When reflecting on my childhood growing up in Lacombe, Alberta, food does not immediately jump into my mind. Back then (and still today), Lacombe was perhaps best known for its historical downtown, including the famous flatiron building and the abundance of murals depicting life in the early 20th century. This small city, located approximately an hour south of Edmonton just off Hwy 2, still has the feel of a country town: nestled in the prairies, bordered on all sides by rolling farmland.
Fast forward many years and I am now starting to realize that this rural community is carving a niche for itself as a day trip destination, especially appropriate for families like mine that love to eat. Recently my family turned a visit with the grandparents into a culinary tour of the town and we were not disappointed. Here are of some of our new and old favourite stops.
I’m pretty sure I drank my first cup of coffee here as a teenager, giggling and gossiping with my friends until closing time. Now that I have three young children and coffee is a staple in my diet, it seemed only appropriate that we start our foodie tour of Lacombe with some caffeinated nostalgia. Not much has changed aesthetically since I was a teen at this former bungalow, converted into a coffee house. Small tables occupy former bedrooms, with built in board games on the surface. The shop now offers coffee sourced from Lacombe’s own independent roaster, Satinwood Coffee, along with light lunches and standard coffee house goodies. The owner, Kay, suggested berry smoothies for our children, which were met with rave reviews from our 2 year-old (“Yummy juice Mommy!”).
I was directed to this bakery by my sister-in-law, who adheres to a gluten free diet. Always on the look-out for fresh and delicious bread, she asked that I check it out. Joe, the owner, was happy to spend ample time explaining the process of making 100% gluten free products and providing his opinion on the benefits of reducing gluten in one’s diet. With a family of nine (!) children, seven of whom are affected by celiac disease, the business stemmed from the desire to ensure their children could still enjoy fresh, tasty bread. Most goods are made in-house, including breads, muffins, cakes, frozen entrees and pizza crusts. If your family is on a gluten-restricted diet, I have been assured by my sister-in-law that these products are some of the best available in Alberta.
I was very excited to learn that this trendy gastropub is surprisingly kid-friendly. With its bare wood interior, community tables and bearded barmen, it felt more like dining at a hipster restaurant on Toronto’s Queen Street West than rural Alberta. The lunch menu featured local fare, including beef and bison from Lacombe based farms and fries sourced from nearby crops. My husband declared the burger alone to be worth the drive and my children devoured their kid’s menu mac and cheese AND the healthy serving of fresh cut vegetables! The restaurant also features a huge craft beer menu, including brews from Lacombe’s own brewery, Blindman Brewing. We were dangerously encroaching on naptime by the end of lunch and fortunately the acoustics of the restaurant drowned out the increasingly desperate whines of our toddlers.
Morrison House Café – Closed as of August 2019
Nothing rounds out a day of eating like afternoon tea! ‘Steeped’ in history, the Morrison House Café is located in beautiful century home, full of antiques and treasures. Weather permitting, the veranda at the back of the house makes for a lovely setting to enjoy a light lunch, cup of tea and delicious slice of pie. My children were quickly drawn to the playhouse and sandbox in the backyard gardens, which provided enough distraction to allow the grown-ups to drink a leisurely pot of tea. For true pie connoisseurs, as my husband claims to be, Cindy, the owner will cater to flavour requests if advance notice is provided.
For me, one of the greatest revelations of the day was that while the Lacombe of my childhood remains, there is definitely more to this charming city than murals and farmland. For a town best known for its love of history, Lacombe is branching out from the old, embracing modern food trends and defining itself as a destination of choice for everyone that loves a good meal!
Updated January 21, 2021.
Christy Bergen lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and three children. While she is a Banker by trade, Christy’s true love is exploring the world, a passion she hopes to pass down to her children. When not planning her family’s next great adventure, Christy can be found in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes or running along Calgary’s beautiful river pathways. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter at @christybergen