Edmonton

Skip the holiday kitchen chaos: Best places to eat out

Gravy-soaked dishes clogging the sink, the wail of the smoke detector, the table-side ramblings of cranky relatives: the holidays can make even the most seasoned home chef pine for the relative calm and convenience of a restaurant.
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Gravy-soaked dishes clogging the sink. The wail of the smoke detector. The table-side ramblings of cranky relatives.

Holiday meals can make even the most seasoned home chef pine for the relative calm and convenience of a restaurant.

In search of the best places for a meal out this Christmas season, the CBC morning show Edmonton AM sought some expert advice on how to skip the kitchen chaos. 

Edmonton food writers Liv Vors and Phil Wilson were kind enough to provide their list of Edmonton's best places for holiday eats.

Food with friends

Izakaya Tomo

Instead of suffering in the kitchen, take your house guests — and their messy table manners — out for dinner.

Izakaya Tomo in southeast Edmonton is Vors' pick for feeding your friends.  

From small plates to sushi rolls, Izakaya Tomo serves up Japanese tapas in a seriously laid-back setting.

"It's just raucous and rowdy in there. They yell at you in Japanese the moment you walk through the door," Vors said.

"It just feels like you're at somebody's house party. It's a fun vibe."

Canteen

For Wilson, Canteen is the place for feasting with friends. Located on 124th Street, the restaurant is the little sister to the Red Ox Inn. Canteen's meaty mains and classy cocktails are sure to put you in the festive spirit, Wilson said.

"They have good drinks. Solid food," Wilson said.

"And as a bonus, it will get you geared up for Christmas dinners because their braised turkey leg is one of the best turkey dishes in the city."

Romantic repast

Chateau Lacombe

La Ronde, atop the Chateau Lacombe Hotel downtown, is Wilson's pick for a romantic meal. Wilson says the iconic restaurant with its fine steak, seafood and revolving city views makes it the perfect spot to woo your date this holiday season.

"It's kind of corny, with the rotating restaurant, but it's a date-night thing for me," said Wilson. "It's a good romantic restaurant with a great view. 

"It's not something where you go a whole bunch, but that once-a-year trip is still a really solid night for me."

Corso 32

For Vors, Corso 32 is Edmonton's most seductive spot to grab a meal. The 34-seat restaurant, located in the heart of downtown, serves up fresh Italian fare in a truly intimate atmosphere.

"It's always my go-to for a romantic night out," Vors said.

"The room is really small and it's kind of dimly lit and you're kind of jammed up against the other person — you can't help but gaze into their eyes. And let's not forget the food. It's amazing."

Family feast

D'Amore's Mercato Fine Italian Market and Deli

This Italian restaurant and grocery store, tucked away inside an unassuming strip mall in southwest Edmonton, is a hidden gem.

Whether it's your grandma or little cousin, the entire family is sure to enjoy a slice of classic pizza, which apparently tastes just like it's straight out of the Old Country.

"It's the best pizza in town," Vors said. "It's thin crust. Their pizza chefs are straight from Italy.

"Pizza is such a good family food. It's something everyone can agree on."

Local Omnivore

This laid-back eatery in Westmount has a comfortable vibe and plenty of comfort food to keep even the pickiest eater hungry for a second helping. The Local Omnivore is Wilson's go-to for those lazy family dinners.

"During the holidays, everything is so busy. Family stuff is usually something really good I can get that's not fast food but is really quick. If you go at lunch it is jam-packed, but it's never busy in the evening.

"And the kids aren't going to have a problem with it because you can get a gigantic bowl of Edmonton's best poutine  and some fantastic sandwiches."  

Christmas Day deliverance

Forget stuffing that turkey and fixing the fixings. Although there are only a few Edmonton restaurants that remain open on Christmas Day, there are some delicious options.

If you aren't doing a traditional family meal, Vors suggests you try something unconventional like East, a Malaysian restaurant in the Eaux Claires neighbourhood in northeast Edmonton.

"Their sweet roti," Vors said. "I could see myself having that on Christmas Day. That would make my tummy very happy." 

Wilson suggests you get deliverance from the holiday dinner doldrums by having your meal delivered. Many of the city's iconic hotels like the Hotel Macdonald and the Westin will bring a full holiday meal right to your door.

And if these pricier delivery services aren't your style, Wilson suggests you opt for a more thrifty option at Careit Urban Deli. This eatery in Crestwood will be serving up holiday meals for $30 a plate.

"It's my best find so far this year. For people that aren't interested in the big family dinners, what about turkey dinner for one, or turkey for two?

"You get light and dark meat. You get all the fixings, green beans with bacon, which is right up my alley, dessert, the whole works." 

You can find more recommendations from Wilson on his blog, the BaconHound. For Vors' latest culinary critiques, find her on Twitter: @livsvors.

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