Cheap good Places to eat in Calgary and Edmonton
Speaking from Calgary:
I'll start you off with coffee. The lonely top-quality (think along the lines of Montreal's Caffe Art Java) duo of two years ago of Java Jamboree and Bumpy's has expanded to an artisanal sextet: Bumpy's, Java Jamboree, Phil & Sebastian, Caffe Artigiano, Kawa Espresso Bar, and DeVille Luxury Coffee. Add to these standouts the not-quite-top-quality, but still quite good (ie better than 95% of the chains and the horrible indies) Caffe Beano, Caffe Rosso, and the Good Earth chain. With that sort of breadth you have no reason to go to Starbucks.
Among these the best for dessert is probably the brand-new DeVille, but we also have many fans here (myself include) of the amazing Nectar Desserts in Inglewood. Lots of good restos have great desserts but we're getting way out of cheap places with that approach!
re: John Manzo
OP for some reason I was assuming you were from Montreal (the "ml" in your name I guess) but looking at your posting history I cannot tell where you are from- the caffe art java ref might not be clear to you but I mean a top-quality coffee house with beans from a reputable roaster, top equipment, that sort of thing.
re: John Manzo
re: John Manzo
Here's my suggestions for Edmonton:
Chinese/Vietnamese: Pagolac 10566-97st or 9642 54ave
Donair: High voltage 10387 63 Ave. Tastee large donairs, very good. They also have other sandwiches there.
Pizza - Neopolitan style, Famosos on 11750 Jasper Ave. Thin crust, tangy sauce, interesting toppings. I too am a pizza snob and this is the cheapest pizza I could think of that's acceptable to me :)
Fast Food: Bangkok Express at Arrgyl plaza. Thai. Corner 99st and 63ave (Arrgyl)
Dessert: Italian Centre, I've only been to the south side one on 5028 104 A St but, there's also a north/downtownish one. They have a huge display of desserts. Their Tiramisu is hands down the the best I've ever had. The full cakes, of course are better but, they have sampler size ones in little cups for $2 that give me that little taste of heaven fix. All there desserts seem to be $2. I've never had the coffee there but, it's always packed with people sitting drinking coffee and visiting
Chinese: dollar for dollar I like the Garden Bakery and Cafe on 106 Ave. They only take cash but it is worth as it is often $5 a dish less than Noodle Noodle across the street. The barbeque pork on rice is a steal at around $6. Wok King next door is very reasonable as well.
Gyro -- I will assume you mean donair and will go with my favouritie Queen or Marco's but there was a thread a few weeks ago about this with lots of good suggestions.
Pizza: I don't like cheap pizza so am prepared to pay for the real thing at Tony's. But if cheap is the idea, my favourite is the chicken supreme from 73.
Fast food: gotta be Marco's mushroom hamburgers. Great patties and great sauce and fried mushrooms too. Also like the spanish burger too.
Also the Lebanese bakery on 85th avenue makes amazing pizza-like flat bread with spiced meat that are amazing and cheap
Coffee: anywhere but Tim Horton's
Dessert: I love the custard tarts at the Portuguese bakery on 118 avenue.
You're going to have to be a lot more specific...
Speaking for Calgary -
Chinese. <- "chinese" can be anything from a formal dinner meal with meat/veggie dishes accompanying rice, to dim sum, to noodles and congee, to western chinese (ie. ginger beef / food court slop)
I like Harbour City & Silver Dragon for dinner with rice, MBA & Bobby Chao's for noodles and congee, Central Grand & Harbour City for dim sum. Western chinese food - no opinion.
Falafel King. Stephen Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street SW
Pizza <- how do you like your pizza? eat-in, take out, delivery? Thick crust, thin crust, Neapolitan?
Coco Brooks in the NE makes amazing pizzas in individual sizes. I've heard great things about Vogglio D'Pizza .. but they're take out /delivery only
Fast food. <- This could be anything... I like a nice steaming bowl of Pho (vietnamese noodles) when I need something fast. I personally like Pho Kim.
Other than that... McDonalds.?
Good coffee and dessert.
JM pretty much covered this one... so called "third wave" coffee shops are cropping up everywhere in downtown Calgary. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of them stay open late enough for an after dinner coffee & dessert.
Shawarma: we found this place on 118ave and 97st - I don't even know the name of it. it's been up for 8 months and it is quite good. It seems to be quite authentic. (There is kibbeh on the menu!) Their garlic sauce is very nice and we were very full on about $25 for 2 people. My husband eats enough for 3 normal people too, so...that's saying something.
In Calgary, the best shawarma is Sammys Egyptian, 17thave sw, south side, between 11 and 12 st, bottom of pink apt building. All home made.
Silver Dragon for DimSum, its in Chinatown. Best indian is Tiffin, north of memorial drive on 28th st? (the lights just past max bell ctrain stop going east on memorial). The ukranian places at either farmers market are excellent, thats about a close as I get to fast food. Or Tubby Dog, hot dogs, 17th ave sw, north side, between 9th and 10th st.
And the best Veitnamese is Codo, 17th ave sw and 14st, across the street from mcdonalds.
In Edmonton, don't bother with Pagolacs (at least the one in chinatown) go a couple of doors farther south to the Golden Bird, way better.
The sandwiches at the Italian Market are good, but the ones at the Italian Bakery in chinatown are better.
Thanks for putting in good word for Sammy's, Tiran. I am lucky to live a couple of minutes on foot from both Sammy's and Shawarma Knight and they're both excellent, but have to say I prefer the sheer mass of Sammy's donairs, the fact that he was all of sweet, garlic, hot, tahini AND tzatziki sauces, and his shawarmas are better too- Shawarma Knight gets the nod for having good little snacks, like nice beef samosas and these sort of frikadella patties called "arja" tat I haven't seen elsewhere. Still have to say I prefer the sandwiches at Sammy's.
But I have to disagree about some of your suggestions- we adore Tiffin's but I don't think most would call it the "best" Indian in Calgary; it's very good and unique for its freshly-baked rotis (some don't care for them but I find them completely addicting); just in the beltline I'd have to say that Surya and Mirchi have better food and cheaper, too (esp if you go to Surya for the M-W dinner buffet, an absurdly good deal). So those are some other suggestions.
Co Do is another story- when I was new to Calgary (8 years ago) this was probably my single favourite place in town, but it just doesn't do it for me anymore. Portions have shrunk and prices have gone way up, and it still coasts on reputation. We finally had dinner at Saigon not far from there (12th and 12th SW, roughly, west of the Tim Horton's) and it was much better than Co Do IMHO. There are also likely scads and scads of places in Chinatown, 17th SE and the Northeast that put Co Do to shame- I'd even add the superb Viet place in the Mac Hall food court at U of C, which is my pick hit for lunch on days I teach or have other biz at the U.
Josephml1 - I'll go from back to front. Just to change it up :)
Coffee and Dessert
Calgary - coffee is covered by John. Phil and Sebastien is my favorite. Dessert - no idea. There arent really any cheap places i know of...maybe the Blackfoot diner for a cheap, decent pie, and it's open 24 hours.
Edmonton - Transcend and 3 bananas are the two best places in town for coffee - some might say the only two places. Transcend is my favorite. Dessert you should try Vi's for Pies.
Sorry, but this is way too broad of a topic.What type of fast food are you referring to?
Calgary - Sit at the two person counter at Vogglio's. Call ahead and order first, show up 15 minutes after they tell you it will be ready, and enjoy. Buy one get second for 50% off...You could also go to the midtown coop market and get a dirt cheap, good thin crust pizza.
Edmonton - Famoso. Covered already.
Gyro - im not sure what style of Gyro you're referring to, but i'll assume you mean what is donair for us.
Calgary - i don't eat them very often here. When i do, i usually go to the original Jimmy's on 20th ave. It's big... and sloppy.
Edmonton - my favorite is Mr Donair on 161st and Stony Plain road. Couldn't tell you why, but i really like it. There's one on 51st Avenue and 95 street that's pretty good too, but the name is eluding me. Im itching to try the one on 99th Street and 34th Avenue...another poster said it was the best (King's i think it is called).
Shawarma (technically, Shawarma's are Gyros, but that's a totally different topic).
Calgary - Tazza is my preference for Shawarma. No other place compares.
Edmonton - La Shish is my preference.
Calgary - I like Peking Garden, U & Me, and Harbour City. But none of them are great.
Edmonton - this topic covers it extensively. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/487882
Hope that helps!
I second the Famoso rec for pizza in Edmonton. It's pretty good, but go for the pizza bianco.
Haven't been to Transcend or 3 Bananas for coffee, but Da Capo has some pretty nice espressos. Da Capo also has gelato and coffee cake, for the dessert part. The gelato isn't the best I've ever had, but it's by far the best I've had in Edmonton; haven't had the cake, but I'm always tempted.
I'd hit up Churros King for fast food in Edmonton (on Whyte). It's an eat-in restaurant, but you can get sandwiches to go. They're absolutely delicious (I really like the pork/cabbage one). Even better if you call to order beforehand, so you don't have to wait if you're really in a rush.