The top three lunch spots in Alberta

It may not be happy hour, but lunch is an opportunity you don’t want to squander. Here are the top lunch spots in the province

Why doesn’t “lunch hour” ring as triumphantly as “happy hour”? Sure, it’s not the time to imbibe away your inhibitions, but lunch is an opportunity you don’t want to squander: The average employee works 261 days a year, meaning over a 50-year career you’ll spend about 13,050 hours – more than six years’ worth of 40-hour work weeks – at lunch. Do you want to look back on a career filled with flavourful feasts or a life of lamentable lunches?

EDMONTON

Kitchen by Brad

Owner: Brad Smoliak
Price: $$ Seats: To go

01-best-lunch-edmonton-calgary-s
Photography Ryan Girard

“Every culture has a meatball,” says Brad Smoliak, who, while we’re on the subject of cultural exports, might be Edmonton’s greatest gift to the culinary world. The chef, whose resumé boasts Normand’s and who founded Hardware Grill in 1996, says Canada’s meatball might be the “prairie-style” he serves, made with beef, pork, bison, mustard seed and beer gravy. But he’s also particularly proud of his Ukrainian meatball. He describes it as a deconstructed cabbage roll: he shapes meats, rice and cabbage into a meatball, slow roasts it, braises it in tomato sauce and serves it with Ukrainian fried rice. “They’re all handmade, fresh, and with a flavour combination that’s not your typical Italian-­style plain meatball,” he says.

Kitchen isn’t a restaurant per se; it’s where Smoliak hosts cooking classes and private events and works on new products. But every Friday, he sells lunch to go from his location on 105 Street. Exclusive, yes, but aren’t the best eats always?

EDMONTON

Sandwich & Sons

Owner: Alex Sneazwell
Price: $$ Seats: About 30 (each location)

01-best-lunch-edmonton-calgary-s2
The Montreal Smoked Meat, Sandwich & Sons
Photography Ryan Girard

After running revered Edmonton restaurants like the Manor Casual Bistro and Vons Steakhouse & Oyster Bar, Alex Sneazwell wanted to start his own business in a more casual food group. He founded the deli-style Sandwich & Sons with a location on 156 Street in March 2015 and added a second spot on bustling 104 Street a year later. “We wanted to put the same work into the sandwich as we would into any dish,” Sneazwell says. “There’s a gap in the market – people still want to have a humble, delicious sandwich, but they want it well made, and they want to know where their food is coming from and who’s making it.”

Try the Montreal smoked meat, which Sneazwell likens to a “first-born child who’s always going to hold a special place.” He worked with Sangudo Meats to tweak the sandwich to perfection. The sauerkraut and mustard are made in house.

CALGARY

Native Tongues Taqueria

Owner: Cody Willis & BMeX Restaurant Group
Price: $$$ Seats: 70

01-best-lunch-edmonton-calgary-s3
Photography Ryan Girard

In this rustic cantina, you’ll find an eclectic mix of local and Mexican antiques scattered on the walls, plenty of high-top tables, and a generous variety of spirits behind the bar. It’s the perfect place to order sharing plates like the tacos al carbon – your choice of protein loaded with perfectly paired toppings on a soft tortilla. Willis’s favourite? The pork belly pibil, juicy pork belly served with pickled red onion and roasted pineapple.

Not into family style portions? No problem. For individual orders Willis recommends the hamburguesa al carbon, or “[their] version of a Big Mac.” Served with potato chips and hot sauce, this is one meal you won’t want to share.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *