The burger at The Next Act Pub. Photo by Adrien Guyot.
Edmonton’s nightlife thrives off these pubs, bars, and entertainment venues whose longevity — they’ve all been in operation for at least a dozen years — is a testament to how they draw crowds and shape the character of the city and its neighbourhoods.
Come for: Classy atmosphere and longevity
Location: 10251 Jasper Ave., 780-429-4471
An Edmonton institution born the same year the Titanic was launched, this well-loved pub shows no signs of sinking! The long, narrow bar creates a cozy, old-fashioned atmosphere. For food, the burgers are your best bet, with regulars’ favourites including the Signature — with double-smoked bacon, Monterey Jack, barbeque sauce, and banana peppers — or for those who like it hot: the Jalapeno Cheddar Burger. Located in the centre of downtown on the happening Jasper Ave., The Hat is a tasteful joint and convenient spot to gather after a thought-provoking show at the Citadel Theatre or Winspear Centre. —Matthew Stepanic
Come for: A cozy and intimate atmosphere
Location: 10203-86 Ave., 780-432-0428
The Edmonton jazz scene owes a great deal to this local club. In 1957, a group of musicians with unparalleled passion for jazz opened the first location of the Yardbird Suite in a basement space on Whyte Ave. Although the location of the venue has changed multiple times since then, the current incarnation on 86 Ave. has been in operation since 1984. The club gives artists a creative and interactive space, while also offering Edmontonians a chance to see top jazz talents up close. Part of what makes the venue so popular is the casual, hip, and intimate atmosphere it provides for musicians and audiences alike. —Danielle Mohr
Rose & Crown Pub
Come for: Pre-game beers
Location: 10235- 101 St., 780-426-7827
Located next to the new Rogers Place, this popular English pub is a hot spot for pre- and post-game drinks and eats. Historically, the pub is noted for being the first “stand-up bar” in the city after the AGLC changed the liquor laws, allowing Edmontonians to consume drinks while standing. Expect Olde English style comfort food, a friendly atmosphere, and plenty of televisions to satisfy your sports cravings. Sit back with a scotch at the bar, enjoy a pint with friends after a game, or book a party in their private dining room. —D.M.
The stage at Blues on Whyte. Photo by Adrien Guyot.
Blues on Whyte
Come for: Unpretentious, non-stop blues
Location: 10329 Whyte (82) Ave., 780-439-5058
With the classic feel of the blues bars of a bygone era, this welcoming spot will have you returning for some of the best live music in the city. No matter what night of the week, this well-loved bar is a haven for live bands. An entirely down-to-earth venue, anyone is welcome to swing their hips on the dance floor — or in their seats — where the only rule is to have a good time. Play some pool, enjoy a cold beer, and chat with the regulars. Be sure to swing by on a Saturday afternoon for the Blues Jam, when musicians riff each others’ songs, and a new group takes to the stage about every 20 minutes. —M.S.
The Next Act Pub
Come for: The Cameo Burger, an ever-changing special
Location: 8224-104 St., 780-433-9345
This classic pub is quite literally the next act for the many actors in the area who’ve just finished their innovative play or improv show. (Chances are good you can congratulate an actor or ask a director follow-up questions here!) The bar was purchased by new owners and renovated in 2010, and the upgraded menu is now one of the best reasons to stop in. The burgers at Next Act are a local favourite, and with the Cameo Burger changing from week to week with exciting toppings, there’s always something new to try. Often, the menu borrows smoked brisket or chicken from its sister restaurant next door, MEAT, making the food an extra tasty treat. —M.S.
The Black Dog Freehouse
Come for: Rooftop parties under the stars
Location: 10425 Whyte (82) Ave., 780-433-0379
One of the most popular evening hangouts on Whyte Ave., this hip pub always serves great local beers on top of the usual well-known brands. Each of the bar’s three levels offers a distinct experience, from the Underdog basement to the Wooftop Patio. The main floor hosts a cool DJ, while the basement features anything from Thursday-night comedy to live music. Arrive early to claim a spot on the roof, where you’re surrounded by a flourishing garden, the night sky, and a unique view of the bustling avenue below. —M.S.
The Billiard Club
Come for: The pool tables
Location: 10505 Whyte (82) Ave., 780-432-0335
Housed in the historic Post Office Heritage building on Whyte Ave., this popular bar has earned its place in Edmontonians’ hearts as a go-to spot for good times. Patrons consider it an “experience” rather than a restaurant. Whether you’re looking for a casual weeknight meet-up over dinner, or hoping to turn it up for the weekend with dancing, drink specials, and live DJs, The Billiard Club will not disappoint. If the delicious menu, theme parties, and live music can’t hold your attention, there’s always a game of pool waiting for you on one of the many pool tables that lend the bar its name. —D.M.
O’Byrne’s Irish Pub
Come for: Live local music
Location: 10616 Whyte (82) Ave., 780-414-6766
O’Byrne’s proudly holds the title of “Edmonton’s Oldest Irish Pub”. As one would expect, the Guinness flows steadily here, and the menu offers a tasty selection of traditional Irish dishes created from scratch. Give the Irish Stew a try, or sample their Sausage and Spuds, an Irish classic topped with Guinness gravy. The cozy and welcoming atmosphere of this Edmonton favourite is made lively with regular entertainment throughout the week. Tuesday night Guinness Celtic Jam sessions are popular among patrons, and the Big Rock’n Open Mic shows on Sunday nights give local talent a chance to shine. —D.M.
Come for: Fabulous food and drink specials
Location: 10511 Whyte (82) Ave., 780-705-6626
Award-winning wings and renowned service will draw you in, but it’s the fun-filled atmosphere that will keep you coming back to this longstanding Irish pub. Think of Filthy McNasty’s as your newest headquarters for special events. Karaoke nights, record release parties, PPV sports screenings, and theme parties are just a few of the legendary festivities they host regularly. Swing by on a Saturday afternoon to take in free live shows by local and touring musicians. While you’re listening, try out some of their fantastic daily food and drink specials, which make this pub a great hangout for students. The bar staff is friendly and attentive, and there is always something interesting going on to draw you in! —D.M.
Allegro Italian Kitchen
Come for: Live piano music
Location: 10011-109 St., 780-424-6644
When you arrive at this downtown Italian staple on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll be greeted by the tinkling of live piano music. The beautiful melody will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a fine-dining spot in Italy. Lucky patrons can score a seat at the piano bar and enjoy the pleasant music as they sip Sangiovese all night. The food remains authentic and delectable, including their classic Lasagna — layers of homemade pasta, tender veal, creamy béchamel, mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses, and a fresh tomato sauce. After dinner, take a pleasurable evening stroll around the nearby Legislature Grounds and enjoy the striking architecture and fountains. —M.S.
The Starlite Room
Come for: Intimate band experiences
Location: 10030-102 St., 780-428-1099
The brick building that houses this popular venue — the Old Citadel — was originally built by the Salvation Army as a place of worship. From 1965 to 1978, it was the home of the Citadel Theatre Company, and now it’s become a place for hip music lovers to worship their favourite bands. Line up early enough, and you could be front and centre for an intimate experience with that must-catch rising punk band. But don’t worry if you arrive late — the stage is raised and the floor slopes, so the varieties of musicians (from wild electronic to soothing indie) are in sight no matter where you’re standing. —M.S.
The Comic Strip
Come for: The laughs
Location: 1646 Bourbon St., West Edmonton Mall, 780-483-5999
If you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side, The Comic Strip offers up nightly side-splitting shows. Owned by Canadian comedian Rick Bronson, it’s known as “the club that launched a thousand faces” for its expertise in showcasing emerging talent. With over a decade of exceptional entertainment and hospitality under its belt, a night of laughter is guaranteed. Shows feature today’s top comedians and tomorrow’s celebrities, bringing together local and international talent to create first-rate acts. Full dinner and drink service are also available with every show, making the venue a one-stop shop for date night or weekend fun with friends. —D.M.