Off The Beaten Path
As Fringe welcomes thousands of Edmontonians this month, many will notice phase one of the Strathcona Back Street Project underway in the alleys beside the Varscona Theatre and across from the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. This is all about making some of our back lane businesses feel more welcoming than ever. This is the inspiration for highlighting some of our favourite gems that are hidden in plain sight all over the neighbourhood. Whether you want to escape the crowds or you’re looking for something new, take a peek around the corner on your next visit to find these back alley businesses.
Boxer is a restaurant located right across the street from the farmers’ market on 83 Avenue. It has massive glass panels across its entrance creating a wide open storefront that lets the outside in. With their alley doors open, Boxer is the perfect spot to grab a signature craft cocktail regardless of the weather. And don’t forget to check out their rooftop patio on top of the Crawford Block!
Fancy grabbing a little dessert? Sugared and Spiced is Edmonton’s original back alley bakery, also located across from the farmers’ market, in the middle of a mural peninsula. Stop by and grab a brownie, tart or scone to go and explore all the awesome murals on the surrounding buildings. Along with their Instagram-worthy cakes for your special occasions, they always have an assortment of “to-go cakes” every day.
Woodrack is moving from the other side of the Varscona Theatre to join Boxer and Sugared & Spiced in the Strathcona Back Street. Renovations are underway right now in the historic Dominion Hotel!
This double-team of deliciousness is taking over the space Dangerkat Waffles is leaving behind. They’re hidden in the alley behind Taste of Lebanon, around the corner of 101 Street and 82 Avenue. You’ll know when you find it, because their front entrance is adorned by a brightly-coloured 80s mural by Jill Stanton that’s hard to miss (part of our growing list of murals). Waffle Bird is Edmonton’s new spot for chicken and waffles, opening as a pandemic pop-up in the kitchen of the High Level Diner in nearby Garneau. For morning people, stop by and grab the new pastry you’ve been waiting for – whoanuts – a combination waffle-donut. We really don’t need to say anything else.
A couple of blocks south of Whyte, you will find Edmonton’s first kombucha brewery! Boocha is located in the alley between 81 and 80 Avenues near 100 Street, behind Grindstone Theatre. Their entrance is also adorned by a mural, this one of a wolf pack. On top of their endless bottles of locally-made kombucha, the folks at Boocha are big Oilers fans. Make sure to ask them about their Oilers themed bathroom (including a signed toilet seat) and their Kailer Yamamoto collab flavour.
Okay, you won’t be able to escape the crowds with this one! This ice cream shop is located in the heart of Old Strathcona in between buildings home to Glam Slam and Cacao 70. Line up in their cozy brick alleyway and be rewarded with incredibly Instagrammable small batch ice cream that includes local cafe collaborations and monthly specials such as peach blackberry habanero and apricot almond tart (for the month of August). With ice cream in hand, don’t get turned around in the alleys, swing to your right as you’re leaving and make your way back to Whyte Ave. via Rainbow Road. This visit is going to be all about your social feeds.
The entrance to this back alley art studio is easy to find thanks to a big and bright mural Marcus Coldeway painted during this summer’s Mural Massive block party. Artelier Studios is an art room run by experienced artists who are generous with their time and knowledge. Beginners are especially welcome! The studio is located in the back of the building across the street from The Paint Spot, on 81 Avenue between 100 and 101 Streets. Students even get a 20% discount on art supplies from The Paint Spot.