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Calgary Street Eats?

Saw a great thread recently on the Toronto board dealing with street eats. Basically any place you can just walk up, place an order and walk away, chowing down.

What are some of the gems in Calgary? Any stars at the farmer's markets? Any honest-to-goodness street vendors doing some open-air grilling? Any burger/chip vans to speak of? Any pupusa nazis? Food court surprises?

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  1. Great topic starter, Jim!

    I'd say that the street food most ubiquitous in Calgary is, without question, the Vietnamese sub. Yes, it's well-represented in other markets but the format of the viet sub is different here (ie, BIGGER), and the sheer number of stores selling it make it a kind of Calgary version of Toronto's roti or jamaican pattie.

    Having said that, I have three faves: the original location of Banh Mi Thi Thi in Chinatown in a dingy tiny place (no seating, so it fully meets your definition of street food) across 1st St SE from the Harry Hays fed gov bldg; Kim Anh on 17th Ave SW across the street from Western Canada High (this is not to be confused with that inferior [IMHO] Thai Tai on the same block)- Kim Anh also makes a fantastic chicken curry on rice- cheap and a great feed; and the subs at my favourite local (ie, a block from my home) viet place, Noodle King- this one does have proper seating but I almost always get it to go. All their food is tasty and that includes splendid and cheap banh mi.

    Calgary does a pretty good job in the shawarma area (and has much improved since my move here in 2000) and I think there are discussions of this in the archives- some standouts (depending on whom you ask) are shawarma king, falafel king, pita express, pita's plus, shawarma station, sammy's, tazza, and soby's.

    We don't have the incredible number of hot dog carts that Toronto has, but we have at least two hot dog places that sell "gourmet" dogs that are much MUCH better (and twice as expensive) as T-dot's "street meat." I love both of these places: Tubby Dog on 17th SW at about 9th and Le Chien Chaud on 4th SW in the same building as Jugo Juice (around 21st st). Before anybody recommends that dog place in Bowness, know that it has been sold and is now more of a viet sub shop.

    Things I want for Calgary:

    1. More damn roti. My partner is from Trinidad and we miss Island Foods (et al) in Toronto- it is a singular source of embarassment for a Trini to have to go to a Jamaican place for roti, but such is our dilemma here.
    2. Calgary really, really, really, desparately needs some real baja-style burrito places. Yes we have that place over by sunridge- near rona, strip mall w/ second cup and wendy's, the place that has the fantastic salsa bar- but that's it. I want to see a place like BURRITO BOYZ in TO open here, dammit! We have the LA style hot dog places (this is what Tubby Dog is), now let's do two-fisted burritos!

    8 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Have you tried T&T Organettes and Social Club? They are obviously Trini, and serve Roti et al at lunch.

        1. re: newJJD

          They moved a while ago, so im not sure if the address i have written down is accurate (i believe it is the new address though). I have:

          Bay 24, 2110 - 41st Avenue NE
          Their phone number has stayed the same though... you can always call them first at 275-1905.

          Don't expect much for dining facilities... it's more a social club than restaurant. But the food/Roti is as good as i've had here in Calgary. Unfortunately, it isnt as good as ones i've had in Toronto for some reason, but oh well....

        2. re: yen

          Yep- we go there when we can but it's a drive!

        3. re: John Manzo

          You're referring to Chico's Tecate Grill. Great place, once-a-week for me... love the Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Salsa Verde!

          1. re: newJJD

            I think Chico's Tecate Grill has been taken over by some chain either Taco Bell or Taco Time.... I think they kept part of the name though.

            1. re: sleepycat

              It's a Taco Time Cantina. Same decor, same setup.

              1. re: yen

                Yes that's it. It's all the same including the food? Wonder why the owner sold.

        4. I'm with you on the burrito front – I'd give my left cojone for a big ol' fish burrito. Actually, I'd settle for a solid fish taco...don't know if I ever found one in Edmonton. I wonder why street tacos have never taken off in this part of the world? I know, I know... it's three month vocation, but if hot dog vendors make a go of it here, why not tacos? (I'm talking the little guys you order three of at a time, then condiment them to oblivion.)

          1. Rocky's burger bus certainly qualifies. You walk up, and chow down. I haven't tried the fries, but the burgers are good if you like the thick as your fist patties. It is my husband's favorites. They are rather anemic on the toppings, but if cheese and bacon are the only embellishments you seek, this is the place. It is kind of out of the way though, in the industrial part of town.

            2 Replies
            1. re: alex8alot

              Where might a fella find this bus? Or does it move around?

              1. re: BIG jim

                Rocky's Burger Bus is a permanent fixture in an industrial park off Blackfoot (1120 - 46th Ave SE). Alex doesnt give it justice when she says they are as think as your fist... they are actually bigger! Huge mounds of meat. Unfortunately, not seasoned... so i find them to be a bit of a trial to finish. Toppings are sparse as she mentioned... they will add Chili or other condiments for a small fee as well. But it's basically beef and a whole lot of it.

            2. Plus, tacos are dead easy to do production line style- stewed meats, one of those steam warmer things for the tortillas and a grill, and real tacos are basically just CORN torillas, meat, maybe come onion and cilantro, maybe pico di gallo (sp?), squeeze of lime and maybe a little sprinkle of queso fresco- NO farking lettuce, NO tomatoes, NO taco bell garbage! And they take maybe 30 seconds to make.

              Burritos are a tad more compicated but when we can have great steam-table production lines as they have at Tiffin's (where you can make a great Indian "taco" with rotis and butter chicken!) or Thi Thi, doing Mexican is just a step sideways. The "burritos" at Wrapture DO NOT CUT IT.

              They have Taco del Mar in Vancouver- now how do they rank???? We're the consumer champs in Canada, Taco del Mar should be HERE!

              4 Replies
              1. re: John Manzo

                Never been to Taco del Mar... I will try it out on the Long Weekend and Post back...

                I wonder if they have Yucatan style-food, like barbacoa (slow cooked seasoned shredded beef) and Carnitas (slow cooked, spiced pork) That U.S. Chain, Chipotle does a killer job with these two items... BTW do not eat at BAJA Fresh in the U.S. -- more like BAJA Stale! stick to Chipotle!

                1. re: newJJD

                  Taco del Mar is akin to Baja Fresh- now I do like Baja Fresh but will never take it over a real taqueria.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    Of course not - they are two totally different classifications. "Californian" Burrito's don't use many of the classical mexican ingredients (lard for the most part) in favour of healthier ingredients. But they maintain the same size, quality, and price point of a taqueria. There is not substitute for the real thing, but when you're stuck in DFW with a bunch of red necks, it'll do just fine :)

                2. re: John Manzo

                  Taco Del Mar is here. There is one up and running in Southrail Crossing in the SE (Deerfoot and 130th) right next to the McDonalds. I have seen a couple others under construction, but I forget where they were. Edit - got all excited until I read the date on the original post. Being 2006 half the stuff in Southtrail Crossing (including Taco Del Mar) was not there :)

                3. You know, I got dragged out for some eats with my old roommate - so we ended up at Joey Tomato's in Chinook (Suburban chain food is a guilty occasional pleasure). I had the Baja "blackened" Basa and shrimp soft tacos -
                  They weren't blackened, but lightly battered and deepfried - served in a soft taco with guac, cilantro, some chopped tomato, and I have to admit - were rather good. I've only had fish taco's once before at Berryhill (Eau Claire). But I liked the Joey ones better.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Gobstopper

                    this sounds fantastic...

                    have all joey tomatoes rebranded as "joey's"?

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      Pretty Much... Some still say Joey Tomatoes rather than the new "Joey Global" But the menues are all updated and serve food similare to sister chain Earl's, with a Med influence.

                      No more cheap pizza and pasta

                      The fish tacos are pretty solid. I order them without cilantro. I dunno I just can't stand the stuff. Not on Mex food and certainly not on my Viet-subs!

                      The sushi tacos and Ahi Tuna tacos are good little appy's too.