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May 20, 2007 06:35 AM

Calgary Saturday Lunch Recs?

Hi all! I just discovered this board and I was wondering if anyone would have any Saturday lunch recommendations in the NW, NE or near the downtown core. My family is considering where to go, now that the Olive Garden has annoyed us beyond endurance. Budget isn't really a consideration, it's my father's lack of interest in unusual foods. Anyway, the only thing we can't consider at all is East Indian restaurants... my mother and I love them but we can't get father in even if we drag him. :) Do you have any good lunch recommendations? Thanks!

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  1. Coincidently, I was recently looking for a Saturday lunch spot and I discovered that most of the restos I was interested in going to were not open for lunch on Saturdays. Consequently, we opted to go to Rouge for dinner on Friday which was excellent as always.
    In my research, however, I did note that Brava Bistro is open for Saturday lunch. I have had very good luck in the past with BB but I have noticed some rather luke warm reviews of late from some of our fellow Hounds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hart50

      Thank you for the recommendation. :) It sounds interesting!

    2. Redwater Rustic GRille is in the northwest across from the Foothills hospital (Stadium Shopping Center). I haven't tried it yet, but several reviews on varioius sites seem to rate it quite highly. The food isn't too out there, but seems to offer some nice twists on favorites.

      3 Replies
      1. re: alex8alot

        Ah, thank you! I actually know that place, my mother works in that mall, but we weren't sure how good it would be. We'll definitely have to try it now, thanks again!

        1. re: AriaDream

          I hope it doesn't disappoint. i have been meaning to go because someone on this board mentioned that they had the best salmon dish in their Calgary experience there, and I do like salmon. Even a fussy relative of mine liked it, so I figure it's worth a try.

        2. re: alex8alot

          i was at that redwater location for lunch last week - i wasn't that impressed and surprised by that because a co-worker and her husband swear by the south location.

          i had the bison burger and salad - i've sampled a couple other bison burger and salads recently at Bison in Banff and Wildwood (pre hepA scare) and they both were a million times better than redwater. the burger was a bit too thick and the salad was a bit wilty and only a couple drops of dressing.

          We were there with clients for a business lunch and they wanted to check out the new location. They ordered a prawn appetizer for the table (it looked quite flavourful), the prawns were presented on a piece of baguette and lots of could have killed someone with that bread - a steak knife couldn't even get through it and it was smothered in sauce?!!?! that was a bit of a meal killer, especially when everything else was mediocre. The crowd was curious too - almost all women and most over 45 as well.

        3. There are few things more delectable in Calgary than Lina's Italian Market on a Saturday. Get there before noon to grab a table, head up to the tavola calda (cafeteria style) to pick what you'd like, and feast. I've never been disappointed, except by the size of the crowd. Nothing is too challenging but it's all delicious. I'd only suggest you skip the pizza, which is nothing special. I almost always get a veggie panzerotto, a rice-mozza croquet, and either a bowl of soup or a veggie side AND a sausage. And an aranciata to drink. And then maybe a canneloni.

          Lina's is a good location given your requirements Centre and 21st Ave NE.

          1 Reply
          1. re: John Manzo

            This sounds very interesting too, thank you for the recommendation. It's so hard to find places for Saturday! :)

          2. If your father isnt extremely adventerous, i can recommend a few staple-type places you may want to try. Extreme Bean on Memorial (south side of memorial next to the gas station.. i think it's about 36th Street W (South of Foothills) or something like that, has great fresh sandwiches, organic salads, and soups. It's quite busy, but it's got a nice atmosphere and is fairly inexpensive.

            If you want to get him to try new foods, going to the Calgary Farmers Market is a good experience as well. Lots of food stalls, and lots of little things to try. It's a fun family experience. A bit more walking than your average meal though :)

            Typically, the only restaurants not open for lunch on Saturday's are fine dining type restaurants. All Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants will be open. In the NW, there's an abundance of chains in Crowfoot Circle and Dalhousie Station if you're looking for Olive Garden equivalents.

            Near downtown you should consider a walk around Kensington - there are a lot of dining options that all are open for lunch. Nicer places like Osteria de Medici, and the Verve (NOT recommended by me btw) are open for lunch. Lots of eclectic places worth eating at as well.

            As for the NE, there's a plethora of steak houses open (Cattle Baron, Carvers, Reef and Beef) that all serve passable beef. Some different chains (like Cocktail Club) that serve decent food, and a bunch of smaller, decent restaurants like Thai Boat and Misai (Japanese).

            Anyway, if there's a type of food or an area that works better for you, give some of those a try. My favorite meal for Saturday is Tazza Deli in Bridgeland (Lebanese). It's a good balance of tasty, and not too ethnic :) Just a personal disclaimer though, i have developed a personal relationship with the owners of Tazza.

            15 Replies
            1. re: yen

              Verve Kensington is no more!! Closed up and papered over last I walked by.

              1. re: John Manzo

                Yay! Im interested in seeing what entrepreneur will try to succeed in that location next!

              2. re: yen

                Yen, intrigued by your description of "tasty but not too ethnic".... can you elaborate a little? My husband will not enter a new establishment unless I can cite at least one viable option for him.

                1. re: alex8alot

                  From my perspective, "too ethnic" typically means introducing flavours and/or ingredients that are often a stretch for North Americans. For example, raw fish, beef tongue, chicken feet, are ingredient examples of too ethnic. Fish sauce, curries, are examples of flavours that people often find to be "too ethnic". However, this doesnt mean that all ethnic food is unpalatable - like satay - BBQ meat on a stick. Patties (meat in pastry). These things are generally universally loved, even though they are "ethnic" foods. Pyrogies, etc.. im sure you can come up with millions.

                  Tazza is Lebanese, which is a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern blend. They use ingredients like chicken and beef. "Exotic" ingredients are things like chick peas in the falafels, or pickles in their salad. The spicing and flavours are good, and mild enough, that they are quite palatable to everyone - even those generally adverse to ethnic foods.

                  They make 3 basic things there that are good. Shwarma/Shish Tawouk, which i tell people is a "Lebanese wrap". It's just marinated, spit roasted chicken or beef wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, hot peppers and a yoghurt garlic sauce. These are available as a salad as well for a nice light meal. Secondly are "dips" - so the usual Med combo of Hummus (chick pea and garlic), Tzatziki (yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill), and Baba Ganoush (egg plant and garlic) served with pita. Obviously these are more complex than that, but those are the primary flavours. People typically don;'t know what tahini is, but it doesnt really matter :) Lastly, they have fattayers - which is meat, or cheese, baked in dough. These come in chicken, beef, cheese, or spinach and feta varieties.

                  I've had a lot of picky eaters cross my path, and universally, they all enjoy Lebanese food. As my Midwestern US colleague who was in town for meetings today said to me, "Lets go back to that Arabic place and get that chicken sandwich. That was damn tasty".

                  Hope your husband takes the step!

                  1. re: yen

                    Oh I am excited! i didn't realise that it was shawarma. I just went to Kalamata this evening to buy tahini in an attempt to make my own shawarma sauce. All the recipes seem to feature both tahini and yogurt. Anyway, what I haven't tried are the fattayers, and they sound like they are custom tailored to my husband's tastes (he has perhaps two tastes: one involves meat and the other involves cheese). So A&A being my standard, I wonder, is that Lebanese or is it different from Tazza's? I suppose that I will just go and find out for myself. Just curious. Thanks Yen!

                    1. re: alex8alot

                      One other thing Yen, seeing as how you are friends with these people, any chnace that they would share the recipe for the yogurt garlic sauce? The recipes I have found vary so wildly that before even trying them out, I am skeptical. If I could save myself the disappointment, I would be thrilled. Just thougth I would try :)

                      1. re: alex8alot

                        The "garlic sauce" that most lebanese places use if mayo based, not yogurt based- in fact it's basically an aioli.

                        Yen, I am in Portland now and after I dropped by bags off at my hotel I walked two blocks to Azteca Taqueria and had three tacos pequenos- one mole chicken, one carne asada, and one "spicy pork" with a salsa verde. You would have been in heaven- I was! Price, with a LARGE strawberry-lemonade, fresh squeezed, was $6.75.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          John you should be ashamed! Torturing our poor, no Mexican available, Calgarian souls! It's just mean. :)

                          1. re: John Manzo

                            That's exactly what I was thinking, hence my deep skepticism in regards to the recipes I had found, and my rather hopeful request of Yen that an insider could get me a recipe. But Yen did say yogurt sauce, so we'll see.

                            1. re: alex8alot


                              Well, i was corrected today. It is tahini based... which boggles my mind considering how "white" and liquidy it is. But apparently i am incorrect. There is no dairy in it. I was told there is a couple secret ingredients in the sauce, but they can't tell me. Trade secret. Sorry, but i tried.

                              1. re: yen

                                Thanks for trying Yen, much appreciated. I didn't get to try my version that day after all, but I will soon. But before that, I will have to try Tazza's first.

                            2. re: John Manzo

                              That is just plain mean John. Don't get me wrong, im happy for you. But that's still mean :)

                            3. re: alex8alot

                              Tazza doesnt use the thick aioli sauce - definitely very different. The biggest problem i think you face is that they make their own yoghurt for their sauces. I think that is a lot of effort.

                              Im not sure they'll tell me, but i'll ask.

                              1. re: yen

                                hmmmm good to know. Yes, the A&A sauce seems more mayo like, and the shawarma king one seemed more yogurt/tahini based, which I preferred, but I can't bring myself to return to the SK since the incidents, so I endure Jimmy. Now it looks like I have an alternative. As for the meat, I freely admit it is secondary... I am in it for the sauce!

                            4. re: alex8alot

                              A&A is considered Lebanese. Tazza is much much better than A&A. Better meat, better seasoned, better ingredients. I like Jimmy, but his product only has quantity, not quality on it's side.