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Calgary Steakhouse recommendation?

c.bourden Jun 13, 2007 06:22 PM

I will be visiting Calgary in a few weeks, and I would love to enjoy a top quality, well preparted Alberta Steak. Any recommendations, preferably downtown?


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  1. s
    sync RE: c.bourden Jun 14, 2007 09:28 AM


    1. s
      sackman RE: c.bourden Jun 14, 2007 01:09 PM

      I second Caesar's. I'm not sure there's any other steakhouse that comes close. The consistency is amazing.

      1. formerlyfingers RE: c.bourden Jun 14, 2007 04:05 PM

        Steakhouses are funny creatures.......usually great meat at all the big ones, but often abysmal sides, desserts, etc. Which is why I will recommend Vintage Chophouse over the others. Great steak and relatively OK everything else. I had a total pigout feast there recently on someone else's contra gift card and we left very happy. It doesn't have the goofy and outdated vibe of a "traditional"Alberta steak place. Unless that's part of their appeal, to some, it doesn't do much for me. Vintage has a much more contemporary, classy and urban feel to it. I recommend it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: physio
          existential_crisis RE: physio Feb 4, 2011 10:31 AM

          I just ate at Vintage last night and I wasn't exactly impressed. The atmosphere was nice and the service was ok. But we each ordered a New York Strip Loin and when they came to the table I actually had to ask if what we were served was, indeed, NY strip loin. They were thick and small. It took some asking around before it was explained to be that these strip loins were "California cut" ... I was confused how the steaks could be both "New York" and "California cut" ... so I've been doing some research today and I'm still confused.

          Either way, I was not impressed with these steaks. I prefer my New York strip loins to be, well, new york strip loins. I don't know if these steaks were cut against the grain or whatever, but they were chewier than they should have been, and not as juicy and flavourful as they should have been. I really think they ought to say on the menu that the steaks are California cut.

          I had MUCH better steak at Chicago Chophouse.

          Chicago Chophouse
          604 8th Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1G5, CA

          1. re: existential_crisis
            TSAW RE: existential_crisis Feb 4, 2011 07:47 PM

            California cut? Sounds like something they made up, along the same lines as a 'cowboy' steaks. LOL

            1. re: existential_crisis
              hsk RE: existential_crisis Feb 5, 2011 07:03 AM

              Apparently it's a strip loin cut lengthwise first and then cut into steaks so they are half as wide and twice as thick. I like my steaks rare so if they were serving say a 6oz NY steak I would probably prefer it. On a 12oz steak I'd probably prefer it the usual way.

              I agree they probably should have said, so you knew what you were getting, sort of like when people order 12oz filet med-well and they ask if it's ok butterflied so the rare steak guys don't have to wait so long.

              1. re: hsk
                existential_crisis RE: hsk Feb 5, 2011 10:42 AM

                I ordered my 10oz strip loin medium rare, which I find any able chef is capable of executing. My girlfriend ordered hers rare. Both steaks were cooked accordingly, but she was also not impressed with her steak. It simply wasn't juicy... her plate was dry after finishing - which seems strange for a rare steak.

                The menu at Earl's features "California Cut NY Strip Loin" steaks.... I wonder if this is actually a Calgary invention.

          2. pants RE: c.bourden Jun 15, 2007 01:08 PM

            you know, it's not where one would necessarily go for steak but....i really enjoyed the steak i had at murietta's last summer - it was delicious, a nice room, good wine selection and great cocktails...

            and i know it's not very chowhoundly but we also enjoy steak at the plain old keg downtown (desperately needs a reno but...)

            we've been going to vintage for lunch the past couple fridays but nobody ever orders steak - i enjoy the bar side and the food and service are always good - less guys in the white coats on the bar side... :)

            1. y
              yen RE: c.bourden Jun 15, 2007 01:52 PM

              The Bear's Den carries what they term AAAA, which after some research i believe is Canada Prime. I've been once a few months after they opened, and thought it was only ok. But i was paying that time :)

              Downtown, many people like Caesars, it's sort of an institutional classic, but the meat is only ok. From my perspective, there isnt a whole lot of difference between Buchanans, Owls Nest, Caesars, and when it was still open, Hy's. They all serve good quality AAA, at slightly inflated prices.

              2 Replies
              1. re: yen
                John Manzo RE: yen Jun 15, 2007 04:05 PM

                Owl's Nest is no more, Yen. That space is becoming a Keg.

                Best steaks I've had in Calgary have been at River Cafe and at Brava, but I don't often order steak and have never been to a proper "steakhouse" here, well except Buchanan's and I got a burger there.

                1. re: John Manzo
                  ImStuffed RE: John Manzo Aug 12, 2009 09:43 AM

                  The River Cafe is fantastic.

              2. h
                Hart50 RE: c.bourden Jun 16, 2007 10:18 AM

                Although I have always enjoyed my steaks at Caesers downtown over the years I recently had a superb steak at Vintage.

                1. a
                  anewton RE: c.bourden Jun 17, 2007 08:31 AM

                  I had a good meal at Carvers Steakhouse at the Sheraton in the Northeast. A bit of a drive, but everything, including sides and desserts, was good.

                  1. c
                    cckid RE: c.bourden Jun 17, 2007 12:51 PM

                    The best steak I've ever had in Calgary for the best prices has to be Nicks on Crowchild Trail in the northwest..... Its been there forever and looks like a 70 s place but who cares????????

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cckid
                      John Manzo RE: cckid Jun 17, 2007 04:35 PM

                      There was a Nick's stand at Marda Gras last summer (Marda Loop's steet fair) and they had a steak sandwich with striploin- it was FANTASTIC. I always order pizza from them but if their steak in house is as good as that stuff on a paper plate, then I second this recommendation.

                      1. re: cckid
                        sharonanne RE: cckid Jun 19, 2007 04:23 PM

                        The only steak I've had at Nick's was too thin to be cooked rare which is the only way I think steak should be cooked. I know what people here think of the Keg but at least I can get a steak burned on the outside and cool on the inside.

                      2. a
                        aktivistin RE: c.bourden Jun 17, 2007 12:54 PM

                        I concur with those that have recommended Vintage Chophouse. Good quality meat that is tender and flavourful.

                        1. t
                          taiphun RE: c.bourden Jun 17, 2007 11:23 PM

                          Caesars and the Carver.

                          If you go to the Carver, the steak is served on cast iron plates/skillets, so make your order on the rare side of your preference, say med. rare, but more on the rare side, as the steak continues to cook while you're eating, so when you're done, your med. rare steak will be closer to medium.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: taiphun
                            foxyfreckles RE: taiphun Jun 18, 2007 11:13 AM

                            Aren't you supposed to let meat rest after cooking it? Wouldn't that iron skillet sort of defeat the purpose?

                          2. Jigga RE: c.bourden Jun 18, 2007 11:16 AM

                            I agree that Vintage and Murrietta's have good steak. I also had an excellent steak recently at River Cafe - plus the setting there at this time of year is unbeatable.

                            1. f
                              feuerzeug RE: c.bourden Jun 18, 2007 02:06 PM

                              I personally would recommend against Caesar's - Hy's is a better example of that type of steakhouse, but is a chain, albeit one that originated here. Caesar's includes garlic/cheese toast, soup and salad with the meal, but they are all average, and lately the steak has been average too.
                              If you're downtown, try Buchanan's. I think they bill themselves as a chop house rather than a steak house, but I've tried steak all around Calgary, and theirs is among the best in my opinion. Or if you want something more like a traditional steakhouse, go to the Chicago Chophouse, instead of Vintage. They are more like a Morton's-type of place, and the side dishes and desserts are very good as well. But Chicago and Vintage are both a la carte, so expect to pay more. Buchanan's includes veg and side, so it is a better value. Chicago has a cooler atmosphere.
                              Also, the revolving restaurant in the Calgary Tower serves a really delicious steak. Nick's is OK, but not downtown, and probably not worth the drive.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: feuerzeug
                                Shazam RE: feuerzeug Jun 19, 2007 07:41 AM

                                Hy's is gone for the moment though.

                                Chicago Chophouse is not good.

                                1. re: feuerzeug
                                  cckid RE: feuerzeug Jun 19, 2007 07:42 AM

                                  Hy was a great steak house,but is no more.hopefully they will rebuild.

                                2. Jigga RE: c.bourden Jun 19, 2007 07:38 AM

                                  I'd also recommend Mercato - they aren't a steak place at all but they have an amazing ribeye with grilled lemons and arugula. Probably my favorite steak in town.

                                  On the other hand, I'd disagree with any recommendation to go to the Chicago Chophouse. I had the worst service and most average food there a while ago and will never go back again.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Jigga
                                    marcopolo RE: Jigga Jun 19, 2007 09:21 AM

                                    let me also pile on with the dis-recommendations of Chicago Chophouse. I had some friends in town a few years back so took them there for the 'typical calgary experience' and was awfully disappointed. overpriced, the steaks were tough, and sides were poor. an the service was so-so. Plus it's a vickers establishment if i'm not mistaken, so... you know, another reason to stay away.

                                    1. re: marcopolo
                                      newJJD RE: marcopolo Jun 21, 2007 07:27 PM

                                      I am also anti- Chicago Chophouse, In my opinion it shares the title of " Calgary's most-overpriced restaurant that somehow stays busy because of its supposed great atmosphere" with Belgo. Before you call me a Vickers-hater, I will tell you that I do like Ceili's and put more money into Cowboys and The Drink (now Tantra) in my colllege years than I care to remember.

                                      I have always enjoyed the Steak at Smuggler's.... NOT the tradtional prime rib dinner, but the menu item that specifically is callled Prime Rib Steak. Very flavorful and well-marbled.

                                      I like

                                      1. re: newJJD
                                        Bob Mac RE: newJJD Jun 22, 2007 10:00 AM


                                        Or in my case at similar establishments,

                                        "...and put more money into Cowboys and The Drink (now Tantra) in my colllege years "that I wish I could" remember...." [writer's editorial commentary]

                                        On visits to Smuggler's I too have had the prime rib steak and quite enjoyed it in the very dated atmosphere...but then again that is probably what these spots are all about.

                                    2. re: Jigga
                                      Bex_03 RE: Jigga Feb 7, 2010 07:04 PM

                                      Mmm, the Bistecca (Ribeye with lemon and arugula) at Mercato's is so good. It's one of my favorite steaks

                                    3. f
                                      feuerzeug RE: c.bourden Jun 21, 2007 08:12 PM

                                      I have always had good steak at Chicago Chophouse, and I was referring to it more in comparison to Vintage, because the concepts are so similar, i.e. like Morton's or maybe Ruth's Chris from the States. If you want that kind of experience, I would choose Chicago over Vintage.
                                      Also, I've had great steak at Teatro and the Belvedere. And Murietta's.
                                      I think Caesar's and Smugglers are both overrated for steak. The last couple of times I've been to both have been disappointing. Maybe it is because I have been eating at both for years that I am upset by what I perceive to be a decline in quality.
                                      For a surprisingly good steak outside of the downtown core, like Nick's, go see Andy at Capri on 16th Avenue and Edmonton Trail. Like Nick, he's a Greek. He claims to have worked at Hy's and invented the famous seasoning salt. Now, I can't say if that's true, but give the place a shot and see what you think.

                                      1. c
                                        c.bourden RE: c.bourden Jul 4, 2007 04:53 AM

                                        Thanks everyone for all of your recommendations. After careful reading, I have booked at Vintage Chop House for my one dinner in Calgary on Friday night. I'll let you all know my thoughts.

                                        1. b
                                          buddharocket RE: c.bourden Sep 25, 2008 08:49 PM

                                          Open Range on Edmonton Trail N and 11th Ave is amazing. TOP quality cuts done with a little flare. Seriously, check it out!


                                          1. i
                                            Ilikegreatfood RE: c.bourden Dec 20, 2009 02:18 PM

                                            Caesar's Restaurant (overall 3/10)

                                            This place may have been good back in its heyday but it is mostly far below par now. I ate there last night with a group of friends, here are the problems:

                                            - poor service: waiter was reaching over people's plates to serve others. Also, waiter had to be prompted a number of times to keep the water glasses filled.
                                            - steak: poor quality. They say it is AAA grade, but it certainly didn't taste like it. The "specialty sauce" was solid and congealed on top of the meat as if it had been under a heating lamp for way too long. Arguably the worst steak I've had at a restaurant in years.
                                            - dessert: poor. Like it was ordered from Dairy Queen, heated up and served.

                                            Given the price of the mains ($45-50) a piece, this place is not worth it. I generally don't like chain restaurants, but the Keg does a far better job.
                                            Avoid Caesar's at all costs.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Ilikegreatfood
                                              Mawson Plan RE: Ilikegreatfood Dec 21, 2009 04:02 PM

                                              ILGF- Caesar's is like an old uncle that maybe smells a little too musky. And that type of man will also likely be your waiter at Caesar's. But- there is something kind of great about it. In a city with a lot of faux glitzy shiny places, the throwback of Caesar's can be refreshing. I went to the original Morton's in Chicago. The sides there weren't great, neither were the drinks. That wasn't the point though. It was an old steak house. Caesar's is that. Many of the suggestions in this thread are for restaurants that happen to serve steak. Pretty much every restaurant/bar/pub in Calgary serves a steak. I think as long as there is a disclaimer that it's a little cheesy, and a throwback, Caesar's is a great choice for a character Calgary steakhouse. Anyways- looks like the Vintage recs won out. I'd say it's a bit more on the restaurant side, not so much a traditional steak house. But its good and definitely steak focused. For sides and things definitely better than Caesar's.

                                              1. re: Mawson Plan
                                                AriaDream RE: Mawson Plan Dec 25, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                Agreed! I went to Ceasar's once and thought the steak was great but everything else was subpar. The old fashioned steakhouse vibe was neat though. If you want steak and nothing else Caesar's is not a bad choice.

                                              2. re: Ilikegreatfood
                                                TSAW RE: Ilikegreatfood Dec 21, 2009 04:59 PM

                                                Yep totally agree. Ate there last month. It's a shame because I like the old school idea of getting your salad, soup, stuff/baked potato and steak as 'meal deal'. But iceberg lettuce and onion broth, just don't cut it in the 21st century. I didn't find my steak bad but it was thinner than I like, pretty medicore. The old cheesy ambience is fun, with the mirror tiles and fake pillars but yes, there are better meals out there for sure.

                                              3. AriaDream RE: c.bourden Dec 25, 2009 02:16 PM

                                                Avoid the Chicago Chophouse. They lose reservations and don't even know why. x_x It's not solely steak but Rush has a few steak dishes and they're in the downtown. I'm dying to try their blue plate special with my sister.

                                                Other than that I'd highly recommend Nick's. They have great steak and it's nicely priced. A bit out of the core though.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: AriaDream
                                                  jsfoodchat RE: AriaDream Feb 7, 2010 03:15 PM

                                                  My summary:

                                                  Caesar's is a classic, beautiful, old school, fine dining, STEAK experience. If you are thinking of ordering anything that is NOT steak - go somewhere else. This place has an identity and it is a STEAK HOUSE. (PS - you might even see a celebrity - once I saw Robert Duvall there). Oh, yes, and the cheesy bread... yummy.... just remember, as my mother said, "don't fill up on bread!" Just to address the comments on the accoutrements, remember this place is not trying to change. Salad is made with iceberg lettuce, and soup is French onion. This is not revolutionary - just well executed, perfect, steak.

                                                  Carvers: No arguments on the high quality of the food and service. The difference is that this is a modern and elegant steak experience. It is not classic in the same 70's tradition as Caesars. I HIGHLY recommend some of the tableside items, the Caesar salad, Steak Dianna, the flambé crepe desserts and treat yourself to a tableside preparation of a Spanish coffee - very neat!

                                                  Vintage: This is a good, solid chophouse. The music in the lounge gives it a nice touch. If Nora Jones was going out for steak, she would go to Vintage. It is kind of a chik, after work, trendy, elegant place. They also have (or did last time I was there) some stellar escargot with blue cheese that are memorable.

                                                  Chicago Chophouse: Overpriced. There are many better options.

                                                  Smugglers: This is a place for prime rib and all you can eat salad bar. It is not in the same "league" as the others but it is good for the right occasion. Try the hollaindaise here if you order your prime rib "Neptune" - to die for!

                                                  Nicks: This is a pizza joint that serves steak. Also not the same "class" as the others. Good pizza though.

                                                  Bear's Den: This place is very nice. A good place for steak - Alberta Style. A nice country drive. A good ambiance. WONDERFUL service (they gave us $50 gift certificate when we were done dinner inviting us to come back). They also have live music in the lounge which can make for a nice extended evening. This would be a GREAT place for a function like a wedding.

                                                  River Cafe: This is a fine restaurant for sure. It does have an "Alberta" vibe for sure but it is not a place I think of for "steak" - at least not in the traditional sense. Now if you said "Bison" the River Cafe would spring to mind along with the Ranche and Velvet.

                                                  1. re: AriaDream
                                                    23skidoo RE: AriaDream Feb 7, 2010 03:46 PM

                                                    I've always had great steak at Chicago Chophouse. The atmosphere is business lunch, but the meat is perfect, and the sides aren't an afterthought. It's too bad they took the gnocchi off the menu. Not sure why they have such a bad rep around here! I've been 3 times in the past year.

                                                    Vintage I found to be expensive considering the long wait for our food, and the inconsistent steaks (two medium-rare were vastly different).

                                                    Caesar's - my co-workers love this place, but the steak is always heavily salted, and they have gross 70s side dishes like salty onion soup, salty rice, cheese toast, etc. To give you an idea of how retro this place is, the salad comes in a wooden bowl.

                                                    1. re: 23skidoo
                                                      jsfoodchat RE: 23skidoo Feb 7, 2010 03:54 PM

                                                      I do agree that the steak at Chophouse is perfectly cooked but I object to this overpriced a la carte style. I think there is better.

                                                      I haven't had a bad experience at vintage.

                                                      No doubt - Casears is RETRO to the core. As far as I know, Iceburg lettuce is hardly chic. I like the spice on the steak as part of Casesars "sthick" - to me it SCREAMS "Alberta".

                                                  2. rosetown RE: c.bourden Feb 7, 2010 06:20 PM

                                                    managing links:
                                                    more to come

                                                    Murrieta's West Coast Bar & Grill
                                                    808 1 St SW, Calgary, AB T2P, CA

                                                    Brava Bistro
                                                    723 17th Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0B6, CA

                                                    Chicago Chophouse
                                                    604 8th Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1G5, CA

                                                    Carver's Steakhouse - Sheraton Cavalier
                                                    2620 32 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6B8, CA

                                                    207 9th Ave SW #100, Calgary, AB T2P 1K3, CA

                                                    Mercato Italian Gourmet Cultura
                                                    2224 4th St SW, Calgary, AB T2S 1W9, CA

                                                    Ruth's Chris Steak House - Calgary
                                                    115 9 Ave SE #294, Calgary, AB T2G 0P5, CA

                                                    Vintage Chophouse & Tavern
                                                    322 11 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0C5, CA

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: rosetown
                                                      rosetown RE: rosetown Feb 8, 2010 01:06 PM

                                                      more links:

                                                      Velvet At The Grand
                                                      608 - 1st Street SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1M6, CA

                                                      Teatro Restaurant
                                                      200 8th Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K7, CA

                                                      The Ranche Restaurant
                                                      15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE, Calgary, AB , CA

                                                      The Belvedere
                                                      107 8 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1B4, CA

                                                      Capri Steak & Pizza House
                                                      1704 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E 3L8, CA

                                                      Open Range Steaks Chops
                                                      1114 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E 3K4, CA

                                                      Nick's Steakhouse & Pizza
                                                      2430 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary, AB T2M 4N5, CA

                                                      Buchanans Chop House & Whisky Bar
                                                      738 3 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0G7, CA

                                                      512 4 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0J6, CA

                                                      1. re: rosetown
                                                        rosetown RE: rosetown Feb 8, 2010 03:07 PM

                                                        Managing disappearing links:

                                                        1. re: rosetown
                                                          rosetown RE: rosetown Feb 9, 2010 08:39 AM

                                                          Sorry about the multiple posts re links. I've discovered that when links disappear in a post that they magically reappear an hour of 2 later. Patience:)
                                                          a couple of more links:

                                                          River Cafe
                                                          25 Prince's Island Pk SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0R1, CA

                                                          Bears Den
                                                          254028 Bearspaw Rd NW, Calgary, AB T3L 2P7, CA

                                                    2. rosetown RE: c.bourden Feb 7, 2010 09:32 PM

                                                      Where is The Ranche Restaurant? I'm showing it off 14th and Canyon Meadows Drive SW west of Macleod Trail in some listings, and in other listings just off Bow Bottom Trail east of Macleod Trail.

                                                      Sorry I live in Martindale and rarely get down there.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: rosetown
                                                        jsfoodchat RE: rosetown Feb 7, 2010 09:33 PM

                                                        It's inside Fish Creek Park. Go down Bow Bottom and into the main entrance of Fish Creek.

                                                      2. b
                                                        BH. RE: c.bourden Jan 19, 2011 09:06 AM

                                                        Caesars is an old city standby downtown, Wellingtons in the south is very good, as is the CattleBaron in sundance , a little loud though.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: BH.
                                                          caitlink RE: BH. Feb 6, 2011 05:08 PM

                                                          Travelled to Calgary on business account. Dined at Rush, Alloy and Caesars.
                                                          Really enjoyed the T bone. A bit pricey but liked it better than RuthChris and the Keg. Sorta reminds me of Peter Luger in Brooklyn - old style. Except without the Peter Luger bacon.
                                                          Will try Chop and Smugglers Inn next time I return.

                                                          1. re: caitlink
                                                            jsfoodchat RE: caitlink Mar 20, 2011 07:15 PM

                                                            Try The Trib, Vintage or Carvers. (Carvers is right inside the Sheraton Airport and is pretty great!)

                                                        2. s
                                                          sabz3003 RE: c.bourden Jan 27, 2011 06:53 AM


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