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May 9, 2009 08:44 AM

Foodie on a limited budget let lose in Calgary

Student from Toronto going to a conference in Calgary. What are must do foodie (dinner, lunch, dessert) and drinking destinations to let off some steam??

Venue: Westin Calgary 320 4th Ave SW
Staying: Best Western 1330 8th Ave SW

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  1. Btw, the Best Western is at 1330 8th St SW (not 8th Ave)... don't know if you know but Calgary has a quadrant system and it's particularly confusing around downtown because Centre St runs through downtown and so a block from Centre St on each side (there's 1 St SE and 1St SW)... so it's easy to get confused if you're not careful with the addresses...

    Anyways, back to the food recommendations:

    Murrietas - I love their lamb meatball spaghetti... the meatballs are so tender.. Their lunch prices are very reasonable...
    #200, 808 1 Street SW

    Rush Lounge - the restaurant is $$$$.. but the lounge prices aren't bad... one of the hottest new restaurants in town..
    #100, 207 9 Ave SW

    Palomino's - this place looks like a bit of a dive... but I love their garlic fries and their slow smoked chicken... note they are closed on Sundays.. and also be careful for the neighborhood late a night (even though it's just across from the Hyatt and the Telus Convention Center)... the rest of the other dishes are hit and miss.. but the smoked chicken and garlic fries are by far my favorite and the only items I order again and again
    109 7 Avenue SW

    L'Epicerie - french deli... serving some fabulous sandwiches...(including foie gras on a baguette)... lots of gourmet goodies..
    1325 1 Street SE

    Bernard Callebaut - in the small strip mall as L'Epicerie is the Bernard Callebaut flagship store... very famous locally made gourmet chocolates...

    Pho Pasteur - in Chinatown.. very good quality pho.. as well as vermicelli bowls.. note they close around 7pm nightly.
    207 1 Street SE

    Quick bites around downtown:

    Smokee Lee - this is literally a shack in the parking lot.. great for reuben sandwiches... not a sit-down place.. just a grab-n-go kind of place..
    500 6 Ave SW

    Rise Bakery Cafe - (in Bow Valley Square) - their sandwiches are quite good
    #181, 250 6 Avenue SW

    Caffe Artigiano - gourmet coffee shop... beats Starbucks
    332 SW 6th Ave

    Place for drinks... if you mean wine...
    Vin Room - lots of wines (over 64 wines) to sample by the glass..
    2310 4 St SW

    1 Reply
    1. re: miss.foodie

      If you visit Rise (only open during office hours, but very close to the Westin), try to make it on a Wednesday for their cream of mushroom soup. Very, very good salads and the pain au chocolat is excellent!

      If you're in the mood for cupcakes, I'm partial to the ones at Bliss & Co in our little Chinatown (north side of 3rd Avenue SW, between 1st Street and Centre Street but closer to Centre; brown sign, located on the lower level). The frosting is fluffy and not-too-sweet. The cake has a moist, decently-sized crumb. Some unique flavours. Their free-form pies are even better.

      Seconding l'Épicerie (perfectly chewy macarons and a good selection of patés), Banh Mi Thi Thi (a very popular spot--go early or late if you're hitting it for lunch), and Kawa.

    2. That's "loose."

      You have all of downtown and the beltline at your fingertips! You have the address wrong for the Best Western, it's 1330 8 STREET SW, a vital distinction. This is -- you lucky gal -- right across the street from my favourite coffeehouse in Calgary (and, pace my beloved Toronto, better than just about anything in that city), Kawa Espresso Bar. Superbly constructed espresso-based and Clover-brewed drinks with beans from 49th Parallel, and good food with wines and an outstanding, interesting assortment of craft beers (by the bottle). Free wi-fi too. You may never want to go anywhere else, but if you must, just to the south is 17th Avenue, which is a sort of Calgary's closest answer to Queen Street which has tons of bars (this was the infamous "Red Mile" during the Flames' 2004 run) and with some exceptions the more visually interesting part is east of 8 St but there are gems in both directions and IMHO the better cheap eats are to the west... eg just west of the intersection of 8 St and 17 Ave is a pure veg resto called "The Coup" which has fabulous and well-priced food but it's also just opened an expanded space called "Meet" that has drinks and snacks, and the vibe here is very cool- not what somebody from Toronto expects to find in Cowtown but we're all about defying expectations here. GO EARLY as Coup is ALWAYS busy and they do not take resos.

      A little west is a recently opened and very alluring resto calle FARM which does charcuterie and small plates (and larger/share ones) a la Salt in Vancouver- in the back is the best cheese shop in Canada, Janice Beaton, and attached to the east is a very good (tho not as good as Kawa) coffeehouse called Caffe Beano which is an utter institution here- grab a latte, tea, or one of their excellent sandwiches and hang out with the cool kids.

      East of 8 Street are, among other things, the massive Melrose Cafe (this was Red Mile epicentre and on a nice day it has to be seen to be believed, it's like they transported Queen and John whole-hog to Calgary) and more dignifed joints for a martini, places like Bungalow and The Living Room and one of my favourite restos, Brava Bistro, which has some great recession specials these days (south side of 17th at 7th St next to Starbucks).

      There are also great Vietnamese sub places and great donair shops, so do enjoy exploring.

      That's just near your hotel. Near the Westin is a whole world of other possibilities (incl Caffe Artigiano, Vancouver's iconic coffeehouse which landed in Calgary about a year and a half ago) in the amazing modern skyscraper at 6th Ave and 3rd St SW, and further up a huge clot of restos (most pricey but there are deals to be had nowadays) on Stephen Ave (aka 8 Ave between 4 St SW and 1 St St SE); for the best deals I'd walk east of your hotel and hit Chinatown, which is discussed on here at some length. It's not TO but is the country's third largest and there are lots of good eats there.

      Have fun!

      1. Someone already mentioned Pho Pasteur which I enjoy but right beside it is a tiny Vietnamese Sub place. No seats, just order and go. I love that place. One of the best Viet Subs I've ever had (and I'm Vietnamese too).

        Also I like to go to Shikiji (1608 Centre St N) for Ramen Noodles. The Sushi there is good as well we're talking about cheap eats right?

        1 Reply
        1. re: jackolo

          Banh Mi Thi Thi. Curlygrrl, banh mi in Calgary are very different from the ones you get in TO's Chinatown... they're HUGE, and Thi Thi is (by many chowers' standards) the best in town.

          jackolo, I've heard lots good about Shikiji but I think this is a bit far from OP's hotel and conference especially seeing as she has hundreds of closer options.