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Visiting Calgary from Toronto

  • m

I’ll be in Calgary over the holidays and would love some spots for yummy food. Doesn’t have to be fancy. When I visited for the first time 2 years ago my friend took me to the following places listed below. Feel free to make some recs for places based on the kinds of places we visited.

Thumbs up:
Peter's Drive In. I really enjoyed this place.
Tandoori Hut. Pretty darn good.
Tom’s House of Pizza. Loved the spiced pepperoni.
Pies+. Good, but didn’t go nuts for it.
Cheesecake Café. Good, but didn’t go nuts for it. But loved those cookies.
Cactus Club Café
Randy’s. For breakfast…just normal standard breakfast fare but done well I thought.

Mixed review:
Murietta’s: Loved the lamb meatball spaghetti, wouldn’t rush back for anything else.

Disappointed me:
Vintage Chop House

I’ve heard Redwater is good and I would love to find some decent sushi, donairs (which we really don't have much of in Toronto for some reason), bakeries, or good fast food, but any and all recs are welcome. Finally, any good places for some ribs, BBQ, or carnivore delights?


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  1. try Sky 360 at The Calgary tower...new concept at the top.
    totally contemporary casual.....rad place.

    The sunday buffet is great too.

    good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. You might want to try Diner Deluxe or Big Fish (or both)

      I don't think that there's a BBQ place in Calgary that we consistently agree is good.

      I like the Bear's Den for steak. It's in the price range of Vintage Chop House.

      Joey Tomato is in the Cheesecake/Redwater line but has some really good items like burgers and lettuce wraps.

      You'll get lots of recommendations for sushi. I like Globefish, Wa's and Momoyama.

      1. For bakeries, I would definitely try Manuel Latruwe on MacLeod Trail. While you're there, try the French deli next door called L'Épicerie for macarons and pâté, and visit the Bernard Callebaut store (this building is actually the main production facility).

        Other great bakeries and dessert houses include Brulee (amazing cookies and cakes), Ladybug inside the Calgary Farmers' Market (a newer location is out in the 'burbs), DeVille in Art Central (more of a coffee shop but supplied with excellent pastries from the Saint Germain restaurant), and Nectar Desserts in Inglewood (I personally prefer the tarts and find the dessert plates over-priced).

        The Calgary Farmers' Market, Art Central, and Inglewood are all fun places to visit in Calgary for more of the local culture, but really, I'm sure there are areas or places like them in Toronto that are more diverse and deep on selection.

        Bitte schön!

        1. Guacho's Brazilian BBQ for the carnivore in you... Go for lunch or the weekend when it is fresher.

          Divino's (search the board).

          Amin's donairs (hole-in-the-wall downtown).

          What atkivistin said for bakeries - they are different then say Dufflet's in TO.

          +1 - Joey Tomato's, Diner Deluxe, Big Fish, Globefish, Mango Shiva

          1. Bitte schön!

            Is there a part of town that you're most interested in? Your list is all over the place, geographically (and chow-wise too, not that there's anything wrong with that).

            4 Replies
            1. re: John Manzo

              Thanks all for these suggestions. I'm taking note of all of them!

              No, specific parts of town don't interest me. I'm from out of town and will have a car rental so it's all good, I just want tasty things wherever they lie. My friend lives at the Fish Creek stop of the C-train line. But it need not be that area. I'll go all over. I'm open to anything (but don't really plan on doing anything super high end), as long as its good!

              Oh yeah, any good donut places? Toronto sadly has precious little. Odd request I know....

              1. re: magic

                Not odd at all- and unless something has crept up on us, there are no good donut places aside from the shameful abomination that's become the donut monopoly in this country.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  That’s what I was figuring, but I was hoping against hope. Thanks though.

                2. re: magic

                  If you are at the Fish Creek stop and want to start close to home, there are lots of options. Greek Plaka in the Shawnessy Centre beside Zellers has great Mousakka. A 20 min drive out of town to Bragg Creek, you could do the Bavarian Inn. Same amount of time out of town would get you to Turner Valley where you could do Route 40 Soup Company.

                  You can get decent sushi close to your friends house at Tokyo Garden on McLeod Trail and Southland or Sushi Ginza in the WIllowpark mall (near southcenter).

                  Moti Mahal is a good Indian restaurant near where you are staying, their naan bread is very good.

                  Mi Tierra is a great mexican place near where you are staying too.
                  If you want to head further into Calgary, my fav is Mercato. Its similar to the one in Toronto. They also have awesome sugar dusted donuts in the market side. They also have these donut sort of things will Nutella filling. I know it sounds odd, but man are they good :)

                  If you want to try Ethiopian, Marathon in Kensington is good. You could head over to Molly Malones for drinks after.

                  Alloy is another great choice, a little on the high end though. Redwater is mid range and quite good as well as close to your end of town.

                  Minas is a Vietnamese restaurant in Avenida mall (near pies +). They have one of the best vietnamese soups. Its a Thai Style Chicken Sate. So good.

              2. I second the motion for Divino, and I would also throw in Alloy, Open Sesame, and Milestone's which is kinda like Joey Tomato's but different, and is based out of BC, I think.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wonderflosity

                  Yup we have Milestone's here too actually. Some are meh. One or two of them are quite good. It's been here for years. We just recently got Moxie's, which I understand has long been a Calgary/West coast staple. For a chain it's pretty good. I've found the quality varies from location to location here but I've settled on one here that always leaves me happy. My god, their white chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pudding are ridiculous.

                  On a side note I couldn't believe how great restaurant service was in Calgary when I visited. To say that kind of professional, competent, enthusiastic, and friendly service I near-universally experienced in Calgary is rare in Toronto would be an understatement. Toronto has some incredible places to eat but our service situation is generally pathetic. Calgary's service rocked my world. Before going there I thought service was inept and rude everywhere. I guess it's just here:) And I say this with love..... I'm from Toronto!!!

                  But I digress.....thanks all for these continued suggestions. Keep 'em coming.... :)

                2. How about a Schnitzel Fest at the Austrian Club?


                  Einfach Spitze.

                  1. Fortune foods.. tiny hole in the wall dim sum restaurant on center street and 24th avenue north. its on the right, in a strip mall. accross from a temple.. All day every day dimsum and chinese baking. the Shu mai is very tasty, as is the sticky rice, and dumplings.. so good. fast.. and cheap.

                    A good donut? I actually like the ones at safeway. they have a nicer texture than the timmy's.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: retroville

                      I'm embarassed to say I like Starbucks donuts :)

                      1. re: maplesugar

                        Yeah, people here seem to like them too. Never had one.

                        Any other places? Hard to find good donuts these days. It ain't like it used to be.

                        1. re: magic

                          There's a Krispy Kreme in the south end of the Sunridge Mall parking lot. 3580 20th Av NE (just off 36th street on the north side of 20th Av). Definitely different than TH, some unique flavours (and more variety/fresher than getting KKs at the grocery store/Petro Can) and when they first hit town people were raving about them but to me it's just a donut.

                          1. re: maplesugar

                            It's been closed for a while (> 2 months). AFAIK, there are no Krispy Kreme's in Calgary any more.

                            1. re: ToddCostella

                              Oh well, there goes my Sunridge visit. Thanks for the heads up on that.

                              Interesting that they lasted much longer in Calgary than here in T.O....

                              1. re: ToddCostella

                                ah I wondered just after I posted...haven't been by there in about that long. Thanks Todd, sorry magic.

                                1. re: ToddCostella

                                  Are they still available at Petro Can?

                                2. re: maplesugar

                                  I am pretty sure they closed. Hype and reality did not mesh?

                                  1. re: worldwidestuff

                                    Hype and reality did mesh- KK was superb. Where hype and reality don't mesh is at that cancer called Tim Hortons. Horrible donuts, despicable "food" and coffee that is fitting for bilge water and nothing else, but Canadian sheep line up there constantly.

                                    1. re: John Manzo

                                      I used to frequent their stores in Las Vegas very often.
                                      No doubt, Krispy Kreme donuts are incredibly tasty. With that blinking sign of theirs announcing "Hot Donuts Now", how could you not stop and stuff your face.

                                      Fact remains they are a one trick pony and had nothing to fall back on, when this BS Atkins fad started. That was the beginning of the end. Their troubles for sure are NOT limited to Canada.

                                      To just pay some students to camp overnight outside their new stores is not enough in terms of marketing.

                                      Tim Horton's seems to be unique from a loyalty point of view, I let our fellow Canadians discuss the finer points of their food and beverage products.

                                  2. re: maplesugar

                                    I actually love Krispy Kreme. Toronto used to have about a half a dozen locations or so. But as soon as they opened up they all closed down. They all went out of business within like 2 years of opening. It was astounding really…for a huge chain to crumple so quickly. They had monsterous line ups in the beginning, but I guess the novelty wore off quickly, especially once the no-carb movement kicked in. I thought their donuts were definitely a big step up from Tim’s (which I think are generally pretty horrid) but I wasn’t in love with them. What I did love were to eat their signature ones straight out of the fryer. Jeez those were good.

                                    Now Krispy Kreme is just relegated to being sold at gas stations here… I might have to visit Sunridge. Haven't had a fresh one in a few years...

                                    1. re: magic

                                      It was a problem with the mother company in the US. Remember the accounting scandal coupled with the Atkins craze of a couple of years ago.

                                3. re: maplesugar

                                  I wouldn't be embarrassed by that (and that's coming from a rather enthusiastic independent coffee shop supporter). Those donuts come from Top Pot in Seattle and are fantastic. Some of the best coffee shop snacks available.

                              2. What do you usually eat when you're out in the YYZ? I can recommend restaurants that are similar since I'm from there as well...

                                For those that say Redwater is good, I'm sorry to say, but it's just not worth it. For what you pay and the atmosphere, just not worth it... I've been to the Chinook location and the Stadium location...

                                Donairs? Surprised you can't find them in Toronto? Hit up Jimmy A&A's near SAIT for some of that (16th Avenue, 14 St. area)

                                Sushi, go to Wa's, Zipang (heard it's good)

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: MeXx

                                  Thanks for your recs! I’d list some of the places I eat at here in Toronto but I don’t want to make others yawn: ) Besides, I like these suggestions. People have been so helpful.

                                  Yup, I could probably count the number of donair places Toronto has on one hand. We have tons of shawarma places, but for some insane reason, just a few donair spots. Toronto is simply not a donair city. Don’t know why. Do you remember any when you lived here? I was born and raised here, I can think of maybe 2 or 3…. if that.

                                  1. re: MeXx

                                    I heart Jimmy's :) Jimmy's A&A deli is a bit further north than 16th Av...they're at 1401 20th Av NW (20th Av NW & 13th Street).

                                    1. re: maplesugar

                                      Does Jimmy's do donair? I only ever get the chicken shawarma there.

                                    2. re: MeXx

                                      MeXx- the closest you'll find to donair in TO are gyros. They won't have sweet sauce.

                                      1. re: John Manzo

                                        Magic, given your appreciation for the simple things in life - Peter's Drive in, I have 4 words for you my friend - Chicken On The Way. Another Calgary institution.

                                        1. re: sirdinealot

                                          Hmm, I must ask my friend about this. Judging my its name alone it sounds promising....nice. Thx!

                                    3. I would recommend Redwater Grill for a good meal, and Pelican Pier for seafood. On the expensive end, I would recommend Rush. I went there several times and wasn't at all disappointed. Have a great time!

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: AriaDream

                                        Not that anyone cares but I thought I’d provide a report back on my dining-out eats while in Calgary over the holidays.

                                        Revisited Peters’ and liked the burger even more than my original visit two years back. Loved the grape milkshake. Was less tolerant of the frozen fries this time around. Think I’d switch to onion rings next time. And man, I gotta start visiting in summer - eating Peters’ in your car in winter would get real old quickly for me. Want to make use of all those picnic tables in nicer weather!

                                        One of the highlight meals actually came at Cactus Club Café on MacLeod. Last time I visited it was very good, this time it was fantastic. Got a rocket salad on top of this pan fried chicken cutlet that was truly one of the best things I ate during my 11-day stay. It was awesome. Apparently one of the Rob Feenie dishes, although I didn’t realize this until after I’d ordered it. It was soooooo good. My friend's fish tacos were amazing too. Her ceasar salad was decent. The key-lime pie for dessert was also fantastic, one of the best sweets I had during my visit to Calgary. The sliders were pretty good too. Really sweet service, though not the most attentive in the world.

                                        Tandoori Hut. Again, incredible. Such good food. Nice folks running it. Can’t wait to go back.

                                        Redwater. Visited the downtown location. Very good. Probably just shy of excellent. Had a very nice roasted beet and rocket salad. The candied pecans were the best part. Overall a very good salad, but it would have been nice to see a somewhat decent chevre used rather than standard storebought, and the dressing was not earth shatteringly original. Still, it was nice salad. The shortrib mini-burgers (really mini sandwiches.... burgers was a pretty misleading menu name I thought) were pretty tasty, but the reduction drizzled on the plate was way too salty and affected my enjoyment of them. And I like my salt! Even I found it too much. If this salt lover finds it too salty, then it is. Nevertheless it was a cute and very tasty dish. Walnut brownie with cinnamon ice cream was very good, though probably not in the OMG category. My friend’s pasta had beautiful ingredients and looked beautiful but I only tasted the wine in the dish. However, it was good. Her beef and barley soup was not great I thought, but she liked it a lot. Service was so nice, though we were standing far too long by the front door waiting to be seated with no one paying attention to us. Other than that, service was good. Will for sure return. Also, for what we got I found the final bill quite reasonable.

                                        Agreed about Safeway’s donuts, they are really good. It would have been nice to see fresh cake donuts too, as opposed to the more yeasty donuts, as I am a huge cake donut fan. That said, the donuts being offered looked, smelled, and tasted great. Wayyyyy better than TH’s. They just need to sell cake donuts! I chose not to buy the few basic kinds of cake donuts they were selling in packages. I was hugely impressed with the Safeway behind South Centre. I wish we had Safeway’s in Toronto. The products offered at the South Centre Safeway looked amazing. We just don’t have anything like that here. The day I see pretty bakery-style cupcakes, yummy looking pecan sticky buns and double chocolate walnut cookies, and Le Crueset cookware being sold at my grocery store will be a good day indeed. I doubt it will ever come. That Safeway was really awesome.

                                        Ricky’s. I know it’s just a standard chain, but my second time there was just as good as the first. Just a typical eggs/sausage brekky, but they did it properly. And my friend’s salad was surprisingly chock full of fresh veggies and dressed nicely. Burgers on someone else’s table looked good too.

                                        Pies Plus. Enjoyed this a lot more on this second visit as I ordered differently. Liked the Tortiere much better than the chicken pot pie I had two years ago. LOVED the lemon meringue pie. Much better than the chocolate cream I had two years back, which I still think is kinda plain tasting. Coconut cream was good, but not at as good as the lemon meringue. My friend’s stew was not that great I thought, but then, I’m not a huge stew fan.

                                        Tokyo Garden. So-so. I give it a 6.5/10. Won’t bore with details. But man, a little pricey, no, for what you get??

                                        Although, not really on my hit-list, my friend likes Cheesecake Café so we returned there. Battered and fried mushrooms were awesome but was not crazy about my main to say the least. I think it was just too much fried, heavy food for me. Would like to return for their café mushrooms, otherwise, wouldn’t die to go back.

                                        Went to a place called Mighty Mango for Chinese. Blah. Wouldn’t go back. Nice people running it though.

                                        White Spot. Had a double burger. Was curious about this place. Burger was good, but not great. Preferred Peters’ easily. Questionable service. Tommy Burger next time.

                                        Tom’s House of Pizza. Hmm, to me, didn’t seem as good as the first time around.

                                        In Banff wound up at a Greek place called Balkan Restaurant. While the food is all homemade, which I really respect, I found it a bit lacking to be honest. Liked the spanikopita, but everything else was not worth returning for. Wasn’t thrilled with the service either. Also while in Banff bought a couple of desserts at a bakery/café called Wild Flour. Place smelled great but the honey tea cake I got was inedible and their healthier take on chocolate cake was utterly forgettable.

                                        Would have liked to try a donair, but sadly had no time to fit one in. Jimmy A+A and the others will have to wait.

                                        If you read all this, kudos.

                                        1. re: magic

                                          Don't say no one cares! It's great to see people reporting back. Thanks.

                                          1. re: magic

                                            Wow, sounds like a pretty good food trip. I would have told you to skip the Chinese food in Calgary. It's completely forgettable compared to Toronto. On the other hand, Vietnamese is absolutely amazing.

                                            That's funny that you found Cactus Club really good. It's a Vancouver chain that was awesome when it first started (loved the cows from their original location) and then went bleh but I guess with the addition of Feenie as consulting chef, it hopefully will be better. I remember my last experience was completely gross, everything was digustingly oily. Good to know that I can venture to it the next time I pass through Calgary or Vancouver.

                                            1. re: bdachow

                                              Yeah, I’ve only been to Cactus Club Cafe twice, but had very good experiences both times. Yeah, we don’t have this chain out east.

                                              I was taken somewhat reluctantly to Mighty Mango. Had a feeling not to expect much. I was right.

                                              1. re: magic

                                                Been to Mighty Mango and it's not good. If you wanted to stay in the SW area around Fish Creek LRT, you should have gone to the Bonavista Peking House in the strip mall with the Safeway and Brewsters on the corner of Lake Bonavista Dr and Acadia Dr beside the lake. Otherwise, you would have needed to venture into Chinatown.

                                                1. re: tintallie

                                                  Thanks for the rec. I've noted that, so that's good.

                                                  Mighty Mango was more out of obligation than desire. Someone I know wanted to go and so I just tagged along.

                                            2. re: magic

                                              good reviews... some places i'd find questionable in going to myself though... glad you enjoyed yourself here :)

                                              1. re: MeXx

                                                Hi all, I just heard some rumour from a Calgary friend that Peter's Drive-In might be bought out or closed or something. Any truth to this???

                                                1. re: magic

                                                  Peter's is still thriving, but it was sold to new owners about a year ago or so. (Can't recall the exact date)

                                                  1. re: maplesugar

                                                    Yeah, the rumour my friend passed on didn't seem to make much sense. Thanks.