All the exciting Edmonton culinary hot spots to try in 2016

Edmonton is home to an eclectic mix of independent and chain restaurants, with more new spots opening monthly. So far, 2016 has seen many popular chefs strike out on their own with a signature restaurant, as well as a surge in popularity for ramen and Korean cuisine. These are all the fresh restaurants I'm looking forward to trying in 2016. [Image credit: iStock.com/billnoll]

Uccellino

1
10349 Jasper Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 1Y5

Uccellino is the latest venture from famed Edmonton chef, Daniel Costa (of Corso 32 and Bar Bricco). The Italian trattoria is located right next to its sister restaurants, making Costa king of the block. Half the seating is for walk-ins, making it slightly more accessible than Costa’s other restaurants (all of which have limited seating). Focusing on cuisine from central and Southern Italy, Uccellino offers small bites, antipasti, pasta, meats and cheeses and desserts. It’s all meant to be shared, so you can try a bit of everything. End your meal with the sorbetto, made in-house daily from fresh strawberries.

Chartier

2
5012 50 Street, Beaumont, AB T4X 1E6

A couple started a Kickstarter campaign to bring their dream of a rustic French restaurant to Beaumont, southeast of Edmonton. The campaign (the first successful restaurant Kickstarter campaign in Alberta) exceeded its goal and resulted in the opening of Chartier on March 29. This quaint brasserie is open for lunch on Fridays, brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and for dinner Tuesday to Sunday, and is kid-friendly. Dinner includes small and large plates, including dishes such as beef bourguignon, tourtière (a meat pie with bison, pork and duck confit) and pan roasted duck.

Seoul Fried Chicken

3
4B-7904A 104th Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 4C8

Another Korean eatery new to Edmonton but this one’s more of a fast-food venture, albeit a family-owned and operated one. When it opened in February, the line-ups were out the door. It's still busy, but don’t let that deter you; this is moist, crispy fried chicken at its finest. Go early in the day to avoid disappointment; it’s so popular that they keep selling out of their tasty chicken long before closing. The sides include mainstays like fries but they also offer Asian twists on traditional Southern dishes such as potato salad and coleslaw.

Soy & Pepper

4
11212 Jasper Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5K 2V2

This Korean eatery, which opened in February, is bringing bulgogi and bibimbap to the masses. Their menu features hearty rice bowls and stews, plus meat dishes, such as galbi (grilled beef short ribs). If you can’t decide what to order or are new to Korean cuisine, go for the Korean fried chicken, which comes in half or full orders, and with your choice of seasoning (original, soy garlic, chili pepper or half and half). The Jeon (Korean-style pancakes) are also a popular choice. For dessert, there is a mix of Western choices (carrot and chocolate cakes) and traditional Korean sweets.

Nando's

5
4228 Gateway Blvd NW, Edmonton, AB T6J 7K1

While Nando’s is a chain, this fast-food restaurant has still created plenty of buzz with the opening of its first Edmonton location in February. Nando’s originated in South Africa in 1987 and has since rapidly spread around the world (it came to Canada in 1994). The brand’s famous peri-peri chicken is marinated for 24 hours, then flame-grilled Portuguese-style. There’s multiple chicken-for-one options, including a quarter, half or whole chicken or skewers, plus platters for sharing. Prefer chicken legs and thighs to wings and breasts? It’s up to you! They also serve wraps, pitas and sandwiches, including vegetarian options.

LOVEPIZZA

6
10196 109 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 1M7

This cute pizza joint, located in the busy area of Jasper Avenue and 109 Street, has gotten a lot of buzz since it opened at the end of January. It adds variety into the routines of those who work and eat lunch downtown, plus who can resist the story of how the owners fell in love over a pizza on their first date, leading them to opening their own place? Guests are also digging the signature pies, plus the build-your-own option, which lets you choose your crust, sauce, veggies, proteins, cheese and “finishes,” such as organic honey, balsamic reduction, pickled red onion and crème fraiche.

Washoku Bistro

7
10702 124E Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5M 0H1

Although the restaurant, which opened in January, is billed as Japanese (the name translates to “the cuisine of Japan”), they actually offer a mix of Japanese and Korean cuisine. You’ll find traditional favourites, including bento boxes, sushi, maki rolls, sashimi and teriyaki dishes, but they also serve bibimbap and beef bulgogi. They have private tatami rooms, as well as booths and tables. Located on 124 Street and 107 Avenue, it’s one of the few Japanese restaurants in the immediate area, making it a nice option for those who work in that neighbourhood.

Stuffed Gourmet Sausage Company

8
10810 124 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5M 0H3

Brought to you by the folks behind the popular Smokehouse BBQ restaurant, this spot focuses solely on sausages wrapped up in buns. It opened March 1, and continues to go strong. They serve turkey, chicken, ham, pork, beef and lamb sausages in a ton of flavours, such as apple maple, Thai coconut, cordon bleu, mushroom and Guinness and jalapeño cheddar. Choose your fav, then add up to four sauces, from a list that includes curry sauce, sweet mustard, chipotle mayo, jalepeño, Greek and apple butter beer barbecue sauce. If you crave a side, they have hand-cut potato chips (salt and pepper, All Dressed and jalapeño salt) or salad.

The Local Omnivore

9
10933 120 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5H 3R3

What started as a food truck blossomed into a 40-seat restaurant in January. They feature cured and smoked items, such as their super smoked bacon. The menu is concise, but features a great balance of meaty and vegetarian-friendly items. The Greens, Egg, No Ham sandwich consists of steamed kale and leeks, feta and a fried egg on Russian rye bread, while the Big Bird sandwich contains rolled turkey with herbs, Swiss cheese, malted honey mustard, mayo and citrus dressed arugula on Russian rye bread. If you’re not into sandwiches, they also sell samosas, salads, soup, poutine and spiced pork rinds.

The Almanac

10
10351 82 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1Z9

Not to be confused with the now-closed restaurant of the same name in St. Albert, this spot opened in Old Strathcona in January. It serves French food in a gastropub environment from 11 a.m. till midnight, making it a good option for the university crowd. The menu includes yummy snacks, such as pretzel bites, roasted chickpeas, popcorn chicken with Parmesan dip, charcuterie and vegetable chips. The main menu ranges from soups and salads to bigger entrees, including a pesto chicken sandwich, arctic char, pork belly and bouef bourguignon. Bonus: They double as a venue for live music.

The Workshop Eatery

11
2003 91 Street SW, Edmonton, AB T6X 0W8

This southside restaurant, located inside the Mosaic Centre, is the result of chef Paul Shufelt’s labour of love. The menu boasts local treats, such as ice cream from Edmonton’s beloved Pinocchio on the dessert menu, pork sourced from Irving’s Farm Fresh, vegetables from Riverbend Gardens and bread from Bonton Bakery. Choose between bar snacks, such as Workshop honey sriracha cracker jack popcorn, small plates and large plates. The chicken liver parfait small plate is getting lots of buzz, but don’t overlook the creative entrees, such as the Duck Duck Couscous. Workshop opened in late December 2015, and isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

Prairie Noodle Shop

12
10350 124 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5N 3V9

The chefs behind this ramen spot held several pop-ups in the city over the past few years. In late December 2015, they finally opened up a brick-and-mortar shop, in the 124 Street area. The bowls are like nothing you’ve ever tried before: Roasted pork belly, crispy pork shoulder, fried pork rinds mixed into salty pork broth and dashi and topped with an umeboshi egg (a soft boiled egg marinated in Japanese salted plums) is just one example. The restaurant is so busy they often run out of soup before closing time, so come early to avoid heartbreak.

Parkallen Restaurant

13
10804 170 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5S 2H7

This Lebanese restaurant originated on the south side of the city and has now expanded in December 2015 to include a west end location. The original Parkallen restaurant is one of the nicest Lebanese places in the city, and the menu remains much the same at the new spot – but with the addition of burgers and steaks. But, it’s the Mediterranean cuisine that is the star here. It’s also a good spot for smoking shisha, as there are a ton of hookahs available. This spot doesn’t have a wine list to look at, but never fear – they do serve it.

The Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen

14
9802 Jasper Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0C5

Inside the historic Alberta Hotel lies a gorgeous space, ideal for a restaurant. It was briefly occupied by Tavern 1903 but is now home to the Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen. Its prime downtown location, right across from the Shaw Conference Centre, will make it a popular dining destination but its historic value will also draw people in – the massive, old-school urinals are a must-see. The cuisine focuses on local, seasonal ingredients, and the cocktails are just as fancy as the food.

Juniper Cafe Bistro

15
9514 87 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 3J1

This mom-and-pop café serves small plates and snacks, and encourages family-style sharing. For breakfast, they dish out delights, such as eggs benny on a Portuguese bun with spicy pulled pork, bacon or roasted veggies, waffles with berry compote and yogurt and granola parfaits. Sharing plates range from charcuterie and roasted potatoes with Indian spices to hoisin duck with steamed buns and spicy meatballs on polenta. For drinks, choose from a list of organic coffees and teas, craft beers, wine and gin cocktails.

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