Sunday, March 1st, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Five for Foodies: Solo Dining

I would have preferred the name “Listage” for this semi-regular series, but realized that Eater already had a lock on that word. So instead, we have “Five for Foodies”, which will catalogue a handful of establishments that excel in a particular category, or offer something unique in the city’s culinary scene.

To start, I thought I would chronicle my five favourite places to dine solo. Often, my rationale behind eating alone is to get some work done, but other times I am consciously choosing a space that will allow me to relax amongst low-key surroundings. My bias as well, being without a vehicle, are restaurants in walkable areas of Edmonton and that are conveniently connected to public transit.

So in no particular order, here are my personal picks for solo-friendly eateries:

  • Shine Bistro (9828 101A Avenue) – I discovered this gem of a restaurant back in 2007. Tucked away in the Citadel Theatre complex in the shadow of Canada Place, Shine is a charming cafe-style eatery with local art on the walls. Their mainstays of soups and sandwiches aren’t unique, but the kitchen is consistent and service is brisk. My only complaint is that they are only open on weekdays until 3pm.
  • Leva (11053 86 Avenue) – Between their thin-crust pizzas and fantastic paninis, at some point I thought the cafe owners had me in mind when they designed their menu. I love the marble tables, the chic chandelier, and their shelf of interesting reads. Of course, their devotion to local producers doesn’t hurt either.
  • Blue Plate Diner (10145 104 Street) – my oft-cited favourite, it’s also my default solo dining destination. Nothing’s cosier than their brick wall, hardwood floor, and tabletop lamps. I never feel rushed, and their Friday Night Dinner specials are a  nice bonus.
  • Three Bananas Cafe (9918 102 Avenue) – this cafe is as central as it gets, as it is situated right on Churchill Square. It’s typically packed during warm weather festival season, but it’s a great place for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee all year round. I’m a sucker for their pepperoni and mushroom pizza, while the floor-to-ceiling windows are good for people-watching.
  • Hoang Long (10715 – 98 Street) – there’s nothing like musing over a bowl of beef noodle soup, and Hoang Long, which is just a short jaunt away from my office, has provided many a pho escape. I find the minimal decor soothing, and the sound level, even on a busy day, controlled. The large wooden tables are also the perfect reading surface for a newspaper. Unfortunately, the Chinatown location of Hoang Long has been closed for several months due to staff shortages – I hope they are able to reopen soon.
  • http://adamsnider.com Adam Snider

    It’s interesting that Shine Bistro doesn’t open until 3pm on weekdays, considering that many small downtown eateries still *close* around 3pm, having made their money for the day by serving the downtown lunch crowd.

    While I suppose that it’s location in the Citadel makes it more of an evening spot, it still strikes me as odd that Shine is closed for the entire lunch hour.

  • http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca Sharon

    Just to clarify (and re-reading my own sentence, it’s not clear) – Shine is open on weekdays from 7am-3pm. It’s a shame they’re not open longer, as it’s difficult for me to get to their location and back to my office in an hour.

  • Jennifer

    Just wanted to leave a note of thanks for this list – Three Bananas turned out to be the perfect spot for a coffee meeting today. I found your blog a few days ago, after Mack found me on Twitter. I love food and am new to the city, so your posts have been a huge help.

  • http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca Sharon

    You’re welcome Jennifer – welcome to Edmonton! If you like Three Bananas, you’ll love Leva – check it out when you can!

  • Jennifer

    The Leva website alone is making me drool – looking forward to curling up with a notebook and a latte.