You can do lunch one of two ways at Japonais Bistro. You can order off the menu – and, judging by how well the restaurant fared on the Best Overall and Best Japanese lists, that’s not a bad choice. But, if you really want to live large on your lunch hour, you order the omakase, the chef’s choice. Let the kitchen surprise you.
It’s a hearty meal that comes served on a dark stone slab; it’s as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. The times I’ve been to Japonais for lunch, I’ve been surprised by fantastic oysters with light, tangy sauces; wonderful sushi roll variations; and arguably the best sashimi selection in the city. Japonais works to elevate the already-elegant Japanese eating experience, and it does so with a package that mixes style and substance. –Steven Sandor
11806 Jasper Ave., 780-760-1616, japonaisbistro.ca
Cibo Bistro is the kind of place that suits all purposes. Can it be a romantic dinner destination? Yes. Is one of the best destinations in the city for Italian cuisine? Undoubtedly.
But what also sets the bistro apart from others is the fact that it doubles as a laid-back atmosphere suitable for a refined lunch. If you want a delicious and quick risotto, this is your stop. Delicate and flavorful dishes such as arancini are perfect for when you need to fork-and-knife your way through a lunch meeting. But if you want to get a bit playful with friends, I suggest mowing your way through the meatball sandwich. It’s the dish with no pretention; just a simple pleasure in the form of prosciutto, wilted arugula, smoked caciocavallo cheese and a slathering of tomato basil jam. –Cory Haller
11244 104 Ave., 780-757-2426, cibobistro.com
Dovetail owners Kara and Nevin Fenske cultivated a devoted following with their popular food truck, Drift. So when they opened a storefront on 124th Street, Edmontonians were eager to try out whatever they were dishing up. The cozy spot is a carvery where the daily roast offering is scrawled on a piece of butcher’s paper taped to the wall, and you can see the meat for your sandwich being cut right in front of you. Pair it with any of the delicious salads in the cooler or some of the addictive house-made potato chips for a satisfying lunch. –A.S.
10721 124 St., 780-705-1293, lovethedove.ca