A decade ago, the Canadian prairies weren’t exactly known as a culinary destination, but as creative chefs around the world have begun to embrace their hometowns, the food scenes in cities like Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary have really blossomed. The same is true for Saskatoon, a city that has seen a boom of new and exciting restaurants open over the last few years. They don’t call it the Paris of the Prairies for nothing — Saskatoon has developed a community of talented chefs who are often inspired by Saskatchewan’s thriving agricultural industry. These are just some of the cool restaurants to eat at on a visit to Saskatoon:
Ayden Kitchen and Bar
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Thanks to chef Dale MacKay and executive chef Benet Hunt’s stints on Top Chef Canada,
(the first of the restaurants that MacKay and his partners at Grassroots Restaurant Group opened after returning to Saskatoon after leaving Vancouver, where he established his career) has established itself as one of Saskatoon’s premier restaurants. The menu is a collection of chef-driven comfort foods, with dishes like house-made sausage rolls, fancy perogies, and a beautiful charcuterie board. The restaurant is also famed for its creative cocktail list.
It may be nut-free and gluten-free, but the food at Leyda’s is definitely not flavour-free. This community-minded café has a focus on healthy wholesome food and sustainability, with menu items like the “mighty” kale salad, an Ocean Wise seafood paella, and a beet and goat cheese pizza. There is a fair bit of carefully sourced meat on the menu, but Leyda’s is also very vegetarian friendly.
Chefs Christie Peters and Kyle Michael’s
sits inside a former Chinese restaurant, playing on both the history of old Saskatoon and the city’s culinary future. Peters and Michael are huge proponents of Saskatoon’s local produce and culinary history and base their food on heirloom vegetables, local fish and sustainably raised produce and proteins. The menu changes regularly, but visitors can expect bread made with heritage grains, hearty plates of pork or duck paired with local root vegetables and other hearty belly-warmers.
Little Grouse on the Prairie
Another restaurant from the same Grassroots Restaurant Group, Little Grouse is another chef-driven spot that focuses on Italian cuisine. It’s an intimate room with a menu filled with classic Italian small plates (think things like charred octopus, beef carpaccio and olive oil-drizzled burrata) and richly dressed pastas.
Asian cuisine has long been a staple of Saskatoon’s restaurant scene and the team behind
has run with that tradition, adding in a contemporary fusion feel. Owned and operated by Andy and Rachel Yuen, Odd Couple has a fun and playful menu, marked by dumplings and spring rolls, noodles topped with locally sourced beef and pork, and plates of juicy Thai-style ribs. The restaurant also does a great job of catering to vegetarian and vegan eaters, with plenty of plant-based options.
Arlie Laroche, proprietor of the holistic Farm One Forty, recently opened her own restaurant Odla, which, unsurprisingly is all about farm fresh food. Once again, seasonality is of the essence here so the menu is subject to change, but early highlights on the Odla menu have included a pork pate with Saskatoon berry mustard, grilled beets with toasted quinoa and sunflower greens and seeds, and, for dessert, honey posset with spruce tips and sea salt.
Christie Peters and Kyle Michael’s second restaurant follows a similar philosophy to The Hollows, but with a distinctively Italian twist. At Primal, the duo focuses on homemade pasta made with Saskatchewan heritage grains and whole animal butchery, meaning you can expect some often overlooked cuts showing up in the restaurant’s rich dishes. Signature plates include tagliatelle with pork and beef heart bolognese, house made salumi, and a sunchoke ravioli with gorgonzola and pear. Visitors can also go for a four-course chef’s choice dinner served family style.
is owned by Beth Rogers and Thayne Robstad, another Saskatoon couple that went to find their culinary fortune in other cities across Canada before being drawn back home to the opportunities that awaited in Saskatoon. The result of their return is Hearth, a homey restaurant that is inspired by the bounty of the prairies. The seasonal menu changes regularly, but look for regional favourites like potato and onion perogies with a crispy lace or butter poached Northern pike with lentils and beets.
Rook and Raven
Every city needs a good gastropub and in Saskatoon that place is the Rook and Raven. This casual spot is a great place to grab a pint of beer, but the food is not to be dismissed. The restaurant prides itself on making everything in house, with jazzed-up pub favourites like Scotch eggs with spicy mustard and tomato sauce, a roasted chicken cottage pie, and the Rook Burger, made with a blended house chuck and pork patty.
Sticks and Stones
The third restaurant in the Grassroots Restaurant Group’s empire focuses on Korean and Japanese cuisine. Sticks and Stones‘ menu is stacked with traditional Asian favourites like ramen bowls, steamed bao buns, and rice and noodle dishes.