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calgary's best kept secrets

Just moved to Calgary and I've read some of the top 10 restaurant lists, but wanted an insider look at the not so big, cozy, affordable, absolutely deliciously, best-kept-secret, mom and pops places around the city. Places with atmosphere, cheap prices, great food that have been around a while, that only the locals and regulars know of. Any direction is much appreciated (name, locale, type of food).

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  1. Well one that comes to mind immediately is Jonas, which is a Hungarian resto below the parkade of the Calgary Place Apartments- it fronts on 6th Avenue between 8 and 9 Streets SW. Fantastic food- the chicken paprikash with spaetzel is absolutely delicious and the value is incredible.

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      The spaetzel are called tojásos nokedli in Hungarian. You should try making chicken paprikash yourself sometime John, its really really easy to make and results are awesome. It's always been one of my favorites. I would recommend it to anyone to try it out, whether you can or cant cook.

      1. re: Pintye

        Great suggestion! Thanks!

    2. Big Fish on Edmonton Trail is always consistant - daily specials are always unique and the entrees are geenrally 25 $ and very healthy and a good sized portion of walleye, halibut , etc. All summer Wednesday nights have been no corkage. When you do need a reasonable bottle - thier list is very functional and well priced.

      1. A hidden treausre is the Austrian-Canadian club. The weinerschnitzel and various brat sausages are fantastic. They also serve wonderful fresh baked caraway buns. They have a restaurant and lounge. They are not fancy and probably haven't been renovated since 1975. But who cares..you're there for the food,right?
        They are located at 3112 – 11 Street N.E (overlooking deerfoot trail off of 32nd Avenue).

        1. Caffe Mauro is a little Italian sandwich place with a great meatball sandwich. West side of 8th Street SW, between 9th and 10th Avenue SW.

          2 Replies
          1. re: 23skidoo

            23, is Mauro doing okay at its new location? I've seen the patio packed but last time I was there for lunch I was the only customer.

            1. re: John Manzo

              I went the other day and the patio was packed and inside was full. It seems a great value but was way too much food for me. I got the 1/2 salad and 1/2 sandwich (chicken parm) combo. My salad was definitely a half order but my sandwich was a whole baguette with 3 pieces of chicken on it!!!!! All that for $11. My only complaint was that it was a bit slow.

          2. Calypso's Taverna on Centre Street - without a doubt. I've posted a review here (no time to search for it right now sorry), and we went back on Friday night and it was amazing. Roast lamb was better than ever, and hummus was a bit different but wonderful - noticeable hints of cinnamon this time which worked well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dknight

              I must have gone on an "off" night then when I went to try Calypso's 2 weeks ago. The batter fell off the calamari when we tried to dip it in the tzatziki sauce and the calamari was really chewy. My friend and I both ordered the roast lamb and both agreed that the lamb was not as flavorful as we expected. I actually thought Santorini's did a much better job with the roast lamb. My only real complaint with Santorini's when I went was that the sides were terrible (mushy string beans and mushy rice pilaf).

            2. I just had an amazing lamb souvlaki wrap at Crete Souvlaki (2623-17 Ave SW) the other day. The place is also a gas station! People generally just get take-out there, but they have a couple tables where you can sit to eat a quick lunch. Everything was fresh and delicious and served in styroform - I don't think I'll eat Opa ever again.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chromatic

                Yes! Also their lemon potatoes are incredible!

                1. re: John Manzo

                  I agree about the potatoes, fantastic! I have tried to make them myself numerous times and failed. If anyone knows how they do it ,please let me know.

                2. re: chromatic

                  The hummos and baba is really good too. You can get large containers to go...

                  1. re: chromatic

                    that place is awesome. a calgary institution, for sure.

                  2. Another best kept secret is Mi Terra for Mexican food. The reason why they are one of the best kept secrets, cause if you didn't know they existed, you would almost never find it. (http://maps.google.com/maps?client=sa...

                    )

                    They recently renovated the place to make it into a full restaurant.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ilikebigmactoo

                      do you mean Mi Tierra? It's hardly a secret on this board!

                    2. My favourite secret Calgary find for a quick cheap lunch is a place in the crossroads market, that serves middle eastern food. I don't know what the place is called but we call it Borek, after the amazing flat bread pockets they serve seared hot on a domed fired grill, stuffed with feta a fresh spinach, or potatoes and onions (i think there is a meat one too) they also have great pita freshly made and lovely bean salads and tabouli.