Aidan Morgan is a restaurant critic for Prairie Dog Magazine in Regina, Saskatchewan. He also blogs at and is @palinode on Twitter. Aidan was kind enough to share his insight on the state of the food scene in Saskatchewan with Travel Mindset…

When I think of great food, I don’t tend to think of the prairies offering that. Am I wrong?

If you’d asked me whether Saskatchewan (and Regina in particular) had great food ten (or even five) years ago, my answer would have been a qualified “no.” As in, “No, you’re not entirely wrong, and even though a few really good restaurants offer a respite from the burger joints, pizza slopperies, fusty old steakhouses and family dining nightmare fuel depots, it’s not the first place in Canada I’d visit for cuisine.” Yup, that’s probably what I’d say.

Over the last few years, though, a new generation of restaurateurs has brought a refined sensibility, a greater openness to different culinary styles, and a roster of excellent chefs to the province. We may not be making any lists of best Canadian restaurants right now, but that day is coming.

What is your favorite restaurant in Regina right now and why? 

My favourite place these days is Tangerine Food Bar, a lunch spot with a constantly rotating menu of mind-blowingly good food. I hesitate to recommend any particular dish, because it may take weeks to resurface, but after a while you sort of sync up with their rhythms and develop an instinct for those days when they’re serving a caramelized onion galette or a chorizo and turkey stew. Or you could check their website. Whatever works. Tangerine also maintains a reliable roster of sandwiches and baked goods, but I prefer the surprise of discovering something new and great whenever I go in. Tangerine is also right across the street from my apartment, which is why I’m broke and ten pounds heavier than I’d like.

Are there any local specialties that people really should try when they visit?

The focaccia sandwich with pesto and feta cheese at the Italian Star Deli. Cloud-light mushroom strudel at La Bodega Tapas Bar & Grill. Flaming saganaki at the venerable Grekos Restaurant. The duck confit at Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar. And then there’s the sublime oddity of Kraut Haven, a food court holdout in the perpetually moribund Victoria Square Mall, serving borscht, schnitzel and perogies. If your idea of a good time is hanging out at a mall with not one but two leather goods stores, then you could do worse than passing the time with a plate of perogies and onions.

What is your favorite hole in the wall joint?

Now I wish we had a restaurant that was literally a hole in the wall. But in lieu of actual holes, I vote for Siam Restaurant in downtown Regina, one of the greatest Thai places ever. Of all time. The place is small and easy to miss. The food is spicy, sweet, abundant and surprisingly cheap. It’s a great place to go when you’ve got friends in from out of town.

Where can you get a decent breakfast in Regina?

For a classic bacon-and-eggs kind of breakfast, there’s no better place than Mr. Breakfast. Roughly the size and shape of a doublewide RV, Mr. Breakfast stands at the edge of a parking lot off Regina’s main drag, quietly making some of the best hash browns in the city. It opens before sunrise and closes before the end of the work day.

For a more sophisticated breakfast experience – the kind that panders to your deepest and most demented childhood fantasies by making pancakes out of actual chocolate cake – I like to go to Fresh & Sweet. Their menu divides into savory and sweet sections, with a smoked salmon benedict on one side and red velvet pancakes on the other.

Are there any specialty stores you’d advise that foodies visit in Regina?

The Italian Star Deli on Victoria Avenue has been open since 1966. The shelves are full of olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, Illy espresso – but the real reason to visit the deli is to chat with owner Carlo Giambattista, who knows everyone in the city. He’s been cultivating a greying but glorious mullet for the past three decades; I think his hair is an official tourist attraction now. Check the guide books.

For non-hair based specialty food stores, the Bulk Cheese Warehouse in Regina’s east end carries all kinds of imported cheeses. The location and ambience are pretty bad, but the place is only twenty feet from a liquor store, so I guess what I’m saying is that the location is actually fantastic. And if you do your liquor shopping (and drinking) first, you won’t care much about the ambience. But you’ll probably stumble out of there with an entire wheel of Guinness-veined cheddar, so be careful out there.