I posted an anecdote about Kurt Vonnegut from author Dave Margoshes a couple entries back. In the course of writing to ask permission to do this, I also took the opportunity to ask Dave, who also acts as the food critic with the local Prairie Dog weekly newspaper, if he’d be willing to give me a list of his favourite Regina restaurants. This is what he sent me:
* Thai Garden, on Albert St., my default comfort food place.
* Four Seas on Rose Street downtown – this Taiwanese place has the best
ginger beef I’ve ever had.
* Angkor, on Quance Street in the east side jungle. My favourite
all-around Oriental restaurant… except for…
* Nit’s in Moose Jaw, best Thai food, bar none.
* Smokin’ Oakies, a few doors down from Angkor – terrific barbeque
* Gaslight Saloon on Broad, for burgers and Mexican
* Italian Star Deli – great sandwiches
Nicky’s Cafe – terrific ribs, burgers, turkey, breakfasts…probably
the restaurant I’ve been to to most often.
I was thinking about doing a list of my own favourite restaurants having been away for a year and seeing the landscape of Regina’s culinary culture grow by leaps and bounds in that time. So for comparison sake, here’s my own list.
– in the city with the highest per capita ratio of brew pubs to population in Canada (if not North America), Bushwakkers is head and shoulders above the rest. That’s not just me – it was cited as one of Canada’s best brew pubs by the Globe & Mail a few years back. On my old home page, I used to have links to sites to illustrate what I considered my “Home”, “Former Location” and “Current Location”. The “Home” link led to the Bushwakkers web site!
– if Thai Garden is Dave’s default comfort food place, Lang’s Vietnamese is mine. As with brew pubs, Regina has an abnormally high number of Vietnamese places but Lang’s is my personal favourite with Viet-Thai on Albert St. as a close second and Ankor which Dave mentions as an even closer third. (Urban legend has it that all the Vietnamese places in Regina with “Garden” in their name are owned by the same family. Not sure if it’s true.)
3. Copper Kettle
– the only restaurant pizza I’ve had in my life that competes (and if I’m honest, exceeds the Copper Kettle was at the Hop ‘N’ Brew in Calgary). But the Copper Kettle is renowned for their unique, delicious pizzas including their speciality – spinach and feta (which I like to add garlic and chicken to.) They have a newspaper clipping up (or they did – haven’t looked recently) relating the story of someone who ordered pizzas when he was in Regina on business which he took as a carry-on when flying back to his home in another province!
4. Cathedral Village Free House
– my cousin came to visit from New York so I took her and her boyfriend here. She said “This place would fit perfectly in Greenwich Village” which I took as a pretty high compliment. (Here’s a more detailed review on another site.)
5. Smokin’ Oakies
– I’m with Dave on this one. Regina’s first barbeque place sets the bar pretty high.
6. Mongolie Grille
– I was extremely sad (probably inordinately so when I look back on it) knowing I would no longer have a Mongolian Grille in my city when we moved back to Regina from Calgary. Then, not soon after we got back, a franchise of the Calgary outfit opened here. I know Dave’s review said the food tends to all end up tasting the same no matter what combination of meat, vegetables and sauces you use (and I agree). But it’s still a damn fine tasting mess, no matter what!
– There are a few sushi restaurants in Regina (especially compared to ten years ago) but this one is a personal favourite – very affordable yet tasty sushi. The Korean rolls are delicious!
There used to be an Italian place called Presutti’s that was by far, my favourite place for that type of cuisine (especially their lunch buffet which gave you a taste of everything – pasta, pizza, salad, bread and more!) It’s gone out of business (sadly) but there is another place that’s almost as good – the longtime Regina institution known as Alfredo’s.
9. 100 Kings
– a Korean restaurant where you barbecue your own food right at your table. Sometimes I’m lazy and wish we had a Korean place that would cook it in the back and bring it out to you but otherwise, I love Korean food and this fits the bill!
10. Prairie Pita
– another absence I was concerned about when we moved back from Calgary in 2004 was the lack of any restaurant selling schwarmas. Regina didn’t get a place right after we got back like with the Mongolie Grille. But when we got back from London, a couple years later, I was happy to find that this had changed. Not the best I’ve had in my life (another Calgary spot – the Falafel King downtown takes it) but at least it’s possible to get a decent chicken schwarma here now!
Bonus: Five Long-Gone Regina Restaurants I Miss (Inspired By #8 Above)
2. Blarney Stone Irish Pub
3. California Subs
4. Orleans Lousiana Cuisine
5. PJ Mellon’s Pub (it still exists – it just got moved from outside the University to the east side of Regina and was rechristened The Creekside Pub. It’s the same but different and gave me a weird deja vu of my undergrad days when I went in there after it re-opened. I haven’t been back – too disconcerting.)
There are probably a dozen other great restaurants I could mention but these are some of my favourites. I should also note that there are a lot of new restaurants I still haven’t gotten around to trying. For instance, Regina has at least three
East Indian restaurants now when it only used to have one (India House) which always seemed in danger of going under due to lack of support (not sure if this was true or not, just the impression I got for some reason.)
The other thing – I don’t get to Regina’s high end restaurants very often if at all so my list focuses on places that would mostly be considered casual dining. But there are a number of high-end restaurants in Regina that can compete with the best in Canada’s much larger cities.
Zest at the Science Centre is one that’s supposed to be excellent which I haven’t had occasion to try yet (waiting for a birthday or anniversary where parents or others are willing to treat! ) I have been to the Willows on Wascana (and they catered an event we did in 2005.) Both times, their food was unbelievable! One of those places where your mouth goes “Wow. What is this? It’s not even food, it’s so good. You’re eating art, aren’t you?”