Brunch and Bakeries: Exploring Edmonton’s Old Strathcona Neighborhood with Alberta Food Tours

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

– James Beard –

Sugared and Spiced, Edmonton, Alberta

Food is an intricate pathway of connection, a network linking us to our emotional and physical self, our family and friends, to local businesses and global growers.  Food is an indulgence, a pleasure, a vital necessity, housing the power to both heal and harm.  It is a universal language, a deep-rooted tradition of family recipes, holiday gatherings, cultural celebrations and a desire to share and express love.  For me, food is one of the greatest ways to uncover the heart of a destination, to relish in the pride of locals expressing their creativity through fresh, colorful, meaningful ingredients.

ALBERTA FOOD TOURS

I have long admired Karen Anderson, founder and CEO of Alberta Food Tours.  A food journalist and award winning cookbook author, her inspirational vision and values are at the core of everything she does in business and in life.  We have had the privilege of pairing with Alberta Food Tours on several occasions, and no matter where the tour leads us, several things remain a constant:  The clear passion of support for locally based culinary artisans and a focus on businesses that embrace the utilization of Alberta’s signature foods, sourcing from farmers who strive to create healthy soil and ingredients.

Did you know Alberta has 7 signature foods?  The list includes Saskatoon berries, canola, Red Fife Wheat, honey, root vegetables, bison and Alberta beef.

Canva- Wheat Field

Alberta Food Tours operates in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Canmore, partnering with over 85 Alberta businesses to offer curated dining experiences for guests, including two Canadian Signature Experiences.  So why take a guided food tour?  A food tour is all about exploration, indulgence, and education.  It is an opportunity to expose yourself to new cuisine and establishments, discovering the highlights and offerings of passionate, hard-working locals.  It is an interactive and effective way to explore a new destination, but it is also an incredible way to uncover the hidden gems in your own backyard.

STRATHCONA BRUNCH & BAKERIES

This 3 hour interactive, culinary experience makes for the perfect date, team bonding, family outing or girls day out, and also makes a wonderful gift.  Enjoy the best of Whyte Avenue and Old Strathcona, an eclectically vibrant and diverse area that is one of Edmonton’s most beloved neighborhoods.

  • The professionally-led tour caters to a wide variety of palettes and choice, ensuring both vegetarians and meat lovers leave full and happy!
  • Tours are kept intimate with a maximum of 12 people.  The recommended age is 14+.
  • The tour indulges the savory and the sweet, and all food and beverages are included.
  • Skip the lineups and head straight to your pre-reserved space.
  • Meet with owners and employees, getting the background story from the faces behind the spaces.
  • Enjoy stops between eateries, sharing in the history and architecture of the area.
** Stops on the Brunch and Bakeries Tour do vary and are subject to change

MEAT

MEAT, Old Strathcona, Edmonton, Alberta

MEAT , a locally owned and operated smokehouse, is a Whyte Avenue hot spot that embraces all my favorite ‘B’ words:  Brisket, Beer, Bourbon….and Brunch.  It’s standard to see a line forming on a Sunday morning, patrons primed to indulge in a dish as hearty as the conversation.  Here we thoroughly enjoyed a mid-morning mimosa, along with the popular ‘Beef Brisket Benny’ comprised of a cheddar herb biscuit, caramelized onions and housemade hollandaise, complete with a side of hashbrowns.  To curate your Benny experience, the tables are set with MEAT’s four iconic homemade sauces:  Bourbon, Cherry, Spicy and Mustard.

SUGARED AND SPICED

Sugared and Spiced, Edmonton, Alberta

Oh, the deliciously divine secrets a historic back alley can harbor.  Sugared and Spiced is a “husband and wife” establishment with a focus on one thing:  Baking.  It is a story that begins in 2012 in the world of farmer’s markets and having a chocolate chip-peanut butter-bacon cookie named one of Tomato Magazine’s top 100 things to eat in Edmonton, and transitions into the wildly popular brick and mortar bakeshop that opened its doors in 2017.  Welcoming guests with sweet aromas and warm smiles, this is a bakeshop that feels like home.  Focusing on quality ingredients and small batches, I promise this will be your new favorite.  And did I mention they have a cake club?  You’re welcome.

Sugared and Spiced, Edmonton, Alberta

EL CORTEZ

El Cortez, Whyte Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta

As one of only 9 establishments in the world certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (The Tequila Regulatory Council), El Cortez is colorful Mexican cantina meets artistic Hollywood sound stage.  The ultra-cool haunt is a favorite among locals, with a menu offering 140 types of tequila and mezcals, and a modern twist on Latin food that boasts sourcing local and complete in-house creation.  Proud to support and promote the community, El Cortez is a scene set to embrace the arts, playing the perfect backdrop to live music, film shoots, fundraisers and epic cellar parties.

OHANA DONUTERIE

When you pair a made-from-scratch, hand rolled, malasada style donut stuffed with coconut cream filling and a steamy Macadamia Macchiato, it’s basically an explosion of Hawaiian vacation for your tastebuds.  Ohana Donuts is all about a chill vibe, featuring ocean inspired tones and surf culture adorning the walls.  Serving the first donut from a food truck in 2017, the popularity of Ohana may be relatively new, but the commitment to “full-sized, double raised, hot and fresh yeast donuts” and coffee have propelled this locally owned and operated company to a level many businesses can only dream of.

This section of the tour is super fun and hands-on, as fresh, warm donuts are brought to the table to be filled and rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Ohana Donuterie, Old Strathcona, Edmonton, Alberta

MADE BY MARCUS

Made by Marcus, Edmonton, Alberta

Photo courtesy of Made by Marcus IG @madebymarcus (with permission)

What do you get when you mix a food scientist with a micro creamery and a narrow speakeasy entrance?  Frozen perfection.  With flavors ranging from Whiskey Hazelnut Praline to Monogram Espresso Churro Crumb, Made by Marcus takes the old fashioned world of ice cream and launches it to new heights.  From a foundation built on delicate macarons that left owner, Marcus, with a huge excess of yolks, the micro-creamery was born.  Made by Marcus sets itself apart with ingeniously unique flavors made entirely from scratch, while proudly supporting local dairy farmers and growers as an ingredient source.  And not to brag, but the Whyte Ave (Edmonton) location carries the coveted Earl Grey & Raspberry Financier flavor, and it’s kind of everything.

REMEDY CAFE

Remedy Cafe, Edmonton, Alberta

It’s eclectic and inviting, a diverse world of university students hunched over textbooks, colorful wingback chairs by the fire, steaming samosas, cold beer and creamy mugs of chai.  In fact, the entire Remedy Cafe motto is “Be Spicy, Drink Chai“, a slogan born of an age-old, original recipe, brewed over several days.   But the true warmth of Remedy Cafe is in the story behind the storefront.  Owner, Sohail “Zee” Zaidi, is a rule-breaker by nature, a character trait that sets him apart and contributes to Remedy’s massive success.  A ‘serial entrepreneur’, Zee learned to cook at a young age, and brings knowledge and experience from his travels around the globe.  But despite the inspirational story, what truly caught my attention on our final stop, was the station in the photo above.  This is a space that embodies kindness, understanding, and compassion.  Freshly made sandwiches, fruit, and cool drinks adorn shelves for the simple purpose of paying it forward to those in a moment of need.  An establishment that not only supports local farmers and growers in product sourcing but supports locals in such a beautiful extension of empathy and genuine humanity is a place I am proud to promote and support in return.

While this tour was compliments of the incredible folks at Alberta Food Tours, the words and opinions within are, as always, my own.  Karen, the company you stand behind has become a community of support for so many and is so much bigger than a simple mid-morning tour.  It is an appreciation of the history and culture of a much loved neighborhood, a dedication to supporting ethical and inspiring entrepreneurs and it is exposure to places and locals with messages worth the attention.  Thank you for carving this beautiful path that connects our community, and our family.

 

Cheers,

Amy

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12 thoughts on “Brunch and Bakeries: Exploring Edmonton’s Old Strathcona Neighborhood with Alberta Food Tours

  1. Food is indeed a great way to understand a place, its history and culture and, as you say, its heart. I love how you call food a universal language. So true. I had no idea Alberta had 7 signature foods … bison and beef I get. Wheat too. But had no idea what a Saskatoon berry was until now. We love food tours and not just for the sampling of new and delicious dishes. Three hours … now one can eat a lot in that amount of time. 😉

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! Yes, a person can jam in an incredible about of amazing and delicious stops into 3 hours, and even better when you have privately reserved tables so none of that time is spent in lines! Food tours are such an incredible way for even locals to discover facts they did not know about!

  2. I have only done the huge shopping mall in the city as I was passing through but I am always in Alberta..love that province to bits. If I am ever back in ‘oil and gas’ city, I will sure to hit up the foodie side of the city. I love a good food tour, espeically that side of the Atlantic (I am from the UK)>

    1. Well thanks for giving my province so much love! And our food scene is always a surprise to travelers, we truly are a cuisine hot spot with so many creative young chefs exploding on the culinary scene. The food tour is so awesome as they partner with local entrepreneurs who meet high standards, so you are exploring the best the city has to offer without all the research work!

  3. Food tours are a great idea. I should make an effort to book out on my next trip to Paris. Sugared and Spiced looks great, I would try one of their cookies. We don’t really have those in Australia but I know they can be delicious if made properly: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!

  4. Agree completely with your opening comments about the importance of food in life and as a way to fully identify with places we visit. A guided food tour is a wonderful idea. I will be in Alberta next year so will check this out – although I must admit that I will need my poutine fix when I arrive in Canada!

  5. I love how food tours give the inside peek into the food world of a particular place and makes the visitor connect to it as it is guided. Your suggestions are wonderful and if I ever make it to that part of the world, I’d surely try it out.

  6. Food tours are always a great way to explore a city. Exploring Edmonton’s Old Strathcona Neighborhood with Alberta Food Tours would be really great thing to do. Sugared and Spiced being a “husband and wife” establishment with Baking as their main focus looks interesting place to try out chocolate chip-peanut butter-bacon cookies.

  7. I love a good food tour – food is one of the best ways to explore a new place. I never would have guessed that Edmonton had such a food scene, but it clearly does! I’m ready to go to Sugared and Spiced RIGHT now….after dinner at MEAT, anyway haha

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