All great things deserve a sequel. We recently talked about the great food found in Central Alberta, where restaurants, cafes and bars were trying out new things and blending the best of skill with local tastes and culture. A lot of what you can find in Central Alberta isn’t exactly something you can simply find in a big city, so we shared some of the best gems for foodies in the region. But we couldn’t just leave out some essential areas and gems, so without further ado here’s the second part of our series exploring some of the great culinary options Central Alberta has to offer in Red Deer and Lacombe.
Red Deer/Red Deer County
Tucked away in a Holiday Inn alongside Gasoline Alley is Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge, fusing modern cuisine with the best of local fare. Headed by Executive Chef Emmanuel David, who is respected in Alberta and beyond for his cooking talents and his impressive resume, you’ll want to sample the smoked pork ribs and keralan vegetable stew, examples of dishes that bring an international globetrotting vibe to Red Deer. Everything is sourced from local ingredients – bison from Lacombe, pork from Innisfail, vegetables from just outside the city. Venture over to Heritage Ranch for more international flavour at Westlake Grill, such as their butter chicken fried ravioli, served with tamarind chutney or their lobster fried gucci, which sounds absolutely lavish with its creamy pesto sauce & grana padano stuffing.
Lacombe is one of the smallest cities in the province but makes up for it with a thrilling selection of culinary fare for just about anyone. For Cilantro and Chive’s co-owner and chef Rieley Kay, community is at the heart of Lacombe’s food.
“There is such a strong sense of community from business owners to people to everything. There’s so much that goes on in Lacombe and so much support. Anytime there’s any concerns or anything happens, people just rally behind each other and help show the support that’s needed,” he says. “They are always very grateful, going out of their way to make sure everyone has been looked after. There is such a supportive community, it’s really awesome to see that.”
Speaking of Cilantro & Chive… it was once named a ‘savoury pit stop’ by the Globe and Mail. The beer selection is one of the best you’ll find in the West, with over 100 different types of craft beer including celebrated locals such as Blindman and Troubled Monk. Supporting local is a big motif in this joint – all of the ingredients are locally sourced and the menu is often changed to reflect the mix of tastes found in the restaurant from the hip to the average.
Just around the corner from Cilantro and Chive and located right on the historic main street is the Italian coffee shop/bakery Sweet Capone’s. Sweet tooths will adore the delicious cannoli in what looks and feels like a cozy family den thanks to the warm furniture and family photos dotted all around Sweet Capone’s. It really is a family business; both owners married and the recipes several generations old, passed down by older family members to be shared with you.
If you’re looking for something cozier, try the Morrison House Cafe on for size. It’s a heritage home built in the early 1900s, a charming spot for anyone in serious need of an afternoon coffee and pie break. Then there’s Good Neighbour Coffee, where friends can get together and talk over freshly roasted beans or buy a few bags to take home. Sandwich fans will enjoy Eastside Eatery, a no-nonsense soup and sandwich joint in Lacombe’s industrial area. Between their baked pies, soups and their oversized sandwiches, you’ll find enough to satisfy any craving. Decamp to nearby Bentley for drinks and live music at The Monkey Top Saloon, their wings and pizza capable of making any night out a memorable one.
The self-described hub for all things healthy, there’s plenty to find at Healthfitters; it’s a health and organics store stocked with the best you’ll need for your health journey. There’s organic kombucha on tap, but there’s also nutritional drinks and healthy food options offered in vegan, gluten free, nut free and dairy free options if you’re looking to improve your pantry and cupboard situation at home. September will also see the launch of Beet Top Cafe, a vegan restaurant located downtown promising to appeal to old and new Lacombe. If you’re desiring a total 180, you can go for some hefty calamari salad and creme brulee at the Station, before finishing your night off at Leto’s Steakhouse & Bar, a venerable mecca in all things meat.
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