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Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek fly over rooftops after sharing a passionate kiss, a solitary man in all white stands against a dark background, C-3PO and R2D2 have a brief robotic conversation – all these scenes flash from the TV screens hanging from the ceiling, shaped like a three-cornered hat. Across the room, a group of friends laugh on top of turquoise, shiny, reptilian fabric chairs. Meanwhile, a graffiti skeleton, painted by Los Angeles graffiti artist, Leba, chuckles on the wall at the group’s revelries.

Partially inspired by the “thriving arts and culture scene” in Edmonton, El Cortez is based on the shared vision of owners Bill Graham, Michael Maxxis, Melanie Swerdan and Eli Diamond to create an original atmosphere where Edmontonians can enjoy incredible food and fine tequilas.

“I had very fond memories of hanging out [in the neighbourhood] during my university years. So I was very familiar with the vibe and overall feeling and location and I thought we could turn all that into something cool,” says Melanie. “I think there’s a lot of camaraderie within the artistic community here — we’re all kind of pushing each other to try new things.”

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Appears in 19 Smart Lists

Editor’s Pick
Edmonton restaurants with the best pulled pork

Edmonton restaurants with the best pulled pork

Whyte Avenue’s El Cortez provides a different take on pulled pork, straying away from barbecue into tacos! Their cinnamon braised pulled pork tacos are served on fresh corn tortillas along with citrusy sweet pineapple corn salsa and chipotle aioli. Plus, their pulled pork Mexicali poutine comes with bacon, smoked paprika and yummy aioli.

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Ay caramba! The best taco places in Edmonton

Ay caramba! The best taco places in Edmonton

This awesome Mexican restaurant has the coolest vibe - the walls were painted by a Los Angeles street artist, the menu is amazing and the drinks are out of this world. The tacos, in particular, are fantastic. They are stuffed with goodness and are so reasonably priced that you can try more than one kind. I recommend the short-rib taco and the steak taco if you're a carnivore; the taco vegetariano if you're not. Try them with the restaurant's out-of-this-world guacamole.

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Edmonton restaurants with the best cauliflower dishes

Edmonton restaurants with the best cauliflower dishes

El Cortez Tequila Bar and Kitchen is one of Whyte Avenue’s most popular and unique restaurants – every inch of this place screams Day of the Dead – each minute detail is completely intentional. People go for the fabulous tacos and tequila, but El Cortez also boasts Edmonton’s absolute best cauliflower dish. Valentina's fried cauliflower is crunchy, juicy and lightly breaded, making it crisply coated in a spicy, sweet and savoury sauce. Oh, this sauce, it’s so delicious and perfectly complemented by the delicious Aji aioli dip.

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