Any good eats downtown Calgary and at Chinook Mall"
My wife and her 3 female friends are going to be staying at the Marriott in downtown Calgary and shopping at the Chinook Mall. They were wondering if there are any good spots to eat in these areas? They will be walking. All cuisine suggestions are welcome. Not too pricey or fancy though. They like homey, cutesy, artsy places. I told them I would see what I could find out and chowhounds have never let me down yet. Thanks in advance.
Downtown to Chinook is an easy 15-minute commute on the C-Train- why would she walk? That's a good 5 miles south of the core- unless I am misunderstanding you.
Downtown and areas adjacent - too many options to list- there are many, many, many threads on here that you can search, or you can post again and give us some more specs. Ethnic, price range, specialty?
Chinook itself comprises Canada's largest food court and a number of so-so standalone restos- www.chinookcentre.com. There is a superb veggie Chinese place about 6 blocks north of Chinook called Buddha's Veggie- they make this gluten "ham" that is better than any ham I've ever had, sort of a Kaessler Rippchen but it's veggie...
re: John Manzo
I think he means that they won't have a car, so they'll be getting to the restaurant by foot from the mall, their hotel or a transit access point.
They might be interested in shopping in Kensington. They could get there by taking a Dalhousie-bound C-Train and getting off at the Sunnyside station. There are a couple cute shops in Kensington- Kismet stands out for upscale stuff, Purr for more affordable clothes. There are also LOTS of restaurants in Kensington; search this board for Kensington and you'll get lots of information. The Heartland Cafe (one block east of the Sunnyside station) is a cute place for lunch- it's definitely very cutesy and homey and does nice soups, salads and sandwiches.
Thanks! That's exactly what I meant. Badly worded question. Sorry. I know I can search the boards and I often do but don't have the time and thought a direct question would yield the quickest results. And I was right. You and fellow chowhounds are fantastic. I'll definitely give your info to my wife especially the Heartland suggestion as that sounds right up her crafty folksy alley.
Another restaurant near the Chinook LRT Station is Bagolac Saigon--decent Vietnamese but stay away from the Pad Thai (they put ketchup in it! Sacrilege!).
My favourites near the Mariott include deVille coffee and pastries (do NOT leave town without trying one of their tarts or cupcakes), Divino, and Rose Garden Thai Restaurant. Others on this board also have many favourites in this area of town--I'm sure you'll hear more about them!
And, of course, de Ville is in the very artsy Art Central which has some good shopping.
I can say this because I no longer have studio space there but you need to know I am biased.
And, besides being a good place to eat, Divino is close to the Glenbow Museum shop which is always worth a look.
These aren't really cutesy places but IMHO, very good snack food or a quick bite/lunch. I keep on going back to these two places because of the flavour of the food:
Thi Thi Vietnamese Sub (2 locations) - my favourite is the chicken sate sub
209 - 1 St SE, Calgary - (403) 265-5452
#105, 630 - 8 Avenue SW, Calgary - (403) 265-5451
A&A Foods & Deli (for their chicken shawarma sandwiches - their portions are HUGE; most people can barely finish a small)
213 - 6 Ave SE -(403) 261-2090
For a little more upscale cafe type places, there's
Caffe Artigiano - (I really like their regular lattes and spanish lattes)
332 - 6th Ave SW - (403) 699-9855
#181, 250 - 6 Avenue SW -(403) 265-7765
My wife and I love going to places the locals frequent. We avoid chain restaurants like death when vacationing and if I hear you right you are a local and this is where you go. The girls might also be pressed for time so your suggestions will no doubt be useful. Bang on! Thanks a mill!
re: Andrew Largeman
If your wife wants to avoid chains, she should avoid Chinook, full stop. Or at least try to check out some of the more interesting (and less chain-addled) pedstrian areas in and near downtown:
1. As already suggested, Kensington is an easy walk NW of downtown or the first LRT stop to the north (take the "Dalhousie" LRT- technically this is out of the free fare zone, but I can fairly promise you that fare inspectors will always get on north of Sunnyside--the Kensington LRT stop--so 99.9% of the time the ride to Sunnyside is free-ish).
2. Inglewood is east of DT- it's close but one must unfortunately run a gauntlet of homeless/crackheads/assorted down and outs en route and that's even less fun than it sounds- so take a taxi or the #1 Bus- the payoff is huge, with all sorts of beautiful arts and antique shops and unique foodie offerings like Bite Groceteria, Choklat, Nectar Desserts and Capo, one of Canada's best restos.
3. South of downtown is the rapidly changing- for the better- beltline "design district" esp. 11th Ave b/t 4th and 8th St, which has galleries and the amazing, AMAZING Cookbook Co Cooks store near 6 St... and what some consider the best sushi in town right across the street at Blowfish. At 8th you are confronted with the decision of which two superb coffeehouses to head to for a break: The funky, camp living room ambience of Bumpys with its expertly pulled espressos w/ JJ Bean coffees (Vancouver), or the glam, slick (but still comfy) Kawa Espresso Bar a little to the south? You can't lose with either option, so try both!
4. A couple short blocks south of Kawa is 17th Ave SW, a mile-long strip with restos of every description and great shopping and people watching. This is my hood so I am biased but I consider 17th, and not downtown proper, the real heart of the city.
re: John Manzo
I highly recommend Inglewood, but I also would highly recommend taking a cab. I've done the walk before (with a few different routes) and it's not pleasant. However, once there, it's a great little community. John mentioned almost all of the top spots, but I think Knifewear should be mentioned too. It's in a room in the back of Bite, but you can acquire some of the most beautiful kitchen knives in the world back there. It is definitely a requirement for any foodie to check out when they're in Calgary.
And like everyone else has said, there is pretty much nothing around Chinook that is homey and artsy. If I'm in the area, I pop in for a bowl of pho at Bagolac across from the train station there.
Walking anywhere outside of Chinook is not really worth the time and risk to life and limb. I'd eat (and do) at Opa! in the mall. If they need a drink to sustain the shopping effort then Moxies and Joey Tomatoes are decent enough, certainly better than the other chains at Chinook as far as I'm concerned.
I'd take a taxi after ahopping at Chinook, drop the bags off and head to Kensington as suggested by Jetgirly. Shopping AND good restaurants.
Right across MacLeod Trail from Chinook mall there's a little place called Mediterranean Grill which serves up awesome souvlaki and shawarma platters. Its pretty basic but clean inside and they cook the food to order, it's very reasonably priced. http://www.ziplocal.com/companies/236...
I second Bagolac, almost everyone at work who loves Vietnamese loves this place for their salads, just don't go after 12pm as you might have to wait in line quite some time.
The best place to eat near Chinook is Il Centro- homestyle Italian. The BEST gnocchi in town by far (get the tomato sauce), and the pizza is great too. This is a good value since I would otherwise have to make the gnocchi to get anything else decent (comparing price to downtown high-end) - although, if you are ordering only the gnocchi you might need a starter, since it's closer to the correct Italian size. The house wine is decent, and cuts through the richness of pizza nicely.
The Mediterranean Grill is a place I've heard good things about. But otherwise, there is nowhere else I would venture nearby....
Near Chinook, I'd suggest Thai Nongkhai, which is just south of the Big 4 dealership across from Chinook, in a strip mall. There is also a Korean BBQ place in the same mall which is quite decent (in the spot that used to be Cafe Metro). I don't think there's much wrong with taking the pedestrian bridge over Macleod and walking a couple of blocks south - it's not a scenic walk or anything, but it's hardly "risking life and limb".
A short walk across Macleod Trail from Chinook the best choices are Mediterranean Grill (souvlaki, kibbeh, other nice Middle Eastern snacks, with an Israeli focus) and Il Centro which has arguably (I am not going to argue, it is clearly) the best pizza in town, excellent calamari etc. Both are good and good value.
There is nothing in the mall that is worth considering.
Directly across from Chinook Mall (essentially facing Sears) is Golden Bell Vietnamese in a strip mall near a Persian Carpet place. It's a bit of a hole in the wall but I think it's the best satay soup in town. I have eaten there about 30 times and have always really enjoyed the food.