With 10 days, 50 vendors and 80-plus items, something will suit your tastebuds

Taste of Edmonton's 10-day food festival serves up a variety of traditional standbys, reimagined favourites — and a few things you've never heard of.

Taste of Edmonton food festival at Capital Plaza serves up old favourites, new twists

Warm weather means business has been booming at Taste of Edmonton, running this week at Capital Plaza near the Alberta Legislature. (Sheena Rossiter/CBC)

Want to try something that scares you? Head to Taste of Edmonton.

Among the 50 food stalls and trucks, serving 80-odd dishes ranging from AAA Alberta Steak Bites to Vietnamese Veggie Salad Rolls, there's bound to be something that you're not quite sure of.

And that, at least according to one of the vendors, is something you should try.

"Our food is very different than anybody else here at the square," said Amsale Sumamo, co-owner of Langano Skies Ethiopian Restaurant, dishing up orders of beef stir-fry and Yemisir Kik Wot, or spicy lentils.  "You eat it with a hand and I think people are scared of eating with the hands.

"But once they try it," she added with a laugh, "they're ours." 

Paul and Amsale Sumamo have brought Langano Skies Ethiopian Restaurant to Taste of Edmonton for the last six years. (Sheena Rossiter/CBC)

This is the sixth year that Langano Skies has participated in the bits-and-bites food festival, now in its 35th year. 

It's on at Capital Plaza at 99th Avenue and 108th Street, near the Alberta Legislature. The festival started July 18 and runs until July 28.

Sumamo said Taste of Edmonton has been an important way to build clientele for the restaurant's permanent location on Whyte Avenue.

But there's no such benefit for Afghan Foods. Its operators run a number of pizza and donair businesses in the Edmonton area but twice a year share Afghan cultural delicacies at Taste of Edmonton and the Edmonton Heritage Festival.

"We don't have a location," said Aslan Kahn Jafari, juggling orders of bolani (thin crust filled with potato) and mantu (a dumping filled with ground beef). "We're busy all day. Yesterday, we sold out twice."

Aslan Kahn Jafari and the offering from the Afghan Foods stall at Taste of Edmonton.

Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse spent about a month getting ready for the 10-day event. Pampa is serving beef brisket and cheese bread topped — Pampa-style — with caramel sauce, said  Sarah Ribeiro-Sahib.

"It for sure is one of the more popular tents," she said. "The line is curving all the way down there. It's keeping us on our toes, working fast."

Chicken and waffles, a favourite in the southern U.S., is being served up with Canadian flair at North Fork Event Catering.

"Traditionally, especially our American neighbours, do more of a dry chicken waffle so we're saucing it up a bit with the Canadian maple sauce and the buffalo," said co-owner Hannah Klar.

Long-lines have formed for Pampa's cheese bread and brisket offerings, says Sarah Ribeiro-Sahib. (Sheena Rossiter/CBC)

Of course, if you're looking for a more familiar taste of summer festival in Edmonton, Hong Kong Bakery is serving up everyone's favourite, green onion cakes.

"Over the course of 10 days, [we expect to sell] around 20,000," said Justin Tang. "We just sold around 2,000 yesterday, so we're on track."

With files from Sheena Rossiter