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City Palate Cheap Eats - Is it just me?

CriolloLover Jan 6, 2010 02:11 PM

I've always been a fan of City Palate, good writers, interesting articles, good news section and definitely provides a great service to Calgarians and their food needs (or maybe more fittingly desires). However I have to say I've been disappointed with the last few Cheap Eats features. Now I'm not saying the restaurants they feature are not worthy stops for food, however I'd hardly say they're cheap. While the Districts review definitely seemed to offer some good deals (the Poutine & Beer deal particularly) the remainder do not in my humble opinion. You'd think especially in the economic environment that we're faced with that we'd get more gems like Atlas, Tiffin and a host of other locales. Maybe City Palate has outgrown my pedestrian ways, and I am no longer their demographic. I'd love to hear from the other Chowhounders their reccommendations for Cheap Eats in Calgary.

  1. s
    Scary Bill Jan 7, 2010 12:30 PM

    A couple of comments:

    The writers really don't want to be writing about "cheap eats" because they'd rather eat better food at better places. Why eat a $15 and less meal when you can fill you belly with somthing just under $25.

    Calgary restaurants gave me a bit of "sticker shock" when I moved here just over a year ago. Virtually every type of restaurant is more expensive. I still haven't been able to order Chinese takeout (except for some really disappointing Sinapore noodles) because it is honestly at least 50% more than the average in the Toronto area. That also applies to Vietnamese, though I will gag down a bowl of pho from time to time.

    Having mentioned Toronto, a topic of near universal hatred in Calgary, I will say that I do still subscribe to Toronto Life (they dupe you into extending your subscription every few months, so at present I think that my great great grandchildren will still be getting it delivered) and that their "cheap cutoff" is now in the $30 per person range, incl tax, tip etc. They do however have the sense not to call it "cheap", and will from time to time come out with stories on "terriffic meals under $10, or value wines under $10" (another rarity in Calgary- I find the low end wines here more expensive, but the moderate and higher priced wines and spirits to be better priced depending on retailer and "specials")

    I will mention my most recent "cheap eats" place, and that is Joey's Seafood. Yeah, I know, a chain, but you can escape with a $15 per person bill for decent fish and chips with coleslaw (frozen fries, not fresh, but I've had much worse), including tax, tip, and soft drink. They will bring water without protest (or offering bottled water), AND you can add a bowl of mushy peas big enough for two for the ridiculously low price of 99 cents. There are a few other items on the menu that will allow you to eat in the same price range. Actually my biggest complaint was the lighting which gave me the equivalent of snow-blindness for the first few minutes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Scary Bill
      hsk Jan 7, 2010 06:00 PM

      "I find the low end wines here more expensive, but the moderate and higher priced wines and spirits to be better priced ..."

      This is because liquor tax in Alberta is per litre of category based on alcohol content, not a % of price like in most other provinces. It makes cheap wine expensive, compared to higher end wines.

      1. re: Scary Bill
        John Manzo Jan 8, 2010 08:59 AM

        Don't want to veer too far OT, but having just spent 10 days in Toronto over the holidays, my partner and I were reminded of what a great food city it is- I agree, Calgary is more expensive in every category except coffee. Even a shawarma is a 100% markup in Calgary- actually in many other cities. Toronto I'd put on par with Portland for cheap eats. Calgary is almost as bad as Seattle, the most overpriced dining city I've encountered on this continent, seriously.

      2. sharonanne Jan 7, 2010 10:45 AM

        Happy Valley Hong Kong style cafe in Chinatown. Our group of 4 (all adults) ate lunch for $26. Just be sure to order off the "other" menu.

        1. TSAW Jan 7, 2010 04:53 AM

          Funny... I was thinking the same thing when I read this issue. Of course all the restos are excellent but agreed, I don't consider it 'cheap'. I laughed at the piece on Pik Nik when they came in under $50 only because they brought their own wine on "No corkage Tuesdays". Big whoop! What a challenge! NOT...

          A serious challenge would be two apps, two mains, two drinks and two desserts on $50!

          1. s
            Satiated Jan 6, 2010 05:28 PM

            I heard it called "Snooty Palate" a few years ago.

            1. alau2 Jan 6, 2010 03:41 PM

              I totally agree. I don't consider $50 in the same category as "cheap"...

              I think a key is weekly specials that some places have (ie, half-price pasta nights at Chianti, all-you-can-eat tacos for $10.98 at Salt & Pepper on Tuesdays). I also tend to fall back on the Hong-Kong style cafes (Pebble Street, Calgary Court) which have an endless variety of hot, filling dinners for $12 or less!

              I tried to have a week of dinners for under $70 last year, and guess what? It's totally possible in Calgary!

              1 Reply
              1. re: alau2
                worldwidestuff Jan 6, 2010 04:37 PM

                I remember that Blog post very well.

              2. worldwidestuff Jan 6, 2010 03:32 PM

                Balkan Deli for lunch. $8.00 home made specials such as Schnitzel, Pork Roast, Roast Chicken or Meatloaf with all the sides that fit on the plate or in a Go Box.

                #2, 6115 - 4th Street SE

                Some pics:


                1. n
                  nonlinear Jan 6, 2010 03:30 PM

                  welcome to calgary, where everything costs 150% more than it does everywhere else.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: nonlinear
                    John Manzo Jan 6, 2010 09:46 PM

                    You should be earning more too. At any rate, criollo is right- they don't really have a single "street food" style cheap eat in the whole issue. All sit-down places.

                    1. re: John Manzo
                      nonlinear Jan 7, 2010 10:59 AM

                      not at this university, haha!

                      1. re: nonlinear
                        John Manzo Jan 8, 2010 08:55 AM

                        well that answers a lot!

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