Have you ever walked around a neighbourhood and it just felt like home? Or you wished it was your home?
Well, the minute I arrived in Old Strathcona, Edmonton we just clicked.
With its retro signage and heritage buildings, Old Strathcona mixes old school vibes with funky eateries like the neon-lit El Cortez Mexican Kitchen. This trendy suburb has bookshops and coffee shops open late into the evening, a brewery where the beer is paired with drool-worthy bison burgers, and boutiques serving up something different from your usual high street.
Whether you want to shop, brunch or rest your head somewhere stylish, there are a million reasons to love Old Strathcona. Here are 8 to get you started.
8 cool things to do in Old Strathcona
Edmonton-grown fashion brand, Workhall, became my Achilles heel in Old Strathcona – I couldn’t walk past the store without buying something! Focusing on high quality basics, which their in-house seamstresses tailor to fit, Workhall is genuinely one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had. The staff are chatty and helpful without being overbearing and with most items around $80-100 CAD they can help you style a whole new outfit for far less pennies than it looks. With super soft jersey, beautiful draping and a neutral colour palette, their clothes are perfect for travelling – at least that was my excuse for filling my suitcase with new purchases.
2. Block 1912
Block 1912 reminded me so much of Central Perk in Friends, perhaps because it’s the kind of place you want to spend hours and hours in. Not only does this quaint café serve really good coffee, but they’ve also got cabinets fillet with tempting cakes and walls lined with free books. Unlike Aussie cafes who open early and close just after lunch, Block 1912 is open late into the evening for long chats with friends or late night working. (Open until 11pm Mon to Thurs, midnight Fri and Saturday.) There’s free wi-fi too so they’ve literally got everything covered. I wonder how anyone ever leaves?
3. El Cortez Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar
One minute you’re in Alberta, the next you’re in the mean and moody backstreets of Mexico City eyeing up shelves filled with tequila. El Cortez have 100% nailed the décor at their Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar and the menu doesn’t disappoint either. If your idea of a good night out is tucking into overflowing tacos, a trio of guacamole and craft tequila cocktails (and when isn’t this a good night, really?) then El Cortez is the place you need to be.
4. Situation Brewing
Another great place to spend the evening, Situation Brewing are a fully functioning microbrewery who offer brewery tours along with samplers of their rotating line up of craft beers. Their on-site restaurant offers some perfect food pairings with your pint, including a wild boar and bison burger, which totally won me over.
5. Sugared & Spiced
Brand new to the Old Strathcona cake scene, Sugared & Spiced owe their new kitchen and bakeshop to a successful Kickstarter campaign. (They’ve been baking for years but this is their first bricks and mortar location.) Their elegant premises are picture-perfect, making it oh-so-tempting to just pop in for a little pick-me-up whenever you’re passing. The only difficult decision is whether you go for tart, scroll, cookie, brownie, or everything!
6. Gummi Boutique
While we’re on a sugar high, another place to head for sweet treats is the Gummi Boutique on Whyte Avenue. You’ll know you’re in the right place by the giant mural of Marilyn Monroe made from jelly beans and the smell of candy luring you in. Almost every type of candy confection can be found here, including old school Nerds and the cartoon-themed Pez – you remember them?
7. Vivid Print
I don’t know about you but my home is filled with art that I’ve bought on or to remind me of my travels so Vivid Print was always going to draw (excuse the pun!) me in. Featuring local artists depictions of Canada and Alberta, through both photography and illustration, Vivid Print is the perfect place to pick up a light-weight souvenir in the form of prints or postcards.
MEAT is Old Stathcona’s much-loved smokehouse and is one of the main reasons I need to go back to Edmonton pronto as they weren’t open on the morning I wanted to brunch with them. I walked past a million times though and breathed in the smoky meat smell while perusing the menu, which features share platters of brisket and ribs for dinner and chicken and waffles or beef brisket benny for breakfast. Who’s salivating now?
Where To Stay In Old Strathcona
For a stylish place to stay in the heart of the action look no further than Metterra Hotel on Whyte Avenue. Not only is the Metterra handily located within walking distance of everywhere previously mentioned but they offer complimentary wine tastings with appetizers in the lobby every evening. (SOLD!)
The generous-sized rooms are dotted with global artefacts – I loved the tapestry over my bed and African mask in the bathroom – and come with divine Molten Brown toiletries. I was lucky enough to have a room with a view of Downtown that looked spectacular at sunrise – making it the perfect place to both start and end a day in Edmonton.