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Let's be honest. Fort McMurray is no gourmand's paradise. Until very recently, it might even have been a food fancier's version of hell. The recent corporate invasion bumped things up to adequate, with the arrival of Moxie's (9521 Franklin Ave.; tel. 780/791-1996), a chain roadhouse-style restaurant, and Earl's (9802 Morrison St.; tel. 780/791-3275), a popular North American chain with a surprisingly cosmopolitan menu -- Thai curries and vindaloos mixed in amid the burgers and fries.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Earl's quickly became the busiest place in town, satisfying the pent-up demand; similarly, the lounge at Earl's, called Fuel, slaked the town's thirst for a bar where the women didn't take their clothes off (for money, at least; on a Saturday night at Fuel, anything could happen).

The best eating in town, however, is undeniably at the Sawridge Hotel and Conference Centre (530 Mackenzie Blvd.; tel. 780/791-7100), a large hotel on the town's southern fringes, at its Hearthstone Grill and Lounge. You can dine from a list of Alberta classics, like a beautiful bacon-wrapped Alberta beef tenderloin, a walleye fillet from the northern lakes, or pork chops from the nearby town of Trochu, all complemented by a huge stone fireplace and soaring, vaulted rough-timber cathedral ceilings. The menu is a little eclectic to be true fine dining -- quesadillas and nachos are among the appetizers, alongside mussels and heart of palm salad -- but everything, from the wood-fired pizzas to the juicy rib-eyes, is good. And in Fort McMurray, where you'll surely be looking for comfort at some point, this is the place to find it.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.