-9556. thaivalleygrill.ca