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YYC - Dinner around the Chinook Centre Area

overseastar Feb 3, 2010 08:53 AM

Hi all,

My buddy and I are planning to do some shopping and would like to find a good restaurant nearby to try out, want to try something other than Red Lobster, Joey's, East Side Mario. Probably not Jap food as I know there's Kinjo nearby, and not Vietnanese either, those are about the only places I know about. Hopefully it could be something within 10 min drive. Price-wise would be about 15-30 per person.


On a side note, I heard about Smuggler's splitting their restaurant in half for something else, what exactly is in the new part of Smuggler's?

  1. b
    Bananna85 Feb 3, 2010 09:04 AM

    Il Centro has amazing pizza. There has been a few comments on here regarding their service, but we had great service when we went. The only issue is that I think they close at 6pm on weeknights so you'll have to get there early.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bananna85
      overseastar Feb 3, 2010 09:13 AM

      I would love to try it one day, but am a bit concerned about the services after I read about it around the board here. May be will try their take-out next time. Thanks for the post.

    2. t
      truthserum Feb 3, 2010 09:28 AM

      If Mexican would fit the bill, I'm sure you could get to Tu Tierra (on Fairmont just south of Heritage) well within your 10 minute drive time.

      Or how about Chinese/Szechuan? If so, there is Leo Fu's just a few blocks south of Chinook on 70th Ave.

      1. m
        miss.foodie Feb 3, 2010 10:14 AM

        There is also Gaucho Brazilian BBQ across the street at the corner of 58th Ave and MacLeod. You can try their rodizio service (all you can eat meat).


        1. l
          Larry33 Feb 3, 2010 10:31 AM

          Praga Cafe is near by on Macleod and 60th. I haven't heard any reviews, but would love to hear about any experiences.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Larry33
            nonlinear Feb 3, 2010 11:26 AM

            a friend told me that her friend said it was good.... whatever that means hahah.

            1. re: nonlinear
              overseastar Feb 5, 2010 01:32 PM

              Lots of wonderful suggestions on this page, thank you all! Will try out Praga tonight and report back later :)

              1. re: overseastar
                overseastar Feb 7, 2010 11:34 AM

                So, we went to check it out on Friday. On the website, it says that they are open from 10:30-8:30+ on Friday, so I tried calling in the afternoon just to check, no one picked up at all in the afternoon, got there at around 5pm and it was closed. It closes from 2-4pm daily apparently according to a note on their front door, but somehow it wasn't open till after 5:30pm that day, so going after 5:30 would prob be the safest.

                The place is pretty small with about 6-8 tables for 2. The tables were all pretty small, enough for 2 only even if some of them have 3 or 4 chairs at the table. The place needs better ventilation since it smells like grease.

                As for food, we ordered:

                Smoked Salmon with horseradish cream sauce...............$8
                Served with Toasted bun

                - Nothing special about this dish really, 4 slices of bread (soft), smoked salmon enough for the bread and the horseradish cream sauce.

                Praga Goulash.....................................................................$9
                Home-made Goulash (Beef stew) with Bohemian dumplings.

                - I don't really know what real Czech food is like, so can't really judge if it was authentic. I like the beef stew, the flavour was just right and not super rich compared to a similar dish at Jonas' Hungarian Restaurant (I know a lot of ppl like that place, but for me, the dishes at Jonas' are much too rich for me). The dumplings were soft and go nicely with the beef stew along the side.

                Czech Schnitzel....................................................................$10
                Served with Potato salad, Caesar salad or French fries.

                - They've over-fried the pork which made it super dry and hard to chew on, I don't recommend this one.

                We were the only customers there at the time between 545-7pm. One guy walked into the place and was there for a beer only, looks like he's a regular though. I think this place would get most of the customers for lunches from nearby businesses, not so much for dinner. Our server was pretty young, possibly the daughter of the family. Don't expect superb service at this small place since I think you are supposed to pay and order first. But since we were the only customers there that night, she decided to serve us and we paid after the meal.

                So overall, if you want something different and quick, it's worth trying Praga Cafe and the price for dinner was quite reasonable. It's more of a family restaurant with a small kitchen and dining area. Not exactly the most comfortable dining chairs they have, but II would recommend the beef stew over the dried pork. ^^"

                Praga Cafe
                6008 MacLeod Trail SW #108, Calgary, AB T2H 0K1, CA

                1. re: overseastar
                  hsk Feb 15, 2010 08:56 PM

                  Thanks for the review. I went to that location a couple of times when it was the middle eastern place (the name escapes me) and I've been meaning to try it, it sounds a lot like the food at Jonas, my fave for cheap Eastern European.

                  Jonas' Restaurant
                  937 6 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0V7, CA

          2. n
            nonlinear Feb 3, 2010 11:27 AM

            there is the dog and duck pub about 4 blocks north. good pub grub. i usually opt for the pizzas.

            also, there is Coco Brooks (pizza) on 52nd (i think) and blackfoot.

            1. l
              L.C. Feb 3, 2010 03:29 PM

              Seoul Korean BBQ is pretty tasty. It's further down MacLeod, somewhere around 42nd. Good stuff and I gather it's pretty authentic.

              1. wonderflosity Feb 3, 2010 09:09 PM

                The other half of smugglers is one of my favorite restaurants, Open Sesame, a Pan Asian place with amazing decor and a fantastic market garden where you can pick ingrediants for your own stirfry (Which is not done by weight like Mongolie Grill), the ingrediants are fresh and delicious. They have spectacular desserts, like Bernard Callebaut chocolate Spring rolls, and Banana wontons.

                There is also a Brazillian Restaurant called Bolero upstairs, but as I'm a vegetarian, and it's a meat only type place, I can't comment on that.

                6 Replies
                1. re: wonderflosity
                  miss.foodie Feb 3, 2010 11:11 PM

                  I think the OP was possibly referring to the rumor that they might turn a portion of the current smuggler's into something that serves tapas, etc. See thread from a while back. I don't have any updated info on this.


                  1. re: miss.foodie
                    CookieGal Feb 4, 2010 06:43 AM

                    interesting, and I think a good move. Some how I feel that the sun is setting on Smugglers. Have you been there during the day time for lunch??? Weird and tacky! While the oversized steakhouse furniture is fine for a dark (and even cold) night.. during the bright of day... it feels like your eating in dingy a strip club or something!
                    I think Tapas would be lovely!

                    1. re: CookieGal
                      maplesugar Feb 5, 2010 08:42 AM

                      All the Smugglers look like that; the one in Sylvan is the same way. Went there for a weekend lunch and the big hulking chairs were awkward to maneuver. When we were there the place was half empty... I can't imagine what it was like to try and squeeze into your chair if there was a party seated behind you. I don't know how anyone serves a table of 4 without having to reach across the first two people, the chairs are so tall. The whole place was so dark as to be cave like...so I get your reference to strip clubs.

                      Oh and the food? My main was forgettable, the salad bar...I had high hopes, but it seemed stuck in the 80s. Pickled beets, mayo based salads... crudite. DH did say he liked the soup on offer.

                      1. re: maplesugar
                        nonlinear Feb 5, 2010 08:55 AM

                        i agree about the food... we've actually only been once, to the brunch, but won't go back again. we had admittedly high expectations since the smuggler's brunch is kind of famous in calgary, but the food was absolutely horrid (and i can't stress that enough). i don't want to stray any further off topic, but here is a link to my friend's review if anyone is interested: http://forums.beyond.ca/showthread.ph...

                    2. re: miss.foodie
                      truthserum Feb 14, 2010 02:05 PM

                      The new tapas restaurant, called Tango Bistro, is now open. I added our first impression in a new thread:

                      1. re: truthserum
                        Places_I_go_things_I_eat May 31, 2010 07:48 PM

                        I loved Tango, it's the kind of restaurant that this city is in need of. by that i mean its casual, you can eat, talk, order, without the routine and formality of a "high end" restaurant. the foods good, and the interior is hard to pinpoint, i felt like i was in a Ikea brand log cabin, in a good way-although there were no 50cent hotdogs

                  2. h
                    hsk Feb 4, 2010 09:03 PM

                    10 minutes' drive will take you downtown/17th Ave, lots of choices there.

                    Places close to Chinook: my favourite Indian restaurant on Macleod just north of 50 Ave (Taj Mahal). Boyd's is good for fish and chips, SE corner of 50th and Macleod. Both are around $15 for a main dish. I assume no Japanese/viet means no Korean either, but if Korean is OK both Seoul BBQ (around 42th Ave) and Koreana (around 70 Ave) are good, within 20 blocks on Macleod.

                    Alloy on 42 Ave just east of Macleod is also good but mains are over $25. Same with Gaucho, Macleod at 58th, just across from Chinook, great but $35 for the rodizio. Unless the $15-30 is just for entree, no apps, drinks, tax or tip they would be out of the price range.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: hsk
                      nonlinear Feb 5, 2010 07:37 AM

                      i would recommend against taj mahal, unless you really, really like grease :P (it's so bad that you get 'greased out' and then have to go home and eat some more). no offense to you hsk (i know we've talked about this before), but just wanted to give a fair 'warning' to OP.


                      1. re: nonlinear
                        overseastar Feb 7, 2010 11:38 AM

                        Thanks for the warning about Taj Mahal, I definitely prefer less greasy food myself :P

                    2. maplesugar Feb 5, 2010 08:51 AM

                      In a breakfast/brunch thread someone recommended a diner attached to I think the Stetson? Might be worth a trip ... I'll see if I can dig up the thread & get the name.

                      ETA: found it http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678036 the 99th Avenue Cafe. Ok so it'd be a bit of a hike down McLeod... guess it depends how far you want to stray from Chinook :)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: maplesugar
                        nonlinear Feb 5, 2010 09:00 AM

                        that was me: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678036 by far the best breakfast in the south. i would guess their lunch and dinner food is just as great (if you like cafe food). try to keep it somewhat on the downlow though, it's my little secret (yeah right!).

                        1. re: nonlinear
                          maplesugar Feb 5, 2010 09:12 AM

                          I'll keep it under my hat :P BTW do you think I could take the kids there? (theyre well behaved in restaurants ....mainly b/c they know we wont go out again/leave if theyre not)

                          1. re: maplesugar
                            nonlinear Feb 5, 2010 09:48 AM

                            i would say this place is 100% kids friendly. (keep in mind that this is just a 'normal' cafe, like you might find in a small town somewhere. late '80s decor, etc. it's clean, though, busy, the food is high quality and really cheap. also, you can get "fritters" as your side, which are deep fried tater tots. that would probablly be fun for the kids)

                            1. re: nonlinear
                              maplesugar Feb 5, 2010 10:08 AM

                              Sounds good, 80s decor included :) Next time we're in Calgary we're heading to Southcentre so this is a perfect alternative to the usual food court places. Thanks nonlinear.

                      2. b
                        Bex_03 Feb 6, 2010 10:10 PM

                        Has anyone been to the Cactus Club near Chinook? I've been to one in Vancouver and I remember it being pretty good.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Bex_03
                          nonlinear Feb 7, 2010 09:00 AM

                          uhh, no thanks.

                          1. re: nonlinear
                            Bex_03 Feb 7, 2010 06:55 PM

                            ..Is it really that bad?

                            1. re: Bex_03
                              Shazam Feb 15, 2010 11:14 AM

                              It's... okay. Just another Earl's clone, really.

                              1. re: Bex_03
                                hsk Feb 15, 2010 08:49 PM

                                It's fine, I've been there a few times when it's convenient. However, it's a chain restaurant, very similar to Joey's which is right in Chinook mall and specifically not what OP was looking for.

                                1. re: hsk
                                  Bex_03 Feb 16, 2010 03:01 PM

                                  Ok. err...sorry?
                                  I didn't realize I wasn't allowed to mention chain restaurants...

                                  1. re: Bex_03
                                    hsk Feb 16, 2010 04:21 PM

                                    Sorry, that's not what I meant, you're "allowed" to mention any restaurant you want, chain or not.

                                    I just meant that Joey's was specifically not what OP was looking for - "want to try something other than Red Lobster, Joey's, East Side Mario" and that I thought Cactus Club is fine but similar to Joey's.

                          2. rosetown Feb 7, 2010 03:49 PM

                            adding links:

                            6920 Macleod Tr. S, Calgary, AB T2H 0L3, CA

                            220 42 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1Y4, CA

                            Gaucho Brazilian BBQ
                            5920 Macleod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2H 0K2, CA

                            Open Sesame
                            6920 Macleod Tr S, Calgary, AB T2H 0L3, CA

                            Smuggler's Inn
                            6920 Macleod Tr. S, Calgary, AB T2H 0L3, CA

                            Seoul Korean BBQ
                            4336 MacLeod Trail SW, Calgary, AB T2G 0A4, CA

                            Koreana BBQ Restaurant
                            7400 #17 MacLeod Trail SE, Calgary, AB T2H 0L9, CA

                            Tu Tierra Restaurant
                            8316 Fairmount Dr SE #30, Calgary, AB T2H 0Y8, CA

                            Il Centro
                            6036 3 St SW #106, Calgary, AB T2H 0H9, CA

                            Leo Fu's Szechwan & Mandarin Restaurant
                            511 70 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2V 0P5, CA

                            The Dog & Duck Public House & Restaurant
                            5340 2 St SW, Calgary, AB T2H 0G7, CA

                            Coco Brooks Pizza
                            640 42 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1Y6, CA

                            Taj Mahal
                            4816 MacLeod Trail SW, Calgary, AB T2G 0A8, CA

                            Boyd's Seafood Restaurant
                            5211 MacLeod Trail SW #100, Calgary, AB T2H 0J3, CA

                            99th Avenue Cafe
                            10002 MacLeod Trail SE, Calgary, AB T2J 3K9, CA

                            1. c
                              chewy_bakah Mar 11, 2010 06:47 PM

                              we were at kinjo and it was really expensive for very average to below average very tiny sushi.

                              we're not returning there

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