Best of Food & Drink 2017

STARTERS & SIDESMEALSPIZZABREAKFASTCOFFEEBOOZE & PUBSRESTAURANTSINTERNATIONALSOCIALIZINGPEOPLESHOPPING & SERVICESNEIGHBOURHOODS

Hallo there, friends! Step right up to the counter and grab yourself a stool. Can I get you a pop? Maybe a milkshake? Ours brings all the blurbs to the yard. That’s a joke! You’re holding in your hands the 2017 Best Of Food And Drink, a comprehensively compiled compendium of blurbs about the winners in this year’s Planet S reader’s poll. Some of them are funny, some of them are weird, a few of them are accidentally factual and all are worth a look! So swivel on your seat and take a slurp o’ your soda, then read on about the excellent Saskatoon restaurants, menu items, food people and shops that make this town’s dining scene tops!


STARTERS & SIDES

Best Bacon Creations

Poached Breakfast Bistro
259 2nd Ave. S. 306-651-2255

2nd The Burning Beard
3rd Prairie Harvest Café
4th Leopold’s Tavern
5th UNA Pizza + Wine

My favourite “Bacon Creation” is Study After Veláquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X which the Irish artist Francis Bacon painted in 1953. As you can see, it didn’t even make the short-list in our annual poll. Nonetheless, there are undoubtedly some true bacon masterpieces to be found at the above establishments topped by our voters’ favourite in Saskatoon Poached Breakfast Bistro. So yummy eating everyone! /GB

Best Calamari

Odd Couple
228 20th St. W. 306-668-8889

2nd Cactus Club Café
3rd Earls
4th Taverna Italian Kitchen
5th Fionn MacCool’s

Family owned and operated, Odd Couple’s menu reflects Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisines. Sometimes, they use Asian ingredients and cooking techniques to offer twists on Canadian standards. This isn’t one of those times, obviously, as calamari is more of a Mediterranean dish. At Odd Couple, it’s called “Golden Squid”, and is served “fried and seasoned with Chinese Five Spiced Sea Salt”. And in our voters’ minds, it truly is golden. /GB

Best Shrimp

Las Palapas Resort Grill
910 Victoria Ave. 306-244-5556

2nd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
3rd Konga Café
4th Red Lobster
5th Ming’s Kitchen

Specializing in cuisine from the Americas, Las Palapas unveiled a revamped menu in early January. If you word search the on-line version “shrimp” pops up 14 times. Sometimes, it’s as an ingredient in a larger dish such as Paella Cubano Plate which also features baked rice, assorted vegetables, spicy sausage, chicken and crawfish. Other times, shrimp are the star attraction. And our voters think Las Palapas’ shrimp are winners! /GB

Best Spring Roll

Thien Vietnam
123 3rd Ave. S. 306-653-2288 / 2-1301 8th St. E. 306-954-1088

2nd Odd Couple
3rd Red Pepper
4th Summer Roll Family Restaurant
5th Asian Hut Restaurant

If Wikipedia is to be believed, spring rolls originated in China as a seasonal food — a treat, actually, where after a long winter of eating preserved foods fresh spring vegetables would be harvested and cooked with pork and other ingredients in a thin pastry. Now, thanks to the magic of refrigeration and a global food trade, spring rolls can be enjoyed all year round. And when Planet S voters are looking to satisfy a craving, Thien Vietnam is their go-to spot. /GB

Best Salad

Nosh Eatery & Tap
820 Broadway Ave. 306-933-3355

2nd The Rook & Raven Pub
3rd Prairie Ink Restaurant
4th UNA Pizza + Wine
5th Living Sky Café

In my non-blurb life, I must admit I’m somewhat salad challenged. It’s not that I don’t eat vegetables. It’s just that I don’t tend to chop them up and mix them in a bowl with a tasty dressing or vinaigrette before eating them. That’s where Nosh comes in. On their daily menu they feature four salads: Caesar, Avocado + Portobello, Bean and the restaurant’s signature Nosh salad with spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, hemp hearts and red onion finished with a house beet vinaigrette. So nosh away everyone. /GB

Best Soup

d’Lish by Tish Café
702A 14th St. E. 306-652-5483

2nd Mano’s Restaurant and Lounge
3rd Nosh Eatery & Tap
4th Earth Bound Bakery and Delicatessen
5th City Perks Coffeehouse

I can’t vouch for the other finalists, but I know d’Lish by Tish Café takes its soup seriously. How seriously? Well, to the point it has a “soup schedule”. Two soups are featured each day, and there’s a two-week rotation, so every month you have a chance to try 28 different soups. The day this issue hits the streets (May 25) Rustic Vegetable and Beer & Cheddar Bacon are the soups. Closing out the week, there’s Loaded Baked Potato and Beef Fajita (May 26), French Onion Mushroom Barley and Cream of Roasted Red Pepper (May 27) and Seafood Chowder and Thai Pineapple Curry (May 28). So yeah, at d’Lish by Tish the soup is definitely on. /GB

Best Fries (Chain)

McDonald’s
Multiple locations

2nd New York Fries
3rd Five Guys Burgers and Fries
4th Fuddruckers
5th A&W

In certain circles in our increasingly unequal and stratified society, the phrase “Do you want fries with that?” is seen as a put-down of people who work in low-wage service industry jobs. But when it comes to actually driving to a fast food outlet and ordering up a serving of the golden brown and oh so salty beauties we’re big fans. So how about a round of applause to all the staff at all the places that serve fries for the hard work they do. /GB

Best Fries (Local)

The Yard & Flagon Pub
718 Broadway Ave. 306-653-8883

2nd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
3rd O’Shea’s Irish Pub
4th Congress Beer House
5th Leopold’s Tavern

While The Yard & Flagon grabs all the accolades, and deservedly so as they’ve practically owned this category since we started Best of Food & Drink, I’d like to take a moment to salute the United States Department of Agriculture. See, way back in 1941 at the Presque Isle station in Maine, USDA scientists developed the Kennebec potato that the Yard & Flagon uses for its fries. It’s described as a medium-to-late maturing, fast-growing white potato with a high yield that keeps well in storage. Of course, there’s more to good fries than just a quality potato. That’s where chef/owner Randy Berg and his staff come in with their “double fry” technique and tasty seasoning. So congrats to them. /GB

Best Poutine

Smoke’s Poutinerie
307 21st E. 306-653-2873

2nd Hollows
3rd Costco
4th Leopold’s Tavern
5th Congress Beer House

My introduction to poutine came when I visited my sister in Quebec City in 1993. Quebec is the home of poutine, of course, with a proud history dating back to the 1950s. Outside Quebec, it’s grown wildly in popularity in the last few years, with poutine purveyors like Smoke’s spreading across Canada. The range of poutine recipes has exploded as well. You can still get the traditional — French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. But as a peek at Smoke’s menu reveals, there are all sorts of variations on that theme incorporating pork, chicken, wieners, eggs, beans and other vegetables, and different spice combinations to satisfy hungry customers. /GB


MEALS

Best Sandwich

Earth Bound Bakery and Delicatessen
1820 8th St E. 306-955-2184

2nd Nosh Eatery & Tap
3rd Citizen Cafe & Bakery
4th The Underground Café
5th Pokey’s Pinball Cafe

As you can tell from Earth Bound’s full name, it’s got both parts of the sandwich equation covered. First, it’s got a solid selection of organic breads that are baked in-house, providing a tasty and nutritious base on which to stack your favourite sammie ingredients. That’s where the Deli part of Earth Bound comes in, offering up an array of meats, veggies and condiments to satisfy every taste. Throw in other menu items like soup, muffins and cookies and you can see why Chris Morin, in last year’s blurb, described Earth Bound as a “crown jewel” of 8th St. So congrats to Trent Loewen and staff. /GB

Best Club Sandwich

Park Café
515 20th St. W. 306-652-6781

2nd Broadway Café
3rd The Yard & Flagon Pub
4th Somewhere Else Pub & Grill
5th O’Shea’s Irish Pub

Ham, turkey, lettuce, cheese, tomato and mayo are the core ingredients of Park Café’s winning entry. You also get your choice of soup, salad or fries. As to what makes the sandwich stand out in the minds (or at least stomachs) of Planet S voters, I’m not in a position to say. Although the fact it’s a “triple-decker” might have something to do with it. No matter how you cut it (pun intended) that’s a lot of sandwich. So congrats to Park Café. /GB

Best Pita/Wrap

SoomSoom

2nd Opa!
3rd Pita Pit
4th Extreme Pita
5th Living Sky Café

Elsewhere in this feature, you’ll find a Best Food Truck category. Obviously, only food trucks can win it. But it’s not a catch-all award, as food trucks are eligible in other categories too. And if they get enough votes they can win, like SoomSoom did here. According to the website, “soomsoom” means “sesame” in Hebrew. And sesame seeds are a major ingredient in SoomSoom’s Middle Eastern-themed menu. Look for them on the street, and at Food Truck Wars YXE which goes June 16-18 and June 23-25 at Sutherland Curling Club. /GB

Best Burger

Congress Beer House
215 2nd Ave. S. 306-974-6717

2nd Fuddruckers
3rd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
4th The Yard & Flagon Pub
5th Prairie Harvest Café

If you visit Congress Beer House’s Facebook page you’ll certainly see some impressive burgers. In fact, some of them are downright intimidating — at least, from where I sit. Which is in front of a computer screen in the Planet S office, unfortunately, as opposed to being at Congress chowing down on one of the aforementioned behemoths such as the Mac Daddy or Big ’n’ Little Burger. Oh well, I’ve only got a few dozen more blurbs to write. Then I’ll be catching the bus to Burger Town for sure. /GB

Best Veggie Burger

Nosh Eatery & Tap
820 Broadway Ave. 306-933-3355

2nd Amigos Cantina
3rd The Yard & Flagon Pub
4th Ayden Kitchen & Bar
5th Congress Beer House

As with Nosh’s win in Best Salad, one factor that perhaps weighed in its favour here was different veggie burger options. Five of six items in its Between the Bread section, in fact, are vegan-friendly, with a Bison Burger being the only outlier. You’ve got a B.L.T. (made with shiitake bacon), Not-So Po’ Boy (cornmeal-crusted fried oyster mushrooms), Beetroot Burger (roasted beet, brown rice, chick peas), Broccoli Cheddar Burger (broccoli, peas, kale, pumpkin seeds, oats) and the Nosh Burger (lentils, walnuts, carrots, onions, mushrooms). So congrats to Nosh. /GB

Best Fish And Chips

Gibson’s Fish and Chips
1025 Louise Ave. 306-374-1411

2nd Jerry’s Food Emporium
3rd O’Shea’s Irish Pub
4th Fionn MacCool’s
5th Leopold’s Tavern

When Gibson’s first opened in Saskatoon in 1964, the city’s population was in the range of 105,000, Percy C. Klaehn was mayor, and the Mendel Art Gallery was just months away from opening. Times, at least as far as the city goes, have certainly changed. What hasn’t changed is the Gibson family’s commitment to serving the best fish and chips to hungry Saskatonians. As Craig Silliphant observed in his blurb last year, Gibson’s is a Saskatoon institution. So congrats to them on their latest win in this category. /GB

Best Pasta

Taverna Italian Kitchen
219 21st St. E. 306-652-6366

2nd Primal Pasta
3rd Chianti Café
4th Little Grouse on the Prairie
5th Prairie Harvest Café

When Taverna Italian Kitchen first opened in Saskatoon in 1969, the city’s — okay, I’m just teasing. I’m not going to use the same intro two blurbs in a row. That doesn’t detract from the fact that Taverna, like Gibson’s, is a Saskatoon institution. Just looking at the assortment of pasta dishes on the restaurant’s Facebook page is enough to send my salivary glands into drool overload. It’s one of the pleasures (and pains) of working on a feature like this — especially when meal-time is approaching, and the hunger gremlins are stirring in my stomach. Mmmm… pasta! /GB.

Best Barbecue

Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack
2830 Millar Ave. 306-649-2830

2nd Saboroso Brazilian Steakhouse
3rd Montana’s BBQ & Bar
4th Tony Romas

Saskatchewan has undergone a barbecue revolution over the last decade. While many of us purported to barbecue in our backyards and local parks before, what we were really doing was grilling. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for an authentic barbecue experience you need to invest time and energy to make the rubs, marinades and sauces that work magic on the food you’re preparing. You also need to set aside a good chunk of time to smoke the ribs, brisket, chicken or whatever other hunk of meat you’re intent on eating so it dissolves in your mouth with exquisite flavour. Or, you can just stop by Schryers and order up your favourites from the oh-so-yummy menu. /GB

Best Ribs

The Rook & Raven Pub
154 2nd Ave. S. 306-665-2220

2nd Montana’s BBQ & Bar
3rd Mr. Rizo’s Restaurant
4th Mano’s Restaurant and Lounge
5th Tony Roma’s

When I went looking for details on the ribs you voted best in Saskatoon I came up empty. On The Rook & Raven’s website, the only mention was a dish called Prime Rib Poutine. I almost called in Planet S’s chief electoral officer to conduct an investigation, but before I did I decided to dig a little deeper. According to one anonymous source, The Rook & Raven used to have a rib special on Monday. Now, it’s morphed into a Friday/Saturday dinner special. But Heath — I mean, my anonymous source — said it’s not every weekend. So if you’re looking to see what captured the fancy of Planet S voters in this category maybe phone ahead to see when ribs will be on the menu next. /GB

Best Steak

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar
1110 Grosvenor Ave. 306-653-3633

2nd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
3rd Carver’s Steakhouse
4th The Granary
5th Cut Casual Steak & Tap

Big upset in this category — Not!!! I’d have to go back into the archives, but I’m pretty sure the Keg has owned this category since we started Best of Food & Drink in the mid-2000s. How important is steak to the Keg’s roster of culinary offerings? Pretty damn important, I’d say, considering that it’s listed under two tabs in the restaurant’s on-line menu: Steak + Seafood and Steak + Prime Rib. No matter how you cut it (ha! ha!) steak at the Keg is as close to a sure thing as there is in the restaurant world. Planet S voters have long known that. And now you do too. /GB

Best Irish Stew

O’Shea’s Irish Pub
222 2nd Ave. S. 306-384-7444

2nd Fionn MacCool’s
3rd The Yard & Flagon Pub
4th Winston’s English Pub & Grill
5th Choices STM

O’Shea’s snagged top spot in this category for something that’s not even a full-time menu item. Irish Stew appears as a monthly feature from time to time, but there’s no predicting when. Maybe our voters are trying to send a message to the pub — carve that steaming bowl of deliciousness a permanent spot on the menu so diners don’t have to wait with hopeful anticipation every time they arrive. According to Wikipedia, “Irish Stew is any variety of meat-and-root vegetable stew native to Ireland. As in all traditional folk dishes, the exact recipe is not consistent [over] time or place to place.” Clearly, O’Shea’s adds a sprinkle of magic to its Irish Stew, and we’re all hoping to see it become a permanent feature. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Smoothie

Booster Juice
Multiple locations

2nd Thrive Juice Co.
3rd Cora

Google “what is a smoothie?” and you get this: “a man with a smooth, suave manner.” If Booster Juice was a man, he’d be such a fellow. Why, he’d make everyone blended yogurt beverages with ingredients like bananas, strawberries, coconut, oranges, guava and blueberries, and they’d be sooo tasty. He’d give these smoothies fun names like “Mango Hurricane”, “Lemon Lime Licious” and “UnBEETable”, and, if you wanted, he’d add “boosters” like ginseng, Echinacea and soy protein powder. And he’d make a legendary smoothie called a “Funky Monkey” with bananas, chocolate almond milk and vanilla frozen yogurt. Smoothie’s world sounds like a great place to live. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Dessert

Calories Bakery & Restaurant
721 Broadway Ave. 306-665-7991

2nd Little Bird Patisserie
3rd Prairie Ink Restaurant + Bakery
4th City Perks Coffeehouse
5th d’lish by Tish Café

If you’ve never experienced a Calories dessert, drop whatever you’re doing and race over there now. I’ve enjoyed many over the years and constantly hear people say they’re planning to meet friends at Calories for dessert and coffee or a glass of wine. The menu and display case are always filled with favourites such as Shmoo Torte with Shmoo Sauce, Chocolate Pâté with Raspberry Sauce, assorted flavours of gelato, tarts, pies and more. Then there are the sinfully delicious cheesecakes. Slices of popular cakes like Oreo or Toffee disappear almost as fast as they’re made. The chef’s creativity is also evident in the seasonal dessert offerings that use fresh, local ingredients such as rhubarb, cherries or saskatoons that often result in surprising combinations that have you coming back for more. /Carolyn Rebeyka


PIZZA

Best Basic Pizza

Red Swan Pizza
#4 3401 8th St. E. 306-974-0467 / #4 2410 22nd St. 306-954-9944

2nd Panago
3rd Vern’s Pizza
4th Family Pizza
5th Domino’s Pizza

When I first got our Best of Food & Drink winners’ list the champ in this category was listed as Swan Pizza. That inspired me to write a blurb riffing on the old Al Jolson hit “Swannee” (sans blackface, of course) with a big finish at the end: “How our voters love you!//Our dear old Swannn!” But then I discovered we had Swan’s name wrong, and it was actually Red Swan, so I had to ditch that idea. Not being inside the heads (and stomachs) of our voters, I can only speculate on what prompted them to pick Red Swan, although I’m sure the great two-for-one deal on traditional and gourmet pizza had something to do with it. So congrats to Red Swan. /GB

Best Gourmet Pizza

UNA Pizza + Wine
707 Broadway Ave. 306-978-0116

2nd Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
3rd The Night Oven Bakery and Christie’s Il Secondo
4th Taverna Italian Kitchen

During a famous 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case Justice Potter Stewart adopted “I know it when I see it” as a test for whether something was obscene. We’re that way at Planet S when it comes to gourmet pizza. We don’t have a hard and fast definition, or a master list of toppings that need to be used for a pizza to qualify as gourmet. Instead, we take a gander at the pizzas a place prepares, and make a judgment call on whether they meet the gourmet threshold. Sometimes, it’s a tough call. That’s not the case with UNA Pizza + Wine, though. Just check out some of the ingredients that go into their pies: truffle oil, maple syrup, fresh argula, roasted cremini mushrooms and provolone piccante. So congrats to UNA. /GB

Best Thin Crust Pizza

UNA Pizza + Wine
707 Broadway Ave. 306-978-0116

2nd Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
3rd The Night Oven Bakery
4th Aroma Resto Bar
5th Taverna Italian Kitchen

Unlike our gourmet category, which has no guidelines outside of “we know it when we see it”, we have strict specifications for thin crust pizza. To qualify, the crust must be between 1.1 and 1.6 cm thick in the centre part of the pizza, while the outside crust cannot exceed 2.8 cm when averaged across the total circumference as calculated by the formula πd — okay, I’m just messing with you. We don’t go around measuring pizza crusts to see if they’re thin or not. Although if we did, considering that UNA’s original inspiration was the California thin crust pizza scene, it would obviously meet the test. Throw in some Mediterranean-influenced flavours and ingredients, and you’ve definitely got a winning combination. /GB

Best Delivery Pizza

Red Swan Pizza
#4 3401 8th St. E. 306-974-0467 / #4 2410 22nd St. 306-954-9944

2nd Panago
3rd TJ’s Pizza
4th Domino’s Pizza
5th Family Pizza

Since Red Swan already snagged Best Basic Pizza, this award shouldn’t come as a great surprise — although it’s not a slam dunk. It’s self-evident, I suppose, that you can’t have good delivery pizza without having good in-house pizza. But just because you have good in-house ’za doesn’t mean your delivery pie is automatically good. For that to happen, you’ve got to pack and transport everything so that it retains its flavour and freshness. One factor in Red Swan’s favour here is that it’s got locations on the east and west side. According to the website, plans are also in the works to open a third restaurant in the northwest in mid-June. So you’ll have three options to order Red Swan’s traditional and gourmet pizza goodness. /GB.

Best National Chain Pizza

Panago
2002A 8th St. E. 1-866-310-0001 / 10-3000 Diefenbaker Dr. / 831 51st St. E

2nd Boston Pizza
3rd Pizza Hut
4th TJ’s Pizza
5th Domino’s Pizza

Remarkably, your pick for Best National Chain Pizza has only three locations in Saskatoon. Fortunately, they’re spread strategically, which makes Panago accessible no matter where you are in the city. I’ve been enjoying Panago pizza since the early days, when it was known as Panagopolous Pizza. There are many favourites on the menu, but I think it’s the magic of their amazing pizza sauces that do it for me. Who would think there’s anything unique about a basic tomato sauce on pizza. But Panago hits it out of the park, no matter how complex or simple the pie. The menu selections are varied and creative, including several vegan and gluten-free options, plus assorted dips, salads, wings and desserts. But pizza is king at this winning chain. /Carolyn Rebeyka


BREAKFAST

Best Basic Breakfast

Park Café
515 20th St. W. 306-652-6781

2nd Broadway Café
3rd Kelly’s Kafe
4th Grainfields
5th Leopold’s Tavern

Topping the list of breakfast options at Park Café is the Traditional which offers two grade A eggs in your preferred style with hash browns, two pieces of white/brown toast and your choice of bacon, ham or sausage. Sounds delish, right? But that’s not the limit of Park Café’s breakfast options. There’s also the Bridge Party (highlighted by French toast), Benny, Murphy & the Boys (Eggs Benedict), The Homesteader (pancakes), The Working Man (flame-broiled Angus steak) and the Bacon Lover (which features three types of bacon). Throw in a bunch of sides and extras and Park Café has just what you need to get the day off to a hearty start. /GB

Best Fancy Breakfast

Poached Breakfast Bistro
259 2nd Ave. S. 306-651-2255

2nd The Hollows
3rd Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge
4th Prairie Harvest Café
5th Nosh Eatery & Tap

Like “beauty”, “fancy” is probably in the eye of the beholder. But if you visit Poached Breakfast Bistro’s Facebook page, or other dining sites where their plates pop up, I’d venture that even the most savvy of local gourmands would find themselves salivating at the Eggs Benedict, crab cakes, bagels, cinnamon buns, lattes and other breakfast treats on display. So wakey-wakey everyone. /GB

Best Fast Food Breakfast

McDonald’s
Multiple locations

2nd A&W
3rd Tim Hortons
4th Booster Juice
5th Burger King

A seismic shift occurred in this category during the nomination period. In late February, you may recall, both McDonald’s and first runner-up A&W began offering all-day breakfast. Previously, the cut-off for the breakfast menu, which at the Arches includes Egg McMuffin, Bacon ’n Egg McMuffin, Sausage McMuffin, Sausage ’n Egg McMuffin, Hotcakes, Hotcakes with Sausage, and Hash Browns, was 11 a.m. Now, you’re able to order it all day long. Which is good for shift workers, I suppose, or chronically late risers. So happy breakfast everyone. /GB

Best Chain Breakfast

Cora
1718 Preston Ave. N. 306-249-2672 / 100-3020 Preston Ave. S 306-668-4525

2nd Grainfields
3rd Denny’s
4th McDonald’s
5th Smitty’s

Cora has hypnotized Saskatchewan with fruit! The beloved breakfast chain’s not-secret weapons are the generous slices/piles/mounds of pineapples, melons, dragon fruit, strawberries, oranges, apples, grapes, blueberries, kiwis and other delicious nature-candies that arrive with your eggs, French toast, crepes, pancakes, omelettes and whatnot. A person could resist Cora’s tasty egg bennies (four flavours!) or waffles, I guess, but the one-two punch of a good breakfast juiced by artfully prepared fruit is too much to resist. That’s my theory behind Cora’s popularity, anyway. The restaurant also has fruit-focused dishes like Fruit Magic and Samira Wake-Up. It’s good stuff. Fruit! We like it. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Breakfast Buffet Under $20

Saskatoon Station Place
221 Idylwyld Dr. N. 306-244-7777

2nd Nellie’s Kitchen
3rd Haywood’s Grill
4th Fixin’s Homestyle Eatery at Travelodge Hotel
5th Johnny Boy’s

I’m not a huge fan of breakfast, but on weekends I enjoy brunch with friends. We often choose The Station Place, where we know we’ll find consistently delicious food, superb and friendly service and unique atmosphere with its nostalgic ode to vintage rail travel. Our voters agree, and have given this popular restaurant top marks for Best Breakfast Buffet Under $20. The buffet is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays for $18.99/adults, and a range of prices for kids 10 and under. As with all buffets, there’s something to please all ages and appetites including egg and protein entrees, fresh fruits and vegetables, salads and side dishes and dessert treats. If you’re looking for a delicious buffet, you won’t regret checking out The Station Place. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Breakfast Buffet Over $20

The Garden Café
Saskatoon Inn & Convention Centre 2002 Airport Dr. 306-668-9658

2nd Garden Court Café at Delta Bessborough Hotel
3rd Four Seasons Restaurant and Lounge at Park Town Hotel
4th Il Salici at The Willows

I hate to reveal my age by telling you when I discovered Garden Café’s gem of a breakfast buffet, but the 1980s might be involved! Over the years, the buffet has remained one of my favourite places to enjoy that not-quite-breakfast-yet-not-quite-lunch time meal, especially when celebrating a festive occasion or trying to impress someone special. There’s something for everyone at this elaborate buffet from fresh salads and deli platters to a variety of hot entrees such as the ever-delicious eggs benny and always wonderful prime rib. And don’t forget to leave room for dessert, because if you don’t you’ll regret not being able to sample the many creative and delicious delights on display. The buffet is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday. The cost is $28.95 for adults, and around $15 for kids 6-12. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Brunch

Poached Breakfast Bistro
259 2nd Ave. S. 306-651-2255

2nd The Hollows
3rd Prairie Harvest Café
4th Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge
5th Nosh Eatery & Tap

Brunch combines the best of both “breakfast” and “lunch”. It offers you the luxury of being able to rise at a dignified hour, yet still partake of all your breakfast favourites like the 7 a.m. crowd. Or, if you did happen to rise at an ungodly hour, you can enjoy an early lunch to help fuel the rest of your day. Really, what’s not to like? Especially if you’re smart enough to take our voters’ advice and check out Poached Breakfast Bistro. /GB

Best Eggs Benedict

Poached Breakfast Bistro
259 2nd Ave. S. 306-651-2255

2nd Park Café
3rd The Hollows
4th Prairie Harvest Café
5th Nosh Eatery & Tap

The exact origins of Eggs Benedict are murky. One account credits retired Wall Street broker Lemuel Benedict who, while suffering from a hangover while breakfasting at the Waldorf Hotel in New York in 1894, ordered a version of the dish that was subsequently tweaked into what it is today: a halved English muffin topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. And revelers world-wide continue to attest to its restorative power. For Planet S voters, Poached Breakfast Bistro serves up the city’s best eggs benny. /GB

Best Crepes

Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge
339 Ave. A S. 306-653-2256

2nd Cora
3rd Le Crepe Bistro at Place Riel
4th The Brasserie
5th Grainfields

Last year, Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge won Best New Restaurant. In her blurb, Lisa Johnson actually singled the crepes out for praise, along with the stylish “west coast” décor, locally-sourced ingredients, great coffee and unique layout featuring a ground floor café and licensed second floor lounge with a creative tapas menu. Now, Planet S voters have given Drift’s crepes their own award! And for good reason. Not only does the menu feature seven intriguing Chef’s Creations, there’s also a Build Your Own Crepe option where you can choose from several dozen toppings and in-house sauces and syrups. /GB

Best Hash Browns

Park Café
515 20th St. W. 306-652-6781

2nd Poached Breakfast Bistro
3rd McDonald’s
4th Prairie Harvest Café
5th Kelly’s Kafe

If you peruse Park Café’s menu you’ll see that hash browns are a staple of most of the breakfasts from the Traditional through Bridge Party, Benny, Murphy & the Boys and Working Man’s to the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwich which (besides hash browns!) features a homemade quarter-pound sausage patty with an egg and cheese on a kaiser roll. In last year’s blurb, Chris Morin credited Park Café’s hash browns, with their flecks of red pepper and green onions, with having the power to cure hangovers. I can’t speak to that, but Planet S voters do seem to like their Park Café hash browns. /GB

Best Muffin

City Perks Coffeehouse
801 7th Ave. N. 306-664-2060 / 627 Brand Court

2nd Citizen Café & Bakery
3rd Collective Coffee
4th Prairie Ink Restaurant
5th Tim Hortons

I used to work down the street from this friendly coffeehouse in the City Park area, so it was a convenient stop on the way to work, at lunch, or during coffee breaks — yes, I went there A LOT! When our office moved, I missed the convenience, but still found myself dropping in to enjoy the atmosphere, the friendly staff and amazing food and beverages — including one (or more!) of the amazing muffins. Although City Perks features a dazzling array of decadent baked treats, the muffins are extremely popular — as evident in these poll results. Whether you’re in the mood for a basic bran, blueberry or carrot treat, or one of their more adventurous flavour combos, you can’t go wrong. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Cinnamon Bun

Christie’s Mayfair Bakery
420 33rd St. W. 306-244-0506

2nd Honey Bun Café
3rd City Perks Coffeehouse
4th Fuddruckers
5th Living Sky Café

Members of my family have been making delicious cinnamon buns for as long as I can remember. But I have to admit even I’ve been mesmerized by the sinfully sweet, light texture, and ooey, gooey goodness of Christies cinnamon delights, especially if they’re still warm out of the oven. Like other customers who’ve just purchased a few buns to take home or to the office, I find it hard not to tear into the bag as soon as I get outside the bakery. If you haven’t experienced one of these amazing creations, be sure to stop by Christie’s soon and get your cinnamon bun fix. /Carolyn Rebeyka


COFFEE

Best Cup of Plain Old Coffee

Collective Coffee
220 20th St. W.

2nd Broadway Roastery
3rd McDonald’s
4th City Perks Coffeehouse
5th Tim Hortons

Collective Coffee specializes in espresso and related coffee beverages. But it obviously knows how to deliver for the “plain old” coffee drinker too. That’s probably not surprising, as no matter what food or beverage service you’re providing, if you have a genuine love for what you do, pay attention to detail, and only select the finest ingredients, you’re going to deliver a superior consumer experience. No matter your purpose in visiting Collective Coffee, whether it’s to get a quick caffeine fix, have a catch-up visit with a friend, or just do a little people-watching, they’ve got a good cup of joe waiting for you. /GB

Best Mocha

Broadway Roastery
614C Broadway Ave. 306-652-5558 / 2318 8th St. E. 306-652-8882 /
815 Gray Ave 306-652-0111

2nd City Perks Coffeehouse
3rd Starbucks
4th Museo
5th Living Sky Café

I’m not a big coffee drinker, so my friends are surprised I’m a frequent customer at Broadway Roastery. Although I’m quite happy with many of the non-coffee beverages, along with the fine selection of baked goods, the main reason for my loyalty is their mochas. A simple definition of mocha is “a coffee beverage flavoured with milk, sugar and cocoa or chocolate”. Along with our voters, I’m happy to report that Broadway Roastery does a darn fine job with their mochas and that’s why so many of us keep coming back for more. For me, a top notch mocha must strike a heavenly balance between coffee and chocolate: sweet, but not too sweet. Frothy, but not ridiculous. And this year’s winner for Best Mocha does exactly that! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Coffee Shop

Collective Coffee
220 20th St. W.

2nd Broadway Roastery
3rd City Perks Coffeehouse
4th Citizen Café & Bakery
5th Museo

What can I say about coffee that hasn’t been said before? “Black as night, sweet as sin”. “Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee is even better”. “There’s always peace in a strong cup of coffee”. “Coffee and chocolate — the inventor of mocha should be sainted!” Those are only a few of the odes that surface on Google. You can certainly enjoy coffee in the comfort of your own home, but there’s also a vibrant coffee culture out there. Coffee shops are a huge part of that. Décor, service, quality coffee and menu items, quirky character, and occasional hosting of a live performance or lecture, are some of the attributes I look for in a coffee shop. For Planet S voters, Collective Coffee is the cat’s meow. /GB

Best Coffee Shop to Work/Study In

Broadway Roastery
614C Broadway Ave. 306-652-5558 / 2318 8th St. E. 306-652-8882

2nd City Perks Coffeehouse
3rd Collective Coffee
4th Starbucks
5th Citizen Café & Bakery

When I was a student, we didn’t have all the fancy mobile technology kids do today — so I did most of my studying in the library. As a freelance writer, though, I’ve spent my share of time working at local coffee shops. Everybody’s preferences are probably different, but for me a good work/study spot includes a semi-comfortable chair/table, quirky décor, high-speed wireless connection and a quiet corner where I can hunker down and work. Of course, I’m a keener. Other people might prefer an open area that better lends itself to people watching and other types of creative inspiration. Regardless, for Planet S voters, Broadway Roastery is the work/study spot of choice. /GB

Best Place to Buy Beans

McQuarrie’s Tea and Coffee Merchants
708 Broadway Ave. 306-242-6016

2nd Broadway Roastery
3rd Collective Coffee
4th Venn Coffee Roasters
5th Museo

“Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you drink, the more you—” sorry, I couldn’t resist. But we’re not talking legumes. This is the Coffee section, after all.

We have a guy in our office who actually grinds his own beans, so we’re familiar with the drill: measure and grind the beans, then put them in a French press with boiling water from our Nimbus tank to steep for a few minutes before being pressed to produce what he insists is a superior cup of coffee. Me, I just use pre-ground coffee and tap water (although I do let the water sit overnight to get rid of the chlorine). I admit it, I should up my coffee game. And for Planet S voters who have, McQuarrie’s Tea and Coffee Merchants is their go-to source for beans. /GB


BOOZE & PUBS

Best Happy Hour

The Yard & Flagon Pub
718 Broadway Ave. 306-653-8883

2nd Amigos Cantina
3rd O’Shea’s Irish Pub
4th Leopold’s Tavern
5th Flint Saloon

Happy Hour at The Yard & Flagon is a treat year-round, I’m sure. First off, you’ve got a great location in the heart of the bustling Broadway neighbourhood. Then there’s the food and drink menu, which is packed with all sorts of tasty burgers, sandwiches & wraps, salads and house specialties along with a good selection of beer, wine and spirits. But come summer, Happy Hour ascends to a whole new level — literally! That’s because The Yard & Flagon boasts an award-winning roof-top deck. So what are you waiting for? /GB

Best Pub to Argue About Politics

Winston’s English Pub & Grill
243 21st St. E. 306-374-7468

2nd The Yard & Flagon Pub
3rd The Rook & Raven Pub
4th Amigos Cantina
5th Leopold’s Tavern

There’s an old adage that it’s impolite to talk about sex, religion or politics at the dinner table. Well, it’s a good thing we can all go to Winston’s where that restriction doesn’t apply. Some of my finest political arguments have been accompanied by a pint of beer or tasty glass of whiskey there. No matter your political stripe, level of interest or knowledge, there’s always a friendly soul at this venerable pub who will lend an ear and an opinion or two when it comes to politics whether you’re in the main pub, Churchill’s Underground Cellar, or on the roof-top deck. Civic, provincial, federal or international — Lord knows there’s no shortage of politics to discuss. So head to Winston’s, and if you listen to me carefully when I’m seated near you, you might just learn a thing or two (right, Heath?)! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Place for a Wicked Bender

Crazy Cactus
269 3rd Ave. S. 306-975-1266

2nd Amigos Cantina
3rd Capitol Music Club
4th O’Shea’s Irish Pub
5th Leopold’s Tavern

My “wicked bender” days, sadly, are behind me. I still like to get my licks in as far as booze consumption and whatnot goes, I just don’t let myself cross that magical line that leads to “grief” the next day if you get my drift. For Planet S voters who are still up for a corker now and again, Crazy Cactus is the top choice. Of course, considering that the bar’s slogan is “Home of the Gringo”, that’s probably not a big surprise. And now that Crazy Cactus has moved into an expanded space in the downtown core, its party-hearty reputation will only grow. /GB

Best Beer Menu

Winston’s English Pub & Grill
243 21st St. E. 306-374-7468

2nd Congress Beer House
3rd Fionn MacCool’s
4th Leopold’s Tavern
5th Louis’

For five plus years we’ve published a Pints column by Edmonton-based beer nut Jason Foster. Every time we run one, I proofread it, so through the many topics Foster’s covered over the years I’ve developed a reasonable appreciation for beer in all its glory. I haven’t translated my appreciation into action the way Foster has though. That’s a situation that needs to change soon. And judging by your votes in this category, Winston’s would be the perfect place for me to start on my journey toward beer enlightenment. Consider it noted. /GB

Best Wine List

UNA Pizza + Wine
707 Broadway Ave. 306-978-0116

2nd Little Grouse on the Prairie
3rd Cactus Club Café
4th St. Tropez Bistro
5th Calories Bakery & Restaurant

I’m not a sophisticated wine drinker, but just through general interest reading I’ve learned a bit about wine over the years. I think it’s neat the way grapes acquire different characteristics depending on the soil and climate they’re cultivated in, and how those characteristics (which the French call terroir) get transferred to the wine. It’s also neat how different wines benefit from being served in different glasses that best show off their bouquet and other characteristics. Yes, there is a lot to appreciate about wine. And when Planet S voters are looking for a good wine experience UNA is their top choice. /GB

Best Caesar

The Burning Beard
731 Broadway Ave. 306-652-3273

2nd Congress Beer House
3rd Leopold’s Tavern
4th Nosh Eatery & Tap
5th Aroma Resto Bar

Caesar’s are reputed to possess restorative power for people suffering from the previous night’s excesses. I mean, outside of one ingredient they’re pretty much a salad in a glass, aren’t they? So you’re getting a quick infusion of nutrients to fuel your body and brain — especially if you’re kind of dehydrated, and pound a couple quickly. Then you’ve got the added benefit of the vodka to get the party sorta started again if that’s what you’re inclined to do — or at least stage a dignified rally before retiring from the field for a well-deserved rest. Not that you have to be hungover to enjoy a Caesar (or three) at The Burning Beard. Far from it. So congrats to them. /GB

Best Martini

Flint Saloon
259 2nd Ave. S. 306-651-2255

2nd 6Twelve
3rd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
4th The James Lobby Bar
5th 2nd Avenue Grill

This is a case where you truly can’t judge a book by its cover — or, at least, a bar by its name. “Saloon”, for me, conjures up images of the Old West with a dust-begrimed cowboy riding wearily into town and tying up his horse at the local watering hole to go in and wet his whistle. Rotgut whiskey and watery beer were typically the only drink options. When you visit Flint’s on-line menu, though, you find a whole page devoted to Tall Cocktails, Short Cocktails, Sparkling Cocktails and Martinis. Twelve martinis are on the menu, including Cosmopolitan (natch), Brandy Crusta, Champs Elysees, West Indies and, closer to home, Berry Saskatoon. So if any of you cowpokes have a hankering for a martini, saddle up and head to Flint. /GB

Best Nachos

Amigos Cantina
806 Dufferin Ave. 306-652-4912

2nd Somewhere Else Pub & Grill
3rd O’Shea’s Irish Pub
4th The Hollows
5th Leopold’s Tavern

Saskatoon is fortunate to have many pubs and restaurants that serve amazing nachos. This year, our voters gave the red ribbon to Amigos Cantina. Everyone has their own favourite style — some like more cheese, others prefer them with (or without) meat, beans, olives or jalapenos. Sides are always subject to debate as well. Do you get extra salsa and sour cream, or a heaping helping of guacamole to bring your nachos to peak perfection? Amigos has something to please everyone with the three varieties of nachos on the menu — regular, grande and supremo grande. Congrats to Amigos for their win, and congrats to your taste buds and tummy if you’re enjoying a yummy plate of nachos right now! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Wings

Somewhere Else Pub & Grill
2605 Broadway Ave. S. 306-652-3233

2nd The Yard & Flagon Pub
3rd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
4th O’Shea’s Irish Pub
5th Leopold’s Tavern

The popularity of wings as a party snack has got me thinking. As a flightless bird, chickens are a rarity in the avian world. But they’re not the only flightless birds with vestigial wings. You can probably see where I’m going with this, but in case you can’t, I’ll spell it out. What if a person opened a pub that, in addition to chicken wings with all sorts of tasty/spicy sauces, also served wings from other flightless birds such as ostrich, emu, heron, crane and penguin? Not all of them would likely be edible, granted, and you’d have to experiment with the proper way to cook and serve them. But my thinking is it could be a gold mine. For now, though, we’re limited to chicken wings. And when it comes to Saskatoon’s Best Wings, Planet S voters endorse Somewhere Else Pub & Grill. /GB

Best Microbrewery

9 Mile Legacy
229 20th St. W. 306-373-2337

2nd Prairie Sun Brewery
3rd Paddock Wood
4th The Thirsty Scholar
5th Saskatoon Brewery

I’m not sure where things stand now, but I know in the past Saskatchewan’s burgeoning microbrew industry has expressed frustration with antiquated government regulations that too often seemed to hinder rather than help them grow. Slowly but surely, though, microbrews are gaining traction in the market.* If you visit 9 Mile Legacy’s website, you’ll see it described as “Your Neighbourhood Brewery”. You’ll also see a list of products that 9 Mile is “Now Filling”.  There were nine when I checked, including a strawberry rhubarb-flavoured Redwing Spring Cider with 7.5 per cent alcohol that I bet my sisters would enjoy. So congrats to 9 Mile.

* Things are expected to play out the same way with recreational cannabis, by the way, with commercial brands marketed nationally and craft producers serving regional niche markets. /GB


RESTAURANTS

Best Restaurant

Ayden Kitchen & Bar
265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

2nd Odd Couple
3rd Prairie Harvest Café
4th Nosh Eatery & Tap
5th Leopold’s Tavern

Ayden Kitchen & Bar scooped Best Restaurant last year too. In her blurb, Savannah Hagin said a meal there was like dining in a Salvador Dali painting. An early proponent of surrealism, Dali was quite a character in the art world, and produced some bizarre works dotted with melted time-pieces, vine-legged horses, camels and elephants, grotesque human figures, ants and more. For Savannah, the quirky décor and imaginative cocktail list were definite highlights of the Ayden experience. As for the menu, it’s got its share of masterpieces too. So congrats to chef Dale MacKay and the rest of the Ayden team. /GB

Best New Restaurant

Leopold’s Tavern
616 10th St. E. 306-954-5367

2nd Pokey’s Pinball Café
3rd Birmingham’s Vodka & Ale House
4th Freshii
5th Cafe Japa Bowl

Leopold’s Tavern started from humble origins in Regina in 2013 when some friends set out to create a “classic juke box dive” in the arty Cathedral neighbourhood. The space had been a bit of an elephant’s graveyard for restaurants/pubs with three or four having failed previously. But somehow Leo’s survived. Indeed, it even thrived, with two additional taverns opening in east and north Regina. Now, Leo’s has made the jump to Saskatoon. They seem to be following the same playbook to start too, setting up shop in Saskatoon’s artiest neighbourood Broadway — in a heritage building, no less. And they’ve obviously made an impression, earning your nod as Best New Restaurant. /GB

Best Chain Restaurant (National/International)

Cactus Club Café
140 Idylwyld Dr. N. 306-979-8411

2nd UNA Pizza + Wine
3rd Earls
4th Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
5th Milestones

Cactuses (or cacti, if you prefer) are evolved to live in hot and dry desert conditions. Their range extends from the U.S. southwest and Midwest to a thin crescent in southern Saskatchewan. Saskatoon is well north of the range. That means any cacti that show up here are, in biologist-speak, invasive species. Usually, invasive species are reviled for the havoc they can wreak on the local ecosystem. But with a culinary vision crafted by Rob Feenie (of Iron Chef fame) that focuses on “simple dishes using fresh, sustainable ingredients”, the Cactus Club Café has taken Saskatoon by storm. So congrats to them on their win. /GB

Best Family Restaurant

Fuddruckers
2910 8th St. E. 306-955-7777

2nd Amigos Cantina
3rd Pink Cadillacs
4th Jerry’s Food Emporium
5th Pokey’s Pinball Café

What do you do if you need to feed granny and grandpa, your geeky brother-in-law and his lovely but brooding girlfriend, your precocious toddlers and your husband who’s ready to have an ice cold brew to celebrate his birthday with the family? Well, you take them to Fuddruckers. From amazing burgers (including a veggie option) to chicken sandwiches, interesting salads and famous wedge cut fries, the menu delivers. The condiment and toppings bar can’t be beat, especially if you’re generous with the magic cheese sauce. Bakery treats and thick, creamy milkshakes are always a nice addition to any meal. The refillable pop station is convenient and, yes, dad can enjoy a beer after a long day. Friendly, helpful staff and reasonable prices help round out the Fuddruckers experience. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant

Prairie Harvest Café
2917 Early Dr. 306-242-2928

2nd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
3rd The Hollows
4th Nosh Eatery & Tap
5th Primal

Unless you’re a fanatic locavore (which in Saskatoon might reduce you to gnawing on twigs and trying to snare unsuspecting pigeons and rabbits for protein during the depths of winter) we’re all complicit in the global food trade. And it’s great to be able to pick up stuff like grapes, bananas, broccoli and other fresh produce from all over the world at all times of the year. But we all know that when you’ve got a choice between local and imported, there’s no comparison as far as taste, freshness, nutritional value and environmental cost go. Prairie Harvest Café knows this too, and they’re working hard to develop local suppliers for the food and drink they serve. So congrats to them, their suppliers, and their customers. /GB

Best Restaurant Nobody Knows About

La Bamba Café
1050 Boychuk Dr. 306-242-2622

2nd Prairie Harvest Café
3rd Primal
4th Pokey’s Pinball Café
5th Living Sky Café

Tucked away in a residential strip mall, La Bamba Café serves some of Saskatoon’s most authentic Mexican food. The family-owned restaurant opened in 2007, and regulars appreciate the top quality food, quick and friendly service and fun atmosphere with music and décor to brighten any mood. Complimentary chips and salsa to start and free extra portions of rice or beans are a nice touch. The portions are huge, and my friends and I are always impressed by the delicious mole and other rich and creamy sauces that accompany most of the entrees, including tacos and enchiladas. They make a fantastic margarita, and they’ve got a nice selection of Mexican beer. Although they were voted Best Restaurant Nobody Knows About, La Bamba will soon to be the restaurant EVERYONE knows about. See you there! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Lunch Restaurant

Thien Vietnam
123 3rd Ave. S. 306-653-2288 / 2-1301 8th St. E. 306-954-1088

2nd Odd Couple
3rd Nosh Eatery & Tap
4th Leopold’s Tavern
5th Living Sky Café

One factor working in Thien Vietnam’s favour as a lunch spot is that it has two locations so they’ve got you covered whatever side of the river you’re on. So whether you’re in the downtown core, or in the University/Nutana/Grosvenor Park area, you’ve got a quick and easy option to fuel up before tackling that busy and hectic (or lazy and indulgent, as the case may be) afternoon you have ahead of you. /GB

Best Business Lunch

Cactus Club Café1
140 Idylwyld Dr. N. 306-979-8411

2nd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
3rd Odd Couple
4th 2nd Avenue Grill
5th Nosh Eatery & Tap

Depending on the line of work you’re in, business lunches can take many different forms. Here at Planet S, we’re fond of potlucks where everyone rustles up their favourite dish the night before and brings it into the office for everyone to enjoy. And if you believe that, I’ve got a subscription I’d like to sell you, as most of us can’t cook worth a darn. Fortunately, there are establishments like Cactus Club Café to fill the business lunch niche. No matter who you’re meeting, there’s a dish on the menu that will appeal to them from light and healthy to a full on calorie fest. Throw in elegant surroundings, friendly service, and an innovative drink menu to help spur negotiations and seal the deal and you’ve got no business having your business lunch anywhere else than Cactus Club Café. /GB

Best Lunch Buffet

Spicy Bite
113 3rd Ave. S. 306-373-4770

2nd Go For Sushi
3rd Smiley’s Buffet and Catering
4th Great Buffet of China
5th Best Asia Buffet

A quick visit to Spicy Bite’s website, and you’ll see what all the lunch buffet fuss is about. The buffet has its own tab, with pictures of nine different food stations with short descriptions of the dishes for Indian cuisine newbies. Let’s run down the list, shall we? There’s mutter gobhi, curry, mixed vegetables, butter chicken, lamb curry, tandoori chicken, beef vindaloo, tandoori naan and rice. There’s a Spice tab too, so you can learn a bit about all the spices Spicy Bite uses in their delicious dishes and their reputed health benefits. /GB

Best Fast Food

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
1840 8th St. E. 306-373-5555

2nd Opa!
3rd McDonald’s
4th Taco Time
5th Wendy’s

Since Five Guys Burgers and Fries arrived on Saskatchewan’s fast food fast food scene a few years ago they’ve been a force to be reckoned with in our annual poll. That’s given our writers ample opportunity to wax poetic about their handcrafted burgers with your choice of 15+ toppings, seriously delicious (and ample) French fries cooked in peanut oil, the free peanuts themselves which you can eat by the handful while letting the shells fall where they may, and all the other menu items. Seriously, we’ve pretty much run out of things to say about Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Besides, I was taught it isn’t polite to write with my mouth full. Now, if you’ll excuse me… . /GB

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians

Nosh Eatery & Tap
820 Broadway Ave. 306-933-3355

2nd Leyda’s Café
3rd Odd Couple
4th The Karma: Conscious Café & Eatery
5th Citizen Café & Bakery

Yeah, we’re nothing if not thorough at Planet S. That’s why we have a Best Vegetarian and Best Vegan Restaurant category. For a lot of you, I imagine, it amounts to hair-splitting akin “Toe-may-toe” versus “Toe-mah-toe”. I might even agree with you, at least for the purposes of this contest. But vegetarian and vegan aren’t the same, as the latter also excludes dairy and eggs. Since those are common ingredients in a lot of dishes, a vegetarian-friendly restaurant won’t necessarily pass muster with a vegan. Fortunately, Nosh has got both Vs covered as you’ll see below. /GB

Best Restaurant for Vegans

Nosh Eatery & Tap
820 Broadway Ave. 306-933-3355

2nd Leyda’s Café
3rd The Karma: Conscious Café & Eatery
4th Odd Couple
5th Citizen Café & Bakery

Nosh’s online menu comes with a key to help those with dietary preferences/restrictions navigate its array of food items. You’ve got V for Vegan, M for Meat, N for Nuts, GF for Gluten Free and R for Raw. Dishes containing Walleye, Trout and Bison are the only ones that come with an M designation, while the menu abounds with Vs. Sometimes, that’s in the form of traditional vegan fare. Other times, it involves Nosh presenting a vegan twist on non-vegan standard such as burgers, lasagna, tacos and even Caesar salad. /GB

Best Takeout/Delivery

Thien Vietnam
123 3rd Ave. S. 306-653-2288 / 2-1301 8th St. E. 306-954-1088

2nd Swan Pizza
3rd Spicy Bite
4th Ming’s Kitchen
5th The Pitch Kitchen

With over 150 items in its on-line menu, along with a variety of side and combo dishes, Thien Vietnam has all the culinary bases covered when you’re contemplating your next out-of-restaurant feast. Of course, menu is only one part of the takeout/delivery equation. You also need to ensure the food is properly packaged and delivered so it retains all its yummy and nutritional goodness. And for Planet S voters, Thien Vietnam definitely delivers the goods. /GB

Best Meal Presentation

Ayden Kitchen & Bar
265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

2nd The Hollows
3rd Little Grouse on the Prairie
4th Nosh Eatery & Tap
5th Prairie Harvest Café

Sources claim the ancient Romans sometimes added poisonous minerals and precious metals to food to enhance its visual appeal, and medieval times saw pies and cakes designed so that live birds could be expelled when the dishes were cut open. Fortunately, none of the nominees in this category follow those antiquated practices. But they all realize that presentation adds a lot to a meal. To see why Ayden Kitchen & Bar was our voters’ top choice, all you need to do is venture down to the restaurant for a meal and observe how the food is arranged and garnished on the plate. It’s an important part of the dining experience, and Ayden does it extremely well. /Carolyn Rebeyka


INTERNATIONAL

Best Italian Restaurant

Taverna Italian Kitchen
219 21st St. E. 306-652-6366

2nd Little Grouse on the Prairie
3rd Primal
4th Chianti Café

Rumour has it Taverna Italian Kitchen introduced a new lunch menu in late January. My spies (a.k.a. Planet S voters who gave Taverna the nod in this category) tell me it’s buono. That’s not the only Italian word I know, either. I also know “spaghetti”, “penne”, “fettuccine”, “lasagna”, “ravioli”, “bruschetta”, “tortellini”, “risotto”, “polpette”, “gnocchi”, “cappuccino” and more. Yes sir, you could say I have a very full Italian vocabulary. Not as full as my stomach would be after a visit to Taverna, mind you. So congrats to the owners and staff. /GB

Best Greek Restaurant

Mano’s Restaurant and Lounge
200-1820 8th St. E. 306-955-5555

2nd Opa!
3rd The Cave
4th Saskatoon Station Place
5th Blue Diamond

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed a few special celebrations and had many regular lunches at Mano’s, as well as catered and take-out meals, so I’m not surprised it emerged once again as our voters’ choice as Best Greek Restaurant. No matter the occasion, Mano’s, which has been in business for over 30 years, never fails to impress with its selection of Greek favourites. A gluten free menu is available, and the restaurant does a fine job for those with food allergies or specific preferences. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that prove you’re the best. And Mano’s really delivers on the basics of Greek cuisine — their Greek ribs and lemon rice soup never disappoint. Add in a great team of servers and staff, hip yet comfortable décor, and a welcoming atmosphere, and you can’t beat Mano’s for a great Greek dining experience. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Indian Restaurant

Spicy Bite
113 3rd Ave. S. 306-373-4770

2nd Black Pepper
3rd Spicy Time
4th Samosa King
5th Angeethi

Spicy Bite (motto: “our specialty is quality”) serves Saskatoon’s favourite Indian food in a convenient buffet. This is the place our readers go to for classic Indian dishes like curries, tandoori chicken, beef vindaloo, lamb curry, pakoras, samosas, and of course, gulab jamun, those crazy dessert balls of fried milk in delicious goo that are probably not meant to be inhaled 20 at a time (I said I was sorry, jeez). Lunch buffet is 11 a.m.–3 p.m., evening’s is 4:30–9 p.m. I’ll be the guy shuffling furtively by the dessert. Don’t judge me. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Chinese Restaurant

Odd Couple
228 20th St. W. 306-668-8889

2nd Yip Hong’s Dim Sum Restaurant
3rd Mandarin Restaurant
4th Genesis
5th Oriental Aroma

While Odd Couple blends Vietnamese, Japanese and Cantonese influences, the restaurant’s owners Andy and Rachel Yuen (and parents Sam and Jane) hail from Hong Kong originally. Serving up a delicious mix of MSG- and additive-free dishes that cover all the staples from soup and salad to noodles and shareable plates with chicken, beef, pork, seafood and fried rice, they certainly represent their ancestral city well. So congrats to the Yuens on their win. /GB

Best Thai Restaurant

Keo’s Kitchen
1013 Broadway Ave. 306-652-2533

2nd Red Pepper
3rd Royal Thai
4th Asian Hut Restaurant

I discovered Keo’s Kitchen years ago when an old friend recommended we visit the original downtown location. It was an instant favourite, and I’ve been back many times since then, both with fellow fans and soon-to-be-converted first-timers. Keo’s also does a great take-out service when I’m not feeling up to dining out. So take it from me, Planet S voters know what they’re doing when they pick Keo’s as Best Thai Restaurant. The menu is extensive and the staff is always happy to help you find something you’ll love, whether it’s one of their flavourful Thai curry dishes, a savoury item off Keo’s Specialty section, a steaming bowl of soup, fresh salad or one of the starters. Just writing about Keo’s makes me want to slide into a seat in their dining room right now! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Thien Vietnam
123 3rd Ave. S. 306-653-2288 / 2-1301 8th St. E. 306-954-1088

2nd Red Pepper
3rd Summer Roll
4th Spicy Garden
5th Asian Hut Restaurant

On its website, Thien Vietnam describes its mission as a simple one, to serve healthy food at good prices. Every year, they’re a multiple winner in our Best of Food & Drink extravaganza so Planet S voters would seem to agree that when it comes to Vietnamese (and Chinese and Thai) cuisine, Thien Vietnam knows what it’s doing. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and fully licensed, it offers a sweet taste of Asia in the middle of the Canadian prairies. /GB

Best Ethnic Restaurant

Las Palapas Resort Grill
910 Victoria Ave. 306-244-5556

2nd Konga Café
3rd La Bamba Café
4th Golden Pagoda
5th Saba’s African Cuisine

“Ethnic” is a catch-all term for different culinary cultures outside of our mainstays: Greek, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai. As the Latin-flavour of Las Palapas Resort Grill’s name suggests, it specializes in food from Mexico, the American southwest, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. That’s a pretty broad region, and to spice things up even further, Las Palapas tries to utilize local suppliers as much as possible to ensure the freshest and healthiest ingredients. In the minds of Planet S voters, it’s a winning combination. /GB

Best Chinese Buffet

Great Buffet of China
302 22nd St. W. 306-978-8883

2nd Asia Buffet
3rd Smiley’s Buffet and Catering

Gotta give props to whoever came up with the name Great Buffet of China. It totally plays on the idea of the Great Wall of China. Yet in a food sense it’s kind of weirdly appropriate. Begun in 7th century B.C.E. along China’s northern border to protect against invaders, and eventually stretching for 8850 km over often challenging terrain, the Great Wall was a massive undertaking — as is a buffet, in a gastronomical sense. It’s not that there’s a wall of food, per se. But there is a lot of grub on the table. And in the minds of Planet S voters Great Buffet of China is the city’s Best Chinese Buffet. /GB

Best Burrito

Las Palapas Resort Grill
910 Victoria Ave. 306-244-5556

2nd Amigos Cantina
3rd EE Burritos
4th La Bamba Café
5th Mucho Burrito

You want burritos? Las Palapas has burritos! Just look at these menu favourites: Black Bean and Steak, Chicken and Charred Corn, Camarones y Chorizo (with spice-boiled shrimp and diced chorizo sausage), Black Bean and Roast Vegetable, Chicken Chorizo Mushroom and Chickpea and Black Bean. Then there’s the somewhat ominously titled Burrito Loco (a.k.a. The Big Burrito). With heaping helpings of chili braised ground beef and pork, onions, rice, cheese, lettuce, red and green salsa, crema fresca, salsa fresca and extra cheese, it’s not to be trifled with. /GB

Best Hot And Sour Soup

Thien Vietnam
123 3rd Ave. S. 306-653-2288 / 2-1301 8th St. E. 306-954-1088

2nd Keo’s Kitchen
3rd Spicy Garden
4th Szechuan Kitchen
5th Asian Hut Restaurant

This is a new category for our Food & Drink poll. Fortunately, our voters were up to the challenge. Now, it’s up to me to write the inaugural blurb. First, just to clarify: “hot” doesn’t refer strictly to the soup’s temperature, it also describes the level of spiciness. That’s usually achieved through the use of red or white peppers, while the sour is provided by vinegar. Other typical ingredients include chicken or pork broth, bamboo shoots, cloud ear fungus, day lily buds and more. So congrats to Thien Vietnam for bringing both the hot and the sour to Saskatoon soup lovers. /GB

Best Shawarma

SoomSoom

2nd Afghan Kabob and Donair
3rd H67 Donair
4th Kabab King
5th Shawarma Donair

This is a new category in our poll as well. Just to ensure everyone is on the same page as far as what was being voted on, shawarma is a Middle Eastern delicacy that involves the roasting of beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, veal, buffalo and other meats on a vertical spit. When an order comes in meat is shaved off and served on a plate with sides of bread and vegetables or mixed with veggies in a wrap. Then comes one final step. What was it again? Oh right, YOU EAT IT! For Saskatoon shawarma lovers who voted in our poll, SoomSoom is king. /GB

Best Sushi

Sushiro Sushi and Noodle Bar
737 Broadway Ave. 306-665-5557

2nd Otowa Japanese Restaurant
3rd Go For Sushi
4th New Island Sushi
5th Nisen

In May 2017, researchers at the Saskatchewan Centre for Cyclotron Sciences discovered rare sushi isotopes that allowed them to examine the rice and nori substance with a level of intensity previously thought impossible. The SCCS’s conclusion? Scientifically speaking, sushi is awesome. Interestingly, this correlates with recent observations by Planet S citizen scientists, who further determined that Broadway’s mighty Sushiro has Saskatoon’s best sushi. Here’s what two of them said:

 “The Tataki maki, with its seared tuna, avocado, tempura and mayo, is delicious. It’s mine, go away, I’ll bite you, I mean it.” —Bob Knobt, window inflator.

 “It’s a deceptively simple preparation of sushi rice in a tofu skin pouch, but this Inari is fantastic! I’ve decided to spare Saskatoon and flatten Edmonton instead.” —Godzilla, radioactively mutated landscape architect.

After reading that, I know where I’m having sushi in Saskatoon. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Pad Thai

Keo’s Kitchen
1013 Broadway Ave. 306-652-2533

2nd Odd Couple
3rd Red Pepper
4th Royal Thai
5th Asian Hut

Keo’s Kitchen has been a frequent winner in this contest over the years. This year, they grabbed Best Thai Restaurant so their win here is a nice fit. Pad Thai is a traditional Thai dish made with rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and flavoured with tamarind paste and fish sauce, garlic, sugar, chili pepper and other delicious ingredients. It often contains vegetables such as bean sprouts, onion, pickled radishes and turnips, and can be made with added proteins such as shrimp, chicken, pork or tofu with a sprinkling of fresh lime juice and chopped peanuts on top. At Keo’s you can choose your spice level, with one being mild and ten being knock-your-socks-off spicy. No matter your heat preference, our voters recommend the pad Thai at Keo’s. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Pho (noodle bowl)

Odd Couple
228 20th St. W. 306-668-8889

2nd Thien Vietnam
3rd Asian Hut Restaurant
4th Spicy Garden
5th Summer Roll

In our Breakfast section, Eggs Benedict get a shout-out for the comfort they provide when a person is looking to put a night of over-indulgence behind them. According to Odd Couple’s Facebook page, the pho they serve, with its delicious blend of beef broth, sliced AAA beef striploin, Vietnamese rice noodles, onions, shallots, cilantro, fresh Thai basil, bean sprouts and lime, also has restorative powers. Not that you need to be hungover to enjoy it. But if you are, and you want relief, you know where to head and what to order. /GB


SOCIALIZING

Best Restaurant for a First Date

UNA Pizza + Wine
707 Broadway Ave. 306-978-0116

2nd Cactus Club Café
3rd Nosh Eatery & Tap
4th Prairie Harvest Café
5th Leopold’s Tavern

I haven’t gone on a first date for many moons, but if memory serves they can sometimes be nerve-wracking affairs where you’re trying to put your best foot forward while getting an honest assessment of the person sitting across the table from you. The last thing you need is to have something go sideways at the restaurant you’ve chosen for your date. That’s where UNA Pizza + Wine come in. Great food, stylish décor, friendly service, and just the right balance of elegance and casual comfort make UNA the first stop on the road to a potential lifetime of domestic bliss with a loving/caring partner. So what are all you singletons out there waiting for? /GB

Best Restaurant for a Budget Date

The Rook & Raven Pub
154 2nd Ave. S. 306-665-2220

2nd Amigos Cantina
3rd Thien Vietnam
4th O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Leopold’s Tavern

We sometimes get feedback from people (usually conservative-types) who think that because we’re a free magazine, the only people who read us are those who, in police-speak, have “no fixed address/visible means of support.” We know that’s not true, of course. And you don’t have to look any further than our voters’ pick in this category for evidence. Typically, a budget date conjures up a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with grotty décor/furnishings and cheap dishes/cutlery. The Rook & Raven doesn’t fit that description, obviously. Yet for our voters it still qualifies as a “Budget Date”. I can’t wait to see what their pick for Luxury Date is — The Ritz? /GB

Best Restaurant for a Luxury Date

Ayden Kitchen & Bar
265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

2nd Carver’s Steakhouse
3rd The Hollows
4th Little Grouse on the Prairie
5th Truffles Bistro

Well, it turns out that Ayden Kitchen & Bar is our voters’ pick for Luxury Date. As Mike Shiplack pointed out in last year’s blurb, Ayden isn’t a hoity-toity place that you need to dress to the nines to dine at. Rather, it’s got a rustic vibe with hardwood floors, plenty of natural light and a nice mix of large tables for group gatherings and smaller tables in nooks and crannies for romantic tête-á-têtes. Menu items are reasonably priced, so a luxury date won’t break the bank. But you’ll enjoy attentive service and friendly ambiance, and that’s something money can’t buy. /GB

Best Restaurant for a Party

Amigos Cantina
806 Dufferin Ave. 306-652-4912

2nd Crazy Cactus
3rd Congress Beer House
4th Pokey’s Pinball Café
5th Leopold’s Tavern

Ask the average person what makes a great party, and they’ll probably cite things like booze, grub, tunes, booty-shaking and sweet treat bags. Amigos Cantina might not deliver on the last item, but they definitely do on the first four. By day, Amigos is a family-friendly Tex-Mex restaurant. At night, it morphs into a nightclub, with concerts showcasing stars of the local and national music scene along with special events like LadyBits Comedy and BandSwap. It even has a backroom that can be rented for a private party. So yeah, it’s pretty much got you covered on all fronts — except for the treat bag, that is. /GB

Best Patio

The Yard & Flagon Pub
718 Broadway Ave. 306-653-8883

2nd O’Shea’s Irish Pub
3rd Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge
4th Earls
5th Las Palapas Resort Grill

If you’ve been reading these blurbs in order, The Yard & Flagon’s win here probably doesn’t come as a surprise. That’s because you already know from our Happy Hour blurb that the pub has a roof-top patio. It’s only one-story up, so you’re still close to the action on Broadway, but you don’t have to deal with traffic and other urban irritants. That’s not all, though. The patio also has heated seats and an outdoor fireplace, so even early and late in the season, and on chilly mid-summer nights, you can be comfortable. Throw in an adjustable sun-screen to keep you UV-protected on broiling summer days, and enough room for a small band to set up and play, and you’ve got a sweet summer hang-out. /GB

Best Scene

Amigos Cantina
806 Dufferin Ave. 306-652-4912

2nd Capitol Music Club
3rd Congress Beer House
4th UNA Pizza + Wine
5th Leopold’s Tavern

“Scene” is sometimes used as a dis to describe something that’s phony and superficial. That’s not what we meant here. We’re looking for bars/clubs that have legit atmosphere/energy. We could’ve called the category Best Vibe instead, I suppose, but for us that’s flirting with hippy poseur territory. And “scene” still has some ’60s cool attached to it, so what the hell, we went with it. For us, a quality scene includes great live music, a solid menu and alcohol selection, maybe some special events like comedy and trivia nights, friendly staff, an interesting mix of patrons, and probably one or two other things we can’t think of right now. Amigos Cantina fits the bill in all those categories, and it’s even family-friendly during the day. Now that’s what we call a scene, baby! /GB


PEOPLE

Best Chef

Dale MacKay
Ayden Kitchen & Bar
265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

2nd Christie Peters: The Hollows
3rd Mike McKeown: Prairie Harvest Café
4th Justin O’Reilly: Nosh Eatery & Tap
5th Jesse Zuber: Little Grouse on the Prairie

Saskatoon has really upped its game in recent years and become a gathering place for creative and talented chefs who are putting our city on the Canadian culinary map. Dale MacKay is one of those chefs, and he’s no stranger to top place in our contest. MacKay is a magician when it comes to great food. He also takes pride in his mentorship of up-and-comers in the cooking world, and cares deeply about the community in which he works. Winner of the first season of Top Chef Canada, MacKay is now the owner of three Saskatoon restaurants: Ayden Kitchen & Bar, Little Grouse on the Prairie, and the recently opened Sticks & Stones. You’ll want to check out all three to discover the magic that is Dale MacKay. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Barista

Daryl Grunau
City Perks Coffeehouse
801 7th Ave. N. 306-664-2060

2nd Brittany Brown: Citizen Café & Bakery
3rd Jordan Ethridge: Collective Coffee
4th Casey: Collective Coffee
5th Taylor Morrison: Living Sky Café

With his impressive showing in this contest, Daryl (and his four co-finalists), will take a major step up in the World Barista rankings. That list is currently topped, of course, by Taipei-based Berg Wu who took home the crown for Best Barista at the 2016 World Barista Championships in Dublin last June. Like Wu, who practices his craft at a shop called Simple Caffe, Daryl and the other Saskatoon finalists obviously have great coffee game. If they want to test themselves against the best, the 2017 World Barista Championships go Nov. 9-12 in Seoul. /GB

Best Bartender

Chad Coombs
Ayden Kitchen & Bar
265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

2nd Michael Eva: Amigos Cantina
3rd Harrison Bourdon: Capitol Music Club
4th Zach Davies: Leopold’s Tavern
5th Kimbal MacMillan: Louis’

How weird was that Bombay Sapphire schmozzle where, instead of 40 per cent alcohol by volume, the gin tipped the Toledos at 77 per cent? Gin causes enough grief as it is (hands up everyone who’s suffered a “ginjury” in their drinking career), and the bottles were 1.14-litres, so yeah, it was a booze bomb. Without discounting all the harm that could’ve happened (and perhaps even did), the snafu is not without a humorous side. Picture, for instance, a prim and proper senior having her usual pre-dinner gin and tonic pick-me-up, and getting a big boot in the butt from the 154 proof gin. Or someone draining a bottle into a punch bowl at a party, and everyone proceeding to dip away. Now, on to Best Mixologist. /GB

Best Mixologist

Chad Coombs
Ayden Kitchen & Bar
265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

2nd Adrian Chappell: The Hollows
3rd Christopher Cho: Ayden Kitchen & Bar
4th Chad Lawrence: UNA Pizza + Wine
5th Ian Miller: Ayden Kitchen & Bar

This is another new category. Like Best Bartender, it was won by Chad Coombs of Ayden Kitchen & Bar. I wasn’t in on the decision to separate this out from Bartender so can only speculate on what the thinking was. With Best Mixologist, it seems to me, you’re dealing with the technical skills of serving alcohol. I’m far from an expert myself, but I know there are a lot of nuances to preparing the perfect drink. Being a skilled booze jockey doesn’t necessarily make you a great bartender, though. That, again in my mind, involves a broader skill. You need to be a friendly and convivial host, comfortable with regulars you know well, and customers you’re meeting for the first time, plus a bunch of other stuff. And for Planet S voters, Coombs has the primo bartender and mixologist chops. /GB

Best Server: Restaurant

Tivy Twins
Park Café
515 20th St. W. 306-652-6781

2nd Erin Mooney: Amigos Cantina
3rd Alex Mitchell: UNA Pizza + Wine
4th Becky Vukelic: Blue Diamond Restaurant
5th Jackie Coad: Living Sky Café

Last year, we had four server categories: Fine, Casual and Family Dining, and Pub/Lounge. This year, we pared it back to two. We still ended up with three winners though. How did we manage that? Well, because once again you thumbed your nose at our singular designation “Server” and voted for two people. That would by the Tivy Twins, Dana and Jody. This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. In fact, just last year the same scenario played out. It reminds me of the old Certs commercial with the catchphrase “Two… two… two mints in one!” Here though, it’s “Two… two… servers in one!” So congrats to the Tivy sisters for their great service at Park Café. /GB

Best Server: Pub/Lounge

Erin Mooney
Amigos Cantina
806 Dufferin Ave. 306-652-4912

2nd Jayla Mortenson: The Yard & Flagon Pub
3rd Chelsea Ennis: O’Shea’s Irish Pub
4th Kaytlin Newbigging: Leopold’s Tavern
5th Yasmin: The Thirsty Scholar

I wrote a clever server blurb last year, I thought, where I riffed on Carly Simon’s 1977 James Bond theme “Nobody Does It Better”. “Nobody does fine-dining service better//Makes me feel sad for the rest//Nobody does it half as good as you//[insert name here], you’re the best!”. Pretty good, eh? In fact, I like it so much I’m tempted to use it again… but I won’t, because that would be unethical. So I’ll simply congratulate Erin and the other finalists in this category for the great job they do serving thirsty/hungry Saskatonians. /GB


SHOPPING & SERVICES

Best Bakery

The Night Oven Bakery
629 1st Ave N. 306-500-2350

2nd Christie’s Mayfair Bakery
3rd Little Bird Patisserie
4th Nutana Bakery
5th Earth Bound Bakery & Delicatessen

The thing about running a bakery is you have to “rise” early each morning to get all the dough and other stuff mixed and baked so that when you open your doors to the hungry hordes you’ve got goodies galore to tempt them. Your pick for Best Saskatoon Bakery provides us with a reminder of that reality in the shop name. The oven in question, by the way, is a wood-burning brick oven. And it’s obviously a beauty. Throw in the care and attention of Bryn Rawlyk and his staff, and a network of local suppliers, and it gives The Night Oven Bakery its third straight W in this category. /GB

Best In-Store Bakery

Sobeys
3100 Preston Ave. S. 306-244-6310 / 1739 Preston Ave. 306-668-9901 / 1550 8th St. E. 306-477-5800

2nd Co-op
3rd Costco
4th Safeway
5th Superstore

I love walking up to Sobeys first thing in the morning when the aroma of fresh-baked bread, buns, cookies and other goods is wafting in the air. Then once you’re inside, it hits you with full-force. Even if baking isn’t on my grocery list, you can bet I’ll end up in the bakery section with one of the store’s delicious creations in my cart. Look around, and you can see many other shoppers have also fallen under the bakery’s spell. It must be some kind of sorcery — although Sobeys’ commitment to consistency, high-quality ingredients, special occasion treats and hard-working staff probably has something to do with their win here too. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Butcher

The Bulk Cheese Warehouse
732 Broadway Ave. 306-652-8008

2nd Prairie Meats
3rd Pine View Farms
4th Costco
5th Boryski’s Butcher Block

“The butcher shop is well-known for specialty items like cold-smoked steaks and their deli meats include interesting offerings like smoked duck and some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever tasted.” That’s not me talking, by the way. I lifted the quote from Carolyn’s Best Specialty Grocery blurb below because it was running a little long, and her words offered a succinct description of the charms of Bulk Cheese Warehouse’s butcher shop. Set up by Scott Bartlett with an assist from a Swiss butcher named Bruno 15+ years ago, and currently managed by Scott’s son Des, Bulk Cheese Warehouse is a perennial winner in this category. So congrats to Des and his crew. /GB

Best Specialty Grocery

The Bulk Cheese Warehouse
732 Broadway Ave. 306-652-8008

2nd Dad’s Organic Market
3rd SaskMade Market
4th Super Fresh Asian Market
5th Ingredients Artisan Market

Many years ago, while working a part-time gig as an assistant to a quirky but highly successful travel agent, I’d often be sent on urgent missions to Bulk Cheese Warehouse to pick up a late-evening dinner as we slaved away at the office. That’s when I first learned of the incredible delicacies that can be found there, and I’ve been a regular visitor as the store expanded its inventory over the years. Don’t be surprised if you stop in to buy one or two items, and leave with your hands full instead. Their cheese selection is to-die-for, and their freshly prepared foods such as salads, assorted appetizers, empanadas, samosas and pot pies are addicting. Interesting oils, sauces, preserves, pickles, breads, crackers and more will also find their way home with you. Our voters know what they’re talking about when they crown Bulk Cheese Warehouse the victor here. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Health Food

Dad’s Organic Market
1820 8th St. E. 306-373-7999

2nd Steep Hill Food Co-op
3rd Herbs ’n’ Health

Dad’s Organic Market isn’t just a high-quality food specialist, it’s a legendary grocery experience — but you guys already know that because you voted Dad’s your favourite place to shop for health food. Hmmm… “health food”. That’s kind of an archaic term. What is this, the 1970s? NO IT IS NOT. It’s the 21st century, and Dad’s Organic Market sells the kind of food our chemical-saturated bodies need: organic grains and cereals, organic fruit and produce, ethically-raised, antibiotic-free meat, superfoods and supplements and, most importantly, cookies, chocolates and ice cream (well, most important to me). There’s also a delivery service which sounds insanely convenient. Bottom line: Dad’s no fool, he’s 21st century cool. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Bulk Foods

Bulk Barn
1804 McOrmond Dr. 306-649-0243 / 219 Betts Ave. 306-933-3903

2nd Costco
3rd The Bulk Cheese Warehouse
4th Dad’s Organic Market
5th Superstore

Candy and cake-making supplies; gluten-free flour options; Xmas baking supplies; specialty cake pans, kitchen gadgets and glassware; holiday-themed food items; teas, coffees and other beverage mixes; a variety of pasta, rice and beans; pet food; vitamin supplements; nuts and candies galore. I’m pretty sure there’s almost nothing you can’t find at Bulk Barn, other than maybe a selection of cows, chickens, straw bales and other items you’d commonly associate with a barn. And it’s all arranged in neat, clean and clearly labeled bins, boxes and shelves. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, the friendly and knowledgeable staff is always happy to help you out. Congratulations to Bulk Barn for its win as Saskatoon’s Best Bulk Food store! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Supermarket

Sobeys: Stonebridge
3100 Preston Ave. S. 306-244-6310

2nd Superstore: 8th St. East
3rd Sobeys: 8th St. East and Cumberland Ave.
4th Co-op: Attridge Drive
5th Co-op: 8th St. East and Circle Drive

The consensus on the street, I think, is that Sobeys bungled its $5.8 billion takeover of Safeway. The “street” I’m talking about, by the way, is Bay Street in Toronto, which has been highly critical of parent company Empire for its poor handling of the Safeway acquisition. Meanwhile, on streets where our voters live, Sobeys remains a popular and reliable supermarket brand. Sobeys Stonebridge, in fact, is the defending champ in this category. In his blurb last year, Chris Morin lauded the store for its “tantalizing pre-cooked meals that you can take home or eat in”, and the fact that once you were done shopping, “Sobeys liquor store is just a short jog across the parking lot.” So congrats to Sobeys. /GB

Best Local Producer

Pine View Farms
Osler 306-239-4763

2nd Floating Gardens
3rd Grandora Gardens
4th Pig & Pantry
5th Benlock Farms

A few Thanksgivings ago, some friends decided to roast a fresh turkey from Pine View Farms rather than the usual frozen bird you get at most grocery stores. Guests were skeptical that the extra expense would be worth it. Boy, were they wrong! That one dinner turned them into instant fans. You can count on Pine View for high-quality products year-round, including poultry, beef, lamb, pork and fish — whether in meal-size packs, or cut and wrapped in bulk orders. Pine View also has a nice selection of deli-style smokies, bratwurst and jerky. And there’s nothing tastier than their farm-fresh eggs. The on-farm store carries an ever-expanding line of special surprises such as cheese and PVF smoked salt. Pine View offers a popular Meat-At-Your-Door subscription service as well as online ordering, and many of their products are now available at select grocery stores in Saskatchewan. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Local Product

Thrive Juice Co.
137 20th St. W. 306-965-1104

2nd Hanes Hummus
3rd Three Farmers
4th Chatty’s Indian Spices
5th Gordo’s

You know Chaz Bisschen, the erstwhile entrepreneur flogging a line of refurbished vintage shoe boxes who shows up occasionally in this rag? He has a counterpart at Prairie Dog in Regina. His name is Chiron Batchlett, and he pimps an artisanal blend of Mustard and Mayonnaise called Mustardaise. Knowing Chiron, he’d give anything to receive a shout-out in this category to promote his biz. Unfortunately, Prairie Dog didn’t include Best Local Product in its contest. So sucks to be Chiron, I guess. As for your picks here, it’s a safe bet they all would’ve kicked his ass had he been eligible to compete. So congrats to Thrive Juice and the other finalists for the work they do to bring delicious and nutritious condiments to Saskatoon plates and palettes. /GB

Best Farmers Market Food or Drink Vendor

Those Girls at the Market
414 Ave. B S. 306-850-5671

2nd Living Sky Winery
3rd Floating Gardens
4th Prairie Pie Co.
5th Prairie Sun Orchard

True story: during one of my many nights of blurb-writing I was listening to a 2012 Sarah McLachlan concert on YouTube. When I got to this category, the concert was about three-quarters done, and as I sat trying to think up an angle to start writing I heard Sarah sing “Your love is better than chocolate” off “Ice Cream” from her 1993 album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, followed a line later by “And oh love is better than chocolate”. That’s hugely ironic, because the product your pick for Best Farmers Market Vendor specializes in is CHOCOLATE! Raw chocolate, to be precise, as that preserves the antioxidants and nutrients found in unroasted cocoa beans. So congrats to sisters Julianna and Ying who operate Those Girls at the Market. /GB

Best Food Truck

Ace Burger

2nd SoomSoom
3rd Rebel Melt
4th Disco Dogs
5th Nom Nom

Ace Burger is the defending champ in this category. Three guesses as to what its major claim to fame is. Stumped? I’ll give you a hint: they’re made from Angus chuck with no fillers, and the buns are sourced daily from Cobbs Bakery. There’s more to Ace than just burgers, though. They also serve chicken, a veggie burger option, hot dogs, poutine, French fries, desserts and drinks. In addition to street sales, Ace Burger also caters weddings, tournaments, fundraisers, concerts and festivals. Speaking of festivals, food truck fans should keep an eye out for Food Truck Wars YXE which goes June 16-18 and June 23-25 at Sutherland Curling Club. /GB

Best Catering

PickNic’s Catering
210 33rd St. W 306-343-7374

2nd Caboose Catering
3rd Dreen’s Catering
4th SoomSoom
5th Fresh Dish Catering

Volunteering to write the blurb for this category was my first mistake. The second was checking out PickNic Catering’s website. Honestly, I spent a solid hour looking at (who am I kidding — drooling over!) their extensive menu and gorgeous photos. Now, I want to host a party just to have PickNic’s cater it. Be it an anniversary, birthday, graduation, wedding, convention or corporate reception, I don’t think there’s any event PickNic’s can’t handle. Heck, their options even include a Candlelight Dinner in a Box so you can impress that special someone. Clients can choose from a wide selection of tantalizing appetizers and entrees, stunningly delicious desserts as well as special occasion cakes you can only dream of. /Carolyn Rebeyka


NEIGHBOURHOODS

Best Broadway District Restaurant

UNA Pizza + Wine
707 Broadway Ave. 306-978-0116

2nd Calories Bakery & Restaurant
3rd Nosh Eatery & Tap
4th Leopold’s Tavern
5th Sushiro Sushi and Noodle Bar

Considering UNA Pizza + Wine scooped four other categories (Gourmet Pizza, Thin Crust Pizza, Wine and First Date), plus was a finalist in six others, this W doesn’t come as a big surprise. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the four runners-up, though, as overall it’s a pretty stellar group. Which makes Broadway a solid anchor in Saskatoon’s fine dining scene. UNA’s original source of inspiration, it says on their website, was San Francisco. That’s an über cool American city in my book. And Planet S voters are certainly hep to what UNA’s got going on. So congrats to them. /GB.

Best Downtown Restaurant

The Rook & Raven Pub
154 2nd Ave. S. 306-665-2220

2nd Ayden Kitchen & Bar
3rd Bon Temps Café
4th Congress Beer House
5th Little Grouse on the Prairie

Winning Best Downtown Restaurant in our voters’ poll means a lot — just look at the competition in the runners-up list! You’re not going to go wrong at any of those places. This year’s winner, though, is the Rook & Raven, a cozy nook delivering a tasty experience from its salads and appetizers through its snacks and mains. On my next visit, I’m going for the pickled beet and goat cheese salad followed up with the chickpea lentil burger and washed down with Vua’s Bloody Mary. No offense to the Dilly Caesar, which I’m sure I’ll inhale soon enough. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Riversdale Restaurant

Odd Couple
228 20th St. W. 306-668-8889

2nd Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge
3rd Park Café
4th The Hollows
5th Primal

A long-time commercial corridor in Saskatoon, Riversdale has its own website (riversdale.ca). Life in the neighbourhood, it says, combines all the comforts of small town living with the excitement and energy that only Downtown Saskatoon can bring! That’s definitely reflected in your pick for Best Riversdale Restaurant. Run by the Yuen family, Odd Couple offers a range of dishes that blend Cantonese, Vietnamese and Japanese influences — along with unique takes on Canadian dishes. You can’t get more neighbourly than that. /GB

Best East Side Restaurant

Prairie Harvest Café
2917 Early Dr. 306-242-2928

2nd La Bamba Café
3rd The Keg Steakhouse + Bar
4th Mano’s Restaurant & Lounge
5th The Granary

If you visit the Media section of Prairie Harvest Café’s website you’ll see that since it opened in 2012 it’s been mentioned in several different “Best of” features from “James Chatto’s Culinary Report — Gold Medal Plates” and “Canada’s Top 100 Restaurants” in 2013 to “8 Coziest Canadian Restaurants You Need to Try this Winter” in 2014. Prairie Harvest Café is no stranger to Best of Food & Drink either. They’re defending champ in this category, in fact, and also picked up your nod for Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant. Besides the food and drink menu, Chris Morin flagged the café’s locally sourced art on the walls and attractive outdoor patio in last year’s blurb as other reasons to visit Prairie Harvest. Just so you know. /GB

Best West Side Restaurant

Konga Café
204 Ave. H N. 306-244-7867

2nd Pokey’s Pinball Café
3rd Blue Diamond Restaurant
4th White Lotus Restaurant
5th Mogul Divaan

It’s up to you to provide your own sandy beach, but outside of that Konga Café has you covered when it comes to cuisine from Jamaica and the Caribbean region. Visit Konga’s Facebook page, and you’ll see that its lunch, dinner, dessert and drink menus are studded with island favourites such as warm jerk pork wrap, Creole shrimp, spicy peanut shrimp, West Indian curry chicken, Cajun pork chops, jerk chicken/pork, key lime pie and RUM (including Konga’s Undead twist on the classic zombie cocktail). So congrats to general manager Eddy “No Speak” Andrade and his staff. /GB

Best North End Restaurant

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
300-136 Primrose Dr. 306-244-1777

2nd Summer Roll
3rd Birmingham’s Vodka & Ale House
4th Mi Hong Restaurant
5th The Manhattan Gastropub & Restaurant

Famoso, which has restaurants in four provinces including, obviously, Saskatchewan, specializes in thin-crust, Neapolitan style pizza. My favourite is the Margherita — a classic basil and cheese pie that can be enhanced with cherry tomatoes, olives and other delights. Famoso’s website has the full menu, so you can ponder pizzas from the comfort of your phone — pizzas like the Verde (onions, garlic, goat cheese, olives and kale), Siciliana (Italian sausage, Italian ham and prosciutto for you meat-heads) and many more. There’s also seasonal specials like the Prawn Pesto. And here’s another benefit: Famoso’s Lawson Heights location makes it the perfect meal stop for shoppers, whether they’re picking up booze at the SLGA, groceries at Safeway, retro candy at Pine & Fancy or wine sloths at Twisted Goods. Everyone needs wine sloths. My glass has the green sloth, yours has the dark grey. See? Now we won’t get our drinks mixed up. Also, get away from my pizza. I saw you eyeing it. Sheesh. /Stephen Whitworth

Best to Place to Eat on Campus

Boffins Public House
106-111 Research Dr. 306-978-2582

2nd Choices at St. Thomas More
3rd Louis’ Loft
4th Le Crepe Bistro
5th Harvey’s

When I was in university, campus culinary offerings were limited to a few kiosks in Place Riel, a cafeteria or two that offered serviceable fare, and venerable Louis’ for pub grub. Mind you, finances were tight back then, so anything higher end would’ve been out of my league anyway. Students are no less cash-strapped today, so I doubt they form a huge portion of Boffins Public House’s clientele. But the university is home to more than just students. With its elegant décor and stylish architecture in Innovation Place, Boffins is well-suited to serve university staff, the local business and entrepreneur community, visiting scholars in town for conferences and research, and off-campus Saskatonians who hunger for a quality lunch, dinner or lounge experience. There’s even a summer cocktail menu! So congrats to Boffins. /GB

Best Neighbourhood Pub: Central Saskatoon

The Yard & Flagon Pub
718 Broadway Ave. 306-653-8883

2nd Congress Beer House
3rd Winston’s English Pub & Grill
4th O’Shea’s Irish Pub
5th Leopold’s Tavern

Since The Yard & Flagon opened its doors in February 2000, it’s been a big contributor to the vibe that’s developed along Broadway Ave. A lot of things go into making a good neighbourhood, from trendy cafés and quirky boutiques to arts and culture venues and live music spots. But a pub where people from all walks of life can gather in a comfortable setting to bend an elbow and break bread with each other is definite must. And that describes The Yard & Flagon to a tee. /GB

Best Neighbourhood Pub: East Saskatoon

Somewhere Else Pub & Grill
2605 Broadway Ave. S. 306-652-3233

2nd The Thirsty Scholar
3rd Rock Creek Tap & Grill
4th Whiskey Jacks
5th Mr. Ribs

Food and drink aren’t the only things on the menu at Somewhere Else Pub & Grill. Every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. the pub serves up an open jam. Just bring your instrument down, and see what sort of magic you can conjure up with your fellow jammers. The pub also offers live entertainment on Friday and Saturday night with the band typically hitting the stage at 9 p.m. Throw in daily food and drink specials, happy hour and a cozy deck for outdoor revelry, and you can see why our voters decided that when it comes to pubbing in east Saskatoon there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than Somewhere Else. /GB

Best Neighbourhood Pub: North Saskatoon

Fox & Hounds Pub & Brewery
Canarama Shopping Centre 306-664-2233

2nd Original Joe’s Restaurant & Bar
3rd Birmingham’s Vodka & Ale House
4th Crackers Restaurant Lounge & Karaoke
5th The Manhattan Gastropub & Restaurant

Fox & Hounds is another business I discovered because it was near work and I’d join colleagues occasionally for lunch or a bite and beverage after work. I’ve long since moved on from that job, but there are numerous reasons why voters picked Fox & Hounds in this category: the Monday 45-cent wing special (over two dozen flavours); the Tuesday 25-cent perogie nights (hello mushroom and dill sauce!); the Wednesday burger (homemade and yummy!) and beer specials; Thursday rib nights; drink specials all week long; your choice of home cut, curly or spicy cross-track fries; something like 25 beers on tap and a well-stocked Wine, Beer & Spirits store next door. That’s a lot to jam into one pub, but Fox & Hounds has done it. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Neighbourhood Pub: South Saskatoon

The Canadian Brewhouse
3150 Preston Ave. S. 306-978-8747

2nd Brown’s Social House
3rd Shoeless Joe’s
4th Rock Creek Tap & Grill

An established presence in Alberta, with 16 franchises, Canadian Brewhouse opened its first Saskatoon location in 2015. Known for the signature Inukshuk that greets patrons as they approach, Canadian Brewhouse has a sweet set-up for sports fans looking to watch their favourite team in action. Just like sports-playing, sports-watching, as we all know, takes a lot out of you. That’s where Canadian Brewhouse’s menu of salads, burgers, wraps, poutine, wings, pizza and other edibles come in, along with a full selection of draft and bottled beer, liquor and wine. With summer approaching, one highlight for Saskatoon party goers will be the outdoor patio which is equipped with several outdoor screens that offer the best in HD viewing. /GB

Best Neighbourhood Pub: West Saskatoon

Pokey’s Pinball Café
211B 33rd St. W. 306-343-2196

2nd Mano’s Grill & Brewhouse
3rd Dublin’s Irish Pub & Grill
4th Clark’s Crossing Brew Pub

Rumours that this establishment on Saskatoon’s west side is bankrolled by Pokey from The Gumby Show, who has parlayed his royalties and related merchandise earnings from the still popular stop-motion clay animation TV series into a sizeable real estate empire, are just that: rumours. What is known about Pokey’s is that, as its name suggests, it offers patrons the chance to play arcade games of various kinds with all sorts of flashing lights and chiming bells. The games are a big attraction, obviously, but Pokey’s is licensed, and offers a solid food and drink menu to help keep the pinball (and party) going. /GB


ABOUT THIS ESTABLISHMENT: Best Of Food and Drink 2017 was sizzled to perfection on a vintage griddle by Carolyn Rebeyka, Stephen Whitworth and a mystery man known only as GB. Plating by Paul Klassen, a regular artiste who’s too good for a greasy spoon like this. Customer service courtesy of the always smiling Heath Mulligan and Louise Buckmaster — if they showed you a good time, don’t be shy with the tip! Last but not least, Best Of Food and Drink is managed by Terry Morash, our favourite guy who used to have hair before he picked a career at this joint. We love you, Terry! Just maybe don’t stand directly under the light.