Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
- Local Time
Dubbed Canada’s Festival City for its year–round abundance of events, Edmonton always seems to have a party happening, even during its famously glacial winters. Shiny new attractions, including the ICE District – a multi–billion–dollar sports and entertainment hub – and the recently opened Royal Alberta Museum, make the list of must–dos even longer.
Where to Stay
- Black and yellow modern accents at the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE DistrictJW Marriott Edmonton ICE DistrictFor the heart-of-the-action location
- Cozy window seating at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, EdmontonFairmont Hotel MacdonaldFor the old-school luxury
- Wall to wall murals decorate the walls of Crash Hotel suites in EdmontonCrash HotelFor the hip yet budget-friendly rooms
- A white pattern is overlaid on the blue walls at Corduroy Suites, EdmontonCorduroy SuitesFor the modern-B&B charm
- Brick walls and abstract art decorate the walls of the Metterra Hotel on Whyte's lobbyMetterra Hotel on WhyteFor the trendy neighbourhood
- Bold red accents for the suites of Matrix Hotel, EdmontonMatrix HotelFor the city-meets-nature vibe
Eat & Drink
Fu’s Repair Shop
The glass front door of Fu’s Repair Shop sports the motto, “We Fix You,” and in a way, the joint delivers on its promise. Inside, the vibe is Chinese hip hop speakeasy, with an aughts playlist and a red lantern–hung ceiling that gives the bumping room a vaguely illicit orangish glow. Amped–up riffs on Guangdong dim sum (tender cheung fun rice rolls filled with shellfish or heat–radiating wontons in chili oil) restore, while sharp cocktails (the hot pepper–spiked Enter the Dragon is a creamy mai tai with a mule’s kick) leave those broken in spirit patched up and satisfyingly sated. Longlisted as part of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2022.
Hayloft Steak + Fish
The concept at this high–ceilinged wood– and leather–clad Cameron Heights establishment is simple. To utilize the whole cow and waste nothing, Hayloft takes up the fine dining side of the operation, offering prime and underutilized cuts like tri–tip or skirt steak, while a branch of Woodshed Burgers takes the ground beef – all of it sourced from nearby Lakeside Farmstead. Exemplary cocktails like a smoked grapefruit margarita rimmed with a secret blend of tongue–tingling spices give way to expletive–worthy oysters, steelhead salmon and more from Effing Seafoods. Longlisted as part of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2022.
Pei Pei Chei Ow
Food as culture, history and community are what you will find at this takeout spot, housed in the Indigenous–owned Whiskeyjack Art House. A lemony sandwich of breaded deep–fried Spam (a nod to food rationed in reserves), parsley and horseradish, or another of eggplant, tomato jam, aioli kale, mint and pea shoots vibrate with the energy of the land, inspired by chef Scott Jonathan Iserhoff’s walks through wild–herb scented forests of his childhood in Ontario. If you’re lucky enough to “picnic” in front of Lana Whiskeyjack’s spirited paintings of powerful Cree women, you will feel the convergence of food and culture all the more. Longlisted as part of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2022.
Grab a window table at this cozy neighbourhood gem and dig into coq au vin and beef tartare – Partake’s flawlessly executed classic menu has made it a contender for Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2019. The cocktails are just as stellar; try the refreshingly tart No. 2, made with Victoria Distillers Empress 1908, an indigo gin that turns ruby–pink when citric acid is added.
Chef Christine Sandford, alumna of the Michelin–starred In de Wulf, helms the kitchen at this restaurant, tucked inside a Ritchie Market brewery. Nothing on the menu is ordinary: Even the salads are masterful displays of colour and texture. Try the Humboldt squid with housemade sambal and black garlic glaze, the charcoal–grilled pork shoulder or sourdough nuggets topped with foamy Alpindon beer cheese – it’s impossible to pick a favourite.
This is next–level Alberta beef: premium Holstein, cooked to order and served on fresh–baked buns with housemade condiments. The crispy chicken burger deserves a nod, too, as does the hefty Effing Fish Filet, featuring Icelandic cod sourced from Edmonton’s popular (and gregarious) fishmonger, Effing Rob.
Designed to resemble a Shanghai speakeasy, this restaurant serves up inventive drinks – like the Henny & Tea, Hennessy VS chased with house–brewed cold green tea – to pair with chef Alexei Boldireff’s creative Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese fusion dishes. Ask nicely and the staff will show you to Little Hong Kong, the hidden bar within the bar.
Owner/chef Ryan Hotchkiss creates dishes full of flavour, texture and interest – and adds little surprises, like partnering pommes dauphine with harissa aioli, or spiking delicate sea–bream crudo with citrus and chili oil. Don’t miss the chicken–liver tartine, a velvety–smooth thing of beauty.
What to Do
Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market
Open Saturdays year–round, this indoor market is a local haunt for baked goods, just–picked produce, handmade jewellery, art and textiles. Take home raw honey from Meadow–Sweet Apiaries or try freshly made green onion cake, Edmonton’s quintessential festival food. Once you’ve browsed the 130 vendors here, you’re a half block to the shops on Whyte Avenue, the main thoroughfare in trendy Old Strathcona.
Art Gallery of Alberta
Contemporary Canadian abstract canvases and sculpture make up a great deal of the AGA’s permanent trove, but fans of historical photography, prints and paintings will have plenty to peruse, too. The three–floor structure is also a work of art: Architect Randall Stout drew inspiration from both the aurora borealis and Edmonton river valley.
A destination for the city’s style set since 2005, this Old Strathcona boutique specializes in spotlighting Canadian labels. Find West Coast casual womenswear by Vancouver’s Gentle Fawn, vegan–leather bags by Montreal’s Matt & Nat, and kiddie clothing by Lil’ Rascalz Shop (its own in–house brand).
Edmonton Brewery Tours
The local craft–brew scene has been growing ever since government rules on minimum production were relaxed in 2013, allowing small makers to get into the game. Book a guided tasting with Edmonton Brewery Tours, where you’ll learn Ingredients 101 (all about yeast, malt, hops, water) while sampling suds at popular spots like Situation Brewing, Blind Enthusiasm and Yellowhead Brewing.
At this new–to–the–scene, Roaring ’20s–themed venue just off Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona, comedy, theatre, live bands, burlesque and drag are on show. If you’re ready to take the mic yourself, Sunday nights are for karaoke parties.
Royal Alberta Museum
At the new RAM, opened in 2018 and now Western Canada’s largest museum, you’ll find galleries chronicling the history of Alberta’s people, wildlife and landscape, with Indigenous stories woven throughout, as well as 18,000 artifacts of Indigenous origin, some dating to the mid–1800s. (An Indigenous advisory panel gave input on caring for items in a culturally sensitive way.) One gallery showcases just one object: the Manitou Asinîy (Manitou Stone), a sacred and ancient 145–kilogram meteorite.
This indie fashion institution has locations in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, but it’s a native Edmontonian. The original Whyte Avenue space is entirely devoted to shoes – from hipster sneaks to designer heels – from more than 100 brands, including its own made–in–Italy/Portugal label. A sister clothing shop, Gravitypope Tailored Goods, is just a few doors down.