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Steak in Calgary

My husband and I are looking to go for a "beefy" dinner this Saturday. I was wondering if anyone had any different suggestions for great steak in the City? I will preface this request with some background - my favourite steak in the City is currently the ribeye at Mercato (so simply prepared with grilled lemon, sea salt, olive oil, and arugula - I could eat one for breakfast right now ...), but my husband doesn't want to go there. I am not a big fan of the old school places like Caesar's (is that even around anymore?) or that place on Macleod Trail next to Open Sesame (the name elludes me). And I've had a horrible experience at the Chophouse (not the Chicago one - the Vicker's one). It doesn't have to be a restaurant that specializes in steak/beef - even some place that has a stellar beef dish on the menu would be cool. Thanks!

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  1. A friend was recently raving about the steak she had at Il Gallo Nero (Italian) on 17th saying it was one of the better ones recently.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cmanten

      That's good to hear - I've also heard good things about their non-steak offerings. Sounds like it's definitely worth a try.

      1. re: Jigga

        I had their seafood lasagna and thought it was fabulous!

    2. I had a very nice steak at Buchanan's last weekend (http://www.buchanans.ca/).

      1. My recommendation would have been for the non-Vickers Vintage Chophouse, but am sorry to hear you had a bad experience there. I have also had a good steak at the Highwood on the SAIT campus but I'm not sure if there is steak on their menu at the moment.

        2 Replies
        1. re: aktivistin

          Oh no - the bad experience was at the Vicker's Chophouse - the one on 8th Ave. I've been to the Vintage Chophouse several times to have a drink and listen to the live music in the lounge, but I've never eaten in the restaurant. What are your thoughts of the restaurant - both food and service?

          1. re: Jigga

            I must admit I haven't been the the Vintage Chophouse in the last year. However, when I last went, the service was knowledgeable and attentive. The food is good but the only real stand-out was the beef.

            I'll defer to yen's experience on this one, though--he's been there more recently!

        2. In Calgary, places that i know of that serve Canada or USDA Prime Beef (all very expensive):

          Chicago Chophouse (the Vickers one)
          Vintage Chophouse (the non-Vickers one)
          Ruth's Chris
          Bear's Den

          Places that charge Prime prices but serve AAA:


          Places that serve AAA at Calgary standard AAA prices:
          Reef and Beef
          Cattle Baron
          Cactus Club

          And i assume the place you can't quite remember is Smugglers, or Bolero, both of which share the building with open sesame.

          1. "The Chicago one" IS "the Vickers one." What are you referring to?

            1 Reply
            1. re: John Manzo

              Chicago Chophouse = bad experience; Vintage Chophouse = no experience to report. My mistake.

            2. i had quite a lovely steak at murietta's once and also Big Fish of all places. I believe open range and big fish share a kitchen so that might be why.

              1. Oops - I've made a mistake in my last post. My bad experience was at the Chicago Chophouse on 8th. I've never eaten at the Vintage Chophouse - I've only been to the lounge for drinks and live music. Sorry about the confusion.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jigga

                  No worries. Anyway, The steak at Vintage is decent. 34-50 kind of range, including one side. A lot of their sides arent great (salads suck for example), but the beef is well cooked. The asparagus side i get is decent. Loads of asparagus anyway, even if the quality was only decent.

                  Service is a bit slow when busy - we were there last Saturday, and tried to get out before the band started, but it took them over 2 hours to serve us, realize what we ordered wasnt available, serve us again, get us our steak, get our bill, and let us go. I dont really blame the server, as she had a huge section, and the front of the house communication was pretty poor (they never told her we got seated in her section), but the service, as at many places these days, was decidedly average.

                  1. re: yen

                    Could you give me a suggestions other than Vintage Yen? Wou always seem to have recommendations with great detail. We were thinking of Vintage, but based on what you had to say, it just doesn't sound stellar.

                    1. re: Jigga

                      Im sorry Jigga, im out of reco's on this one. You're right in the sense that while i enjoyed the steak, it wasnt an amazing experience or anything like that. I don't think currently there is a definitive place for beef in Calgary. Lots of contenders and pretenders, but none of it is great at great value.

                      Steak's are pretty subjective. When i was talking to a regional rancher, they mentioned to me certain cuts, that while flavourful, don't sell, because there is a "generalized" palette in what people want for beef. I couldnt get hanger, or skirt, from them for that specific reason. To me, this says that a lot of steak recommendations are useless- primarily because what people look for can be quite different from the general public, and other hounds as well. See my post above for a perfect example of that. I would argue that i enjoy the ribeye better, but it's all personal taste.

                      If you want a really interesting experience, make a two hour drive east to Jenner Alberta (near Brooks). There's a small place there called Patricia's Steak Pit. It's Rancher country. You show up, you pick out a fresh steak, season and sauce it yourself, and cook it on the indoor grill :) Don't tell the fire marshal, but with the price (not factoring in the drive), it's a decent place to eat! And a very interesting experience to boot.

                      1. re: yen

                        You're right about the subjective nature of steak - while I love the ribeye, lots of my friends think it's too fatty. And, surprisingly, I have actually been to Patricia's! I had a friend working at Dinosaur Provincial Park during university and she took me there since it was, effectively, the only restaurant worth eating at in Brooks. You're right - it was a cool experience, and if the steak isn't cooked properly, you're the only one to blame!

                2. I actually like Caesars, the only "beef" (...) I have with it is their consistency. I've had some fantastic, grilled-crispy exterior and buttery interior ribeye, and some underwhelming ones as well. I know their sides aren't anything to write home about (especially their french onion soup), and their salads are swimming in dressing, but I find the beef great!

                  Can someone clarify what exactly 'Sterling' meat is (not the ex-steakhouse). I was told that it was one up from AAA and I thought that Caesars used Sterling grade meat. Bu according to the poster a few above, they use AAA?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Hoj

                    Sterling is a classification of AAA meat. I've heard it defined as the "top 10%" of AAA, but im not sure if that is a fixed number, or just an estimate. A google search tells me it's the top 12% of AAA, but websites can be unreliable. Here's more info here.


                  2. My choice would be Smugglers on Macleod Trail.
                    It is consistent and the steak soup on the all you can eat salad bar is to die for. This was the reason I moved to Calgary 33 years ago and it is still the reason I go there when I am in Calgary again.
                    Dean in Canada

                    1. when I feel the need for a great steak <I still want to go to Nicks across from the football stadium, the prices are good and I've never been disappointed......

                      1. We made a stop at the Cattle Baron in the far, far south last night. The parking lot was packed, the restaurant was packed. We waited 30 minutes or so for a table. While waiting, I was pretty concerned with the noise level, the restaurant is one big cavern and everyone seems to shout to each other; must be trying to drown out all the screaming children and babies.

                        Once seated, I was quite surprised by the professionalism of the wait staff. In a city overwhelmed by underwhelming service, this was a very unexpected pleasure. The food itself was relatively good, maybe even very good. I had the rib eye which had been cooked properly and was a decent piece of meat to start with; the wife ordered a Pepper Steak Saute which was very tasty and had surprisingly good and tender beef strips in it.

                        Price wise, the Cattle Baron was more than reasonable; I can understand why all the young families are showing up there, decent bang for the buck. I've certainly had worse beef for more money in this town.

                        1. Ruth's Chris is seriously overpriced, $50 for a steak (at dinner), and $8 for any side (veg, potato), Bottles of wine start at $50. The prices would be OK if the steaks were perfect, but my blue rare striploin was served seared on the outside and refrigerator temp cold inside. Not that I complained (I can eat anything), but for the price (and the 45 min wait) I would have expected they might have let it sit so that it was at least lukewarm in the middle. The space is really nicely done, the service was fine, and overall the food was pretty good. If price is not an issue, and you like your steaks medium rare or higher I'd recommend trying it.

                          I went to Caesar's for lunch the first time in a while, it was exactly like it was 10 years ago the last time I went. Steaks are much more reasonable than Ruth's (but this was lunch) - $27 for most cuts. Food was fine, steaks were cooked properly, included a very nice stuffed baked potato, but the geriatric waiter dismissed my complaint that the second glass of cabernet was corked ("this is our house wine, everyone here is drinking it") and served me another glass of corked wine. Probably from the same bottle. This really annoyed me, so I can't recommend Caesar's.

                          My favourite steak place in Calgary is Carver's, I don't go there often because it's so far and inconvenient for me (way up in the NE in the Sheraton), but I've been a half-dozen times and it's always been great, The steaks seem expensive but not once the (included) salad and mashed potato is factored in.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: hsk

                            I agree with your assessment on Ruth's and blue rare/rare. Because they use such a high temperature cooking their steaks, they couldnt leave it on long enough to get a nice rare or blue rare. I'd order MR or higher...

                            Question for you: i've had a few steaks done blue rare before - it's not my favorite, but i like to try different degrees for educational purposes. Which do you find is the best cut for blue rare? My own personal preference is tenderloin, because i don't like cold fat.

                            1. re: yen


                              I used to be a blue rare fan and customarily ordered NY strip loins. I have appreciated the buttery texture of filet.

                              However, I found that increasingly I was hardly getting any sear [not talking about Ruths' Chris temperatures] or much of the charcoal taste if the latter was being used.

                              Like you and HSK I became tired of cold meat and often even ice crystals inside so I have gravitated to, "as rare as you can cook it but it is warm inside"

                            2. re: hsk


                              IMHO that is an unforgiveable serving error. Just because everyone else is drinking spoiled wine does not mean you have to. That is particularly so if it is in fact the house and they should have multiple bottles around and it is "no skin off their nose" to open another one As well, some people are particularly sensitive to "cork taint" so you might notice it while others might just think to themselves, "not very good, not much fruit, won't order this one again" and think nothing more of it.

                              I chuckled about the "Probably from the same bottle" observation because I remember going to a restaurant I frequent and being pleasantly surprised that they were offering a wine I enjoy [usually] by the glass. It was corked and then I laughed because I had sent the wine back a couple of days earlier. The bartender took care of me. Again, an example of "most won't notice or care".

                              1. re: Bob Mac

                                If you don't like a glass pour...send it back! The bottle could've been open for days!

                            3. Also wanted to suggest Le Villa on the West side of town. Was there for dinner on Friday night and we enjoyed the Neptune and Medallion steaks very much.

                              If you enjoy lightly seasoned steaks with live music on the weekends you can opt to go out to the Steak Pit in Bragg Creek. It's not my cup of tea but I have lots of friends who repeat the experience too often.

                              1. Nobody going to talk about the Bears Den? haven't had a bad steak there yet. Although I have a soft spot for other delicious creatures such as venison.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: kritafo

                                  what would you say is your favorite there? I really am going to make it there one of these days... anything to avoid?

                                  1. re: alex8alot

                                    I have never order the seabass or the pasta or chicken.

                                    when we go it's usually for game/beef/lamb. The Chateaubriand is fabulous, the apricot creme brulee is making my mouth water thinking about it.

                                    Never had bad service...never been let down.

                                    1. re: kritafo

                                      kritafo- welcome to Chowhound, I like the cut of your jib!