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Missing in Calgary?

c
CuriousCat Jun 4, 2008 05:41 PM

So my parents are coming to visit in Toronto this Sunday, and Mom has requested "something we can't get in Calgary" for dinner.

So what's Calgary missing that Toronto might have, or do better? I was thinking maybe Portuguese Churrasco, or Malaysian? (Not to say that Toronto does these incredibly well, but perhaps it's not something Calgary has seen a lot of.) How is Greek food in Calgary these days?

If you have specific restaurant suggestions, we would like a nice place, but probably mid-range place at the most (they are paying, so I don't want to be extravagant). They already eat lots of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese at home.

Thanks in advance!

  1. r
    rafer madness Jun 4, 2008 06:02 PM

    Seafood. Seafood. Seafood. Um...seafood again. A place like Starfish would probably hit the spot just right. Great oysters!

    At some point this thread will turn into an ugly Calgary vs Toronto culinary battle due to the nature of the topic. Mr Manzo will have a few good comments I am sure, but I can say that I have lived in both cities and for what it's worth, there is much more of a variety and selection in T.O then Calgary. When my parents visit, they always rave at the places I take them here. Yeah there are great restaurants in Alberta no doubt, but you can not argue the fact that if you did want churrasco chicken, the options are more bountiful in T.O.

    Other good options

    Amaya - Upscale Indian
    Torito - Spanish Tapas
    Harbord 93 - Moroccan
    Tabule - Great middle eastern!
    Live Organic Food Bar - Amazing Oragnic Vegetarian (I eat meat but love this place)

    Those are just a few great places in T.O that i think you would not necessarily find in Calgary.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rafer madness
      John Manzo Jun 4, 2008 08:44 PM

      There are indeed lots of restos that are unique to both cities, but for a cuisine that's abundant and excellent in TO that you cannot find in Calgary (relatively speaking), the answer is west Indian, especially TRINI.

      I'll also not that there are several Somali places in TO (THE NEW BILAN being spectacular) and AFAIK none (well maybe half of one) in Calgary.

      Churrasco- great suggestion!

      And while there's not "no" choice for Malaysian here, it's much better in TO.

    2. t
      traderhtc Jun 4, 2008 07:23 PM

      We don't have a lot of the following restaurants:
      - Eastern European;
      - Jewish;
      - Malaysian;
      - True Vietnamese.... not pho and subs;
      - Greek seafood

      You should take them out to Lee for dinner....

      1 Reply
      1. re: traderhtc
        c
        CuriousCat Jun 4, 2008 09:45 PM

        Ah... to give you an idea of my situation, I think treating them to a dinner at Lee's would come to more than half a month's rent for me. :) Maybe in a few years I'll be able to (but who knows what Susur/Lee will be like then, given Lee's flight to NYC).

        Thanks for the other suggestions though, hadn't really considered Vietnamese (due to all the pho in Calgary) but of course there's so much more to the cuisine.

      2. John Manzo Jun 4, 2008 08:40 PM

        WEST INDIAN
        WEST INDIAN
        WEST INDIAN
        WEST INDIAN

        end transmission.

        1. c
          CuriousCat Jun 4, 2008 09:50 PM

          Thank you all for the great ideas. I'm not sure about Indian (East or West) as we never ate that growing up. Don't know if it's because the parents didn't like it, or just never thought to have it, but I can certainly present it as an option.

          Thanks too to Rafer Madness for the restaurant suggestions... do you think Tabule/Torito would be a touch too trendy? (I've never been.) My parents are ... "traditional". I guess that's a good term as any. Not completely uptight, but certainly not hip TV parents either.

          Again, thanks for all the superb ideas, keep 'em coming!

          4 Replies
          1. re: CuriousCat
            r
            rafer madness Jun 5, 2008 04:14 AM

            zee grill is a great seafood spot on mt pleasant. check that out - ncie, but good for traditional folks.

            if they are more traditional, try the scaramouche pasta bar and book ahead to get a nice window seat with a great view of the skyline! scaramouche the restaurant is a little pricey, but the pasta bar i a little easier on the wallet. food is great!

            my parents LOVED a chiado...a traditional portugese seafood restaurant! very old school - very pricey! but it was probably one of the best, if not the best meal we had last year. they bring a platter of every type of fish over to the table to explain to you before you order. if you wanna save your pennies and take them for a great night out, chiado would be my pick.

            1. re: CuriousCat
              John Manzo Jun 5, 2008 08:18 AM

              I cannot imagine the person who wouldn't like a boneless chicken roti from Island Foods. Add a doubles on the side and bury me happy.

              And you can't get anything remotely as good anywhere outside Toronto- you literally have to travel to Trinidad.

              1. re: John Manzo
                c
                CuriousCat Jun 5, 2008 03:59 PM

                Do you happen to know what the place itself is like? The stuff sure *smells* fantastic, but I have somehow not managed to try it yet. Definitely on 'the list', regardless of whether I go with the parentals.

                1. re: CuriousCat
                  John Manzo Jun 5, 2008 07:13 PM

                  Of course, I practically lived at the King/Duff location when I lived in TO and always make it back to either that one or the Grange one. It's counter service fast-food style (like all roti places).

            2. ybnormal Jun 5, 2008 09:42 AM

              I really liked Chiado last time I was out in Toronto, and it is definitely something you can't get in Calgary (to that degree).

              5 Replies
              1. re: ybnormal
                c
                CuriousCat Jun 5, 2008 04:01 PM

                I go by Chiado 4x a week on the streetcar and drool every time, I've heard such stories. When I have a real funding package next year (grad student...) that will probably be the place I will take them (mostly b/c I want an excuse to go!). Don't feel quite right asking them to pay that kind of money though. :)

                1. re: CuriousCat
                  d
                  djdragan Jun 6, 2008 04:40 PM

                  How about taking them out for some Hakka? Calgary is seriously lacking in this department. I had some wonderful dishes at a couple of Hakka places in the GTA a couple of years back (can't remember names though).

                  1. re: djdragan
                    d
                    deee_wreck Jun 10, 2008 11:25 AM

                    mmmmmmmmm Frederick's Hakka Food in Scarborough! Chili Chicken, Fish Pakora.....

                    1. re: deee_wreck
                      John Manzo Jun 10, 2008 01:19 PM

                      Are fish pakoras hakka? They have both chili chicken and fish pakoras at Surya (in Calgary). I love the pakoras but find the chili chicken too sweet and gloppy.

                      1. re: John Manzo
                        d
                        deee_wreck Jun 13, 2008 12:52 PM

                        indian hakka food, the owners surprised me chinese man speaking perfect bengali to my friend last time we were there. The chili chicken there was spicy, with a layer of oil, some peanuts, and red chilis all mashed up. i'm getting hungry thinking of it.

              2. d
                doramicat Jun 6, 2008 06:09 PM

                It seems to me that there is a dearth of Thai restaurants in Calgary. There was always "The King and I", but whenever I ask Calgarians if there are any Thai restaurants, the only one they can think of is The King and I.

                4 Replies
                1. re: doramicat
                  Jasz Jun 6, 2008 06:41 PM

                  Ruan Thai. Thai Sai-On. Spicy Hut has some good Thai dishes on their menu too.

                  1. re: doramicat
                    a
                    aktivistin Jun 7, 2008 10:14 AM

                    Also, my favourite: Rose Garden Thai Restaurant. I second the Spicy Hut recco.

                    1. re: aktivistin
                      c
                      CuriousCat Jun 7, 2008 03:18 PM

                      Loved Thai Sai-On, and I dream of the stuffed chicken wings at Rose Garden -- a must-have every time I come home. The Toronto board seems to be generally dissatisfied with the state of Thai in Toronto (save for a few exceptions). I personally don't mind it. Maybe I am just not that picky/discerning.

                    2. re: doramicat
                      l
                      Lotti Jun 10, 2008 02:57 PM

                      Thai Boat 108-2323-32 AV. N.E. (I hope that's the right address - I don't have a magnifying glass handy, and telus hasn't figured out yet that a phone book is of no use unless people can see what's in it)

                    3. c
                      CuriousCat Jun 7, 2008 03:22 PM

                      Well, I presented them with a choice of Malaysian, churrasco, or Indian. Predictably, they chose Malaysian. They're staying north of Toronto anyway, so it works out geographically. Thanks all for your suggestions, the dinner's tomorrow, and I'll report back!

                      1. c
                        CuriousCat Jun 9, 2008 09:55 PM

                        After all this work, at the last minute, the folks randomly decide they want to try this new Japanese place up in Markham (Daikoku Sushi & Ramen). I guess they've been seeing ads for it on TV. If anyone's wondering, it was completely unimpressive. Not bad food, but overpriced, small portions, nothing special (at least not we ordered -- strangely they did not want any ramen). All wrapped up in what I consider "haute Ikea" packaging.

                        Next year, I am just taking them somewhere, and they'll like it, darnit! Thanks again for all your help, even if it didn't pan out this time.

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