Dirtbag Café is no ordinary coffee shop. Along with traditional café items like coffee and cookies, it offers a selection of beers from a number of craft breweries, as well as ciders, wines, and a unique food menu.
The café is located one block north of MacEwan’s 106th Street building. The location and working Wi-Fi signal make it a great place to study. Students are encouraged to come in and stay as long as they’d like, says General Manager Scott Pedrick.
“Last semester we’d find students would come in around 10:30 and start studying, order lunch, and then go to class, and then they’d come back for a beer,” Pedrick says.
The menu is constantly changing, allowing students to try new things each time they come in.
“We want people to come in and (have something to eat) and think, ‘that was really good,’ and when they come back it’ll be gone, but then they can try something new,” Pedrick adds.
Quentin Archer, the head chef and kitchen manager, explains that the main focus for the menu is to be fun and fresh, with inspiration coming from other restaurants as well as episodes of cartoons.
“(After) the episode of Rick and Morty with the Szechuan sauce, we put chicken nuggets on the menu for a month, and we made all the sauces. It was amazing, and people bought them, even though it was so stupid. But we thought it was hilarious,” Pedrick says.
If you’re looking for some comfort food to get you through an assignment, Dirtbag Café also prepares all of its baked goods in-store. This means its breads are freshly baked, and if you ask nicely and come at the right time, you may be able to get a cookie fresh out of the oven. The peanut butter cookie is a crowd favourite — it’s soft and chewy, and absolutely delicious.
Dirtbag Café also offers a selection of activities for students who want to unwind in their downtime. A set of comfortable couches are arranged around a Nintendo 64, where customers are encouraged to sit and play classic games like Super Smash Bros.
“Students (often) come in to study or blow off some steam,” says Archer.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can take a shot at the connected indoor rock climbing gym. Students pay $14 for a day pass that allows access to the large selection of rock walls. The walls vary in difficulty, allowing experts and newcomers alike to enjoy the area, and you need only walk to the other side of the building to relax with a drink after a fun workout.
Dirtbag Café is a great spot for any student who wants to chill out with a beer, study with a cup of coffee and a snack, or try something new with their exercise and go for a climb on the rock wall. It’s definitely one of downtown Edmonton’s hidden gems.
The delicious jalapeno-cheddar grilled cheese overflows with melted cheese, and a hint of heat adds to the goodness. It’s a great take on a classic comfort food. You can add bacon for 50 cents to cover every aspect of a perfect snack.
The shop offers all the classic café drinks, but if you’re looking for something other than coffee, test out one of the many beer selections available. With so many craft beers to try, you may as well go for something new!
After a long day of sitting and studying, sometimes the best way to unwind is with a bit of exercise. If you want to try something different, head to one of the rock walls. All levels of expertise are welcome and encouraged to enjoy!
Photos by Matthew Jacula.