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Where can I find the best donairs chicken or beef in AB?

sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 11:49 AM

Saw some old posts about donairs but I'm wondering if anyone has any favorites in Calgary or Edmonton?

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  1. John Manzo RE: sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 12:40 PM

    Calgary: for "donair" or ground meat on a spit, gotta go with my two neighbourhood options, Sammy's on 17th SW and Shawama Knight a block west on 14 St. For "shawarma," I am slain by the excellent options at Village Pita in Short Pants Plaza and Tazza in Bridgeland.

    1. i
      itwillmakeaturd RE: sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 01:08 PM


      As well as making the best pitas in town, Sunbake Pita Bakery on the northside makes excellent chicken shawarma. Their sauce and pickles are what really set off the dish, but the chicken is delicious too. They don't make beef shawarmas, but they do have have sfihas, which are what I usually get.

      I like La Shish, but I find it depressingly inconsistent. Sometimes I will wonder why I don't eat there once a week, and then on my next visit I will remember. If you are lucky it could be a great donair. I haven't tried the west end location yet; maybe they are more solid?

      3 Replies
      1. re: itwillmakeaturd
        itwillmakeaturd RE: itwillmakeaturd Oct 9, 2008 06:58 PM

        I tried Al Bert's on 118ave & 97st today. It was pretty good. The beef shawarma was a bit tough, but well spiced and tasty. The rice had a toxic yellow colour, but it had a fine clove and cardamom taste to it. The hummus was heavy on tahini and really good, and they use my favourite brand of pita. The chicken shawarma was excellent, maybe giving Sunbake a run for its money. Not flawless, but I will return.

        1. re: itwillmakeaturd
          sleepycat RE: itwillmakeaturd Oct 16, 2008 02:57 PM

          Yes they're pretty good. Loved the Hummus there. I'll hv to try Sunbake.

          1. re: itwillmakeaturd
            eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife RE: itwillmakeaturd Nov 13, 2008 12:44 PM

            If you like Sunbake, be sure to try their "Lebanese pizza"! They are made fresh, to order and you can have either spinach/cheese or beef/tomato. The mixture is spread on hand flattened pita dough and then baked in their oven. They are sooooooooooooo delicious, particularly with lemon juice and hot sauce over it, then rolled up to take and go. Best part? They're 1.50 a piece and VERY filling - although I've been know to get one of each ;)

        2. anonymoose RE: sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 03:47 PM

          Try http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/434434 for more fairly recent Edmonton suggestions.

          1. raidar RE: sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 04:58 PM

            Edmonton: my usual day time jaunt is over to King Donair (34th ave/99 St) and late nights we always end up at Worlds Finest Donair (Jasper Ave/121 Street).

            2 Replies
            1. re: raidar
              jim bachinski RE: raidar Oct 1, 2008 06:59 PM

              I'll second World's Finest Donair.

              1. re: raidar
                sleepycat RE: raidar Oct 16, 2008 02:58 PM

                I like the Kiing Donair too but they're a bit pricy. Their combo specials are not really specials.

              2. sharonanne RE: sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 05:15 PM

                Someone has to say it. Jimmy's A&A on 20th ave NW. I saw the same name on a deli in the Rocky Mountain Plaza across from (or beside? the main door is on the corner) the downtown library. Is it the same people?

                4 Replies
                1. re: sharonanne
                  John Manzo RE: sharonanne Oct 1, 2008 07:11 PM

                  I'll say it with you! Just haven't been in a while.

                  The one in Rocky Mtn Plaza is indeed owned by Jimmy- as is Mediterranea on 4th SW but last time I wandered by there it looked forebodingly closed. It was a Sunday I think; maybe closed Sundays?

                  1. re: sharonanne
                    blond_america RE: sharonanne Oct 10, 2008 11:31 AM

                    It's been five or six years since i went to SAIT and had a donair from Jimmy's. Really loved the place. The lineups around lunchtime were huge back then. Sounds like their still going strong.

                    1. re: sharonanne
                      ByeByeBaby RE: sharonanne Oct 15, 2008 01:01 PM

                      Jimmy actually recently sold the one in Rocky Mountain Plaza. (The entrance is midblock on 6 ave, 'twixt Macleod and 1st E for those looking.) The new owners are friends of Jimmy, and, I've been told, have pledged to maintain the same chicken, which is good, because it's absolutely delicious. There are now actual legit tables and chairs instead of the glass bar thingies that looked good, but were totally impractical for sitting at and eating on.

                      I still may prefer Tazza to A&A, but the latter is more convenient. Falafel King's chicken isn't as good, although it's still worthy of a meal, and the overall sandwich has a better mix of toppings IMHO.

                      1. re: sharonanne
                        hungryungry RE: sharonanne Dec 30, 2008 04:18 PM

                        i was waiting for that, I used to live near SAIT and went there all the time

                      2. howlin RE: sleepycat Oct 1, 2008 07:37 PM

                        strathmore just got one, not bad ,very small place ,donairs are all he does,very tasty

                        1. 2
                          23skidoo RE: sleepycat Oct 15, 2008 11:37 AM

                          Amin Donair on 7th Avenue SW in Calgary (between 1st St and Centre St). It's a halifax style donair, with sweet sauce, and very little in the way of veggies. The flavor of the meat is just fantastic, and you do get a massive amount of it in your pita.

                          It's on one of the worst blocks in the city, so grab your donair and go, unless you also need to pawn a guitar and buy some crack.

                          1. p
                            pinko74 RE: sleepycat Oct 16, 2008 06:46 PM

                            Maina's Donair in Beaumont (straight down 50th st from Edmonton) has amazing chicken and beef donairs...choice of sauces and veggies too. Served steamed and the cheese is all melty :-) I love the way they wrap them so you can actually eat them without them spilling all over the place too.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pinko74
                              John Manzo RE: pinko74 Oct 16, 2008 09:33 PM


                              1. re: John Manzo
                                pinko74 RE: John Manzo Oct 17, 2008 07:28 PM

                                you can have them put a mozza cheese on if you like...I like

                            2. f
                              feuerzeug RE: sleepycat Oct 19, 2008 11:37 AM

                              Calgary: Gotta put my vote in for the Desert Deli in Forest Lawn. It's run by a Lebanese family, and the donairs and Chicken shawarmas are my favourite in the city. They also bake their own Middle Eastern pastries, which are very tasty. It's not much to look at, but there's a reason it's always packed at lunch.

                              Don't be afraid to go to the Lawn - the other 17th Avenue! Some of Calgary's best ethnic food is there.

                              Desert Bakery & Cafe
                              1830 52 St SE, Calgary, AB T2B, CA

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: feuerzeug
                                sleepycat RE: feuerzeug Dec 9, 2008 08:19 AM

                                You're right ! They have very tasty donairs. Nice little place. Love those family owned places.

                              2. b
                                bakerbear RE: sleepycat Nov 13, 2008 08:38 AM

                                El Rouhaa is hands down the best chicken shawarma. Sorry A&A fans, but their shawarma is about as authentic as something McDonalds would put out! We have literally drove through the city sampling shawarma and El Rouhaa is closest to anything I have had in the Middle East. A bonus is, it's CLEAN!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: bakerbear
                                  John Manzo RE: bakerbear Nov 13, 2008 08:51 AM

                                  Where is El Rouhaa?

                                  1. re: John Manzo
                                    John Manzo RE: John Manzo Nov 13, 2008 08:54 AM

                                    Ah, found it, 52nd St and Westwinds NE.

                                    1. re: John Manzo
                                      sam101 RE: John Manzo Dec 23, 2008 09:58 PM

                                      so john was it good? should i make a trip out there?

                                2. 2
                                  23skidoo RE: sleepycat Nov 13, 2008 09:38 AM

                                  The question was about donairs, people, not shawarma. "Donair" is a word you probably won't hear outside of Canada. (It's a bastardization of "Döner", which is Turkish for "turn", as in turning the meat on a skewer).

                                  Donairs can have cheese (but usually don't), and in Eastern Canada always come with a sweet sauce. Donairs are likely to be different from anything you've had in Europe or the middle east.

                                  I love shawarma too, but let's stay on topic! Also, the A&A downtown is terrible. Quantity over quality.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: 23skidoo
                                    John Manzo RE: 23skidoo Nov 13, 2008 09:53 AM

                                    You hear the word "donair" or at least its cognates all over the world- well, all over Europe.

                                    In Germany, a "chicken donair" (Haenschenfleisch Doener) IS closer to what we would call a "chicken shawarma." But on Armenian-style bread and IMHO generally a lot a tastier than what you find here. HUGE one I had in Koeln last fall:


                                    1. re: John Manzo
                                      23skidoo RE: John Manzo Nov 13, 2008 10:08 AM

                                      That's just it, they use the Turkish word "Döner". And you're right, it's delicious. I had one in Berlin. I think they put yogurt in them? Shawarma King on Kensington Rd. is the closest I've had to that style.

                                      But the "Donair", to me, is from Canada circa late-70s, and probably has its roots in gyro/souvlaki.

                                      Of course, I haven't been all over the world, so I can't say for sure.

                                      1. re: 23skidoo
                                        John Manzo RE: 23skidoo Nov 13, 2008 10:16 AM

                                        Most German places have some or all of "spicy," "garlic," and "yogurt" sauces (scharf, knoblauch, and joghurt. auf deutsch)- the closest approximation I've found here is at Sammy's on 17th, but there are LOTS of donair places I've not tried in Calgary!

                                      2. re: John Manzo
                                        sleepycat RE: John Manzo Dec 9, 2008 08:20 AM

                                        What's the white stuff on your fries?

                                        1. re: sleepycat
                                          nonlinear RE: sleepycat Dec 9, 2008 09:17 AM


                                          1. re: sleepycat
                                            John Manzo RE: sleepycat Dec 9, 2008 10:26 AM

                                            Yep, mayo, baby.

                                      3. d
                                        derfster RE: sleepycat Nov 13, 2008 11:10 AM

                                        Amin Donair on 7th Avenue between Centre and 1st. Just west of the Hyatt and the Palomino. Super-friendly guy and the freshest stuff around. He makes all his owns sauces too. As for the street, the crack heads have moved on. Most of the buildings have been sold and are slated for redevelopment. Hurray!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: derfster
                                          23skidoo RE: derfster Nov 13, 2008 11:44 AM

                                          You do realize that probably means the end of Amin Donair. :(

                                        2. blond_america RE: sleepycat Dec 3, 2008 02:43 PM

                                          Not sure if anyone on here has ever been up to Fort McMurray (Why would you?) but they have two donair places that have been locked in a perpetual donair war for as far as i can remember (Fifteen years or so). Both are delicious but maybe that's because i grew up eating them. Anyways they serve their donairs with either sweet sauce (Boo!) or this so called "sour cream". But it's not really sour cream but more like tzaziki though not quite the same. Also it usually comes in a giant industrial size bucket. My limited donair experiences in Edmonton and Calgary lead me to believe that this is not available in most places. Anyone see it around?

                                          1. r
                                            retroville RE: sleepycat Dec 3, 2008 08:35 PM

                                            Red Deer... Kind Donair on Ross Street, right downtown accross from the Royal bank. They are cheap, massive, and he makes three sauces, a tzaziki, a sweet, and a garlic, also his own hummus. He sells baklava, and other treats too. Chicken shawarma, as well as beef donair.. my favorite..

                                            1. c
                                              cproulx RE: sleepycat Dec 7, 2008 02:49 PM

                                              my pick for a great donair (just like the ones in Halifax, NS) is Babylon Foods. Babylon is located across the street from China Rose restaurant on 28 street SE Calgary.

                                              the offer, beef, lamb, chicken, or a mixture (beef & chicken is great!) and the portion sizes are perfect. the Sweet sauce is a default, but you can try other sauces as well (but why?).


                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: cproulx
                                                raidar RE: cproulx Dec 7, 2008 04:32 PM

                                                I have to agree with you about the sauce, I don't see a reason for anything other than sweet sauce...sooooo good!

                                                1. re: raidar
                                                  John Manzo RE: raidar Dec 8, 2008 11:24 AM

                                                  Well, with a non-ground shawarma I find the perfect sauce mix is garlic and tahini- I've experimented with sweet added to the mix and it's actually pretty nice, but I'd never eat a shawarma without tahini.

                                                  A donair (Canadian style, ground meat) absolutely benefits from sweet sauce and is awful with tahini for some reason. You know, I resisted sweet sauce for so long and am sorry I did!

                                                  1. re: John Manzo
                                                    raidar RE: John Manzo Dec 8, 2008 11:43 AM

                                                    Glad to see you've come to the sweet sauce side! And I agree with your tahini comment, as I was talking with specific reference to the Canadian donair.

                                                    1. re: John Manzo
                                                      eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife RE: John Manzo Dec 17, 2008 09:04 AM

                                                      TOLD YOU!

                                                  2. re: cproulx
                                                    chewy_bakah RE: cproulx Dec 8, 2008 07:33 AM

                                                    What are the other sauces?

                                                    1. re: chewy_bakah
                                                      raidar RE: chewy_bakah Dec 8, 2008 11:48 AM

                                                      This by no means is a complete list; but I've seen options for a garlic style sauce, different hot sauces, the above mentioned tahini, tzatziki, ranch as well as the sweet sauce. I think if I remember right I've even witnessed a sort of thick dill sauce, but I cold just be imagining that one.

                                                  3. b
                                                    bakerbear RE: sleepycat Jul 26, 2009 04:27 PM

                                                    El Rouhaa is by far the best Chicken Shawarma I have had outside of the middle east. I've even scoured NYC for a good one, but El Rouhaa still wins and it is spotless!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bakerbear
                                                      John Manzo RE: bakerbear Jul 26, 2009 04:54 PM

                                                      I've heard great things about this too- though the gold standard for shawarma in North American is Montreal and Ottawa, not NYC.

                                                    2. s
                                                      swbossert RE: sleepycat Jul 27, 2009 01:49 PM

                                                      In Edmonton, I was always a big fan of Mr. Donair on Stony Plain Rd. It's a Halifax style donair. The place is a bit of a dive, but the food is damn good. I always try to stop there if I find myself in Edmonton visiting friends and relatives or taking in an Oilers game.

                                                      In Lloydminster there's a place that was called "The Donair Cafe". They've since changed their name, but they made a very tasty Halifax style donair... although it was pretty pricey ($10 for a super with cheese).

                                                      I haven't found a great Halifax style donair in Calgary yet, but I plan on checking out Amin now. :) If I really need a fix, A&A downtown does the trick in a pinch.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: swbossert
                                                        John Manzo RE: swbossert Jul 27, 2009 02:00 PM

                                                        Sammy's on 17th SW at 12 St- they get their donair meat from Hfx!

                                                        1. re: John Manzo
                                                          Pintye RE: John Manzo Aug 2, 2009 02:59 PM

                                                          I admit, I have never been too impressed with sammy's. Living right up 11th st I have been convinced a couple times to stop in after catching the smells coming out, however, the shawarma seemed to lack substance to me. No opinion on the donairs, I havent tried them. After having donairs in Turkey, the ground stuff here just didnt seem too apealing. The middle east definately spoiled me, 10 years in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have left me searching for something that comes close but so far, no luck.

                                                          1. re: Pintye
                                                            23skidoo RE: Pintye Aug 2, 2009 08:09 PM

                                                            I love Sammy's. I haven't had the donair, but the beef shawarma was small, simple and tasty, not a garlic sauce-drenched 1-lb mess like at A&A. The baba ghannouj is great too.

                                                      2. s
                                                        Silverwing RE: sleepycat Jul 31, 2009 01:42 PM

                                                        I'm a fan of Queen Donair in Edmonton on Jasper / 108 Street. Very similar to the donairs I had in Halifax. Though they do use cheese and lettuce - but you can ask them to hold them of course!

                                                        1. m
                                                          Mike000 RE: Izzy12 Mar 24, 2010 08:22 PM

                                                          I really like High Voltage on calgary trail. They grill the pita bread to make it flat which is a really nice touch.

                                                          1. j
                                                            jsfoodchat RE: sleepycat Mar 18, 2011 08:10 PM

                                                            I accidentally stumbled into Desert Pita (corner of 17th Ave SE and 52nd St). this is bar none the BEST donair I have ever had. Something about the crunchy pickled cabbage that was absolutely OUTSTANDING. I have been back 3 times in 2 weeks - I'm addicted!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: jsfoodchat
                                                              nonlinear RE: jsfoodchat Mar 19, 2011 08:10 AM

                                                              i had a chicken shwarma there once, and was totally underwhelmed (dry meat with no seasoning? what gives?). will try to get over and try the donairs though, since i'm always looking for new places with awesome donairs. thanks!

                                                              1. re: jsfoodchat
                                                                ladybugs65 RE: jsfoodchat Mar 19, 2011 09:33 AM

                                                                Desert Pita has a GREAT roasted eggplant pita - I have it every time I go. Everything else I have tried has just been OK.

                                                                1. re: jsfoodchat
                                                                  Leamico RE: jsfoodchat Mar 20, 2011 01:23 AM

                                                                  Agreed desert pita beef don air is the best I've ever had. It's one of my go to restaurants for a quick bite. Very good baklava too!

                                                                  1. re: jsfoodchat
                                                                    Fid RE: jsfoodchat Mar 20, 2011 07:43 AM

                                                                    Another big thumbs up for Desert Pita. The Shish Tawouk and mixed donair (beef and chicken) are absolutely delicious. Be sure to ask for a side of their chili sauce - it is a perfect accompaniment. Their baklava is also delicious.

                                                                    BTW, they have a second location now:

                                                                    5303 68 Ave SE
                                                                    Unit 109
                                                                    Calgary, AB T2C 4N3

                                                                    1. re: Fid
                                                                      jsfoodchat RE: Fid Mar 20, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                      Yes! and I was told that in May 2011 they will be opening a 3rd location in the food court of the T&T supermarket in NE Calgary.

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