By Georgia Englot
When you’re a picky eater, trying out new restaurants can be intimidating. It can be hard to know if there will be an option you like and whether the restaurant allows substitutions. As a self-proclaimed picky eater, I know the nervous feeling of walking in unsure if there’ll be something you like or feeling guilty when you ask the server for substitutions.
At home I don’t have to worry whether the egg yolks will be mixed in or if there’ll be avocado topping everything or, God forbid, brussel sprouts and tofu, but at restaurants I can normally cross off quite a few options because they have foods I Do Not Like. Forget the stigma about being a “picky eater” – everyone deserves to eat food they enjoy. So let’s talk about restaurants in Edmonton that are great for a picky eater to try out!
My recommendation for a breakfast or brunch spot is the Sugarbowl café. This Edmonton classic has existed in many different forms in the Garneau neighbourhood since 1943 and with good reason. This restaurant serves a wide variety of café and pub favourites and an impressive drink list featuring more than 160 craft beers and 15 rotating taps.
Alongside their regular breakfast and brunch menus (the breakfast menu is for weekdays and the brunch for weekends), Sugarbowl has daily featured omelettes, breakfast sandwiches and burritos. My friend and I visited on a Wednesday morning and enjoyed an incredible breakfast. They have a ton of drink options (alcoholic or non), and we both loved our lattes. They offer a couple of different flavour shots, and you can substitute regular milk for oat milk if you’d like. The drink prices are a bit high (think Starbucks prices), but the cost of the meals is very reasonable at around 15$ each.
I ordered the omelette of the day: a cheese, bacon and mushroom omelette, that came with hashbrowns and toast. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, so I asked for no mushrooms, and the waiter was very accommodating. The hashbrowns were home-cooked and came with very nice house ketchup. I was a bit surprised to receive a slice of nutty sourdough toast but was pleasantly surprised by the bread’s sweet flavour. There was a minor concern when I had to double check that there weren’t almonds in the bread, because I am allergic to them, but the waiter immediately went to double check with the chefs.
My friend ordered the Sugarbowl’s french toast with berry compote and crème fraiche. Both meals were large portions and absolutely delicious. Before we left, we both had to order one of their giant cinnamon buns to go. Their cinnamon buns are fluffy and covered in perfect parts of sugar and cinnamon. It was a fantastic meal with great service and an excellent restaurant for people trying to branch out.
With COVID-19, the restaurant’s safety measures are important to take into consideration. Sugarbowl is taking safety seriously, and I was impressed with the steps they’ve taken. They’ve significantly reduced their indoor capacity with tables spaced out and cleaned after every customer.
[For a pre-Covid edmontonscene review of the Sugarbowl by Austin Nitschke, click here.]
Due to concerns about rising Covid-19 cases and some restaurants switching to take out only, the Sugarbowl was the only restaurant I ate at; the next two restaurants I ordered the meals as take out
For lunch I wanted something new, and several of my colleagues suggested Jack’s Burger Shack in Saint Albert. The burger shack was started in Slave Lake in 2012 by Tu and Ninh Le, brothers who immigrated from Vietnam in 1979, and expanded to St. Albert a year later. If you’re hoping for a closer burger shack, never fear! In February Jack’s Burger Shack won an entrepreneur contest to become the anchor commercial tenant in the Stadium Yard development in the Cromdale area (through the Rohit group of companies) along with $125,000. Tu Le described the opportunity as the “Alberta dream” in an interview with the Edmonton Journal.
My sister and I picked up some of their burgers and milkshakes as a celebration lunch and Jack’s Burger Shack did not disappoint! As a proud member of the poutine fanclub, I had to try their Quebecer, a standard burger with fries, cheese curds, gravy and ranch. I requested my burger without tomato or ranch, and it arrived just as I’d asked with no problems at all.
My food (and sister) had to drive half an hour after home but my fries were still warm and crispy and the gravy hadn’t made the bun all soggy. It was a glorious, slightly messy, but incredible burger.
My sister ordered the BBQ Crunch, a burger with cheese, barbecue sauce, bacon and chips and she loved it. We both tried a bite of each other’s but we both thought our own burger was the better tasting, which is a pretty good sign. The best part of Burger Shacks for me, though, is the milkshakes, and Jack’s Burger Shack has some fun flavours. I ordered the Black and White, and while I can’t say for certain what the flavour was (it was mostly chocolatey? But with a bit of a caramel flavour?) I would absolutely order it again. My sister went for a basic Nutella milkshake, but they also have flavours like Darth Vader (a Pepsi and vanilla ice cream milkshake) and ones inspired by cereal like Cap’n Crunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
With their most expensive burgers being just over 10$ each, Jack’s Burger Shack is a great restaurant to stop by when you want some delicious comfort food at great prices. Their burgers are creative and inventive, and they have options for everyone, including plant based pattys and gluten free buns. I cannot wait until Jack’s Burger Shack has a location closer to home so I can visit them more often!
For a delicious supper, I would 100% recommend trying Huma Mexican Restaurant. This restaurant opened in 2015 and promises authentic Mexican food made with heart. My friend and I ordered a three-course meal with an appetizer, mains and a dessert, and loved it all.
We started off with queso fundido (a house mix of cheeses melted and served with 6 mini tortillas). Unfortunately, by the time I got the food home, the cheese had mostly solidified, so we had to cut up the cheese, but it was still very tasty. My friend described it as a “deconstructed grilled cheese.” It came on corn tortillas, which aren’t my favourite, but they were very mild.
For mains, I enjoyed a “gringa,” chilli-marinated pork with melted cheese grilled between two flour tortillas. My friend ordered a beef burrito. My gringa was absolutely incredible; I would order it every week if I could. I was worried it would be too spicy, but there was just a hint of spice that added a nice heat. It was a bit greasy but in a good way.
My friend loved her burrito, but it was giant, so she didn’t wind up finishing it. All of our sauces came on the side, which is great because you can add the sauces you like and leave off others, and it keeps the food from getting soggy.
For dessert, we ordered a brownie. We were surprised to find that it was spicy! It wasn’t my favourite: I prefer a really thick brownie with chocolate chunks, but it was an interesting twist. When I called to order, they asked about allergies and if we wanted all the toppings or if they should leave anything off, which I appreciated.
Huma’s dining room is currently closed, but you can call and order or even walk in and order. The staff were all wearing masks, and there were plexiglass dividers. There were also spaces taped on the floor to ensure any customers were a safe distance apart.
Edmonton has a ton of fabulous restaurants and there’s something for everyone! Even the picky eaters! Branch out from the safe options and try a new, local restaurant. Who knows? You might find a new favourite.
10922 88 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 0Z1
Jack’s Burger Shack
15 Perron St #130, St. Albert, AB T8N 1E5
Huma Mexican Comfort
9880 63 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 0G6