Restaurateurs of Athens! I’ve been wandering around your agora for an entire afternoon and your menus are all written in ancient Greek. How is a time traveller like me supposed to know what to order? I went to five places, pointed at different items on your menus, and I swear you all brought me bread dipped in wine. Is that all you have here? /Chiron Batchlett

Best Appetizers

La Bodega Tapas Bar and Grill
2228 Albert St. 306-546-3660

Silver The Capitol Bronze Lancaster Taphouse Honorable Mention Caraway Grill, Fireside Bistro, The Creek In Cathedral

This long-established Regina restaurant puts appetizers front and centre — after all, that’s what “tapas” is. You order a pile of small items and share them. It’s civilized and delicious. Favourites include the brie plank, bread platter, smoked salmon and of course mussels. Also: wine! The weekend I’m writing this, La Bodega is serving live Denman Island miyagi oysters. What amazing specials will they have when you’re reading this? Check the Facebook page to find out! Or, you know, just go. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Spring Rolls

2080 Albert St. 306-569-3833

Silver Little Saigon Bronze Pho Milu Honorable Mention Peking House, Thai Garden

This is another category Viet-Thai has dominated during my tenure as Best of Food & Drink coordinator. There’s a real irony tied to the job I do for this annual Prairie Dog feature that I won’t share with you now, but when it comes to your choice for Best Spring Rolls, I can personally attest to the wisdom of your decision. Not that I’ve had spring rolls from all the finalists to determine which was best, but I have had spring rolls from Viet-Thai courtesy of a person I once hung out with and they were definitely yummy. So congrats to Viet-Thai for their multiple wins in this category. /Gregory Beatty

Best Salad

The Chopped Leaf
2101 Quance St. 306-584-5323 1834 Scarth St.  306-525-2467

Silver Sprout Cafe Bronze Earls Kitchen + Bar Honorable Mention Bushwakker, Fireside Bistro

I am not a salad expert. I occasionally order a side salad with my burger and that gets me a wad of iceberg lettuce and some shredded carrots. Pre-compost, really. I need to expand my salad-eating resumé, and something tells me The Chopped Leaf might be the place to experience the full range of salad possibilities. I mean, they’re so committed to the craft of salad assembly that they made the first ingredient of a salad their name. I think I’ll start simple with their Popeye salad because you can’t go wrong with oranges and feta. Then I’ll work up to more advanced fare like the Bangkok and the Spa. I will be curious to find out how much pegasus they put in the Pegasus salad. Bet it’s delicious. /Paul Dechene

Best Soup

Pho Milu
639 Victoria Ave. 306-352-5858

Silver Lancaster Taphouse Bronze Nicky’s Cafe Honorable Mention Table 10, Golf’s Steakhouse

The first thing you need to know about pho is how to pronounce it. It isn’t fo. It’s fuh. But if, like me, you feel uncomfortable trying out foreign pronunciations in a restaurant, then go with the safer, “bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup.” It’s a mouthful, but all that matters is that once you order you’ll get to enjoy many mouthfuls of the soup itself. Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam that dates from the early 20th century. And it’s pretty simple: rice noodles, herbs, meat and a side plate of bean sprouts and lime wedges. (You add the bean sprouts and a squeeze of lime after the soup’s served.) But the flavour is unmistakable, and delicious. I’ve always found the best pho restaurants have the word “pho” in their name. So if you’ve never tried pho, or are craving a huge bowl right now, get to Pho Milu because their pho is top notch. /Paul Dechene

Best Sandwich

Italian Star Deli
1611 Victoria Ave. 306-757-6733

Silver Sprout Cafe Bronze Victoria’s Tavern Honorable Mention Tangerine: The Food Bar, Bushwakker, Fireside Bistro

In the mood for a tasty sandwich? Not a sad sandwich like the ones I make at home and then am subjected to mockery at work for bringing in to eat. Well then, Italian Star Deli is the place for you. Through multiple generations, the Giambattista family has been making awesome sandwiches for 50 years now. You name it, they can make it. Mild, medium and spicy flavours with a wide range of toppings. Plus, there’s panini and more. Yup their sandwiches are way better than my sad sandwiches. Way way better. /Shane Hnetka


Best Wrap

Zam Zam
Cornwall Centre 306-525-1301 3618 Eastgate Dr. 306-525-2255

Silver Sprout Cafe Bronze Pita Pit Honorable Mention Fireside Bistro

In religious tradition, Zamzam water comes from a holy well created by God. Don’t know if Zam Zam wraps also come directly from God — I suppose the people behind the counter making my wraps could be considered to have been created by God —  but they (the wraps) sure are good. Order a large chicken shawarma “Zam Zam style” for a delicious meal that will leave you happy for hours (after you wake up from the food coma). Also: great lentil soup, yummy “zotatoes” and tabouli — a seasoned parsley, tomato and bulgur salad that’s the best salad there is. Tabouli! /Stephen Whitworth

Best Burger

Five Guys Burgers & Fries
2531 Quance St. 306-569-5555 4666 Gordon Rd. 306-352-5545

Silver Bushwakker Bronze The Mercury Honorable Mention Fatburger, Birmingham’s Vodka & Ale House

While I don’t get the boxes and boxes of peanuts available in the restaurant, you can’t argue with the choice Prairie Dog voters made in this category. Five Guys Burgers & Fries make a damn tasty burger. You get them to make it to your exact specifications — they claim there’s 250,000 ways to order a burger in their restaurant. You simply order one of the permutations, they cook it up for you and boom! You get to enjoy the best burger in the city. And their fries are pretty tasty too, but I sure don’t get what’s with all the peanuts. [Editor’s note: Shane you goof, peanuts are the Five Guys thing. They use peanut oil in their fryers.] [Shane’s note: Ah. All right then.] /Shane Hnetka

Best Veggie Burger

13th Ave Coffee House
3136 13th Ave.  306-522-3111

Silver Bushwakker Bronze Victoria’s Tavern Honorable Mention Leopold’s Tavern, O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub, Montana’s BBQ & Bar, Nicky’s Cafe

You can go almost anywhere and find one of those overly processed soy patty veggie burgers, but those get boring fast. If you’re looking for something a little more original in the veggie burger department head to Cathedral and grab one of 13th Avenue Coffee House’s lentil-based burgers. They have enough varieties that you’ll never get bored with the same old veggie burger combinations. The burgers are more on the healthy end of the spectrum which is a great choice when you’re hankering for something between a bun but don’t want to feel like trash afterward. And the icing on the metaphorical veggie burger cake? They’re served with a pickle spear. /Amy Couzens

Best Fries (Chain)

Nine locations

Silver Five Guys Burgers & Fries Bronze Wendy’s

The store I work at just happens to be a block from the south Albert McDonald’s. So naturally the staff goes there regularly for breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks, etc. And while I generally try to resist the temptation, I can never say no to McDonald’s fries. Never. I’m asked “Do you want anything?” “Nope!” “You sure?” “Yup.” “What about fries?” And then I break. Yes, the good folks of Regina have voted McDonald’s Best Chain Fries. And who am I to argue? I always end up getting their fries. /Shane Hnetka

Best Fries (Local)

2206 Dewdney Ave. 306-359-7276

Silver Coney Island Cafe Bronze Flip Eatery & Drink Honorable Mention Victoria’s Tavern, The Mercury, Fireside Bistro

There are fries and then there are FRIES. The former are generally pretty ho-hum and can be cranked out by any restaurant with a deep fryer. That’s not the case with Bushwakker. For the second year in a row Prairie Dog voters have given them the nod in this category. The brewpub’s fries are all that one could want: crispy, lightly browned, slightly salted, positively potato-y, generously portioned and flat-out delicious when enjoyed with any of Bushwakker’s home brews. Not the drinking type? That’s cool. The fries are an excellent compliment to a burger, a sandwich or any of the restaurant’s entrees. /Evan Radford


Best Poutine

Coney Island Café
4908 Dewdney Ave. 306-206-1711 681 Albert St. 306-559-0818

Silver Leopold’s Tavern Bronze Mr. Spudds Poutinerie Honorable Mention Lancaster Taphouse

I’m old enough to remember when poutine was this rare treat, available only at a few restaurants, and rarely prepared with much verve or expertise. Nowadays, it seems like every fast food joint in creation has jumped on the train to Curdsville. But that doesn’t mean you can pop out to your local drive-thru shake-shop and hope for some quality poutine. Throwing grated mozzarella and generic gravy-sauce on some fast food french-fry-product is not real poutine. Enter Coney Island Café, an actual poutinerie. They not only mix up a fabulous traditional poutine, they have an array of poutine meals that range from the gourmet to the goofy (I mean that in a good way. Elvis Poutine? Sure!) And they have two locations — one on Albert and one on Dewdney — so getting a quality poutine fix is easy! /Paul Dechene

Best Fish and Chips

Beer Bros. Gastropub & Deli
1821 Scarth St. 306-586-2337

Silver London Jack’s Bronze Bushwakker Honorable Mention Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern, Joey’s

It’s been a see-saw battle over the years with a few restaurants taking home the prize in this annual fish derby, but Beer Bros. has always been a top contender. The light layer of golden crisp batter that they apply serves as the perfect envelope for the tender, moist and generous morsels of fish inside. There’s even a gluten-free option. I haven’t tried it, but friends assure me it’s a tasty and welcome treat for those with a gluten-intolerance. The fish comes with some of the best hand-cut fries in town and is served alongside my favourite kind of coleslaw (with a sweet vinegar-based dressing). If you’d like a beverage with your meal, you can find almost any type of beer at Beer Bros. Or, if you’re like me, you can choose a light and airy cider. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Sushi

Enso Sushi & Japanese Cuisine
3243 Quance St. 306-205-9442

Silver Sake Bronze Orange Izakaya Honorable Mention I Love Sushi, Miso Ya

Can you imagine the sushi vacuum that would have existed in Regina 10 years ago had a top purveyor like Michi closed its doors? It would have been catastrophic! That was then, of course, and now is now. Not that Michi’s closure last June didn’t send shockwaves through Regina’s fine-dining community — it certainly did. But in contrast to what would have played out 10 years ago, other top quality purveyors like your gold pick Enso and the other finalists in this category were there to soften the blow and keep the Good Ship Sushi sailing smoothly in Regina waters. So congrats to Enso for coming out on top. /Gregory Beatty

Best Pasta

Luiggi’s Pasta House
470 Albert St. 306-949-7427

Silver Fireside Bistro Bronze East Side Mario’s

Sure, you could go to Luiggi’s and order a burger, steak, fish or chicken, and have a pasta side — but for Prairie Dog voters, the pasta’s strong enough to stand on its own. I’ve gone a few times and have always enjoyed the awesome pasta meals. Although looking at their menu online I can’t say I recall seeing Luiggi’s Masterpiece on the menu. Luiggi’s Masterpiece is three pounds of spaghetti, three pounds of meat sauce and half a loaf of garlic bread that you have to eat in under an hour. If you succeed, you get your picture on the Wall of Fame and the dish is paid for by Luiggi’s. Fail, and your picture goes on the Wall of Shame. It’s not anything I’d ever attempt, although I do know a few people who might. That’s too much meal for me to tackle, though. But good luck to anyone who tries. /Shane Hnetka


Best Noodle Bowl

2080 Albert St. 306-569-3833

Silver Pho Milu Bronze Lang’s Honorable Mention Angkor Southeast Asian Delight, Ngoc Van

Inspired by the Trudeau government’s recent move to strike a parliamentary committee to study electoral reform, Prairie Dog is contemplating a re-think on how we tally votes in Best of Food & Drink. First-past-the-post has the advantage of usually producing a clear winner, yes. But we’re wondering if maybe voters sometimes feel torn when choosing between favourites in a category and wouldn’t appreciate a different way of voting such as a ranked ballot so they could show some love to other worthy candidates that they patronize. Would a ranked ballot have affected the outcome here? Hard to say. Although Viet-Thai is a perennial winner in this category, so they obviously know their noodle bowls. /Gregory Beatty

Best Tandoori Chicken

Caraway Grill
1625 Broad St. 306-522-4243

Silver Spices of Punjab Bronze Flavours of India Honorable Mention Da India Curry House, Bombay

We can talk ad nauseam about the importance of diversity in decision-making leadership positions and our children’s role models. Yup, that’s important stuff. But — and I’m just going to level with you here — there’s a more immediate payoff when talk turns to the diversity of perfectly seasoned squawkers. Caraway Grill does a fantastic pakora and unbeatable butter chicken — but Prairie Dog voters have correctly identified that their tandoori chicken is Regina’s spectacularest. Hat tip to the tandoor oven — the battle in my home over the last bits of Caraway bird takeout will rage on. /McDuck

Best BBQ

Jack Keaton’s BBQ & Grill
720-2410 Dewdney Ave. 306-522-7227

Silver Smokin’ Okies Bronze Korea House Honorable Mention Tony Roma’s

No one does barbecue better than the American South. That’s where Jack Keaton’s draws its inspiration for slow-roasted fall-off-the-bone meat smothered in homemade barbecue sauce. It also helps to have a Red Seal Chef making 95 per cent of the food from scratch. Here’s how Chef Huber makes brisket: marinate in a homemade dry-rub for 24 hours and then place in a smoker filled with applewood chips for 12 hours. Cut tender meat into hearty portions and place on plates for customers to cram into their mouths. Now that JK has moved from Rochdale to the strip on 2410 Dewdney Ave. everyone in Regina is equidistant from incredible barbecue — unless you live in the immediate area, in which case #jealous. /Mike Shiplack

Best Ribs

Jack Keaton’s BBQ & Grill
720-2410 Dewdney Ave. 306-522-7227

Silver Smokin’ Okies Bronze Montana’s BBQ & Bar Honorable Mention The Cottage, Tony Roma’s

When Jack Keaton’s won Best Ribs in 2014 I made a point of checking them out. And they were awesome. Back then, Jack Keaton’s was located near where I live on Rochdale Blvd. I noticed earlier this year that the place was empty, and sadly thought they’d shut down. No more awesome ribs for me. But I was wrong. Very very wrong. I just have to travel a little further is all. Bonus for the rest of Regina though: they don’t have to travel out to Rochdale to visit JKs. They’ve simply moved to a shiny new location on Dewdney Ave. in the Warehouse District. And low and behold, they still have the best ribs in town. /Shane Hnetka

Best Steak

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
4265 Albert St. 306-585-1717

Silver Golf’s Steak House Bronze The Diplomat Honorable Mention The Cottage, Fireside Bistro

I worked in Winnipeg once with a gentleman who used to run a Keg in Calgary. This was ideal for enhancing my steak IQ because he knew all the inner workings of the restaurant and shared tips with me on what cuts were best, how to prepare them, how to cook them, etc. I found it fascinating and learned some surprising stuff about what I’d previously thought of as a relatively straightforward meal. So based on his know-how, it comes as no surprise to me that The Keg won Best Steak. If former managers make it their life’s hobby to know everything there is to know about steak, then the Keg is obviously dedicated to making the best steak for everyone to enjoy. /Shane Hnetka


Best Smoothie

Booster Juice
Four Locations

Silver Sprout Cafe Bronze Nature’s Best Honorable Mention Orange Julius

At Booster Juice you can add boosters to your fruity shake to pump up your immunity, give yourself a little extra energy or temporarily gain the ability to shoot spider-silk from your wrists.* Unfortunately, it’s been made clear to me through some particularly taunt-y shaming that it’s neither healthy nor particularly socially acceptable to use a large root beer float as a meal replacement (until the hipsters start doing it. Then we’ll all be rushing to pay $48.99 for a vintage-inspired glass float stein at Urban Barn). Instead, check out Booster Juice for a fruity, super-powered meal-by-straw alternative.

* Nope. This is terribly incorrect. /McDuck

Best Cinnamon Bun

The Green Spot
1821 Hamilton St. 306-757-7899

Silver Fresh & Sweet  Bronze Sinfully Sweet Honorable Mention Sprout Cafe

A Twitter search for “Greenspot Cafe” won’t yield an account, but it does turn up few dozen tweets about how the coffee shop’s cinnamon buns are the best in town with one twitterer referring to them as “mind melting”. Their deliciousness might be due to the fact they’re challenging to get unless you live or work in the core area, but they’re definitely worth the trek, bike, or fight with midday downtown parking to get your hands on. Although once you do, you may want to use a knife and fork to eat it unless you don’t mind getting a little sticky. In mid-May, The Green Spot moved to its new location across Hamilton at Agriculture Place. So visit them there. /Amy Couzens

Best Muffin

Fresh and Sweet
2500 Victoria Avenue (Victoria and McIntyre) 306-751-2233

Silver Tangerine Bronze The Green Spot Honorable Mention Sinfully Sweet, Naked Bean

Who doesn’t love muffins (except for Seinfeld characters)? Fresh and Sweet wins in this category with ever-changing muffins for working people to grab as a quick nosh with their coffee. Run by Valley Girls Catering, we will warn you that this place is BUSY for breakfast due to its popularity. So leave yourself lots of time, particularly if you want to grab a sit down meal on the weekend. And don’t stop at the muffins, how about the cupcakes? The cinnamon buns? The waffles? Mmm… starch! /Chris Scott

Best Dessert

Le Macaron
2705 Quance St. 306-779-CAKE (2253)

Silver Café Français Bronze Sinfully Sweet Honorable Mention Flip Eatery & Drink

It’s safe to say there’s no other place in Regina quite like Le Macaron. Gilles and Jacqueline Gobin arrived in Regina in 2000 when Gilles accepted a position at the Hotel Saskatchewan as Executive Pastry Chef. In 2010 they saw their dream come true when they opened their own shop. They offer more than desserts, too. There’s hors d’oeuvres, canapés, crepes, tapas platters and… okay, let’s get back to those desserts. They whip up fresh pastries every day: traditionally made tortes, cheesecakes — and we’re talking Belgian chocolate and Madagascar vanilla. Go get your butter and flour on, people! /Chris Scott

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