RESTAURANTS

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Ancient Athenians! There are many restaurants in the agora (market place). Some of them serve a simple breakfast of bread dipped in wine. Lunch is also bread dipped in wine, but with some figs or something. Supper is fish, probably dipped in wine again. You know our ancient Greek motto: “If you’re going to eat it, dip it in wine! And have some beef or pork during your religious festivals.” Personally, you Greeks could use some nice tapenade to liven up this crazy diet, but you do you. /Chiron Batchlett

Best Restaurant

Gold
Flip Eatery & Drink
1970 Hamilton St. 306-205-8345 fliprestaurant.ca

Silver Caraway Grill Bronze Fireside Bistro Honorable Mention The Creek In Cathedral, Crave Kitchen + Bar, Table 10

The very best thing about this year’s Best Restaurant ballot is that Montana’s didn’t creep into the list of finalists as it did in 2015. The second-best thing is Flip Eatery & Drink’s victory for the third year in a row. Unlike some restaurants that change only a little from year to year, Flip likes to experiment constantly with its menu, trying out new ideas and keeping the dishes and techniques that make the cut. The most recent menu leans heavily into Saskatchewan ingredients such as pulses, but you’ll still find a few Korean and Japanese elements here and there — and, of course, the always delicious hanger steak. And the udon noodle bowl. And the stuffed rabbit saddle. And — well, you get the idea. /Aidan Morgan

Best New Restaurant

Gold
The Capitol Restaurant + Cocktail Bar
1843 Hamilton St. 306-570-2323 thecapitol.club

Silver Sprout Cafe Bronze Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Honorable Mention Malt City, Chop Steakhouse & Bar, Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern

Every time the Restaurant God closes a shoe store, It opens a tapas bar. Never has that saying been truer than in the case of The Capitol, which opened up in the space formerly occupied by Loggie’s Shoes. While not the first tapas restaurant in Regina (that honour goes to La Bodega), The Capitol reintroduced downtown diners to the pleasures of small plates and a loose, formless dining experience that turns a light snack into a long boozy evening. Executive Chef Joel Williams recently introduced main dishes and burgers for a more traditional dining experience, but a good selection of tapas remains. The restaurant also serves the best Old Fashioneds in town. The Capitol’s cocktails are boozy, flavourful and inventive. Try a Bitter Boy 2 (a sequel to their original Bitter Boy), or their three-ounce Sazerac cocktail. /Aidan Morgan

Best Restaurant for a Luxury Date

Gold
The Willow on Wascana
3000 Wascana Dr. 306-585-3663 willowonwascana

Silver Flip Eatery & Drink Bronze The Creek In Cathedral and Fireside Bistro (tie) Honorable Mention Crave Kitchen + Bar, Golf’s Steak House

The Willow’s creative culinary yums are lick-your-plate good. But don’t actually do that, because it’s a classy place. Rare delicacies make their way onto the carefully curated and frequently changing menu, along with twists you wouldn’t expect like this spring’s grilled cheese dessert — a gooey brie, dark chocolate and cherries sammy. Or the bone marrow appetizer served this past winter. Not wanting my dining companions to think I lacked sophistication, or was a pussy, I acted nonplussed by the opaque goo served still inside the cut femur. It was delicious, and now I find it a bit tough not to stalk other creatures just to crack open their bones and suck out the buttery jelly. Add candles and a view of the lake, and The Willow has the sexiest patio in the city. Throw in the brilliant wine list, and if your luxury date doesn’t end well after a night at The Willow, that’s on you. /McDuck

Best Restaurant for a Budget Date

Gold
Caraway Grill
1625 Broad St. 306-522-4243 carawaygrill.ca

Silver Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Bronze Siam Honorable Mention Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern

I wouldn’t have thought Regina’s best East Indian restaurant (according to readers, also: reality) was a “budget date” kind of place. Fantastic date, sure — Caraway has amazing food and that’s a thing dates usually like. And while not cheap, Caraway is affordable — you can easily have a great meal for two people for less than $50 — and less than $40, if you stick to vegetarian options. Is delicious, creamy malai kofta a vegetarian option? Why, yes. Yes it is. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Restaurant for a First Date

Gold
La Bodega Tapas Bar and Grill
2228 Albert St. 546-3660

Silver Bushwakker Bronze Flip Eatery & Drink Honorable Mention Fireside Bistro, The Creek In Cathedral

LaBodega is under new ownership but it’s still going strong as a cozy, artful restaurant that’s perfect for dates. Bodega’s layout and decor inspires conversations and flirting — and then there’s the food and beverages. I asked some friends to share their Bodega first date recommendations. Here’s what they said. /Stephen Whitworth

“Lobster poutine. Classy and trashy at the same time, ha! Actually I have no idea. Have fun on your date!” ‒Sarah P.

“Eighteen oysters and two fingers of a nice, peaty Isle of Skye-style Scotch.” ‒Christopher M.

“The mussels in white wine sauce and the lamb enchiladas… two of the best dishes there!” ‒Shawna D.

“Steak frites is the only dish on the menu as far as I’m concerned.” ‒Blair F.

“I can’t see the menu from here; maybe have an old look at it yourself?” ‒Niall O.

“Gin.” ‒Kat S.

Best Restaurant for a Party

Gold
Victoria’s Tavern
1965 Hamilton St. 306-352-8427 victoriastavern.ca.

Silver Bushwakker Bronze Crave Kitchen + Bar Honorable Mention Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern, Fireside Bistro

As far as the titular “Party” goes, there’s a reason Victoria’s is taking home the gold. For those who like to keep their party plans loose, you can just grab a spot in the new-classic pub or its lantern-lit patio. But if you’re a type-A type who insists on calling ahead, use that goodie-goodie tendency to get yourself booked into The James Room. It’s a private party-space with its own bar, taps, TV and jukebox so you can escape randos and ensure guest-list-only exclusivity. /McDuck

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Best Restaurant to Work At

Gold
Bushwakkers
2206 Dewdney Ave. 306-359-7276 bushwakker.com

Silver Flip Eatery & Drink Bronze Malt City Honorable Mention Fireside Bistro, Table 10, Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern

If you’re like me (and I know I am), Bushwakker is where you take your friends when they visit from out of town. When you’ve been going there for as many years as I have, you notice something: a lot of people who work there stay there. That’s the sign of a good business: the lifers. It’s no surprise that the ’Wakker’s Cheryl Tovey has been voted Best Server umpteen times. A casual dress code and relaxed atmosphere no doubt add to employee satisfaction, and as someone who runs a small business, I’ve never heard anyone complain about working there. Also, you’ll notice that when the employees get off, they stick around. Does that happen at your job? I think not. /Chris Scott

Best Family Restaurant

Gold
Boston Pizza
Four locations bostonpizza.com

Silver Houston Pizza Bronze Earls Kitchen + Bar Honorable Mention Applebee’s

Whether it’s dinner after work with a carload of rascals or lunch with grandpa and grandma, Boston Pizza knows how to take care of your family’s needs. There are crayons and colouring books to keep the kids entertained, and clean high chairs and booster seats to corral your little ones. The free pop refills are sure to please all ages. And when it gets a little overwhelming for mom and dad (or the grandparents), there’s a decent drink menu to take the edge off. Reasonable prices, a varied and reliable menu including gluten-free options, plenty of attentive servers, a pleasantly vibrant yet not too loud atmosphere and four locations around the city help make Boston Pizza this year’ top pick for family dining. And did you know the north Albert location co-hosts a board game night every Tuesday with ComicReaders, where players of all ages can gather in a welcoming environment? You do now. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Chain Restaurant

Gold
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
4625 Albert St. 306-585-1717 2515 Dewdney Ave. 306-352-9691 kegsteakhouse.com

Silver Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria Bronze Earls Kitchen + Bar Honorable Mention Boston Pizza

What is the plural of The Keg Steakhouse anyway? Is it Keg Steakhouses or Kegs Steakhouse? Now that the grammar nerds are distracted, let’s talk about the venerable Canadian chain that started in 1971 as ‘The Keg and Cleaver’ in a North Vancouver basement. The Keg’s gone on to become one of the mostly widely recognized restaurant brands in Canada, and a reliable place to go when family members come to town and demand chunks of grilled meat. With the recent opening of the Regina Crossing Keg, Regina once again has a choice of Kegs to visit as it did in the 1980s. Which brings me to my original question: Keg Steakhouses or Kegs Steakhouse? /Aidan Morgan

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians

Gold
13th Avenue Coffee House
3136 13th Ave. 306-522-3111 13thavecoffee.com

Silver Sprout Cafe Bronze Tangerine Honorable Mention The Green Spot, Table 10, Little Saigon

13th Avenue Coffee House has been undefeated in this category for… well, forever. It’s easy to see why: a great, varied menu that will please vegetarians and omnivores alike, located in a great spot in Cathedral that’s a little more accessible than its competitors, and it’s got a great atmosphere for meetings, dates and to do homework. I only recently learned they extended their hours and are now open seven days a week! They must have decided that withholding delicious vegetarian food for two days out of seven was a crime. I know my own Lucky Bowl consumption rate will increase because of this development. /Amy Couzens

Best All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant

Gold
Spices of Punjab
320 Victoria Ave. 306-543-1000 spicesofpunjab.com

Silver I Like Sushi Bronze Sake Honorable Mention Miso Ya, Classic Buffet

The right mix of prairie charm and East Indian cuisine, Spices of Punjab delivers butter chicken like every Indian restaurant should: in a giant vat with plenty of buttery basmati rice. And you can go back as many times as your stomach can handle. My favourite part is when the server walks around with juicy piles of tandoori chicken and naan bread fresh from the clay oven. I always grab two of each and somehow always have room for rice pudding. Wear stretch pants and leave your belt at home. The buffet is open daily from 11 a.m. till 9:30 p.m. /Mike Shiplack

Best Lunch

Gold (tie)

Caraway Grill
1625 Broad St. 306-522-4243 carawaygrill.ca

The Chopped Leaf
2101 Quance St. 306-584-5323 1834 Scarth St.  306-525-2467 choppedleaf.ca

Bronze Sprout Cafe Honorable Mention Tangerine, Fireside Bistro

I can’t argue with voters here. I’ve been to Caraway Grill (or had their take-out) so many times I think there are only two or three items on the menu I haven’t tried, and I’ve yet to find anything I didn’t like. My only complaint is that Caraway is closed Sundays! Favourite dishes include their incredible butter chicken, the delicate spinach paneer and the savoury veg biryani along with the always delicious garlic naan that’s essential for sopping up every bit of sauce on your plate. Add generous portions, reasonable prices and some of the fastest and friendliest service in town and it’s no wonder Caraway is a favourite for lunch or supper. Now on to The Chopped Leaf. As its slogan “Feel Good After You Eat” suggests, its menu is filled with some of the best-tasting healthy options I’ve found in Regina. The food is both flavourful and nutritious, so it’s no wonder Reginans flock to the restaurant’s downtown and eastside locations. The Chopped Tuna Melt sandwich and a bowl of African Spiced Lentil or Thai Curry soup are some of my go-to picks, but you can’t go wrong with one of their creative and filling salads or an order of delicious spring rolls. /Carolyn Rebeyka

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Best Business Lunch

Gold
Beer Bros. Gastropub & Deli
1821 Scarth St. 306-586-2337 beerbros.ca

Silver Crave Kitchen + Bar Bronze Golf’s Steak House Honorable Mention Sprout Café, Fireside Bistro, O’Hanlon’s

Beer Bros. Gastropub & Deli caters to everyone but right now we’re talking business, and no downtown lunch spot has more options for schmoozing/impressing clients: restaurant, lounge, patio, at the bar, or in the private room. The extensive beer menu makes Beer Bros. a perfect drinky-signy lunch option. Also, nearly every lunch item contains beer. The Slow Roast Porchetta Sandwich is delicious, and no matter how hot it gets on the patio, the famous cheddar ale soup is always a winner. The salads are great too. They may or may not contain beer. /Mike Shiplack

Best Lunch Buffet

Gold
Copper Kettle
1953 Scarth St. 306-525-3545 ckpizza.ca

Silver Siam Bronze Flavours of India Honorable Mention Spices of Punjab

What started as a lunch counter serving soup and sandwiches has turned into a restaurant that delivers the best lunch buffet in the city. No restaurant in Regina can offer both the choice and the view of the Copper Kettle. With the beauty of Victoria Park across the street, enjoy your choice of Greek classics, fresh salads, thick slices of Copper Kettle pizza and a variety of nostalgic desserts — when was the last time you had Jello? One thing I’ll miss about the CK buffet is being greeted at the door with a handshake and smile by Robert Gardikiotis. Robert passed away in February, but at least he’s left a terrific legacy. He worked hard to ensure everyone who visited ate well and had a great time. CK’s win in this category reflects that spirit. We love you, Robert. /Mike Shiplack

Best Fast Food

Gold
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
2531 Quance St. 306-569-5555 4666 Gordon Rd. 306-352-5545 fiveguys.com

Silver A&W Bronze Fatburger Honorable Mention McDonald’s, Nacho Fiesta, Carl’s Jr., Burger King

There is so much pressure to make healthy choices in life that sometimes we can miss out on what truly matters: hamburgers. Thick, juicy, hot and beefy. If you need a handcrafted, 920-calorie burger smothered in cheese and bacon (and your choice of 17 different toppings), all packed into a glorious bun, Five Guys has your back. But that’s only half the story. Their French fries are served one of two ways:  Five Guys Style or Cajun Style. Peanut oil is the reason why their fries are so damn tasty. Nut allergy folks beware. And hey, vegetarians they serve veggie burgers and wraps. /Mike Shiplack

Best Chinese Restaurant

Gold
Angkor Southeast Asian Delight
2567 Quance St. 306-522-2388 angkordelight.com

Silver Peking House Bronze Little Saigon Honorable Mention Mei Wei, Shanghai Lily, Lee’s Chop Suey

On one of my rare excursions to the east end, a friend and I visited Angkor Southeast Asian Delight and the place was packed. There was a lineup out the door and inside, staff were run off their feet. Considering how many Chinese restaurants there are in Regina, I’ve never seen one that was SRO (That’s Internet language for “Standing Room Only”). The food was delicious and (if I got a ride) I’d happily go again. The website has pictures (!) and better than average selections for vegetarians (glass noodles, anyone? Thai Basil tofu?) For carnivores there’s a half-duck on the menu. And Thai Rock and Roll Mussels? Shut up and take my money! /Chris Scott

Best Greek Restaurant

Gold
Greko’s Greek Restaurant
4424 Albert Street 306-584-3646 grekosrestaurant.com

Silver Copper Kettle Bronze The Cottage Honorable Mention Opa

When my oldest friend moved to Halifax, it wasn’t just her companionship I missed: we loved to go to all the family restaurants, especially the Greek ones. When she came back to Regina for a visit, and her brother and his family who had moved to Calgary joined us, we went to Greko’s. To this day we talk about the look of pleasure on the brother’s face as he chowed down on the Greek Platter. Seriously, Regina: souvlaki! lamb! moussaka! dolmades! spanakopita! Greko’s has been cooking high quality Greek food since brothers Bob, Chris and George (from the Peloponnese region of southern Greece) opened the restaurant on April 1, 1979. If you’ve never been, you should go — and (in Homer Simpson whisper) GET THE PLATTER. /Chris Scott

Best Indian Restaurant

Gold
Caraway Grill
1625 Broad St. 306-522-4243 carawaygrill.ca

Silver Spices of Punjab Bronze Flavours of India Honorable Mention Da India Curry House, Bombay, Da Pizza ’n’ Curry Express

Although we’d never express our thoughts in print, sometimes when we tally your votes in this annual contest and see who ended up winning in some of the categories we’re stunned at how dumb some of your choices are. Happily, this is one instance where voters made a smart choice. Not to disparage the other finalists — all solid Indian restaurants in their own right — but from his humble location across from Casino Regina on Broad St., Parveen Singh has a well-deserved reputation for serving deliciously authentic Indian food. So congrats to him and the staff at Caraway Grill. /Gregory Beatty

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Best Korean Restaurant

Gold
Orange Izakaya
2136 Robinson St. 306-779-0779

Silver Korea House Bronze Life Is Good

Despite the preponderance of Asian restaurants in Regina, Korean food has never gained the same foothold as, say, Vietnamese food (which is bizarre, because Korean cuisine is objectively the best in the world: spicy, sweet, fermented, tangy, and almost obnoxious in its insistence on being delicious). Orange Izakaya serves Korean-Japanese fusion, which perhaps makes it the least Korean of the three restaurants on the ballot, but the dol sot bibimbap is one of the most satisfying and flavourful dishes in the city. The place is best on a quiet weekday afternoon, when you can enjoy a few appetizers or cups of sake with friends. /Aidan Morgan

Best Thai Restaurant

Gold
Viet-Thai
2080 Albert St. 306-569-3833 vietthairestaurant.com

Silver Siam Bronze Angkor Southeast Asian Delight Honorable Mention Thai Basil

Viet-Thai is a classic Regina dine-in and take-out Asian restaurant at the corner of Albert and 13th. It has good lunch specials, especially if you like vermicelli noodle bowls (a.k.a. bun). I like mine with veggies and tofu (big, delicious fried squares), but there’s also pork, beef, chicken and spring roll options. Viet-Thai’s menu is welcoming to conservative palates without being crummy and, what’s that, recommendations? Sure! There are coconut curries scattered throughout the menu and they’re all good — combinations include green, yellow and red curry with pork, chicken, shrimp, beef and tofu. I love the fried salt and pepper squid, and Szechuan tofu is always good (if you like tofu)(which you should)(because it is good)(so very good). Have a favourite dish you feel strongly about? Let me know: [email protected] We’re about due for a staff lunch. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Gold
Viet-Thai
2080 Albert St. 306-569-3833 vietthairestaurant.com

Silver Ngoc Van Bronze Saigon By Night Honorable Mention Angkor Southeast Asian Delight, Lang’s, Little Saigon

What can I say about Viet-Thai that hasn’t already been said in the 25-plus blurbs I’ve probably edited on this restaurant in my years as Prairie Dog’s Best of Food & Drink coordinator? To begin with, because of the type of establishment it is, Viet-Thai qualifies in lots of categories from Budget Date and Noodle Bowl to Spring Rolls and Wicked Bender. Okay, I’m just kidding about the last one. Maybe. But Viet-Thai does have a lot of range in this contest. But qualifying for a category is only the first step, you’ve still got to deliver the goods when people consider who to nominate, and then actually vote for. To emerge on top, as Viet-Thai has time and time again, shows how popular it is with voters. So all hail Viet-Thai! /Gregory Beatty

Best World Cuisine

Gold
La Bodega Tapas Bar and Grill
2228 Albert Street 306-546-3660 labodegaregina.com

Silver Selam Bronze Afghan Cuisine Honorable Mention Nacho Fiesta

“World cuisine” is a phrase that’s been bandied about in the last few years, but what it means at La Bodega is a great multi-cultural and ever-changing menu. Sure, the emphasis is on tapas (small appetizers or snacks) in a wide variety so you and your friends can sample a lot of different things. But there’s also a Saturday/Sunday brunch and regular tweaks to the menu, including a multi-course offering every month by the chef. Duck nachos? Sure. They mix it up constantly and I’ve had great food in wonderful combinations there for years. Don’t get me started about when they had the half-price wine list, and guess what? It has Regina’s only tree-house patio. /Chris Scott

Best Takeout/Delivery

Gold
Houston Pizza
Eight locations houstonpizza.ca

Silver Caraway Grill Bronze Copper Kettle Honorable Mention Da Pizza ’n’ Curry Express

What started as a family business in the 1970s on Hill Ave. has grown to multiple locations across southern Saskatchewan and even one in Medicine Hat. The Kolitsas brothers were pioneers in Regina-style pizza, but the take-out/delivery at Houston Pizza is all about the full meal deal. I’m talking about the crispy, deep-fried goodness of dry ribs, Caesar salad dripping with creamy dressing, and soda pop in a big cup — all stacked in a plastic bag. That’s how HP does take-out/delivery and Regina has voted that, hell yes, they’re best in class. No matter the party size, HP always delivers. Need pizza for one? No problem. Family dinner for four? There are a few combo options available. Baked spaghetti for 20 people? Easy. And they do debit on delivery. What’s not to love? /Mike Shiplack

Best Meal Presentation

Gold
Flip Eatery & Drink
1970 Hamilton Street 306-205-8345 fliprestaurant.ca

Silver The Willow on Wascana Bronze Sprout Cafe Honorable Mention Crave Kitchen + Bar, Table 10, Fireside Bistro

One of my friends gave me a review of Flip before I’d gone, saying “I loved the food and it looked great — but it drove me crazy that you could see them making it!” When I went, my friend and I purposely sat at the long counter instead of one of the tables so we could watch the chefs work in the open kitchen environment. Launched in 2011 with a mission to revitalize downtown Regina, visiting Flip feels like you’re in another city. Not only does it offer great combinations (poutines, a plate featuring local pulses like chickpeas and lentils, duck with fries and a fried egg!) the food is beautifully presented. The owners claim Flip stands for Feeding Life In People, and as their win in this category attests, they’re succeeding at their mission. /Chris Scott

Best Patio

Gold
O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub/Copper Kettle
1947 Scarth St. 306-566-4094 ohanlons.ca; 1953 Scarth St 306-525-3545 copperkettleregina.com

Silver The Willow On Wascana Bronze La Bodega Honorable Mention Fireside Bistro and Cathedral Freehouse (tie)

Our readers made a great call picking the O’Hanlon’s/Copper Kettle patio as Regina’s best. This terrific deck — which wouldn’t exist if not for beloved business visionary Robert Gardikiotis (we miss you, Robert!) — is where you’ll find great beer (and happy hour pricing, ask about the local taps!); sunshine (usually); a gorgeous view of Victoria Park and a lot of wonderful, colourful and occasionally even loveable characters. Speaking of characters: on Facebook I asked O’Hanlon’s patio regulars why they love the place. Here’s what some of them said. /Stephen Whitworth

“O’Han’s patio was ground zero for me making friends. I would just hang out and chat up the friendly folk sitting around me, as well as the great staff.” —Hasan H.

“A place for ribald jokes, raucous laughter, deep philosophy and deeper friendships.” —Kat S

“Holy crazy fun! If I ever need to see a friend, I know where I can go.” —Honey B.

“I love the green painter’s tape still stuck to the window. The fact that staff are aware of this — and probably started a pool to see how long it will stay up — is delicious. Plus the red chairs are sexy.” —Bryce L.

“O’Hanlon’s is home. It’s family. There are few places, and fewer people, who mean so much to me.” —Jason W.

“Remember that Aaron Walker guy? He was fun to sit on the patio with. Yeah.” —Aaron W.

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Best Rural Saskatchewan Restaurant

Gold
The Grotto
Vibank 306-762-2010

Silver Harvest Eatery (Shaunavon) Bronze Little Red Market Café (Mortlach)

My good fortune at being able to jump in on a last-minute reservation to The Grotto proved two things to me: 1) It would’ve been worth the wait to make a reservation, and 2) Regina REALLY needs a great Mexican restaurant. But part of The Grotto’s charm is the adventure down Hwy 48 to Vibank. For 30 minutes, the car is filled with people drooling about what they will order at this Mexican oasis of culinary delight. Best tamales ever! The reason for the reservation backlog is that The Grotto is actually a café that moonlights as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Saskatchewan on Friday nights only. If you expect tex-mex taco-in-a-bag then turn around now and go back home. My advice: call them up today, take the next available date, and then imagine a Regina that serves real Mexican food. Your reservation will be ready before that dream comes true. /Mike Shiplack

Best Restaurant in Moose Jaw

Gold
Déjà Vu
23 High St. E. 306-692-6066 dejavucafe.ca

Silver Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern Bronze Nit’s Honorable Mention Hopkins, Common Cafe

The cute Déjà Vu Café serves breaded (or not) chicken breasts drenched in your choice of over 70 flavours from Garlic Parmesan to Apple Bliss. Pair it with one of about 70 milkshake flavours. Then remember a childhood day when a couple of mechanically separated chicken nuggets and a chocolate milk felt like a goddamn feast. Now have adult-you tell child-you to suck it — the grown-up version is worth growing up for. Fuggin Chiggen. Drool. /McDuck

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