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Apr 8, 2009 12:07 PM

Best supermarket(s) in Calgary

A few of us will be in Calgary for a day before heading west. Is there an equivalent to Trader Joe's or Fresh Fields in Calgary? We need to stock up on essentials.

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  1. No such luck. Most prevelant are Safeway and Co-op -- pretty standard fare. I prefer Co-op for produce/meat. Also Superstore -- lower prices if you can stand the crowds and packing your own groceries. For organic, Amaranth or Planet Organic - depends on what part of town you are in....

    1 Reply
    1. re: beggsy

      All Co-ops are not created the same. The downtown Co-op "midtown market" (11 Ave & 11 St SW) has a better bakery and butcher than any Safeway in town. But beware the 80s Co-ops like the one on Richmond Road...

    2. There are no Trader Joe's in Canada. Period.

      What sort of essentials? There are naturally dozens and dozens of supermarkets here, though most are in the mainstream Safeway vein. They all stock essentials depending on how you define the term.

      1. Well, here in the DC area we have Trader Joe's from California and Whole Foods (oops, used to be Fresh Fields). Just looking for a place that isn't your run of the mill s'market. Even Safeway has good stores and bad ones, and I would have thought there would be a place in Calgary that offered good quality and imaginative items without having to wander to ethnic markets that tend to be a little ethnicity-focused....we will be going up to the Banff area for a week so imagine the choice narrows up there?

        7 Replies
        1. re: grovel

          Sadly here, we have nothing close to Whole Foods. Sunterra Market is sort of that concept. There are two locations (not the marche locations which only have prepared entrees, etc.) that stock groceries. You can check out the locations on their website:

          As for Trader Joe's.. the closest we have here is Community Natural Foods. They have two locations... and have a pretty decent selection of organic groceries as well as a lot of decent items in bulk.

          You are correct that there is less selection out in Banff/Canmore.

          1. re: miss.foodie

            I don't get the deification of Whole Foods. It's overpriced food for snobs.

            I have to add, Grovel, that you're coming from a metro area of, what, six million people? That's almost twice the population of our entire province- and Calgary, despite its international profile, is not a big city. 1.1 million metro. There is no way that our supermarkets will match the bounty you enjoy as part of the Bos-Wash corridor.

            But as I say, there are dozens of supermarkets here, FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC restaurants in Banff-Canmore, and scenery that will make you very, very sad to have to return to DC. You won't starve even without Trader Joe's, I promise.

            Enjoy your trip. You will love it.

            1. re: miss.foodie

              Here in Canmore we have Mountain Mercato, Railway Deli & Valbella Meats Store to name but 3 fantastic little stores doing some of the best cheeses, meats, breads and other foodie goodies you could wish for.

            2. re: grovel

              As I say, there are dozens of grocery stores. There are supermarkets in Banff and in Canmore too.

              If you're arriving on Fri, Sat or Sunday I'd also recommend either the Calgary Farmers' Market or Crossroads Market.

              1. re: grovel

                I love Trader Joe's and wish we could have one here. I am tempted to open a franchise here, as Trader Joe's has made me seen the wickedness of my Whole Foods ways!!! We just got back from the US and brought a suitcase home full of Trader Joe's items - but I digress.

                If you're flying into Calgary and want to get some stuff and head out, I suggest you probably hit the Real Canadian Superstore on Country Hills. Yes, it's a big supermarket chain, but their organic items are priced really well a la Trader Joe's, plus they have some unique items, like a Trader Joe's, that you don't find at a run of the mill Safeway. Superstore's artisan breads are fantastic as well. The miche olive loaf is one of my faves. If you need meat, then hop over to Costco at Beacon Hill. I usually don't buy meat at Superstore, but love their well-priced organic line.

                If you want organic/free range meat, there's a small market called Amaranth on John Laurier Blvd. that would be convenient to stop by on your way to Banff, and Planet Organic on Shaganappi Trail as well isn't too far from the Trans Canada.

                There is a Sunterra not too far from the Trans Canada where you can get good quality local meats, poultry, and gourmet foodie items. They also have a decent cheese selection, and have a good selection of sausages, bacon, and other cured meats from Valbella Meats in Canmore. Some items are labeled as Sunterra, but they are made by Valbella and sold under the Sunterra label.

                1. re: sweeterpea

                  While I agree that Costco is the way to go for meat in Calgary....unfortunately you can only shop there if you are a member.

                  1. re: Merry113

                    Membership from another country works. The Costco in Kauai wasn't nearly as interesting as I had hoped (what was I thinking?) but they did accept our card.

              2. I like Sunterra market. I used to shop there all the time, until Midtown Co-op opened. It is much more convenient. Sunterra is not your 'run of the mill' supermarket. I prefer the Westhills location. One could also try the market at Mercato - terribly expensive but nice food. Epicerie would be a good stop for some pates, etc. Bite is a great little grocery store. I also like Lina's Italian Market.

                1. Let me answer your question from a different vantage, a product focus rather than a store focus. Take advantage of some of the great foods available here that are not in the Washington area, namely local Albertan and Canadian stuff.
                  o Cheese: Try some local and otherwise cheese, probably best sourced at Janice Beaton. Look at her cheese list: I like the Riopelle from Quebec, Sylvan Star Gouda from Alberta, The Oka from Quebec, and so many more.
                  o Seafood: Calgary Superstore carries PEI Malpeque oysters, the best on the planet IMO, wild Pacific Salmon, smoked, candied, fresh and otherwise, live Pacific Dungeness crab, and live PEI, Newfoundland, or Nova Scotia lobster.
                  o Alberta Beef: I’d try a butcher like Second to None, or The Better Butcher for some great AAA Alberta beef.
                  o Alberta lamb: The Co-op always has a good selection, like the butchers above. It will be very good, but also some of the most expensive lamb you’ll ever eat.
                  o Bison and Elk: Again, all the above three will carry some bison and elk.
                  o Bread: I am a fan of the Superstore French sticks and baguettes as well as the sourdough, though both are best when tossed in the oven to reheat.
                  o If you are here on a day when it is open, you’ll find a great selection of local foods at the Calgary Farmers Market. It is worth a trip. The limiting factor though is that there will not be much fresh local produce at this time of year.

                  I’ve only been here a few months, so I am certain others can direct you to more foods you cannot get in DC. ( Like we can’t get any of the great BBQ or fresh soft-shelled Marylands DC has, here)