Disclosure: All of the reviewed items were provided at no cost to the griff.
El Furniture Warehouse, a new bar and restaurant on Jasper Ave., is the place to be on a Friday night when you only have $20 in your pocket. I know what you’re wondering, and no, it’s not a luxury furniture store that sells ottomans and dining room tables. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
The premium dive bar is under the umbrella of the Warehouse Group, which was started in Vancouver by two good friends in the early 2000s, and it now has 20 locations across Canada and the U.S. With their cheap food selections, awesome atmosphere, and energetic staff, El Furniture is a great option for students on a budget.
The Edmonton location opened on Aug. 24 of last year, just a few blocks south of MacEwan University’s City Centre Campus, in the building that previously housed the now closed BLVD Bar and Kitchen at 10765 Jasper Ave.
The industrial layout of the bar makes it seem like you just stepped into a huge luxury warehouse, full of shelved booze and loud music. Every wall is plastered with all kinds of art — ranging from posters and paintings, to lifelike creations with pop culture references. The walls behind the set of stairs that lead to the bathrooms in the basement are decorated with one large, ongoing collage, featuring prints of money, cutouts of Brittany Spears, rock band posters, and more. The back patio, which is currently closed for the winter, is a huge wooden deck with its own bar, capable of accommodating a few hundred people.
The layout and decor are both super cool, but the food and drinks are the real highlights of the bar — you can go with a very limited budget and still leave with a full stomach. The best part is, everything on their food menu is under $10. The salads, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, and other entrees, like their fabulous spicy rigatoni, are all between five and ten dollars.
The menu at El Furniture Warehouse is pretty diverse. I tried the warm tortilla chips with spinach dip, garlic cheesy bread, chicken street tacos, rigatoni pasta with chorizo, beef dip with fries, and, my personal favourite, the refreshing and tangy Union Street salad, which is only $8.95. It comes in a huge bowl that’s big enough for two people and includes greens and chow mein noodles topped with fantastic salad mix-ins: chicken, avocado, toasted almonds, cilantro, cucumber, and mandarin oranges. The best part of the salad was the sweet sesame-soy-ginger dressing that it was tossed in. All of the food was delicious and came in huge portions.
They also offer daily, weekly, and monthly specials. They have a new drink feature on rotation each month, as well as a daily “power hour” everyday from 2 to 5 p.m., which offers delicious drinks for as low as $4 each. Another great promotion is their “Tuesday deal,” which offers $3 tequila shots and $5 cans of PBR beer. On weekends and holidays, they offer brunch, where you can order mimosas, beermosas (in my opinion — yuck), breakfast sandwiches, waf- fles, and eggs benedict. Whether you’re gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, or looking for a tasty non-alcoholic drink, the El Furniture staff can accommodate your needs.
The low prices are just one of the reasons that make El Furniture Warehouse stand out. The cocktails here were some of the most gorgeous, flavourful drinks I’ve tried in a long time.
While we were having dinner, I asked for a random drink from the menu. The bartender brought over their Strawberry and Basil Gin Smash, which is Tanqueray gin with basil, strawberry puree, lime, and simple syrup. It’s something that I would never typically order for myself, but I’m not kidding when I say that it was one of the best drinks I’ve had this year — and it only costs $7.75.
Next, I tried the Hendrick Lamar, which was a solid drink for $9.75. It was simple and flavourful, and the mix of pineapple, citrus, mint, Hendrick’s gin, Triple Sec, and soda made for a really refreshing drink.
The last drink I tried (before starting to slur my words) was the Ginger Pineapple Express. It was made with pineapple juice, Ancho infused Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila, Mezcal, ginger, and spicy salt on the rim of the glass. It had a really bizarre aftertaste that I just couldn’t put my finger on. It took a few sips to get used to, but it ended up being one of the best tequila-based cocktails I’ve tried. It reminded me of a strong margarita on the rocks, minus the flavoured liqueur.
The staff at El Furniture made sure I had a great experience during my visit. They described each dish that they brought out in detail and were constantly checking on me to make sure that we were enjoying everything.
Edmonton has a great bar and restaurant scene, so what makes El Furniture Warehouse so special? It’s something new and different. It may have the standard menu items — burgers, beer, salads — but it also has that special something that is lacking from so many up-and-coming spots around the city.
If you’re a student, downtown-worker, or resident in the area, El Furniture Warehouse is a great deal for kick ass food and drinks. This laidback, casual dive bar aesthetic is the perfect vibe for a night out with friends when you wanna ditch the heels and pick up the sneakers.