Sunday, January 5th, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Epicureous in Edmonton: 2013 in Review

Although we had some high profile restaurant losses this year (notably Jack’s Grill), 2013 seemed to be a good year overall for local independents. Openings definitely tipped the scale, with some, such as RGE RD and Tavern 1903 immediately embraced by the community. I can only hope this trend continues – that Edmontonians will shift their habits in order to dine at creative, quality-driven small businesses.

Panna cotta at RGE RD

Here are some other notable food happenings in 2013:

  • The number of food trucks exploded in Edmonton, with more than a dozen new vendors, offering mobile options ranging from Vietnamese to British to Mexican cuisines.
  • The burger reigned supreme this year, with the US chain Smashburger landing in Sherwood Park, and local counterparts The Burg, Jack’s Burger Shack in St. Albert, Bannock Burger and a burger-focused food truck The Patty Wagon competing for your business.
  • It also seemed that Century Hospitality Group’s Alley Burger paved the way for others, such as Creole Envie’s back alley po’boy and Wild Tangerine’s O’my Bao.
  • Something to keep an eye on in the coming year will be the price of pop-up and one-off dinners. They seem to have been increasing over the last few years, but it’s not clear if there is a ceiling to the cost diners are willing to pay.
  • Hot pot hits the spot: Urban Shabu and 97 Hot Pot are heating up the dining scene in Chinatown – we’ll see if this leads to more Edmontonians embracing this method of eating.
  • Those with certain dietary restrictions also expanded their selection in the city, with the completely gluten-free GF Diner, and VegPalette catering to busy vegans.
  • I wrote in my 2011 Year in Review that a “coffee district” was brewing Downtown. Unfortunately, that has reversed itself this year, with the loss of both Transcend’s Downtown storefront and Roast. That said, 124 Street is perking up, with news of Credo’s second location and Remedy joining the mix.
  • We did lose some long-standing food businesses in 2013, including Java Jive and Bee Bell Bakery.
  • The success of Ten Mile Meal, Gail Hall’s Alberta farm tours, the Taste of Edmonton’s Sip ‘n Savour initiative and the launching of Localize all spoke to the increasing appetite of diners to connect with those that grow their food.
  • In the same vein, farmers’ markets continue to pop-up in all over the city.  Four joined the fray in 2013: Eden’s Market, Century Park, French Quarter and the Edmonton Petroleum Club.
  • It was also great to see social enterprise Mealshare debut in Edmonton, providing diners with a seamless way to feed someone in need, simply by eating out.

Looking forward to what 2014 brings!

You can check out previous year in reviews here.