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Oct 19, 2009 09:56 PM

Avocado 17 Ave SW, Calgary

It just opened where Norm's Pub used to be, on 17th near 4th next to Cilantro's. I'd only been to Norms once (maybe 15 years ago, a real dump) but there was a big "NOW OPEN" sign so I thought I'd try it out.

It's the same people as the Avocado's in Deerfoot Meadow's (near Ikea, we'd tried it once about 2 years ago), the place down south was kind of a family place, Mexican, cheap and meh. The menu is the same but the ambience is totally different.

This place is more like a bar, dark wood, big-screen TV's, semi-circular booths and loud music / the game at high voume. The food is decent, lots of burritos and a few appetizers. The chipotle steak bites were a real standout, about 10 oz of tenderloin chunks (although the "ranchero chipotle dip" was IMHO just ranch dressing with a drizzle of hot sauce, served in a nice tortilla cup), for $12 a really good deal.

Fairly large menu and drink specials every day. It's nice, a big step up from Norm's, I expect they will do well here. They'd only been open a week but it was quite crowded.

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  1. Thanks for the note - I was wondering if it was the same as the Ikea one.

    1. I remember the Bar on the corner as "The Point" - and yeah, it was a dive. Right before it closed you'd see hipsters going there for the authentic crappy ambiance and overpriced PBR.

      8 Replies
      1. re: 23skidoo

        The Point had some pretty good managers, even though it was a dive. One of the best ones (Sarmad) is now working at the HiFi and doing great things there. It was Norms before the Point. I'm very happy to hear that this prime spot on 17th might get some life to it after a far too long dead period. I'll check it out! Thanks for the heads up- looks like they have a couple good veggie options on the menu too. Also- I'm pretty sure there were never any overpriced PBRs at the Point. Just cheep terrible draught and a lot of VLTs (and VLT 'clients').

        1. re: Mawson Plan

          When could you ever get PBR in Calgary? I thought all the hipsters in western Canada drank ironic Pilsner.

          1. re: John Manzo

            You haven't been to the Biltmore in Vancouver. Nothing like getting a PBR from the cute girls manning the beer tub and watching a killer show.

            On topic though, glad to see that area getting a new spot. I went to St. Mary's earlier in the decade and it was always a bit desolate east of 4th St.

            1. re: peter.v

              Peter, for you to drink Pil (or whatever) is pretty shocking seeing as you seem to have superb taste in beer...

              BUT as to Avocado- their site sure makes their burritos sound tasty, here's to hope.

              1. re: John Manzo

                A good burrito would be huge for Calgary.

                (And yes, on the beer note, I normally have much, erm, better taste in beer. Molson Pilsner has a soft spot in my heart as it's a geology/Western Canadian tradition... PBR is just cheap and sometimes I don't want to spend the extra cash when it's beer number 5 of the night)

                1. re: peter.v

                  I actually wish Red Burrito or Steamrollers would open here. I like both of those- not "love" but like.

                  1. re: peter.v

                    Ha ha. Yes, it was probably Pil John. It's the 'hipster' beer of Calgary. And yes, PBR is the Vancouver choice. I wish the kids would try some Wildrose though. Luckily Steamwhistle seems to catch on. Steamwhistle is not a bad pilsner...

              2. re: John Manzo

                Maybe I was thinking of Lucky Lager, and not PBR.

          2. I thought The Point was becoming the CRMR shop? Did that never happen?

            1 Reply
            1. re: John Manzo

              CRMR is East of Cilantro. They carry a selection of their (CRMR) meats, such as venison, plus prepared soups, and flatbreads and pizzas that are made at Cilantro. Also dry goods such as pastas, olive oils, Maldon salt, etc. They bring in breads from a bakery in Canmore, (can't remember the name, but they make good bread and usually only sell to restos) which they reheat and sell fresh. Good bread, but give it a squeeze for freshness. They seemed like day-old to me. I will happily pay $4+ for a good baguette, but I do want it fresh

            2. I just had what was, and I say this without hesitation, the worst burrito I have ever had in my life. Worse than gas station microwave. Worse than my high school cafeteria.

              Let me say though that the new Avocado is nice in a Moxies sort of way; it's all brown and clubby and the seats are comfy. Service was friendly and, considering that they were smacked with a party of what looked like 40 soccer moms, quite fast. Prices are high, very high, for what you get.

              I ordered a $13.95 "slow roasted pork" burrito (I think that was the description- definitely roast pork) and a side of sweet potato fries. The fries might have been Bridge Brand or whatever but they were delicious, a real treat with some spicy mayo for dippin'. The burrito was a disaster. It was HORRIBLE, and I have a high tolerance for horrible. It was a combination of completely unbalanced on one hand (for example, all of the guac was in one corner of the burrito) but at the same time consistently mushy. I could not find the pork- I mean, I could see something that looked brown, but it was nothing but dessicated and mushy; the whole thing had the texture of hummous, including the meat. Not a trace of spice even though I ordered "hot" salsa. The tortilla was whole wheat and seized to the texture of cardboard because everything inside it was cold. Everything. But who uses tough whole-wheat tortillas for a burrito anyway? It was presented sliced in half like your typical food court "wrap." It was awful.

              I know there might be some decent things on the menu- the fries gave me hope- but it was a quality burrito that I wanted and this was a massive disappointment.

              4 Replies
              1. re: John Manzo

                i had a pretty terrible experience at the deerfoot meadows one about a year ago - uncooked chicken and poorly dealt with complaint about said chicken (still had to pay half since i'd eaten some of my meal before i got to the uncooked part. not great food anyway, even if it had been cooked - i was disappointed to see that's what opened in that space....

                1. re: pants

                  We also had a really bad experience at the Deerfoot Meadows location a couple of years ago and have never darkened their door again. The food is just plain terrible. I'm surprised they are doing that well to open another location.

                  1. re: sweeterpea

                    It's interesting that this place and Wok Box have both opened on 17th recently- both are Alberta-based spins on ethnic... now Wok Box is neither great Chinese nor great food period but it's not bad if you know what to order and is decent value, and is fast counter service. Avocado could have hit it out of the park by keeping simple and just following a Chipotle or Baja Fresh model- instead they have these disastrous duded-up "Mexican" items and are clearly more about booze at this location. Also, IMHO Mexican and table service just don't mesh- now I've had some outstanding Mexican at sit-down places in the states but if they're selling "urban Mexican" then doing it like a suburban Canadian chain (this place is way, way more White Spot than anything closely "Mexican") then they're doing it wrong. COMPLETELY wrong.

                    El Sombrero is still around a mere block west. And as expensive as El Sombrero is, it's a much better deal than this place, and much much better food.

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      I thought Avocado was better than El Sombrero, although I didn't have burritos at either place.

              2. Attempted resurrection of a quiet board! Went to Avocado last night probably the third time for us since it opened on 17 and while it is somewhat chain restaurent style I have to say we do enjoy it! Much more than the one down in Deerfoot meadows. Service is quick, price is reasonable (121 for 4 people) usually busy but able to get a table (which is a perk on 17 ave on a sat night around 8 pm!) and while it sure isn't what I eat in Mexico the food is good and the steak is a million times better than anything served in Mexico! There are some cons - the nachos and salsa appy - ugh overpriced and not worth it but hey lesson learned and we just don't get them! Anyone else been recently and want to throw in their 2 cents?