Cheap eats in Calgary?
Went to Southern Spice recently (4655 54 Ave NE) on the recommendation of a Southern Indian colleague of my husbands, it's really good and very reasonable. 2 mains, 1 appetizer and 2 drinks for under $35. My dosa special included a huge dosa stuffed with veggies and nuts, a creamy paneer dish, a soupy lentil dish and pickles - all for under $10
Mi Tierra Tu Taqueria in Oakridge is off the beaten track but fabulous. It also offers a glimmer of hope that good Mexican food can be had in Calgary after all. Seriously, they'd make a killing if they were somewhere more central. We just had a late lunch there today and will definitely be back.
to report on the cheap eats....(i took off with one of their take-away menus)
$3 will get you a taco (served on 2 corn tortillas with rice) impressive taco selection
Rajas con Queso (roasted poblano peppers with cheese & onions)
Chorizo con papa (mexican sausage with pototoes)
Picadillo (ground beef with veggies)
Tinga del Pollo (beef with chipotle & tomato sauce)
Cochinita Pibil (shredded pork in an orange based sauce)
Chicharron en salsa verde (pork chicharron in green tomato sauce)
$4 will get you a Tostada (de pollo-shredded chicken, de res-shredded beef or de picadillo-ground beef)
$8.50 will get you an Enchilada or Burrito combo, nice hefty serving which comes with rice and refried beans (for the enchiladas) or sour cream, pico de gallo & guacamole (for the burrito)
enchilada selection: Enchiladas Verdes; Enchiladas Rancheras, Entomatadas & Enchilada de Mole
burrito selection: De Chile Verde; De Pollo; De Res; De Chorizo con Huevo
We had the cochinita pibil taco, enchiladas verdes and a burro de res - all amazing. They were also preparing some lamb barbacoa that day (not on the menu) and we were offered (comp) a huge serving of it (fork tender lamb chunks with rice in a rich broth flavoured with the drippings of the barbacoa - serious comfort food factor here).
Beside the taqueria is a small store offering a good selection of latin american food ingredients (think dried/canned chiles, bottled salsas, chili pastes (i.e. Aji amarillo - a Peruvian yellow pepper paste - a bottle of which I had just lugged from our trip to DC last summer thinking I couldn't find this in Calgary), Aji rocoto, canned zucchini flowers, mexican hot chocolate.
Seating was a bit limited, they seemed to be inclined for take-away orders but there are two long counters (stand-up) and two tables available if you do decide to eat in.
re: John Manzo
Answering my own question: 10015 Oakfield Drive SW. Go west on Southland until you get to a T intersection west of 24 St and that is Oakfield. Turn right (north) and it's on the left (west, "the west is odd" is how I remember this). Google Maps say "about 20 minutes" from my house, which is pretty wishful thinking there, Google Maps...
Ken BBQ in Chinatown, 3rd Ave between Centre St & 1 St SW. Get two BBQ items (BBQ pork, duck, soy sauce chicken, etc) on rice with some rough chopped ginger, green onions and a soy sauce for $4.50. Insanely cheap for a meal!
But the place is pretty dodgy looking, and try not to read the signs behind the counter advertising things like "sheep's uterus".
Lots of good places already mentioned -- I'll second Jonas, Matsarang, Thi Thi, Drum & Monkey, and Uptown Sushi.
There's a swath of Vietnamese pho shops that are still fairly cheap; I like Pho Pasteur Saigon in Chinatown and Vietnam on 12th Ave, but there's lots of others.
Also a number of Lebanese-type places serving falafel/shawarma for a good price; popular picks are Tazza and the Falafel King -- although I've heard he's closing his downtown location.
While I'm on the subject of the downtown Falafel King location, next door is Caffe Mauro which does a mean meatball sandwich that's a little more expensive, but not ridiculous, and next to that is Fiasco which actually does quite a nice panini itself for a decent price.
Koryo (already mentioned) is a good food court pick, I also really like Thai Express in TD; they also have locations in Market Mall & Deerfoot. (They've started using US-style Chinese food cartons (apparently called Oyster Pails -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster_pail) for their takeaway -- the kind you see on TV, which is sort of cool.)
Also, good, original and cheap is Chicken On The Way for fried chicken.
Cheap for what it serves is Reef n' Beef steak house; we've already had a thread with praise for it.
Koryo Korean BBQ at Northhill mall. Greatest potatoes in the city, except for maybe the thyme and nutmeg pave that showed up at the River for a couple weeks a few seasons ago.
Edit: and Koryo is super cheap, 2 people could split the mega combo and walk away with a 1000 calories each.
I have had tasty food at Kublai on 8th Street and 6th Ave SW, they do the whole Indian food "curry in a hurry" thing but also lots of other good stuff. Definitely open for lunch, I don't know about evenings though - hard to find anything besides bars and hotel restaurants open in the downtown core after 5 PM!
The posters above all have great recommendations. Lemme add a couple
Vietnamese subs - available at various locations. I'm fond of Banh Mi Thi Thi accross from the harry hays buliding in chinatown, but Kim Anh on 17th ave is also good. $3.50-$6 depending on the sandwich filling.
Food at the Ship and Anchor - is very reasonably priced, and good value and quality for pub food.
Forest lawn in general is a good place for cheap dinner eats, from the vegetarian platters at fassil, the dozens of vietnamese places, skylark indian, casa latina... and more.
If you're looking for a quick lunch, there's a chinese bbq meat place on the west side of centre st around 14th st N where you can get two kinds of bbq meat (easily about half a pound) on rice for about $5. Both their bbq pork and roast pork are good. i wasn't as impressed with their soya chicken.
I have never been a huge fan of the food at the ship, lots of people think it's great, but the burgers I had there were crap frankly.
I give a wholehearted recommendation to the Drum and Monkey, never have I had a bad meal there.. their burgers are exceptional. And in addition there is a hummus and pita platter with bruschetta that is well under $10, and very tasty & filling.
Just my .02
re: young lion
huh. i guess i mostly have the wraps at the ship. But in re-reading the OP, i guess neither of these spots are really 'original food' -- The clientele, maybe... but that's a whole other ball of wax :)
while i'm posting, let me add that lunch is good for cheap eats in calgary. Matsarang house in the tarjan block (sp? on both) - reviewed elsewhere on this forum) - does a good lunch special where you can get a variety of bbq korean meats, soup, rice and korean sides/pickles. After 2pm, the value drops significantly. If you're by North Hill Mall, the korean place in the food court there is also a good bet.
re: young lion
The places that immediately spring to mind are the Austrian Canadian Club, Jonas Restaurant, and Vagabondo.
ACC, of course, serves Austrian classics such as Wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, smoked pork chop, goulash, cold cuts, etc. But they also serve some standard western fare. My experiences there have always been good, and the prices are low for the food and the drinks. If you want good food and import beer for less than it usually costs for a burger and a Kokanee, check it out.
Jonas is a Hungarian restaurant, and they also provide excellent value for money. The chicken paprikash is out of this world and very inexpensive.
Vagabondo is a family-run Italian restaurant that, unfortunately, will be closing for good as of December 1 when the mama and papa retire. If you can get there before then, have the pasta platter for 2 (or more). It is $14.95 per person, but you get your choice of 3 pastas, and will have enough leftovers for the next 2 days. They will also give you fresh-baked hot buns.
Hope that helps.
Austrian Canadian Cultural Centre
3112 11 St NE, Calgary, AB T2E, CA
2404 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E, CA
937 6 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0V7, CA
Codo for PHO Sate - $7.50
Laurier Lounge Poutine - $10.00
Vogglio's Pizza - Price Varies, best/most satisfying pizza in Calgary
Sunterra Market - Varies, but some excellent tasty deals to be found
Regal Beagle - $0.25 wings Monday and Wednesday, Best in Calgary imho
Uptown Sushi - Varies, cheap for the quality
Probably lots more options too, although your definition of "cheap" would probably differ from the next persons..
The places I listed are my weekly spots, and of course I will splash more to treat myself to higher end dining once in a while, but to tell you the truth I am perfectly satisfied eating this stuff most of the time :)