AOL PICK from our Editors
If you’re looking for a laid-back party scene void of stuffy dress codes and stocked with live local music, Edmonton is your city, baby. Compared to cities like Toronto and New York, queues to get into even the swankiest party spots are comparatively short. You’ll find bars and nightclubs all over the city, but most of the best Edmonton nightlife geared toward the under-30 crowd is located along the sidewalk-patio haven of 82nd Avenue (aka Whyte Avenue) in Old Strathcona. Two-step the night away at the Cook County Saloon or grab a pint of Guinness at O'Byrne's Irish Pub. Indie rock bands frequent live music venue the Pawn Shop, not far from biker hangout Blues On Whyte in the Commercial Hotel. The vibe is a little more sophisticated across the river, where wine bars (Tzin, Lit and Moriarty's Bistro & Wine Bar) sit pretty alongside dance clubs like the Common and popular gay bar Buddy’s Nightclub. Last call is 2AM, and there is a severe shortage of cabs in the city, so plan ahead or plan to wait.
Loosen your tie and pull up a stool at the downtown Edmonton pub appealing to the after-work business crowd. Sit at the bar in the middle of the pub and watch your favourite sports game or bring the entire rec team in on Tuesdays for wing specials and $15 jugs of beer. On Thursdays, pints are $4 all day. The Brit-inspired atmosphere with alcove seating and dark wood finishes gives it a sophisticated air—and so does the clientele, which tends to be in their mid- to late 30s. So, if you plan on being rowdy, opt for a bar farther down Jasper Avenue.
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Cowboy boots are not required, but they won’t be out of place at this downtown bar and nightclub that is a favorite among the 20-something party crowd. Grab a brewskie from the Budweiser Bar and then two-step the night away to the best in hardcore country, rock and top-40. Ladies get in free Friday nights, and Saddle Up Saturdays let you try your skills on the mechanical bull. If you’re in the mood to make some noise or are out for a night on the prowl, this is your place. The line to get in can be quite long, so be prepared to brave it out in the cold.
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Designer plaid shirts and indie-music scenesters are what you’re going to see a lot of at this cozy watering hole just east of the main strip on Whyte Avenue. The wood beams and vintage Canadiana décor make you feel like you are in a cabin in the woods—albeit a very packed cabin with an endless supply of micro-brew on tap. It’s a great venue for watching live performances by local musicians like Corb Lund and Colleen Brown, and for practicing dance moves in front of the tiny corner stage that is also the scene of Beers for Queers, held on the last Thursday of every month. Visit the website for live music listings.
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Red Star Pub & Halo
Edmonton’s version of a sexy Euro pub, Red Star is a preferred destination among the city’s fashionably dressed ladies and gents. There is a hip underground vibe to it—partly because it is underground (in the basement of a Jasper Avenue office building)—and partly because of the slick wraparound bar and the cool (yet unpretentious) wait staff serving up high-class pub food to groovy background music. Pair a bottle of Red Stripe with the Caribbean jerk chicken whipped up by Chef Daniel Costa or sample from the hefty list of imported beers. Once you have your fill of liquid courage, head next door to the dance floor at Halo for Mod Club Fridays (indie rock, Brit-pop, new wave and 60s music) or for a sampling of Saturday evening house beats.
Neighborhood: Old Strathcona
The Black Dog is an Edmonton institution frequented by students from the nearby University of Alberta and laid-back locals looking for a friendly hangout to catch up with friends. Check out the Wooftop Patio on the second floor, with a killer view of Whyte Avenue, or head to the groovy Underdog lower-level, where the atmosphere is more intimate and relaxed. The place is a little rough around the edges (in a homey kind of way), but patrons are super-friendly and there is a live DJ every night of the week. No-cover acoustic shows are open to all (adults, that is) Saturday afternoons from 4 to 6PM, with happy hour drink prices from 2 to 7PM.
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