The best restaurants and drinking spots in Red Deer aren’t always the obvious ones, especially if all you know is Gasoline Alley. From historic ranches to rural outposts, here are some of the best tried-and-tested in the area.
Roosters Wood Fire and Smoke
Roosters serves the best rib eye in Red Deer: sweet and juicy and completely addictive. But that’s to be expected when you infuse beef with Jack Daniels and Rickards and finish it with a maple glaze. Steak cooked to perfection is the first reason to go. The second is that chef Mike Ubbing serves exciting and flavourful dishes like sour cherry whiskey pomegranate lacquered chicken, and fig and lamb wood-fired pizzas. Every Friday evening, there’s a roasted suckling pig. 40B, 5250 22 Street, Red Deer
Wild Child Brew
In the unlikely surroundings of an industrial park is where you’ll find Canada’s first kombucha taphouse. Wild Child Brew is a magnificent hideaway with double-height ceilings and a tap bar so darn beautiful it will have your Instagram buzzing. The kombucha? It’s super light, refreshing and comes in a variety of ever-changing flavours, such as root beer, pink lemonade, grape and lavender. Stop by for a glass of this healthy, non-alcoholic brew, or if you’d rather take yours home, fill your own one- and two-litre containers. Unit 12 5579 47 Street, Red Deer
If you need to make a run for it and leave Edmonton or Calgary for the day, zip down Highway 2 to the little haven that is the Heritage Ranch. The ranch, which sits on 207 acres of land, was the original home of Raymond Gaetz, Red Deer’s first mayor. The food here is insanely good (I’m still dreaming about the prime rib and truffle kettle chips) and features locally sourced produce wherever possible. It’s the perfect spot for family gatherings, a romantic night out, or any reason really. On Sundays, this place goes all out with a lavish brunch buffet that’s easy on the wallet. If you feel like being adventurous after your meal, explore the trails behind the ranch. The 7.5-km Ranch Loop trail crosses Bower Ponds and Taylor Bridge. More exciting, try your hand at the Ranch Tracker Game (think the Mantracker TV show) where you head into the woods with a map while a cowboy riding a horse hunts you down through the woods. There’s much to do here and, no doubt, you’ll be planning many return visits. 6300 Cronquist Drive, Red Deer
Mohave Smokehouse & Bar
If breakfast really is the most important meal of the day then you’d better make it a good one and head to Mohave Smokehouse & Bar. Will it be the eggs benny or potato and cheddar cheese perogies and sausage topped with scrambled eggs and hollandaise sauce? Probably both because you’ll want to try everything on this brekkie menu. Every option is substantial whether you go with traditional classics or creative twists. While you’re there, you might as well case out this joint’s bar and dinner menu for later. Mohave Smokehouse & Bar, 6608 Orr Drive, Red Deer
Yes, this rural gem isn’t located in Red Deer and, yes, it isn’t a restaurant, but hear me out. Holmehus Antiques is a must-visit spot for home cooks and worth the 10-minute drive from town. Fervent antique hunters will find plenty of kitchenware at this well-stocked shop. Look for pyrex dishes, colourful vintage glassware, Scandanavian cups, plates and bowls. Upstairs, there’s cowboy and Prairie artwork, alongside art deco jewelry and Inuit art. Holmehus is a working farm so don’t leave without buying farm-fresh free-range eggs, beef and seasonal veggies. Located on RR 282, 3.2 km west of QE2, between Hwy 11 and 11A Red Deer. Watch for blue & white tourism signs on Hwys 11 and 11A.
Forgotten Alley is so top secret you may have a tough time finding the front door. Keep your eyes peeled for folks darting into the alley north of 50 street. Once through the door, you enter a tiki-themed den of mischief surrounded by Polynesian bric-a-brac, such as carved coconuts, bamboo chairs and the likes. The cocktail menu is genius and so too are the rum offerings. The only drawback is that this place gets busy on Friday and Saturday nights so get there early and make BFFs with the staff. Forgotten Alley, 4928C 50 Street, Red Deer
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