Looking north to City Hall, Three Bananas (9918 102nd Ave., 780/428-2200, Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., lunches $4.50–12) is a bright, inspiring space in the heart of downtown. The menu features the usual array of coffee concoctions, single serve pizzas, and grilled paninis, all made to order.
In an inconspicuous spot on the west side of downtown Blue Plate Diner (10145 104th St., 780/429-0740, Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–10 p.m., $12–18) is a welcoming place, with simple furnishings and a thoughtful menu of dishes made fresh each day. Vegetarian choices include a lentil and nut loaf doused with miso gravy.
Surrounded by the city’s highest high-rises is the Sherlock Holmes (10012 101A Ave., 780/426-7784, Mon.–Sat. from 11:30 a.m., $12–16), a charming English-style pub with a shingled roof, whitewashed walls with black trim, and a white picket fence surrounding it. At lunchtime, it is packed with the office crowd. Try traditional British dishes such as bangers and mash, meatloaf, and steak and mushroom pie, washed down with a pint of Newcastle ale or Guinness stout. Still hungry? The bread and butter pudding ($8) is a delicious way to end your meal.
In the West End, Sidetrack Cafe (10238 104th St., 780/421-1326, Mon.–Fri. from 7 a.m., weekends from 9 a.m., $9–14) has been a music hot spot for more than two decades, but it also has a reputation for excellent food. Big, hearty breakfasts cost $4–7.50. Soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and world fare are all on the menu. The soup-and-sandwich lunch deal includes a bottomless bowl of soup. Dinners (5–10 p.m.) are mostly pub staples.
The area along 97th Street has always been Edmonton ’s own little skid row, but this is changing. Now, it’s home to the Hardware Grill (9698 Jasper Ave., 780/423-0969, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and Mon.–Sat. from 5 p.m., $30–49), one of the city’s finest restaurants. Located at the street level of an early 1900s red-brick building (once a hardware store), the white linen and silver table settings contrast starkly with the restored interior. The menu features dishes using a wide variety of seasonal Canadian produce, including pork, lamb, beef, venison, and salmon, all well prepared and delightfully presented.
At Madison’s Grill (10053 Jasper Ave., 780/401-2222, daily for breakfast and dinner, weekdays only for lunch, $28–40), the official-looking architecture of this former bank remains, with contemporary styling balancing columns and ornate ceiling. The kitchen features the best in Canadian ingredients, with the Alaskan king crab lasagna a real treat. The lunchtime pan-seared calamari salad keeps up the seafood theme. Good food coupled with impeccable service makes Madison’s the perfect place for a splurge.
In general, revolving restaurants are renowned for bad food as much as great views. But La Ronde (10111 Bellamy Hill, 780/420-8366, daily 5:30–10:30 p.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m.–2 p.m. for brunch, $28–39), atop the Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe, is an exception. The Canadian-inspired menu features delicacies such as maple-glazed arctic char, grilled bison rib eye, and east coast lobster, or enjoy a three-course table d’hôte for $53.
Among the dozens of Italian restaurants in the city, one of the most popular is Sorrentino’s (10162 100th St., 780/424-7500, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 5–10 p.m., $15–31). The decor is stylish, with a great old-world Italian charm. The food is simple and satisfying. Begin with prawns sautéed in a gorgonzola cream reduction, then move onto a traditionally rich pasta dish, or something lighter such as Greek-style lamb medallions.
As you descend the stairs to The Creperie below the Boardwalk Market (10220 103rd St., 780/420-6656, Tues.–Fri. for lunch, daily for dinner, $20–26), a great smell, wafting from somewhere in the depths of this historic building, hits you in the face. It takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to the softly lit dining area, but once you do, its inviting French provincial atmosphere is apparent. As you’ve probably guessed, crepes are the specialty. Choose from fillings as varied as the Canadian-influenced Crepe Pacific ($20), filled with shrimp, salmon, and asparagus, to the classic chocolate crepe ($8) for dessert.
The Harvest Room, in the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald  (10065 100th St., 780/429-6424, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $28–45), has the look of a cruise-ship dining room of yesteryear, but remains remarkably unstuffy. The food itself blends Canadian specialties, sourced locally where possible, with European influences and a very comprehensive wine list. Royal (high) Tea is served each summer afternoon at 3 p.m. (reservations recommended); $33 per person includes a hotel tour.
On the west side of downtown, Wild Tangerine (10383 112th St., 780/429-3131, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. and Sat. 5–11:30 p.m., $13–26) boasts imaginative cooking in a casual, color-filled room. Many dishes have their origins in Asia, but have been given a modern makeover with local produce as a base (think grilled salmon dusted with lemon tea or mussels boiled open in red curry). Save room for the chocolate brownie covered in orange marmalade and cream cheese.
My favorite East Indian restaurant in Edmonton  is Haweli (10220 103rd St., 780/421-8100, daily for lunch and dinner, $14–22), which has an enchantingly simple ambience, complete with silk curtains separating some tables and soothing background music.