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Feb 14, 2010 01:59 PM

YYC: Tango Bistro (in Smugglers)

The most recent new restaurant to be carved out of Smugglers on Macleod Tr. is the Tango Bistro. They've renovated the front dining room facing Macleod, and it looks much more modern. Lots of dark wood and glass panels, visible wine storage, a large fireplace beside a central bar, and plenty of booths around the outside edges.

The tag line on Opentable is that "Tango Bistro serves small plates/share plates in a vibrant modern casual setting". Most dishes seemed to be in the $8 - $10 range, with small shot glass dessert cakes at $2.50. There was a full page wine list, and another page with cocktails and beer, including several less typical brews (e.g. Duvel, St. Bernardus, Innes & Gunn, etc.).

We enjoyed the following:
-Korean Bulgogi, came in a bowl with half a dozen pieces or so, with kimchi
-Shortrib Sliders, came 3 on the plate with a small bowl of baked beans
-Boar Bacon Flatbread, with mushroom and tomato jam, which was sliced into about 5 or 6 strips about an inch wide
-Pork Empanadas, three on the plate with a pineapple salsa
-Turducken, three portions, which seemed to have started as a roll or log, and then sliced with lollipop sticks in each round piece
-Chocolate lollipops, two with rasperry flavored filling with a hard outer chocolate shell
-Mango Tres Leche Cake in a shotglass

The menu also had quite a few other items. From memory, there was a twisted fish and chips with eel, prawn and mussel dishes, meatballs, proscuitto wrapped dates, salad rolls, yam fries, and probably a dozen more.

The items arrive as they are ready, so some items ordered together may not always arrive at the same time. We chose to order a couple at a time, and then order the next ones when the past order arrived. This kept a fairly steady flow, without jamming the table with too many plates.

All in all it was an enjoyable meal, with lots of different items to try, friendly service, and a much improved decor.

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  1. wow, tapas! riding a trend that peaked in north america about, what, 7 years ago now? i would imagine they have sliders on the menu, too. hah!

    calgary is really catching up with the times, folks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: nonlinear

      You owe me a keyboard nonlinear! I spewed coke all over it reading that reply, LOL!

      I actually went last night, by mistake. Was going to Bolero and ended up in the new space. Love it, kind of like a Scandinavian Rumpus Room, all orange and pine and stainless steel. Very cool. Four of us sat by the beautiful fireplace and had great service.

      We ate the:
      - Wonton encrusted shrimp (OMG) $12 for six
      - Boar flatbread (loved the jam!),
      -Shortrib Sliders (and I have to say although I'm pretty sick of sliders the beans on the side were so incredible, with crispy pork in them that just pushed it that much over the yummy factor)
      -Bulgogi (i found it a little salty if I ate it on its own, but with the kimchee it was just right)
      and washed everything down with St Bernadus in beautiful flutes. We also had dessert, I had the Mango Tres Leches, delicious if non traditional. Hubby had two Strawberry Shortcakes, so I guess he liked those, he didn't share. Our friends went with the chocolate pops and declared them a perfect end to a perfect gorging.

      I do like how the plates come when they are ready, we hadn't seen our friends for awhile and it gave us lots to eat in a grazing style while we talked and drank. The bill added up for sure; although the plates are relatively cheap its easy to eat a lot (and drink more) when you are relaxed and unrushed. We doubled on all of our items.

      The room was pretty full and we still felt attended to but not urged to go anywhere. The seats were comfortable and the music was good. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an unstructured meal in a cool atmosphere. i don't know if this was by design, but the room seems suited to a 30+ crowd and is more like a lounge than a bistro, in my eyes. Its also very "un-Smugglers" which is a good thing in my eyes.

      Are they breaking new ground? No, but heck its still good. And I'm a big fan of grazing, so its nice not to have to order my dinner off of the appetizer menu. I suggest it for anyone who wants an upper scale pub night with couples or a girls night out for the ladies. It was a good time.

      1. re: messier

        For some reason your "Scandinavian Rumpus Room" created this weird mental image of a Swedish Romper Room:

        "I see Jurgen, and Henrik, and Sven, and Borje and Ana and..."


    2. Thank you posters, I've been wanting to know what's up since hearing of the renos. Anyone know their hours?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jasz

        The OpenTable summary lists the following:
        Lunch: Monday - Saturday: 11:00am - 4:00pm
        Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 4:30pm - 12:00am, Friday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 1:00am, Sunday: 4:30pm - 12:00am

        1. re: truthserum


          Tango Bistro
          6920 MacLeod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2H 0L3, CA

          1. re: truthserum

            Thanks again. Now it's on my ever-expanding "want-to-try" list.

        2. This place might turn out to be a winner.

          Only had time for a couple of dishes. Sliders is not the right name for these, much better than the name implies.
          Sweet Potato fries are very good and gluten free amongst a dozen other GF options.

          3 Replies
          1. re: worldwidestuff

            I agree with you, wwstuff...sliders is not a good name. I want to call it more of a pulled pork sandwich...
            I have a friend I want to take who's GF...did you ask if everything is really GF? Including the fries? I know that the fryers and toasters can be an issue....

            1. re: messier

              No guarantees on the fryer. Before the week is over, I am going with Victoria to see what gives.

              The waitress showed me a hand written list ( I took a picture) and there were some really good GF choices. Stuffed dates, the bacon wrapped tenderloin, Turducken and others which from knowledge I think could be very easily modified.

              1. re: worldwidestuff

                turducken skewers? Interesting. Not sure how you do a decent turducken without stuffing but...I would try it.

          2. It was really good, and quite inexpensive. The standouts were pecan crusted chevre salad with arugula and pomegranate seeds, the BBQ pork flatbread and the wonton crusted prawns (5 very large prawns for $9!). Pretty much everything was under $10. It wasn't too busy when we went and we ordered a little at a time but the food came out quite quickly. Definitely recommended.

            1. We gave this place a try last night, made our reservation through OpenTable, apparently the telephone number posted on there is their fax number...not sure about their actual phone number.

              The place is nicely renovated, more classy and brighter than smugglers. The couches were very comfortable. We were greeted right away as we walked in. Since it's still relatively new, it wasn't very packed on a Friday night, but my guess is that they are going to pick it up real soon.

              I'm not very good with commenting on food, just like to share some pics of the food we ordered.

              Since the whole idea is to share among others, that's what we did, we ordered a salad and 4 other dishes.

              Picture 1 - salad (garden greens) with prawns & scallops.

              Picture 2 - Turducken - shaped like a lollipop, the outside edge is turkey with the inside consisted of chicken & duck...they tasted like sausages to me, and just like sausages, they are rather salty...if you are a sausage fan, you would prob enjoy this much more than i did.

              Picture 3 - Gnocchi w/ mushroom - our favorite dish, the flavour was very rich, but the gnocchi was cooked just right...the portion was good for 2 to share...

              Picture 4 - Mussels

              Yam fries - they were seasoned nicely, but we think they were slightly over-fried as a lot of the ends were burnt prob because the fries were cut to really small pieces...we prefer the ones at Anju (sorry, no pictures for this one)

              The bill came out to be about $25/person for the 2 of us, which was quite reasonable. I would recommend giving this place a try for sure, lots of options on the menu as previously mentioned. Dishes arrived rather quickly. We also finished with the raspberry truffle dipped in chocolate ($2.50 for 3).

              3 Replies
              1. re: overseastar

                Their actual phone number is 252-4365. I had made a reservation via OpenTable and when I tried to call to increase the number of people for our reservation I too kept on getting the fax line. I had to call Smuggler's to get Tango's number.

                1. re: miss.foodie

                  Thanks! I was going to call Smuggler's as But thought it might be a bit inappropriate.

                  1. re: miss.foodie

                    Tnx - I've changed the phone number in Chow's database to 252-4365