Best of Food & Drink 2016

Best of Food Saskatoon 2016


Planet S proudly presents the results our 2016 Best of Food & Drink poll that ran online from February to April. Hordes of Planet S readers cast precisely 386 gerbillion votes for their favourite restaurants, meals, watering holes, food industry people and more. Congratulations to all the winning restaurants, shops and people! You make a sweet meal, Saskatoon.


Best Restaurant

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

Silver Prairie Harvest Cafe Bronze Odd Couple Runners-up Nosh Eatery & Tap, Bon Temps Café

Looking for a surreal dining experience? Head to Ayden Kitchen and Bar. Creativity isn’t just in the menu and cocktail list, but the overall décor. Ayden’s chill ambiance is perfect for a sit-down meal with someone you’re wanting to impress. The accents are something out of an interior designer’s wildest dreams with high ceilings, ship rope dangling from light fixtures, meat grinders on the wall, and an open kitchen. I sat at a table on an oversized blue loveseat beside a wall that looked like one of the chefs had flung all the butcher knives in the house at it. The wait staff are smart casual, and incredibly attentive. The cocktail list almost feels like it was concocted in a lab. Lavender infused vodka, cranberry shrub, tonic syrup, and even a whiskey drink that literally gives off smoke. Each drink is cleverly named and really shows how creative some bartenders can be. So if you want to feel like you’re eating in a Salvador Dali painting, Ayden’s got you covered. /Savannah Hagin

Best New Restaurant

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

Silver UNA Pizza & Wine Bronze The Burning Beard Runners-up Bartari Videogame Restaurant & Bar, The Brasserie

Before you even step through the door, you suspect you’re not in Saskatoon anymore. The bamboo finish, greenery, mosaic tiles and flood of natural sunlight at Drift Sidewalk Café & Vista Lounge make it easy to imagine you’re blissed out on the west coast — which might be why it was recently ranked #20 in Buzzfeed’s “31 Canadian Coffee Shops to Visit Before You Die”. Once inside, Drift more than lives up to the hype with its coffee, crepes, soups and sandwiches ($10-13). They go through 8-10 pounds of beans per day, says co-founder Amy Holowach. Upstairs, Vista Lounge is known for its lavish cocktails and fresh, creative tapas menu. Tweaks for the summer include plenty of salads, a rotating housemade pasta dish, and a Southern ceviche featuring whitefish from northern Saskatchewan, says Holowach. And be sure to sample one of bar manager Mandy Fisher’s new cocktails on the soon-to-be-open rooftop patio. /Lisa Johnson


Best Restaurant for a Budget Date

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

Silver Amigos Cantina Bronze Yard & Flagon Runners-up Congress Beer House, Bon Temps Cafe

The best dates aren’t always the ones where you dress to the nines and flash around a heady amount of cash. Sometimes all it takes for a night to end in kisses and cuddles is an inexpensive bowl of broth and plate of noodles that’s been teased to the heavens. If you’re looking to take down a budget broccoli stir-fry with that super cutie you’ve had your eye on since, like, forever, Thien Vietnam has you covered. Heck, even the booze is cheap if you feel like getting a little saucy over supper. /Chris Morin

Best Restaurant for a Luxury Date

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

Silver Truffles Bistro Bronze Carver’s Steakhouse Runners-up CUT Casual Steak & Tap, Chandeliers Fine Dining

Date nights are special because you spend time with the one you love. Hospitality, romantic ambiance and amazing food help too. Located in a beautiful heritage building with plenty of privacy, Ayden Kitchen & Bar is your choice for best place to knock spoons. “Our staff and servers are what make us a luxury date. It’s about making people feel special,” says Dale MacKay, owner and chef of Ayden. “We also have the ability to make people forget about where they are. Ayden could be in New York, Las Vegas, anywhere in the world.” But don’t feel like a ball gown and a suit and tie are necessary. Ayden isn’t that formal. No matter if it’s the burgers, chicken wings or the bison tartare, Chef MacKay suggests that sharing is caring. Most people choose the warm citrus madeleines for dessert. “Thanks from the team at Ayden for voting for us,” says MacKay. /Mike Shiplack

Best Restaurant for a First Date

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

Silver Congress Beer House Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Duck Duck Goose, Bon Temps Cafe

When I think about meeting someone for an after-work burger (loaded, $12) and beer downtown, my brain goes on autopilot to The Rook & Raven. They make as much as they can in house, so I don’t think it’s wrong to call it a casual gastro pub. More importantly, I’ve yet to hear a bad review. So you can count on impressing someone on a first date without having to drop $100. When you’re ready to take things to the next romantic level, and you think you both might be comfortable with public displays of slurping, you should definitely get the mussels marinara ($13) to share. And I will talk about the conveniently flattering lighting design in this place to anyone who will listen. /Lisa Johnson


Best Restaurant for a Party

Amigos Cantina
632 10th St. E. 306-652-4912

Silver Congress Beer House Bronze Bon Temps Café Runners-up Somewhere Else Pub & Grill, Bartari Videogame Restaurant & Bar

It’s not a shocker that Amigos picked up this coveted title. Like some of the other finalists, it does double duty as a bar where live music and boozy parties pop off nightly. It’s also a neighbourly, come-as-you-are place where the beer flows and the nachos fall like rain (well, not literally, but they are great). Did you show up with a big group for a birthday dinner?  Well, pull some tables together. Got kids with you? No worries, grab a highchair. And don’t forget, Amigos has a private backroom that they rent at no charge, giving smaller groups a place to hold a meeting or Christmas party. And, as I mentioned, when night falls and the wee ones are home in bed, the real party starts. Some of Canada’s best bands play Amigos when they’re on tour. Bandswap and other annual “hafta-be-there” events are also held in the venerable Tex Mex restaurant. It’s a well-deserved win. /Craig Silliphant

Best Restaurant to Work at

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

Silver Louis’ Bronze Odd Couple Runners-up Nosh Eatery & Tap, Bon Temps Cafe

I’ve never worked in a restaurant. The closest I came was high school when I had a part-time job at a Gulf Service Station on a busy highway between Calgary and Saskatoon. In addition to gas pumps and mechanics’ bays, the Gulf had a sit-down restaurant. I was on the gas/shop side, but did interact with employees on the other side. I could never do that job, I know for sure, but if I did work at a restaurant qualities I’d appreciate would be good in-house music, fun and considerate co-workers and management, an interesting clientele, and an opportunity to contribute through the work I did to enhancing the quality of life for people in Saskatoon. And while I’m sure all the finalists are great places to work at, Ayden’s came out on top. /Gregory Beatty

Best Family Restaurant

2910 8thSt. E. 306-955-7777

Silver Amigos Cantina Bronze Pink Cadillacs Runners-up Montana’s BBQ & Bar, The Cave Restaurant

If there isn’t something for everyone, it’s not a very good family restaurant. Tired of making small talk/inappropriate jokes around the dinner table? Fuddruckers is a smorgasbord of entertainment. See grandma swing for the rafters at the batting cage, heckle your brother at the Putt ’n’ Bounce, finally out-race the old man at the fun centre, or watch your little sister out Spider-Man you on the climbing wall. Anything is possible at Fuddruckers. Like watching your weird cousin make a leaning tower of bacon out of their burger before drowning it in Fudd Cheese Sauce. Even vegetarian/glutten-free/nut-allergy family members have plenty of delicious choices. Bring the family together, and compete for glory at Fuddruckers! /Mike Shiplack


Best Chain Restaurant

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

Silver Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Bronze The Keg Runners-up Original Joe’s, Browns Socialhouse

A great location, a menu of internationally-inspired food, and enough room for over 200 people. That’s only part of what makes the proudly Canadian Cactus Club Café the best chain restaurant in Saskatoon. If variety is the spice of life, this is where to find it. Enjoy a romantic date for two, or pack all your friends into a huge booth and enjoy a night on the town. Then there’s the menu. Designed by one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, Rob Fennie — the first Canadian to win Iron Chef America — it focuses on freshness and sustainability, using local ingredients whenever possible. Cactus Club is both Ocean Wise and Green Table certified. This is the only Cactus Club Café in Saskatchewan, and the ambiance and casual fine dining atmosphere makes it a great place to try something new. /Mike Shiplack

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians

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

Silver Leyda’s Cafe Bronze Odd Couple Runners-up The Hollows, Sushiro Sushi Bar

When it comes to crafting a meal that wins over Saskatoon’s veggie lovers, Nosh Eatery & Tap has everyone else beat. Featuring a menu that’s packed with options — including those with dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten-free and nut-free — this Broadway-area restaurant is sure to wow even the most stubborn carnivores as well. The veggie burgers are a surefire winner, but make sure to check out the butter eggplant and the mushroom-and-cheese-filled not so po’ boy for a unique meal that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. /Chris Morin

Best All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant

Saboroso Brazilian Steakhouse
340-2600 8th St. E. 306-249-4454

Silver Spicy Bite Bronze Go For Sushi Runners-up Smiley’s Buffet & Catering, Best Asia Buffet

I live alone, and am not overly social when it comes to “breaking bread” with others. Neither am I much of a cook, so my meals tend to be pretty rudimentary. One upside of all this is that for me portion-control is incredibly easy. I’m never faced with the dilemma of having to turn down an extra burger on the BBQ, or the last piece of pie or whatever. At the same time, I recognize that many people take a different approach to eating — one that sometimes involves heading out for a mega chow-down. For our voters, Saboroso Brazilian Steakhouse is the eatery of choice. With quality steak, seafood and pasta served “rodizio” style where staff move table-to-table it’s easy to see why. /Gregory Beatty

Best Lunch

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

Silver Odd Couple  Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Nosh Eatery & Tap, Louis’ Loft

Even though I don’t work in an office or have a strict 9 to 5 work schedule, I can understand how most people don’t have time for a healthy sit-down for lunch. The Rook and Raven is a saviour for these poor folk looking for a quick and healthy déjeuner. With unique takes on classics like the Ham and Cheese with house-prepared capicola ham, roasted red peppers and olive salad, or the Grilled Cheese with aged cheddar and Granny Smith apples served on sourdough, The Rook and Raven adds a sophisticated flare to your average business lunch or casual dining experience.
/Savannah Hagin

Best Business Lunch

Earls Kitchen & Bar
610 2nd Ave. N. 306-664-4060

Silver Ayden Kitchen & Bar Bronze The Rook and Raven Runners-up 2nd Avenue Grill, Congress Beer House

Earls is all about business, and paying tribute to Saskatoon’s past. Keeping the “Don’t Say Bread… ” sign was a smart move to preserve the iconic look of the old McGavin’s Bakery. For Planet S voters, when it comes to business lunches Earls is best in show. It’s little wonder. The menu has something for everyone, and there are plenty of places to conduct business. Keep things professional in the dining room, liven things up in the lounge, explore new opportunities out on the patio, and then visit the martini lounge to celebrate a job well done. But what makes Earls an interesting place for business is their dedication to keeping things professional, especially at lunch. The non-alcoholic drink menu is impressive, including a whole line of craft sodas. /Mike Shiplack

Best Lunch Buffet

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

Silver Go For Sushi Bronze Garden Cafe (Saskatoon Inn) Runners-up Smiley’s Buffet & Catering, Desi Dhaba

Ask anyone who works downtown and they’ll tell you the importance of being able to grab a great meal with little wait time. That’s where Spicy Bite steps up to the plate. Located in the historic Drinkle Building, this Indian buffet has plenty of options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. In addition to steaming platters of naan bread, pakora and samosas, the buffet features several entrees and even a dessert bar. But the best part is that you can stuff yourself full of curry in a superhuman amount of time before rushing back to the office just in time for the obligatory post-buffet lethargy to set in. /Chris Morin

Best Fast Food

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

Silver A&W Bronze McDonald’s Runners-up Wendy’s, Dairy Queen

I do a lot of food writing about some of our fanciest establishments, serving farm-to-table meals with locally sourced ingredients, and the latest in flavour profiles and presentation. But while I love those trendy hotspots, I never feel prejudice against their fast food brethren. As I get older and fatter, I have to eat that stuff in moderation, but I love a greasy burger as much as the next guy, maybe even more. Five Guys has only been in Saskatoon a couple of years, but they seem to have captured our burger-lovin’ hearts. And it’s no wonder — it’s a big, hearty burger with your choice of toppings, and a seriously giant sack of fries on the side. /Craig Silliphant

Best Chinese Restaurant

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

Silver Yip Hong’s Bronze Mandarin Restaurant Runners-up Genesis Family Restaurant, Oriental Aroma

If you go back a couple of decades, Chinese restaurants pretty much had the ethnic or “World” cuisine scene to themselves in Saskatoon. Happily for people who enjoy exposing their tastebuds to unique flavours and different culinary traditions, that’s no longer the case. A brief check of the winners and finalists in numerous categories in Best of Food and Drink will prove that true. That doesn’t mean Saskatonians don’t retain a fond spot in their hearts/stomachs for Chinese food. If anything, the influx of new restaurants has probably given traditional Chinese restaurants greater freedom to present a more diverse and challenging menu. Run by the Yuen family, who arrived in Canada from Hong Kong in 1996, The Odd Couple is a multiple winner in this category and takes home the gold again in 2016. /Gregory Beatty

Best Greek Restaurant

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

Silver Opa! Bronze Saskatoon Station Place Runners-up The Cave Restaurant, Sardinia Family Restaurant

Don’t know if you noticed, but we’ve tweaked the format for how we recognize the winners in Best of Food & Drink. Instead of first, second, third, we’re using Gold, Silver and Bronze to designate the top three finishers. That’s an obvious nod to the 2016 Summer Olympics which Brazil is getting ready to host in August. As to why I chose this blurb to point the format change out, well, that’s probably obvious too — since Greece is the home of the original Olympic Games which date back to 8th century B.C.E. Like the Olympics, food is another great Greek tradition. And as far as our voters are concerned, Mano’s is Saskatoon’s gold winner. /Gregory Beatty

Best Indian Restaurant

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

Silver Black Pepper Bronze Meg’s Restaurant Runners-up Mogul Divaan, Desi Dhaba

A few years back when I lived in Montreal my favourite go-to comfort food wasn’t poutine. While fries-and-curds is a staple of Quebecois street food culture, some of the most delectable dishes I ate were at Indian restaurants. Cheap and delicious, I was slightly heartbroken to move away from what had become some of my favourite eateries. When I arrived back in Saskatoon, Spicy Bite quickly filled that void in my life and helped satisfy my curry craving. The dishes pack the same wallop as in Montreal, and the naan still possesses that same melt-in-your-mouth magic. /Chris Morin

Best Italian Restaurant

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

Silver Primal  Bronze Little Grouse On The Prairie Runners-up Chianti Café, Capanna Pizzeria

Taverna’s a repeat winner in this category. As Craig Silliphant observed last year, it counts no less a personage than Oprah Winfrey as a satisfied customer. When I visited Taverna’s Facebook page to learn more about all the great food on the menu, from pasta to pizza and everything in between, I learned that since scoring a TKO against the competition in 2015 Taverna has had another celebrity stop by — UFC fighter Max Holloway. Max fights as a featherweight, which requires him to keep his weight between 60 and 66 kg. So when he eats, you can bet he likes to make the most of it. And when Max was in town last August, he dined at Taverna. That puts him in good company with our voters who obviously love Taverna. /Gregory Beatty

Best Thai Restaurant

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

Silver Thien Vietnam Bronze Red Pepper Runners-up Royal Thai Restaurant, Summer Roll

What can I say about Keo’s Kitchen that hasn’t already been said in past Best of Food & Drinks. Not much, but since I have to fill the designated word count I’m going to try anyway. It’s Saskatoon’s favourite Thai restaurant, but it’s also my personal favourite. Really, it’s one of the best and most consistent restaurants in Saskatchewan. Not only am I always discovering new things on the menu that blow my mind, but I have my go-to favourites like Cashew Chicken, Bird’s Nest, and the Mango Salad.  And, of course, the time, space, and dimension-bending awesomeness that are the Dancing Prawns. Keo Chanthavone and her family started out in a humble space at a different location, and it’s been wonderful to watch them blossom as they build an empire of deliciousness. /Craig Silliphant


Best Vietnamese Restaurant

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

Silver Red Pepper Bronze Saigon Rose Runners-up Spicy Garden, Asian Hut

There aren’t many Vietnamese/Thai food places I don’t like, but Thien is one of my favourites, so it’s no surprise Planet Svoters picked them in this category. For the price, you certainly get plenty of value, both in quantity and quality. With tons of menu options, my favs are their $6 daily special or the chicken salad rolls or coconut curry shrimp or chicken sauté noodle soup or — wait, who am I kidding? There isn’t a bad plate on the menu, seriously. Thien’s decor is pleasing, and after one too many spring rolls (at the downtown restaurant), you can roll into one of the local pubs for a night cap. Their fast and efficient service makes any quick lunch break a tasty one, and also makes take-out a breeze, so you can gorge yourself in the privacy of your own cubicle. Well done, Thien Vietnam! /Savannah Hagin

Best World Cuisine

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

Silver Konga Cafe Bronze Hole In The Wall Runners-up Golden Pagoda, Saba’s African Cuisine

My sister recently returned home from a three-month sabbatical with her teenage twins in Costa Rica. During her stay, you can probably imagine, she posted all sorts of gorgeous photos of the jungle and beach resorts they stayed at it. It wasn’t all Kodak moments, though. One day they swam across a narrow channel to reach a deserted island — only to see saltwater crocodiles in the water the next day. At various times, they also ended up having scorpions and vampire bats in their suite. They’re still glad they went, understand, but the thing about your pick for best world cuisine is you can treat your tastebuds to expertly-prepared food from the same tropical area (Mexico, Central & South America and Caribbean) without having to deal with all the gnarly critters my sister and her kids did. /Gregory Beatty

Best Takeout/Delivery

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

Silver Wing World Bronze The Griffin Takeaway Runners-up Red Pepper, Franky’s Banh Mi

In April the Sask. Party government raised eyebrows with its curious decision to slide $3 million to SkipTheDishes despite Brad Wall’s oft-stated mantra of not picking winners and losers in business. Not that STD — oops, better stick with the full name — is a loser business. As people seek increased flexibility and enjoyment in their busy lives, takeout and delivery food options are becoming increasingly important. For restaurants, it’s not just a matter of replicating the in-house menu either. You’ve got to ensure the food is prepared, packaged and transported properly so it retains optimal flavor and freshness. And while I’m sure all the finalists give good takeout/delivery, your gold winner was Thien Vietnam. /Gregory Beatty

Best Meal Presentation

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

Silver The Hollows Bronze Calories Bakery & Restaurant Runners-up Prairie Harvest Café, Nosh Eatery & Tap

Elsewhere in this feature I talk about Ayden’s drinks and décor, but the food is another category of epic. I really am impressed with the exotic menu items that you might normally expect to find only in a bigger city. After sipping on a few T&Gs (Ayden’s spin on a gin and tonic), I scoured the menu and can officially say I’ve enhanced my palette. The scallops were my first go-to because seafood is a weakness of mine. These pan-seared morsels were cornmeal crusted and sat on a bed of peaches and corn with a hint of cilantro. Even though cilantro and I don’t get along thanks to genetics, I could barely taste it due to the superb balance of each ingredient. Next up, bone marrow, which was a bit on the macabre side for me, but I had to try it. Served on a plank of wood with the bone actually on the plate, this dish could easily be mistaken for an art piece. Finally, the madeleines — a citrusy slice of heaven with chocolate dipping sauce which was served in a cup straight outta Game of Thrones. Congrats Ayden, I can’t wait to see what brilliant things you come up with next. /Savannah Hagin

Best Patio

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

Silver O’Shea’s Irish Pub Bronze Earls Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Las Palapas Resort Grill, Scarlet

We have to hibernate over the winter for so long, it’s no wonder we explode into spring and summer like a gang of little kids pumped up on sugar. And outdoor patios are one of our favourite destinations where we pursue the wonderful, life-affirming tradition of deck beers. The Yard & Flagon beat some stiff competition. O’Shea’s deck, for example, is a beautiful space with a lovely summer view. But the Yard upped the ante this year by doing some renos. The deck is prettier, more comfy, and even boasts a feature fireplace over Broadway. There’s nothing that says summer more than the sun on your face, a breeze in your hair, and a beer in your hand on the deck at The Yard. /Craig Silliphant


Best Rural Saskatchewan Restaurant

The Berry Barn
830 Valley Rd. 306-978-9797

Silver Hole In The Wall (Shields) Bronze The Olive Tree (Hwy # 12 N.) Runners-up Harvest Eatery & Fresh Market (Shaunavon), Pepper Tree Family Restaurant (Watrous)

Only one restaurant in the Saskatoon area has a dining room 60 feet from the South Saskatchewan River. Welcome to The Berry Barn. “We are family owned and operated, and a lot of the saskatoon berry products we serve are grown right here on the property,” says Grant Erlandson, who along with his wife and daughter has owned and operated The Berry Barn for 18 years. The menu is uniquely Saskatchewan with one big difference:  Belgian waffles, served all day every day. Other than that, the Mennonite-inspired fare brings homemade sausages, perogies and cabbage rolls from the farm to your plate. Try the cottage cheese-filled perogies with a cream gravy. Just don’t forget save room for a slice of homemade saskatoon berry pie. /Mike Shiplack

Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant

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

Silver Ayden Kitchen & Bar Bronze The Hollows Runners-up Leyda’s Café, Calories Bakery & Restaurant

Time was, farm-to-table eating was common in Saskatchewan. You’d plant a vegetable patch each spring, pick berries when they were ripe, make your own cheese, butter and other dairy products, grow and grind your own grain for flour, and raise, slaughter and butcher chickens, pigs and cows for meat. You might even throw in a little wild game if hunting was good. For foodies today, that probably sounds like nirvana. From a culinary perspective, it probably is. But it also entailed a massive amount of back-breaking labour. Aren’t you glad that restaurants such as Prairie Harvest Café and the other finalists in this category exist to serve farm-fresh fare? /Gregory Beatty



Best Appetizers

Duck Duck Goose 
616 10th St. E. 306-649-3825

Silver Cactus Club Cafe Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Congress Beer House, Nosh Eatery & Tap

The beautiful thing about tapas is the amount of flavour packed into a single bite, and that’s exactly how Duck Duck Goose likes to play. Carnivores get to choose their prey: beef, chicken, pork, lamb and, of course, duck. Vegetarians will be glad to see so many creative ways to prepare asparagus, chickpeas, mushrooms, popcorn — and not just any popcorn either, it’s truffled organic popcorn! Although the tapas menu might not look exactly like a Spanish tapas bar, the spirit of eating exotic food while drinking fine wine during a warm summer’s night is spot on. The wine and beer menu also boasts a few Spanish imports that will give late-night patrons plenty of fun opportunities to roll their “Rs”. Those seeking fine cocktails to accompany the creative tapas will have no problem shaking things up. The ginger beer is also made in-house. Salud! /Mike Shiplack


Best Salad

Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery
3130 8th St. E. 306-955-3579 mcnallyrobinson/restaurant

Silver Nosh Eatery & Tap Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up The Rook & Raven, Riversdale Delicatessen & Market

For years many of us thought of salad as meal foreplay — something to get you ramped up to the main course. But at Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery the salads are built to satisfy in one sexy sitting. For those looking to nosh on something that extends far beyond a wilty lettuce leaf, try the warm lentil and roast beet or the black bean and quinoa salad. Along with toasted pumpkin seeds and a variety of dressings that tap dance on the tip of your tongue, Prairie Ink knows that a good salad will leave you breathless and asking for more. /Chris Morin

Best Soup

d’Lish By Tish Cafe
702A 14th St. E. 306-652-5483

Silver City Perks Coffehouse Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Yard & Flagon, Riversdale Delicatessen & Market

Soup is an art form (kinda like interpretative dance or painting), especially if the right person is wielding the soup spoon. And Tisha Paget, owner of d’Lish by Tish Café, is Saskatoon’s soup artist of choice. “It’s my creative outlet, it’s my passion,” she says. “When I can’t go to sleep I dream of soup. When I eat an interesting dish, I think how to make it soup. I really feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do. This is my gift, and I like making soup for everyone.” Great soup needs vision, says Paget, and you should never skimp on the ingredients. It also takes planning. Every two week she prepares for 14-days of soup, with two varieties so she can always offer a daily vegan option. Add a thick slice of homemade brown bread, and viola — a meal is born! /Mike Shiplack

Best Sandwich

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

Silver Riversdale Delicatessen & Market Bronze Citizen Cafe & Bakery Runners-up Bon Temps Café, Franky’s Banh Mi

A friend once told me that the best sandwich is the one someone makes for you. We’re all capable of tossing some cold cuts on a piece of bread and slathering it in a mayo bath. But, sorry to say, self-made sandwiches typically leave us feeling unsatisfied and maybe even a little unloved. That’s because love is the secret ingredient to these wheat wonders, and it truly takes someone special to make a hero of hoagie. Just ask the patrons of Earthbound Bakery. The crown jewel of hidden gems on 8th St., this tiny bakery has amassed a following who come for these love-laden loafs, which are typically stuffed with your regular assortment of veggies and your choice of proteins. /Chris Morin

Best Wrap

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

Silver Pita Pit Bronze City Perks Coffeehouse Runners-up Citizen Cafe & Bakery, Leyda’s Cafe

To write this blurb, I decided to delve into the history of wraps. In various forms, they’ve been part of the culinary landscape in countries such as Mexico, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East for ages. They’re akin to sandwiches, but use flatbread instead, with all the yummy ingredients rolled up inside. Foodologists have traced the emergence of wraps in Western society to California. It was a twist on the Mexican burrito, and became popular in the Golden State in the early 1990s. Franchises such as Pita Pit and Extreme Pita were early innovators in Canada, and since then wraps have become popular items on upscale restaurant menus. The Yard & Flagon’s win in this category is proof of that, so congrats to them. /Gregory Beatty

Best Burger

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

Silver Fuddruckers Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Stacked Burger Bar, Prairie Harvest Cafe

What makes a good burger? “Good quality meat, 100 per cent ground chuck with zero filler,” says J.P. Vives, chef de cuisine at Congress Beer House, and the man behind your pick for Best Burger. Vives believes a great burger needs to be kept simple. Their buns are baked fresh daily at Cobs Bakery. Toppings include fresh roma tomatoes, red onions and arugula — never iceberg lettuce. The Sriracha mayo is made in-house with a few extra twists. Also, Vives can’t stress the importance of quality cheddar — and then there’s the meat. “We give our customers an option of temperature from rare to well-done. If other places don’t offer that as an option I would be skeptical about the type of meat they are using,” he says. So congrats to Congress Beer House. /Mike Shiplack


Best Veggie Burger

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

Silver Yard & Flagon Bronze Amigos Cantina Runners-up Ayden Kitchen & Bar, Prairie Harvest Cafe

Nosh Eatery & Tap continues to rule the (animal-free) roost. For me, though, that still leaves an unanswered question. Nosh has several veggie burgers on the menu — so which one is actually the best in Saskatoon? You’ve got the black bean and quinoa burger, the curried yam and lentil, and (my personal favourite) the beetroot burger. Clearly, the folks at Nosh have mastered the delicate art of the meatless patty. That’s no easy task when you consider you need to get the texture, firmness, and flavour exactly right — no matter what the main ingredient might be. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. And, big bonus here: your pee will be positively purple with excitement if you go for the best beet chip/burger combo in town, the unbeatable BeetBox. /Lisa Johnson

Best Fries

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

Silver Five Guys Burgers & Fries Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up Congress Beer House, Calories Bakery & Restaurant

The Yard & Flagon’s wall is covered with Planet S Best Fries certificates from past years. During the summer, they average 30 cases of potatoes a week — that’s 1500 lbs of glorious French fries! Randy Berg (chef and co-owner) is a master of the potato. And he told me his secret. “We use Kennebec potatoes, a specially designed fryer potato that’s soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. We punch the potatoes in-house, blanch them in water and then double fry them — that’s the secret. We first blanch them in oil, cool them down and then cook them again.” According to Berg, a great French fry also needs proper seasoning — one that doesn’t overcoat the fry, and a good clean fryer. When it comes to the ketchup v. mayo debate, Berg can’t be bothered with either. He sides with the gravy — made in-house, roasted bones and all. /Mike Shiplack

Best Poutine

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

Silver The Hollows Bronze Duck Duck Goose Runners-up Congress Beer House, Louis’

In the 1950s, Eddy Lainesse had the brilliant idea to mix cheese curds with fries and gravy. This stroke of genius occurred at a Quebec restaurant owned by Fernand Lachance called “Le Lutin qui rit”, and poutine joints have since surfaced nationwide. At the top of Saskatoon’s gravy train sits Smoke’s Poutinerie, offering some of the best and weirdest types of poutine money can buy. Located in the heart of downtown, Smoke’s takes traditional poutine and turns it into a fever dream. With their fresh hand-cut fries, squeaky cheese curds, and rosemary infused gravy, you can choose from Perogy, Nacho Grande and Philly Cheesesteak to name just a few. With veggie-based gravy, the Veggie Nacho or the Rainbow are perfect for vegetarian poutine lovers. So if you’re wanting to take a trip on the wild side of poutine, head to Smoke’s Poutinerie. As Fernand reportedly said, “Ça va faire une maudite poutine”, or “This is going to make a dreadful mess.” /Savannah Hagin


Best Fish & Chips

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

Silver The Rook & Raven Bronze Jerry’s Food Emporium Runners-up Winston’s English Pub & Grill and Yard & Flagon (tie)

The Gibson family has been serving up homemade fish & chips since 1964. When I was a ne’er-do-well in high school, my friends and I used to hang out there all the time, drinking that Twin Peaks level coffee and eating fish & chips. It was a long hallway in a strip mall on 8th back then. They moved to a bigger space in the same mall a few years back, where I introduced my young son to his first French fry. And now they’ve moved into the former Salonika Restaurant on Louise St., where I still go for lunch with old friends, or family dinners with my wife and the boy. Gibson’s is a Saskatoon institution. I’ve never found a fish & chip meal anywhere, even in London, that compares to what they bring to the table. /Craig Silliphant


Best Sushi

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

Silver Otowa Japanese Restaurant Bronze Go For Sushi and New Island Sushi (tie) Runners-up Smiley’s Buffet & Catering

Sushi used to be a really sad state of affairs when I was growing up in Saskatoon. Not many places served it, and when they did, it was really expensive. I remember eating at a mediocre sushi place at an Edmonton food court once, and it blew my mind because it was so available and inexpensive. Now, we live in a wonderland, where people in tall white hats make sushi fresh, right in front of you in grocery stores and eateries around town. And while some great sushi joints were nominated, Sushiro has owned this category for years. Their commitment to great cooking and imaginative food, served in a cool, minimalist environment, puts them ahead of the curve. /Craig Silliphant


Best Pasta

423 20th St. W. 306-974-8111

Silver Taverna Italian Restaurant Bronze Chianti Cafe & Restaurant Runners-up Ayden Kitchen & Bar, Mano’s Restaurant & Lounge

I eat spaghetti regularly. Of course, I’m not in the same league as Primal when it comes to pasta. But I do put a reasonable amount of effort into the meal I make, and my nieces and nephews seem to like it well enough. But as befits its mission statement (which is to create “time-honoured Italian food & handmade pasta using Saskatchewan heritage grains & whole animal butchery”) Primal, which is helmed by chefs Kyle Michael and Christie Peters, leaves me in the dust. Hell, they even have a sommelier (Lacey Sellinger). I can’t compete with that. /Gregory Beatty

Best Noodle Bowl

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

Silver Odd Couple Bronze Red Pepper Runners-up Nutana Café, Asian Hut

This is one of four Best of Food & Drink titles for Thien Vietnam. It also scored Takeout/Delivery, Vietnamese Restaurant and Budget Date. In all three instances, I imagine, noodle bowls would figure prominently. Stuffed with pasta, meats and veggies, they offer solid value for the dollar so they’re great for a budget date. Similarly, as a Thien Vietnam staple, noodle bowls would be popular with customers ordering takeout and delivery. And prepared properly, with the right mix of ingredients and spices, they offer a great way to explore Vietnamese cuisine. So congrats to Thien Vietnam for their four wins. /Gregory Beatty

Best Barbecue

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

Silver Saboroso Brazilian Steakhouse Bronze Bon Temps Cafe Runners-up Seoul Korean Restaurant, Montana’s BBQ & Bar

Nothing ignites the primal instinct like the smell of barbequed meat. No wonder many cultures consider some types of meat to be the ultimate aphrodisiacs, or good for virility. Sometimes, you don’t even desire — youneed — some well-seasoned meat, barbequed and sauced with the slight aroma of smoke. A good, palette cleansing side dish is important too. No wonder the longstanding local institution Schryer’s continues to pop up as a favourite: they keep it basic, and do it right. Start talking about their pulled pork or rack of ribs in a casual conversation, and you might elicit an uncontrollable drool. Looking at the other finalists, I can’t help but feel that Saskatonians appreciate good, professional presentation. Saboroso, Bon Temps, and Seoul are as much visual as culinary destinations — each worthy of an episode on a reality cooking show. /Lisa Johnson

Best Ribs

Montana’s BBQ & Bar
1510 8th St. E. 306-384-9340 1840 McOrmond Dr. 306-934-5551

Silver Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack Bronze Mr. Rizo’s Runners-up Bon Temps Café, Tony Roma’s

When searching for a place that serves great ribs, start by looking for the word “barbecue”. Then look for other clues like “smoked for hours”, “hickory wood chips” and “finger lickin’”. Carnivores beware, when you crack the menu at Montana’s, the saliva starts to flow pretty quickly once you hit the rib section. Montana’s offers plenty of choices. Start with the important one first, how many? Will this be part of a delicious combo? Then choose one of five different sauces:  Texas bold, apple butter, honey garlic, chipotle honey or tangy peach. Still can’t decide? Try the Rib Taster Plate. And every Wednesday is all you can eat pork ribs. Good luck. /Mike Shiplack

Best Steak

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

Silver Ayden Kitchen & Bar Bronze Carver’s Steakhouse Runners-up Cut Casual Steak & Tap, 2nd Avenue Grill

What’s your cut? Sirloin, tenderloin, striploin, or maybe it’s the rib. Steak is a beautifully simple, yet complex piece of cuisine. It’s all about the grill, and The Keg has their grilling down to a science. Armed with a little bit of seasoning, and high heat, the kitchen turns out steak after steak perfectly. Rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done. It will always be served as requested. You can even go Blue Chicago on that New York striploin — charred on the outside, cool and blue all the way through. For me, a great steak dinner is always about the full meal deal. The baked potato with a carousel of toppings is my second favourite part. /Mike Shiplack

Best Dessert

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

Silver Ayden Kitchen & Bar Bronze City Perks Coffeehouse Runners-up Alexander’s Restaurant & Bar, The Griffin Takeaway

Like most Greek food, cheesecake is rich, decadent, and hard as hell to make. Luckily for a layperson like myself who is not skilled at baking, Calories has some of the best desserts in the city, especially cheesecake. Each tasty treat is beautifully crafted in-house by pastry chef Erin Hanson. On creativity alone, Calories has my vote in this category too. Two of the popular desserts I got to sample were the Toffee cake and Glazed Fruit Cheesecake. They were so good I wanted the whole cake after just one bite. So whether you’re sharing with your loved one, or having a late night snack as you catch up on the latest Game of Thrones episode, Calories is the perfect choice./Savannah Hagin

Best Smoothie

Booster Juice
Multiple locations

Silver Thrive Juice Co. Bronze Leyda’s Cafe Runners-up The Brasserie, Cora

When someone refers to a liquid lunch, they likely aren’t talking about a day’s worth of fruit or vegetables condensed into one delicious package. Then again, that perfectly describes a Booster Juice smoothie, so maybe some of us are just doing it all wrong. Jammed full of berries, mangos, bananas, carrots, kale and more, these beverages are a tasty alternative to actually eating fruit and veggies. They’re also a good way to consume acai berry, wheatgrass, herbal supplements and other healthy things that you likely won’t find at the bottom of a dirty martini. /Chris Morin


Best Basic Pizza

Swan Pizza
3401 8th St. E. 306-974-0467

Silver Panago Pizza Bronze TJ’s Pizza Runners-up Santa Lucia Pizza, Pizza Pirates

A variety of sauces? Sure. A golden crust cooked to perfection? You betcha. Mounds of chewy mozza? Absolutely. Swan’s proves that when it comes to pizza, it’s the attention to detail that matters. In an era where artisanal pies are all the rage, sometimes a basic pizza still rules the roost. And if you are looking for something a little extra, Swan’s definitely has you covered with an assortment of toppings such as butter chicken and Cajun shrimp. Vegetarians have plenty to celebrate at Swan’s too — try the spicy paneer, or the creamy avocado for an otherworldly taste sensation. /Chris Morin

Best Artisan Pizza

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

Silver Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Bronze Christie’s Il Secondo Runners-up The Night Oven Bakery, Capanna Pizzeria

I have a theory that wine goes well with pizza because you can fit more alcohol per volume in your belly than with calorie-heavy beer. I’m sophisticated that way. Perhaps its UNA’s attention to their wine list that sets them apart from the rest of the impressive artisan pizza field in Saskatoon. Their house wine does the trick, but you could really get lost in the wine list, which includes many options from small, boutique producers. UNA’s beer options, featuring plenty of locals, are nothing to scoff at either. Now let’s talk about the pizza. I once heard someone describe artisan pizza as “sparse.” Compared to the standard Saskatoon pie that might be true. But artisan has its own charm. The crust is thin, and the cheese doesn’t form a thick blanket, so the flavourful veggies and meats can be the main event. If you want the ultimate California pizza experience, add the egg. UNA’s Broadway location sets itself apart from its Calgary namesake by sourcing locally and sustainably whenever possible, serving items such as saskatoon berry iced tea and Pine View Farms meats. /Lisa Johnson

Best National Chain Pizza

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

Silver Pizza Hut Bronze Boston Pizza Runners-up Domino’s, Pizza 73

Some Planet S voters might avoid chains due to a desire to support local. Others may realize that after 30 years in the business, Panago Pizza is as Canadian as back bacon. All 30-plus types of pizza are made fresh with quality ingredients. Panago is also a certified Ocean Wise member. For them it’s all about variety and choice. They serve five different crusts (including gluten-free), 12 unique sauces, and five kinds of cheese (including dairy-free Daiya Cheeze). And people can create their own salads too. Recently, Panago has focused on ethnic inspired pizza with delicious results. My personal favourites are Beef Taco (yes, there’s lettuce on the pizza) and Butter Chicken. And Panago is one of the most affordable pizza options out there. Almost all of their 14-inch pizzas are under $20 bucks! /Mike Shiplack

Best Pizza Delivery

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

Silver TJ’s Pizza  Bronze Family Pizza Runners-up Swan Pizza, Pizza Pirates

Not only did Panago win Best Chain Pizza, their delivery drivers get to hoist the checkered flag in this category too. That’s because it’s really easy to order. Just choose your location, east or west, and either call your order in or use their incredibly innovative online form. Panago was also the first pizza company in Canada to issue debit-at-the-door terminals for all their drivers. As mentioned in the Chain blurb, Panago has a pizza for every type of diet restriction and personal taste. Their salads are just as easy to personalize. And the online option makes it easy to get as specific as possible. You can even create an account to make the order go quicker. Before you know it, Panago’s driver will be at your door. /Mike Shiplack


Best Basic Breakfast

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

Bronze Cora Runners-up Kelly’s Kafe, Louis’ Loft

My “everyday” breakfast is about as basic as it gets. Bowl of cereal (Cheerios & Raisin Bran, with most of the raisins picked out and saved for later) and a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter (Kraft Smooth). Then I’m out the door (and across the street) to make coffee at the office and start my work day. If I was to go the more conventional “basic” breakfast route, though, I’d look for solid delivery of staples such as bacon/sausage/ham, eggs (scrambled, fried, poached and otherwise), a bottomless cup of serviceable joe, and toast with butter, peanut butter, jelly and jam spread options. And in the minds of our voters, Park Café serves up Saskatoon’s best basic breakfast. /Gregory Beatty


Best Fancy Breakfast

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

Silver The Hollows Bronze Prairie Harvest Cafe Runners-up Truffles Bistro, Nosh Eatery & Tap

Poached does brunch so fancy that even after a night of partying, their dishes will make you look good by proxy. Their Classic Eggs Beni with cornmeal crusted back bacon and gruyere cheese is divine, but my infatuation is the Crab Cake and Shrimp Risotto Beni. Two eggies rested on homemade shrimp, pollock crab and white wine crab cakes, with just a hint of dill and Dijon is enough to make any morning better. Added bonus: every cup of boiled bean juice is made from scratch. Coffee not your thing? That’s weird, but try the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate. Made with Almond milk and frothy peanut butter, this twist on a classic is amazingly good, especially with a shot of Chambord to make it a Peanut Butter and Jelly Hot Chocolate. In short, Poached does breakfast the way it should be: simple and elegant./Savannah Hagin


Best Breakfast Buffet

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

Silver The Garden Court Cafe (Delta Bessborough) Bronze Il Salici Ristorante (The Willows Golf & Country Club) Runners-up Four Seasons Restaurant & Lounge (Park Town Hotel), Smiley’s Buffet & Catering

Elsewhere in this feature I wax poetic about your pick for top All You Can Eat Restaurant. Buffets are kissing cousins of all you can eat restaurants, I think it’s fair to say, although they generally operate in a more restricted area related to time of day — breakfast and lunch being the two most common buffets. People are on the move then, and are looking to get what they need in a no muss, no fuss fashion before they get on with their busy days. At the Saskatoon Inn and Convention Centre, that day often includes an important conference or some other type of professional gathering. And for our voters, Garden Café delivers the goods hands down. So congrats to them. /Gregory Beatty

Best Brunch

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

Silver The Hollows Bronze Prairie Harvest Cafe Runners-up Nosh Eatery & Tap, Truffles Bistro

Since July 2010, late-night revelers have woken-up blurry eyed and wandered the painfully sunny streets of Saskatoon in search of sustenance. For many, the road to recovery begins with Poached Breakfast Bistro. This little breakfast joint fills up fast on weekends, but their creamy eggs Benedict are always worth the wait. If you do fall in love with something on the plate, savour it as Poached freshens up their menu often. Hair of the dog relief is even available via a fully stocked bar (at night the venue switches to Flint Bistro Saloon). So double up that coffee with a mimosa, or their famous Balsamic Bloody Mary. Poached Breakfast Bistro is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., so you can get your eggs Benedict fix during the week too. /Mike Shiplack

Best Eggs

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

Silver Park Cafe Bronze The Hollows Runners-up Prairie Harvest Café, Nosh Eatery & Tap

Don’t let the name fool you. Not that there’s anything wrong with poached eggs understand. But there are plenty of other ways you can enjoy eggs: fried, scrambled, soft/hard boiled, baked, devilled, and as ingredients in dishes such as omelettes and eggs Benedict. No, there’s much more to this whole egg business than just tossing one in a pot of boiling water and malt vinegar and serving it up on toast with salt, pepper and preferred condiments. And in all things egg, your choice for gold in Saskatoon, as it was in 2015, is Poached Breakfast Bistro. /Gregory Beatty

Best Hash Browns

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

Silver Broadway Cafe Bronze Poached Breakfast Bistro Runners-up The Hollows, Prairie Harvest Cafe

Did you know that hash browns can save your life? Not literally, but who hasn’t been saved from a scotch-sweat hangover by a plateful of golden starchy nuggets? And not just any potato will do. At the Park Café, the hash browns are the main attraction of breakfast. Laden with tiny flecks of red peppers, green onions and a smattering of sodium, these deep-fried cubes of delicious help you continue on with your day. Heck, you might even be able to be productive with a plateful of these tiny wonders in your belly — back to bed after brunch counts as productive, right? /Chris Morin


Best Coffee Shop

Collective Coffee
220 20th St. W.

Silver City Perks Coffeehouse Bronze Broadway Roastery Runners-up Citizen Cafe & Bakery, Museo Coffee

A picture, it’s been said, is worth a thousand words. Assuming that’s true, a video with actual movement and sound must be worth a gazillion words. That thought occurred to me when I visited the website for your pick for Best Coffee Shop and watched a two minute video showing staff preparing lattes and other specialty coffees, making scrumptious sandwiches and laying out trays of yummy baked goods. Yes, coffee culture has come a long way since the days of the greasy spoon or the slightly more upscale Woolworth/Kresge lunch counter. And with shops like Collective Coffee and the other finalists in this category blazing new trails in the serving of what, following its discovery in Ethiopia in the 11th century, was called “the magical fruit”, the future is definitely in good hands. /Gregory Beatty


Best Coffee Shop to Read a Book in

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

Silver Broadway Roastery Bronze Collective Coffee Runners-up Underground Café, Museo Coffee

City Perks oozes European charm, especially since its recent renovation. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy a cup of coffee, a nice dessert, or a light lunch of soup and sandwich-type fare. And while you’re there, you’ll no doubt spot a person or two engrossed in a book, or working on their laptop. Heck, I wrote a good chunk of a book there a few years ago (I used to live a couple of doors down). I was spoiled, living so close to an oasis of goodness. And, of course, in the summer Perks has a beautiful deck in the heart of character neighbourhood City Park. It’s another perfect space to stake out a spot, sip your coffee, and send your mind into the realms of whatever adventure lies between the pages of the novel in your hand. /Craig Silliphant


Best Plain Old Cup of Coffee

Multiple locations mcdonalds.caSilver Collective Coffee

Bronze City Perks Coffeehouse Runners-up Museo Coffee, Citizen Cafe & Bakery

A good cup of coffee should have all the qualities of a best friend for life: tough, bitter, sweet, endless and willing to listen to all your problems. Those of us who count coffee as our closest compadre know that a good friend is tough to find, which is why we are typically loyal to the end. Once you find your perfect cup you never want to let go. That’s why Planet S voters chose McDonald’s as the best place to nab a plain old coffee — it’s an easy place to quaff caffeine while cold-chilling with your pals. /Chris Morin

Best Latte

Collective Coffee
220 20th St. W.

Silver City Perks Coffehouse Bronze Broadway Roastery Runners-up Museo Coffee, Louis’ Loft

I don’t drink lattes. But my sister does, and during many visits with her in locales as diverse as Regina, Quebec City, Victoria and Vancouver we’ve gone for coffee. If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize from the time we’ve spent together it’s that not all lattes are created equal. There was one barista at an outdoor café in Victoria who my sister was absolutely enthrall of for his ability to concoct the perfect latte. There is an art to it, undeniably. And I’m not just talking about the fancy designs baristas “whip up” with foam. That’s icing on the cake, but for true coffee lovers it’s the quality of the pour that takes precedence. And for our voters, Collective Coffee offers the best latte in town. /Gregory Beatty

Best Local Coffee Roasters

Broadway Roastery
614C Broadway Ave. 306-652-5558

Silver Museo Coffee and Collective Coffee (tie) Runners-up Road Coffee Co., Pilgrim

For 22 years, Aileen Barilla, owner and manager of Broadway Roastery, has roasted beans for her customers. “We have a few different kinds of flavour beans, seven types of decaf, a dozen medium roasts and about 15 dark roasts to choose from,” she says. “We also have our signature Prairie Blend, and our own Espresso blend as well. We also sell green beans, which are becoming more popular as more people are roasting their beans at home.” Fun coffee fact: the longer coffee beans are roasted the less caffeine they have. It’s also best to buy your beans whole and grind them at home to keep the coffee fresh. But Broadway will grind beans on request. /Mike Shiplack


Best After-Work Drinking

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

Silver Congress Beer House Bronze Flint Saloon Runners-up Amigos Cantina, Capitol Music Club

You bound out of work, loosen your tie, change your uniform, or whatever you have to do to wash away that last bit of drudgery from another day in the dream factory. But nothing washes away the day like a nice, stiff drink. And while every nominee in this category is a stand up watering hole I’ve been proud to tip a few back in, The Yard & Flagon gets Saskatoon’s vote for gold. There’s a palatable din after work at The Yard, the sound of people laughing, commiserating about their lousy boss, or just chatting about the world, while music plays in the background, and your sense of well-being increases with each tip of the glass and each moment spent away from work. Is it 5 p.m. yet?  /Craig Silliphant

Best Happy Hour

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

Silver Yard & Flagon Bronze Congress Beer House Runners-up Flint Saloon, Capitol Music Club

The first thing people think about when it comes to happy hour is price. The break you get on booze for a couple hours is a much appreciated benefit obviously, whether you’re looking to relax a bit after a hard day at work, or lay some solid early groundwork for a late-night “corker”. But price is only one part of the happy hour equation. You also need quality booze, a decent menu for anyone who’s feeling peckish, and a fun and friendly atmosphere. And while I’m sure all five finalists in this category give good happy hour, voters picked O’Shea’s as their favourite. /Gregory Beatty

Best Place for a Wicked Bender

Amigos Cantina
632 10th St. E. 306-652-4912

Silver O’Shea’s Irish Pub Bronze Congress Beer House Runners-up Capitol Music Club, Somewhere Else Pub & Grill

You just got dumped. You didn’t see it coming, but you deserved it. You don’t see a lot of things, apparently. Like the landlord slipping an eviction notice under your apartment door an hour later. Also, your cat doesn’t love you, which explains the poop in your bed. Yup. You need a drink. But while there are plenty of pubs to pull up a stool for a good wallow, Amigos is one place for a bender that will actually leave you feeling better about life. Attentive staff, a variety of drinks, good music and plenty of places to park your sad butt, Amigos is one of the best places in Saskatoon to pick up the pieces when everything falls apart and there’s dookie on your duvet. /Chris Morin

Best Beer Menu

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

Silver Congress Beer House Bronze The Woods Alehouse Runners-up Prairie Sun Brewery, Capitol Music Club

The key to a good beer menu is variety. And Winston’s English Pub & Grill has that in spades. Their tap list features 72 different beers! It includes the standard domestics like Alexander Keiths, classic imports like Newcastle, local craft beer from Nokomis and Prairie Sun, and those hard to find pints from American breweries like Stone Brewing Company in California. Winston’s offers the whole beer spectrum of stouts, ales, lagers and fruit beers. And each weekday they have a beer-themed special starting with IPA Mondays, East Coast Tuesdays, Craft Beer Wednesdays, U.K. Thursdays, and Winston’s Famous Craft and Import Fridays. /Mike Shiplack

Best Microbrewey

9 Mile Legacy Brewing Co.
Ave. B & 19th St. E. 306-373-2337

Silver Prairie Sun Brewery Bronze Paddock Wood Brewing Co. Runners-up Saskatoon Brewery

When Paddock Wood began bottling and selling their beer in 2004, it was in uncharted waters. There were no provincial regulations governing microbreweries. Today, refillable growlers are so in demand the regulations have grown to support them (we can dare to dream about taps at the liquor store!), and most locally-focused restaurants worth their hops have at least one craft brew on tap. These days, the king of the keg line is 9 Mile. They’re always offering up new beers and aren’t afraid to experiment with unique flavours. Take their recent collaboration with The Odd Couple: a Golden Ale with lemongrass, ginger, and Szechuan pepper. Their attention to detail even extends to putting a puff of CO2 in your growler before a fill to help preserve the beer a little longer. Personal adult goal: make my growler last long enough for such careful consideration to be worth my server’s time (and CO2). /Lisa Johnson

Best Local Beer Brand

Original 16
Great Western Brewing Co. 519 2nd Ave. N.  306-653-4653

Silver Ella Pale Ale (9 Mile Legacy Brewing Co.)  Bronze 606 IPA (Paddock Wood Brewing Co.) Runners-up Crazy Farm Ale (Prairie Sun Brewery), India Pale Ale (Saskatoon Brewing House)

Shop-local-build-the-economy types rejoice! O16 has become ubiquitous on taps and in fridges throughout the province, carving out a healthy slice of the beer market for Great Western against heavyweight competition. That’s right, O16 is made by real Saskahumans — because we know beer, and enterprising brewmasters have been putting that to work for us. With breweries like Prairie Sun, Paddock Wood and Rebellion joining the higher-bar society of Sask. brewing and pack-leader Great Western, things are looking up when it comes to drinking local. As for O16, the appeal is unfailing. You have to be in the right mood for something like a Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin Oatmeal Stout. But you’re never not in the mood for the drinkable, crisp O16 IPA (which also comes in a copper and a wheat). /McDuck

Best Wine List

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

Silver Ayden Kitchen & Bar Bronze Calories Bakery & Restaurant Runners-up The Brasserie, Little Grouse On The Prairie

You can go anywhere for a glass of wine, but for true cono surs of fermented mushed grapes, UNA is the place. Its two-page wine list has vino from all over the globe: Italy, France, Spain, North and South America, and more. I drink a fair amount of wine and like to think I’m pretty savvy, but even this list had me stumped. Luckily, the wait staff (Conrad especially) guided me through it and I found quite a few I was fond of. I took my friend Jono along to be my guinea pig to sample the reds while I gorged on the whites. “La Chamiza”, a chardonnay from Argentina, was my favourite with its notes of buttery vanilla and oak, and aged in a stainless steel cask. “The Show” cabernet sauvignon from California was the first red we tried. It was divine, but the winner was Castillo de Monseran “Garnacha” from Spain with hints of leather, dark fruit and cinnamon. Jono said “as soon as I drink it goes, Whoo!”, so I think that speaks for itself. Aside from excellent wine, UNA also plays Harry Potter audio books in the bathroom, which is a sheer delight, and has some of the best pizza in Saskatoon. In short, UNA is a must for anyone wanting to hone their wine knowledge, or just enjoy a nice glass of adult grape juice. /Savannah Hagin

Best Cocktails

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

Silver Flint Saloon Bronze Duck Duck Goose Runners-up Drift Sidewalk Cafe & Vista Lounge, Bon Temps Cafe

I confess I’ve never met your pick for Best Bartender Chad Coombs, but if he’s half as good as the bartenders who patiently answered my every annoying question the other night at Ayden, (What is Cognac, really? How did you make that taste like scotch?), then I can only assume the man is a wizard. The Refashioned has been my go-to cocktail at Ayden in the past, but now it’s the Fold and Fly, Ayden’s new take on the Paper Airplane, that has my heart. They’ve got the classics, from the Aviation to the Bourbon Sour (generally $12) along with their own creations, from the menu or on-the-spot, depending on your feelings (literally, “name a feeling and your favourite base” counts as an order). Resident mixologist Christopher Cho gets credit for the team effort that is the latest cocktail list (updated every month or two) that is nothing short of dreamy. If I didn’t have to hold myself up on a stool, I would’ve swooned. /Lisa Johnson

Best Pub Food

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

Silver The Rook & Raven Bronze Congress Beer House Runners-up Amigos Cantina, O’Shea’s Irish Pub

“Pub grub” is an oft-used euphemism for the fare in this category. And in many instances, it’s probably an apt description. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you. A greasy burger and fries or whatever every once in awhile never hurt anyone, right? Booze quality and variety used to be the measure that separated the “men from the boys” in the pub world, but increasingly pubs are looking to distinguish themselves on the strength of their menus. And as far as our voters are concerned, the Yard & Flagon serves Saskatoon’s best pub food. /Gregory Beatty

Best Nachos

Amigos Cantina
632 10th St. E. 306-652-4912

Silver O’Shea’s Irish Pub Bronze Yard & Flagon Runners-up Capitol Music Club, Scarlet

Nachos are a pub staple, and it’s pretty tough to find a gin joint that doesn’t carry them. Amigos took the idea of nachos and decided to add EVERYTHING humanly edible to create three options: Nachos, Nachos Grande, and Nachos Supremo Grande. The first of this Holy Trinity is pretty classic topped with tomatoes, green onions, olives and shredded cheese. The second starts to get a little intense with the addition of shredded chicken, ground beef or (Oh Lordy!) crab meat. The final option, Nachos Supremo Grande, sounds like the belt-holder’s name in the Mexican version of wrestling Lucha Libre. This behemoth of chips is not only loaded with all the veggies and assorted meats, they also throw some pickled jalapenos, black beans, peppers, and even more cheese. Each plate is pretty affordable too so you’re not spending an arm and a leg for add-ons like salsa or Guacamole (Chipotle, I’m lookin’ at you.) I’d highly recommend these to any tummy whether you’re there for Karaoke night, a band, or just to sate a serious nacho craving. /Savannah Hagin

Best Wings

Wing World
706B Central Ave. 306-652-9464 3322A Fairlight Dr. 306-653-9464

Silver Somewhere Else Pub & Gril Bronze Ayden Kitchen & Bar Runners-up The Hose & Hydrant Brew Pub, Congress Beer House

Wing World started in Saskatoon in 2003, and according to their website plans are in the works for the franchise to “take flight” across Canada and into the United States. Okay, I know chickens are part of that select avian fraternity along with ostriches, emus, kiwis and turkeys that can’t fly. But they do have wings — which “normal” birds use to fly, so the metaphor isn’t that much of a stretch. And whenever our voters have a hankering to chow down on admittedly useless (but undeniably delicious) chicken appendages, Wing World is their first choice — especially on Wednesdays when there’s a buy one order get a second half-price special. /Gregory Beatty


Best Bakery

The Night Oven Bakery 
29 1st Ave N. 306-500-2350

Silver Christie’s Mayfair Bakery Bronze Little Bird Patisserie Runners-up Earth Bound Bakery & Delicatessen, The Griffin Takeaway

If you visit the Night Oven Bakery’s website you’ll find pretty much all you need to know about your choice for Best Bakery via a five-minute video where owner Bryn Rawlyk recalls his long-standing love of baking, his journey with his wife to a Slow Food conference in Italy where his dream of opening a bakery began to take shape, and the time and energy he put in to build his wood-fired brick oven and develop a network of local suppliers to ensure the bread, buns, pastries and other goods he sells are fresh and tasty. Bryn and his staff are two-for-two in this category since opening in 2014, so they obviously know what they’re doing. /Gregory Beatty

Best Butcher

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

Silver Prairie Meats Bronze Boryski’s Butcher Block Runners-up Summit Meats & Sausage Ltd., Maggie’s Sausage House & Deli

Where’s the best butcher in Saskatoon? Check the back of the Bulk Cheese Warehouse. “Scott, my dad, set this all up years ago,” says Des Bartlett, butcher shop manager. “We had a small butcher shop, and then we brought in a master Swiss butcher named Bruno… and 15 years later he’s still part of the business.” Bulk Cheese Warehouse’s claim to butcher shop fame is their cold smoked steaks, pork chops and free-range chickens. The meat isn’t cooked but smoked for flavour, and then finished on the grill at home. They also make their own jerky, and offer a full line of grocery items (pasta, salads and dry goods) made right here. “This place is not like your typical grocery store. We are very hands-on, and personally help out every one of our customers from behind the counter,” says Bartlett. /Mike Shiplack

Best Deli

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

Silver Riversdale Delicatessen & Market Bronze Prairie Meats Runners-up Ingredients Artisan Market, Maggie’s Sausage House & Deli

Unfortunately, it appears that silver winner Riversdale Deli has mysteriously closed their doors, which is too bad for lovers of fine meats and cheese. One of these years, they might have given Bulk Cheese Warehouse a run for their money. But with new up-and-comers, and even large grocery chains nipping at their heels for that charcuterie or steak dollar, BCW remains as great a Saskatoon foodie icon as ever. It’s the perfect place to stop and grab something for dinner, including pasta and fresh salads, or when you’re planning a fancy meal that involves specialty meats or hard-to-find cheeses. Now that summer is upon us, I think it’s time to visit BCW for a few of those cold smoked steaks for the BBQ.  /Craig Silliphant

Best Asian Grocery

Super Fresh Asian Market
516 Clarence Ave. S. 306-952-3377

Silver Eastern Market Bronze Real Canadian Superstore Runners-up Chung Wah Chinese Grocery Store, An An Market

Saskatchewan’s recent surge in immigration from far-flung corners of the world hasn’t just energized the restaurant scene, it’s also broadened the scope of food available in local markets and grocery stores. The very presence of this category in Best of Food & Drink is proof of that. Not only can you get canned and packaged staples and delicacies at Super Fresh Asian Market, there’s also fresh produce and an in-store bakery, butcher and Chinese pharmacy. There’s bilingual signage too, so even if your knowledge (and appreciation) of Chinese/Asian cuisine far outstrips your knowledge of the language you can still find your way around. So congrats to Super Fresh Asian Market on their gold win. /Gregory Beatty

Best Health Food

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

Silver Steep Hill Food Co-op Bronze Saskatoon Herbs ’N’ Health Runners-up Sangster’s, Hygeia Health Market

When it comes to healthy eating, Dad’s Organic Market ticks all the expected boxes with organically grown/produced fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other groceries, along with organic ingredients you can use in your own cooking adventures. But Dad’s also has a well-stocked supplement section with a registered nutritional consultant on staff, an in-house bakery that makes artisan breads and other tasty treats from scratch, and organically-certified personal care items and cleaning products. So it’s pretty much one-stop shopping for anyone who feels passionate about healthy eating and living. If you’re crunched for time, Dad’s even has Shop 4 You service where they fill your order and have it ready for pick-up/delivery. /Gregory Beatty

Best Supermarket

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

Silver Real Canadian Superstore (8th St. E.) Bronze Saskatoon Co-op (8th St. E.) Runners-up Safeway (33rd St. W.), Golding’s Your Independent Grocer

When it comes time to pick up supper, why do so many Planet S voters turn to the Sobeys in Stonebridge? Probably because it offers more than just your average selection of fruits, veggies, meats and other staples that most grocery stores have. One of Saskatoon’s newest supermarkets, this particular Sobeys offers a number of tantalizing pre-cooked meals that you can take home or eat in — heck, this place pretty much doubles as a restaurant. As an added bonus, once you’re done shopping for things to eat, the Sobeys liquor store is just a short jog across the parking lot. /Chris Morin

Best Farmers Market Food Vendor

Those Girls At The Market
414 Ave. B S. 306-850-5671

Silver Floating Gardens Bronze Prairie Sun Orchard Runners-up Benlock Farms, G&R Gardens/Gail’s Greenhouse

Probably the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of a farmers’ market is chocolate. Okay, that’s not true — although you wouldn’t know it by our voters’ choice for Saskatoon’s Best FMFV. “Those Girls” are sisters Ying and Julianna, and they specialize in raw chocolate in all its yummy, and healthy, goodness. That’s right, I said healthy. If you visit their website, you’ll learn that using unroasted cocoa beans to make raw chocolate preserves antioxidants and other natural nutrients and minerals so you can treat both your taste buds and your body when you eat one of their hand-crafted bars or novelties. /Gregory Beatty

Best Food Truck

Ace Burger

Silver Scout Mex Hall Bronze Disco Dogs Runners-up SoomSoom, Rebel Melt

A-C-E. Rarely do three letters pack so much punch. It helps when they’re over six feet tall and plastered on the side of a food truck. Ace Burger knows how to do healthy right, and our voters couldn’t agree more, awarding them gold as Best Food Truck. Everything Ace serves comes with a healthy dose of cheese, a healthy dose of meat, and a healthy dose of vegetables — all crammed into a golden toasty bun. And their duck gravy poutine comes with a healthy side of guacamole or fried egg — I dare you to ask for both. To find out where they are, track them down on social media. Oh! And don’t forget to save room for a healthy order of dessert. /Mike Shiplack

Best Catering

Jake’s on 21st
312 Ave. B. S. 306-373-8383

Silver PickNic’s Catering Bronze D’reen’s Catering Runners-up SoomSoom, Fresh Dish Catering

Sandwiches, paninis, wraps and pita pizzas are some of the standout items on Jake’s menu. They’re available in-shop as well, while the catering menu includes an expanded range of offerings such as fresh fruit, veggie and breakfast platters, spaghetti & meat sauce, perogies & smokies, and various desserts. Delivery and pick-up orders can be placed through SkipTheDishes, while larger-scale catering jobs are arranged by phone. To help the crew at Jake’s get everything ready, you’re requested to put your order in 24 hours in advance. If you’re familiar with Jake’s, or maybe contemplating calling them up after their big win, can we ask a favour? Be sure to order the Gormley Panini next time, okay. It’s got turkey in it, naturally, and as media colleagues of the noted talk show host, we’re dying to know what it tastes like. /Gregory Beatty


Best Barista

Ya Li “Bear” Won
Louis’ Loft/Citizen Cafe & Bakery 93 Campus Dr. 306-966-6901

Silver Daryl Grunau (City Perks Coffehouse) Bronze Chad Lawrence (Museo Coffee) Runners-up Jordan Ethridge (Collective Coffee ), Casey Loseth (Collective Coffee)

Each year, the World Barista Championship is held at some exotic locale. In 2015, it was Seattle, the corporate home of some global coffee conglomerate whose name escapes me. This year, the WBCs are in Dublin from June 22-25. It’s probably too late for your pick for Best Barista to give Dublin a “shot”. But if Bear wants to bone up on the rules and regulations in preparation for the 2017 competition (which is being held in Seoul) she should visit where she’ll find a 24-page document outlining all the rules and regs for baristas first to qualify for the WBCs, then prepare their espresso/cappuccino/signature beverage for judges to taste, and finally, clean up their work stations. /Gregory Beatty

Best Bartender

Chad Coombs
Ayden Kitchen & Bar/Congress Beer House 265 3rd Ave. 306-954-2590

Silver Christopher Cho (Ayden Kitchen & Bar) Bronze Margie Ramsay (Yard & Flagon) Runners-up Kimbal MacMillan (Louis’), Alex Goudreau (Bon Temps)

I recently had the pleasure of writing an article for a Canadian food website about classic cocktails you could make at home. I bellied up to the bar at Ayden where Chad Coombs kept crafting me cocktails as we chatted about booze. I tried to keep my stick on the ice, as they say, but was admittedly a bit hungover at work the next day. Being a good bartender can mean a lot of things, including just being someone who is really nice to you while they pour the suds. But since I’m really into classic cocktail culture, what I like about guys like Coombs (and silver winner Chris Cho) is that they’re as obsessed with the construction and history of a good cocktail as I am. Each cocktail tells a story, both in terms of where it came from and what it tastes like. Coombs revels in these stories, and the ideal of bartending as a liquid art form. /Craig Silliphant

Best Server: Fine Dining

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

Silver Jill Turton (Ayden Kitchen & Bar) Bronze Jenine Urquhart (Scarlet) Runners-up Aaron Lysitza (Carver’s Steakhouse), Reid Schaworski (The Keg Steakhouse & Bar)

I’ve never tried my hand at songwriting before, but if you’ll indulge me now I’m going to give it a shot to shake up the format of this feature a bit. So here it goes: “Nobody does fine-dining service better//Makes me feel sad for the rest//Nobody does it half as good as you//Anna, you’re the best!” Hey… that’s not bad! Of course, that’s only the first verse. I’ve still got plenty of writing ahead of me before I’ve got a full song. Fortunately, with your pick for Best Server: Fine Dining and the other finalists in this category, I’ve got plenty of inspiration. /Gregory Beatty

Best Server: Casual Dining

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

Silver Dylan Lambi-Raine (Drift Sidewalk Cafe & Vista Lounge) Bronze Kendra Klassen (Congress Beer House) Runners-up Erin Mooney (Amigos Cantina), Bronwyn Lee (Bon Temps Cafe)

Despite our best intentions when creating categories for this contest and setting rules for how the nomination round and final voting are carried out, we inevitably experience the odd glitch. This is one of those times. If you notice, the category title is singular not plural. Yet Planet S voters went ahead and chose two people as winners. Who they thought they were fooling, I don’t know. Just because the Tivys, as twins, bear a strong resemblance to each other doesn’t mean they’re a single person and therefore eligible to win this title. If they were Siamese twins that would be different. But since the Tivys, to the best of our knowledge, aren’t conjoined in any way we have no choice but to disqualify them despite the excellent service they obviously provide to their Park Café customers. We don’t take any delight in doing this, but if we don’t stand up for electoral integrity, who will? Certainly not Planet S voters who… okay, I’m joshing. The Tivy Twins topped the polls so the gold is theirs. /Gregory Beatty

Best Server: Family Dining

Erin Mooney
Amigos Cantina 632 10th St. E. 306-652-4912

Silver Dana Tivy (Park Cafe) Bronze Brendan Shingoose (Montana’s BBQ & Bar on 8th St.) Runners-up Jackie Coad (Living Sky Cafe), Ryan Card (Boston Pizza on Blairmore)

Erin Mooney knows the importance of family when it comes to dining. She’s served and bartended at Amigos for five years, and her attentiveness and easy-going attitude have not gone unnoticed by “the regulars” and those hopping in for a quick bite to eat. Adept at reading her customers, Mooney’s approach is one of listening, especially when there are little ones at the table. “One time I had a family whose kids weren’t allowed to have pop. So I brought them all water, even though one little boy really wanted ice tea. So when I came back to take their order he deliberately looked me in the eye and pushed the water off the table,” Mooney recalls with a laugh. No harm done though, she says. Scooping up the occasional wayward glass is all part of a job well done. /Chris Morin

Best Server: Pub/Lounge

Dylan Lambi-Raine
Drift Sidewalk Cafe & Vista Lounge 339 Ave. A S. 306-653-2256

Silver Payten Jackson (Flint Saloon) Bronze Erica Wilson (Yard & Flagon) Runners-up Bronwyn Lee (Bon Temps Cafe), Fausta Clarke (Yard & Flagon)

What makes an excellent pub or lounge server, anyway? One has to have a near perfect short-term memory, pep, speediness (not to be confused with pep), and a smile that genuinely says: “procuring your beverage of choice would please me as much as it will please you.” Saskatoon survey results say Dylan Lambi-Raine is all that. According to Drift Sidewalk Cafe & Vista Lounge co-founder Amy Holowach, the reason people love Dylan so much might be because she’s so passionate. “She really loves this place, she’s got a crazy, unique style, and she is super charming,” says Holowach. And don’t forget the key to winning the hearts and tips of your customers: cool, calm “mellowness” in the face of wicked pressure. Alas, Saskatoon will lose Dylan (at least temporarily) as she takes her talents to Toronto for the summer. /Lisa Johnson

Best Chef

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

Silver Christie Peters (The Hollows) Bronze Nathan Guggenheimer (Ayden Kitchen & Bar) Runners-up Michael McKeown (Prairie Harvest Cafe), Justin O’Reilly (Nosh Eatery & Tap)

Being a great chef takes leadership and discipline, says Dale McKay. “A good chef is someone who is extremely passionate and loves it. We work really long hours, and it’s a grind.” The great thing about Ayden Kitchen & Bar is that MacKay shares his responsibilities with co-chef and butcher, Nathan Guggenheimer. Their differing styles bring more worldly flavours to the plate. MacKay loves interesting combinations of food that are light and refreshing. He often doesn’t use lots of butter or heavy cream. For him, it’s all about taking the food people love and making it taste better, and doing it in a way that supports other local businesses. “I also have a talented and creative team that tries to deliver a unique experience, and we do that with quality food and hospitality — not everyone is able to obtain that,” says MacKay. /Mike Shiplack


Best Downtown Restaurant

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

Silver The Rook & Raven Bronze Congress Beer House Runners-up Bon Temps Café, Taverna Italian Restaurant

Downtown Saskatoon is home to a variety of restaurants ranging from your average pub to casual and fine dining. But the finest of dining establishments has got to be Ayden Kitchen and Bar. Ayden brings a big city feel to the prairies with its classy yet rugged décor. It’s refined, but not so overbearing that you feel you can’t come in without being dressed up. Ayden’s location is attractive for tourists staying in ritzy hotels like the Bessborough, Sheraton, The Senator and The James Hotel. It’s also close to the movie theatre so you can drop in for a T&G and some scallops after watching the latest Marvel flick. So whether you’re out with friends, on a date with a cutie patootie, doing a business lunch/dinner, or are just a brooding writer like myself, Ayden is perfect for any downtown adventure. /Savannah Hagin

Best East Side Restaurant

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

Silver La Bamba Bronze Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery Runners-up Alexander’s Restaurant & Bar, Milestones

Sometimes the search for a good eatery leads you off the beaten path. But with Prairie Harvest Café, the trek is worth the effort. Tucked in an unassuming strip mall in Saskatoon’s Brevoort Park neighbourhood, this rustic restaurant is a destination worth seeking out. The décor, filled with locally-sourced art, is a delight, but the food knocks it out of the park. Even better, Prairie Harvest features a beautiful outdoor patio that’s perfect for sunny brunches and weekend elixirs — a rare hidden gem in an area where fine dining options are limited. /Chris Morin

Best West Side Restaurant

Konga Café 
204 Ave. H N. 306-244-7867

Silver EE Burritos Bronze Rock Creek Tap & Grill Runners-up Granada House, White Lotus

First off, for this category to remind us that EE Burritos no longer calls the west side home…that’s just cruel. Thank the gods for all the community joints, small family-run pubs, cafés, pizza shops and pit stops that serve the hungry on the west side of the river with passion and skill. Especially our winners, Konga Café, a laid back gem tucked into a modest strip mall halfway up Caswell Hill. It’s a beloved west side dinner spot, and it absolutely kills Jamaican jerk chicken. Lick your plate with pride, west side. /Lisa Johnson

Best North End Restaurant

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

Silver Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack Bronze Summer Roll Runners-up Jasmine Restaurant, The Manhattan Gastropub & Restaurant

The things you learn writing Best of Food and Drink blurbs. Did you know, for instance, that a set of rules have actually been proposed to define Neapolitan pizza. They were drafted by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana and cover the composition of the pizza dough to produce the perfect crust and what type of toppings are allowed. There are apparently three official Neapolitan variants: pizza marinara, pizza Margherita and pizza Margherita extra. Famosa takes the tradition of serving authentic and delicious Neapolitan pizza seriously, and for Planet S voters the Lawson Heights location is their pick for top north end restaurant. Viva Naples, and Viva Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria! /Gregory Beatty

Best Riversdale Restaurant

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

Silver The Hollows Bronze Drift Sidewalk Cafe & Vista Lounge Runners-up Park Café, The Grazing Goat

There are as many excellent restaurants on the east end of 20th St. in Riversdale as there are lame headlines to describe them. Riversdale is “serving up success” and Saskatoon is just “eating it up”? Ugh. That said, our winner in this wickedly competitive category, The Odd Couple, is a popular, packed restaurant for a reason. The servers are second-to-none. The menu features unique and modern takes on Chinese dishes that all need to be passed around. Small bites like spring rolls and golden squid run just under $10, noodle bowls $15. But the large shareables are the star. With the most expensive sharing plate coming in at $17.50, I can wine and dine my bae for around $30. Speaking of which, I could talk about The Odd Couple’s ginger beef, or their green tea gin gimlet…all…night…long. /Lisa Johnson

Best Broadway District Restaurant

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

Silver Amigos Cantina Bronze UNA Pizza & Wine Runners-up Nosh Eatery & Tap, Calories Bakery & Restaurant

I don’t know if we’ve ever had a Best Neighbourhood category in our Best of Saskatoon contest that we hold each fall. If we have, Broadway would be a primo contender. And what is it that makes a good neighbourhood? Well, that probably depends on who you are and what stage of life you’re in. But top of mind for most people, I imagine, would be some solid dining and drinking options. As you can tell from the other finalists in this category, there’s no shortage of quality restaurants in the Broadway district. But for our voters The Yard & Flagon is numero uno. /Gregory Beatty

Best Neighbourhood Pub

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

Silver Amigos Cantina Bronze Somewhere Else Pub & Grill  Runners-up Fox & Hounds Pub & Brewery, Browns Socialhouse

There are a few excellent pubs in town: some made this list, and some didn’t (but should have). I sort of grew up at The Yard & Flagon. No, I wasn’t an eight-year-old forced to wash dishes at the family business. I was a university student who liked to drink, talk, and carouse with friends old and new, and The Yard was the place to do that. They had servers who would make a point of learning your name, a menu of hearty pub food and, of course, cold beer and other libations. Pubs used to be thought of as a public living room in times gone by, and The Yard always feels like a big, friendly living room. Even now, when I head there for a drink with my wife or lunch with a friend, it feels like no time has passed, and I often lean back and take it all in, as if I’m in the comfort of my own home. /Craig Silliphant


CREDITS: Best Of Food & Drink 2016 was edited by Gregory Beatty and Stephen Whitworth. The feature was written by Greg, Chaz Bisschen, Savannah J. Hagin, Lisa Johnson, McDuck, Aidan Morgan, Chris Morin, Mike Shiplack, Craig Silliphant. Artwork by the amazing Myron Campbell. Design by Paul “Awesome” Klassen. Published, as always, by Heath Mulligan and Terry Morash, our long-suffering publisher. We love you, Terry!