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Low- to mid-priced dinner in Calgary

It was my best friend's birthday recently and I'd like to treat her to a dinner. She loves to try new things, and is especially impressed by good atmosphere and a unique menu. Being a financially challenged student, I was hoping to find somewhere with entrées in the $15 - $25 range (at most).

I've been looking at some restaurants in Calgary based on previous Chowhound posts, like Rouge, Capo, Divino, and Centini, but they seem a bit too expensive. Does anyone know of something slightly less pricey but that still has different and well-done fare?

One requirement: she asked that it not be Asian food.

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  1. You probably are going to have to go ethnic. I hesitate to suggest the Moroccan Castle because while the food was really good and different the service was atrocious.

    Pegasus if Greek is of interest.

    I know more will come to me once I think a little.

    1. Mango shiva is quite good and mostly fits in that price range.
      Don't be afraid of the sandwich and flatbread section of divino - they are very satisfying !
      Diner Deluxe is nice and have a half price wine night which is (I think) tuesday or wednesday.
      Open Range looks mostly in that price range as well.

      If you don't plan on ordering "THE BIG STEAK" then you can dine quite well for under 25.

      My partner quite enjoyed Victorias on a recent lunch, so that could be an option.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gobstopper

        Open Range is still a very nice space, but i think it will cost a lot more than what the OP wants to spend. In a recent trip there, there were many dishes over 25, and everything costs - heck, even the bread basket costs $3.

        To the OP: my suggestion would be this: you obviously don't wish to go to a nice place and then limit your friend on what she can order - what kind of birthday would that be right?! :) Is a birthday lunch a possibility? A lot of the nice places you are discussing have lunch menu's that keep prices within the 15-25 range, the portions are slightly smaller, but the food is equally good, and the atmosphere equally nice. Most of the downtown restaurants all have great lunch menu's.

        But if it has to be dinner, i can think of a few places that have a nice ecelectic atmosphere in your price range (im considering 15-20 since that usually means the top entree comes in at 25). You arent going to get white linen and great heavy silverware, but each restaurant is quite unique in it's own right.

        The Coup (vegetarian) comes to mind. It's a bit crowded, but it has a comfy, eclectic kind of atmosphere with great food. But it's vegetarian, which i generally avoid unless a veggie friend wants to dine out.

        Is driving an option? Consider taking a quick trip out to Canmore and dine at Crazyweed. The ambiance isnt perfect, but the food is good, and the "atmosphere" of dining in the mountains, as well as the drive, should be good for time to gab.

        I've never eaten there, so i can't comment on the food, but Mercato in the Mission would be a unique dining experience as well. Staying in the mission, Latin Corner, next to Towa Sushi on 4th Street has a nice atmosphere and food that falls in that range. I know John will hate this, but the food at Antonio's Garlic Glove is original, ecelectic, and very good. The issue is they may still allow smoking - though the last time i was there there wasnt anyone smoking. If the smoke doesnt bother you, this would be a good choice too.

        On Stephen Avenue, The Conga Room, where i wasnt thrilled with the food but i know a lot of other people have had different experiences, is a fun place to try (unique menu and a fun atmosphere), and everything falls in your price range.

        Sorry im drawing blanks on anything else right now, but ill repost if i think of anymore. Good luck!

      2. If nobody but the damn owner smokes in Antonio's, why is it a smoking establishment? Sheesh- well it'll be over soon.

        I agree with Gob that many restos can fit in your price range depending on what you order, but I think you want value all over the menu.... may I recommend:

        1. Siding Cafe
        2. Buon Giorno
        3. Cafe Koi (VERY groovy atmosphere!)
        4. The Coup
        5. Diner Deluxe
        6. Crush (smoking bar, nonsmoking dining area, nice atmosphere)
        7. Artisan Cafe (newer tapas place in Bridgeland)

        Those are some off the top of my head- your options are pretty extensive!

        2 Replies
        1. re: John Manzo

          John,

          I have to veto Siding Cafe. The last time i was there, i had a horrendous experience. NO service, the worst food, etc... i used to love it. I ran into my favourite Siding Cafe waiter at Open Range last weekend, and he mentioned all the staff had quit since the renos. That was pretty telling. It's too bad too, since i loved the food there.

          I also don't like Buon Giorno, but grudgingly admit it fits the bill.

          Koi is really good food (the Chef was from The Coup), and a groovy atmosphre as well, just very very casual. Crush has good food... i never think of it (since it is really a drinking establishment with good food).

          You know, come to think of it, La Brezza falls into that price range (the veal is in the 24-26 range, but everything else is 15-22), has white linen, and the whole "fancier" type of atmosphere. Good Italian food too. And who doesnt like Pasta!? :)

          1. re: yen

            hmmmmm... now that you mention it, things were really off at Siding last time I was there (a couple of weeks ago) but put it down to the fact that our server was brand new and they were having this wine-tasting event there at the time. I'll admit I was very disappointed that they took the meatloaf off the menu, for dinner at least.

            Buon Giorno has a really nice pizza- try it some time! And I love what they do with green beans.

        2. i've tried pretty much everything at Buon Giorno - my old office was near there, and we always went there (or the Met)for celebratory and good bye meals etc... (sigh). I just don't see what the fuss is about, but that's just my opinion.

          1. Disapponting to hear about Siding Cafe! Although I have not been there I gather Sandro's is a good little mom and pop's Italian restaurant that sounds like it would fit the bill. Also, I've had pretty good luck at Il Giordano.