Red Deer! There’s Stuff to Eat in Red Deer?!
La Casa Pergola: Located downtown (a district that most Red Deerians try to avoid due to increased vagrancy) sits a small, unassuming, and delicious Italian restaurant that defies all the odds and really delivers a great meal. Though open for lunch, this fine dining restaurant really hits its mark in the evening when its diners have some time to spare. It has become famous for its Italian Lobster Fries (imagine a poutine with a hearty dollop of langostina) and completely nails its rack of lamb, Rosetta Agnello, (generously seasoned in rosemary, raspberry, and flambeed in Chambord). The atmosphere is calm, twilit, and modern without being overly presumptuous. For a full experience of its menu, plan on spending $80-100 per person. Definitely worth it.
2. Siberia Bistro: As Russian as you get. Russian staff, Russian food, Russian decor, Russian alcohol. Siberia is just excellent. Though only a small bistro and open limited hours, the food is outstanding. They make the best borscht I have ever tasted and their diced beet salad is off the hook. The best option is to select one of their combos. The $17 or so will get you borscht, cabbage rolls, vareniki, pelmeni and if you have room left, their Blinis beats a crepe any day of the week.
3. Shiso: Named to Canada’s Top 100 of Chinese Owned Restaurants, Shiso has become renowned for one thing: All You Can Eat Sushi Weekends… and they are packed. PACKED. The sushi is quite good for its price, with a great selection, and a surprisingly varied kitchen menu. There is something amusing about a sushi restaurant packed with beer drinking oil workers on a weekend, but the all you can eat lamb rack is worth the cost of admission alone. This is a restaurant that is going to keep building into the small empire it is destined to become.
4. Famoso Neopolitan Pizza: Best. Pizza. Ever. Although Famoso is a chain and has stores all over Canada now, this Famoso is just better. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but this pizza place nails it. The thin crust is cooked at 900 degrees in a ceramic oven for 40 seconds and comes out perfect every time. The menu is packed with vintage Italian ingredients that combine to make tasty pies. The Funghi is a personal favourite (white truffle oil, caramelized onions, fresh basil, fior di latte cheese, portabello mushrooms). They fly in Tiramisu from Milan, flash frozen and ready to be devoured. It is also a crime not to try their Nutella Mocha at least once in your life time. The best.
5. Las Palmeras: It might surprise but Red Deer has been home to an increasingly vocal community of Spanish speaking persons and their culinary culture has caught on in a big way. There was a time when this Mexican restaurant was hands down the best in the province. Their food is fresh, well-made, well-proportioned, and fantastic. Every now and then they add a great Cassava Soup to the menu and their enchiladas are spectacular. What I most enjoy is that it doesn’t hit you in the face with a Mexican gimmick. Yes, it has a vintage regional flavour in its design, but I never feel like I’m in that Three Amigos movie or red, yellow, and green lights are flashed over everything. The food is more than enough to justify its existence.