I’m home in Edmonton, and something Edmonton does well is festivals. One of my favourite festivals (aside from The Edmonton International Fringe Festival of course) is a Taste of Edmonton.
What Is Taste of Edmonton?
Taste of Edmonton is a food festival here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. At this festvial local restaurants put out small samples of two different dishes for people to try. It takes place for 10 days at the middle to end of July. This year it goes from July 18 to 29. Usually, Taste of Edmonton is downtown at Sir Winston Churchill Square. Due to construction this year the festival is at Capital Plaza (at 108 Street and 99 Avenue). It’s free to get into Taste of Edmonton, and they do have live entertainment. If you want to try some of the dishes though, you’ll need to buy tickets, which come in sheets of 5 ($9), 10 ($17), 20 ($34) or 40 ($67).
Planning Your Visit
I’ve been to A Taste of Edmonton several times, and the best way to tackle this event is to plan ahead. If you buy your tickets online, you can usually save a bit of money. However you can only buy the 40 pack of tickets online, and eating for 40 tickets for one person is pretty hard. The best thing to do is bring a friend and split the tickets (that’s what a friend and I did). It’s more cost effective this way. It’s important to know the food is a sample size. 20 tickets (for me) is enough to try a few dishes and not be hungry at the end.
I recommend going online and checking the menu in advance. Food items are 2 to 4 tickets, and drinks are 2 to 5 tickets. Make a plan for what you want to try and how many tickets it’ll cost. That way you’ll know about how many tickets you’ll need to buy. Another reason to check online is that some vendors are only there on specific days. If there’s a dish you want to have make sure it’ll be there the day you plan to visit. If you have a dietary concern they list dishes with seafood and nuts. They also list dishes that are gluten friendly and dishes that are vegetarian.
Arriving At Taste of edmonton
Taste of Edmonton runs from 11am to 11pm, except the first and last day when it runs from 11am to 8pm. If you go in the middle of the afternoon during the week, it won’t be so busy. You can also try going in the evening after work, but you run the risk of having some places run out of their dishes.
Parking around Taste of Edmonton is quite tricky (and even more so this year with it being at Capital Plaza. The best thing to do is to take the LRT (to Grandin Station) or the bus. You can check routes at the Edmonton Transit System. An LRT ticket is $3.25 and is valid for 90 minutes.
Before you go check the weather because this is an outdoor event. If there is a severe thunderstorm Taste of Edmonton may close for safety reasons. This actually happened the other night. Wear comfortable shoes, slather on some sunscreen, and if it calls for rain bring an umbrella. I recommend bringing a bottle of water with you. It is possible to buy water there (for two tickets), but save your tickets for the food. You can use cash or credit card to buy tickets. There are ATMs at Taste of Edmonton, but they will charge a service fee.
Finally, if you want to try a few dishes be sure to bring an empty stomach. If you do end up with extra tickets, there is a place to donate them on site.
What I Tried
I started at Wildflower Grill with the adobo pork belly, which was served with rice and a soft egg (4 tickets). It was good, but not as spicy as I had expected. Next, I had bolani (3 tickets), which is like a deep fried savoury pancake stuffed with potatoes and vegetables served with a mint yogurt dip. This was from Afghan Foods, and I don’t think I’ve ever had Afghani cuisine before, and I really like this. I went to Won Jung Gak for a Korean seafood pancake (2 tickets). It was good and reminded me of a green onion cake or scallion pancake with some shrimp. It was served with a soy-based dipping sauce.
Although I planned to save this for the end, we passed by Wishbone Restaurant, and I used 2 tickets for some buttermilk beignets. Mmmm delicious fried dough with powdered sugar. Each year at Taste of Edmonton one of my must get items is a beef lemongrass skewer from Hoang Long (4 tickets). I had to stop at Irie Foods for a Jamaican beef patty with the perfect amount of spice (3 tickets). Finally, I got some yemisir kik wot (spicy lentils) with injera (a type of sour, sponge-like flatbread) from Langano Skies, an Ethiopian restaurant (3 tickets). It was spicy, but very good. In total, I spent 20 tickets, which was about $30.
You might notice there wasn’t a lot of food photos in this post. Taste of Edmonton is quite busy, and it’s hard to take pictures of your food with people walking by you. There are some picnic tables to sit down at, but they get pretty busy. Also, the food was too good, and I couldn’t help but devour it.
My friends and I wandered around and listened to some of the free entertainment. All said it done our Taste of Edmonton foray was a success. Taste of Edmonton is still going on for a few more days (until July 29). If you happen to be visiting Edmonton in July take a look to see if Taste of Edmonton will be on while you’re here. It’s always worth checking out.
What Food Festivals Have You Been To? Let Me Know In The Comments Below.