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Calgary's Best "Hidden Gems"

I think it's safe to say that everyone here has been to a few places that ended up being diamonds in the rough, so to speak. I'm referring to the type of place that, upon first sight, you wouldn't even think of eating there because it either looks too run down, or maybe too outdated. But, upon cautiously eating there, you find out the food is absolutely amazing. Kinda falls under the old "you can't judge a book by its cover" adage.

Usually you end up going to these places upon a recommendation from a friend or colleague.

What sort of places have you guys found that would fall under this category?

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  1. HAN'S, baby, HAN'S. Our favourite Chinese in Calgary, and most people seem completely unaware of its existence.

    Is there some issue with adding links in Chrome? I type in Han's and a pulldown includes it, bt I can't do anything with it- pulldown disappears.

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Trying again- it's "Han's," not "Hans" as the diminutive of Johann.

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      Han's Restaurant
      303 Centre St S #116, Calgary, AB T2P 2B9, CA

      1. re: John Manzo

        This place sounds awesome. I can't believe I've never heard of it before! It sounds like it's a pretty small place though, is it usually difficult to get seats? I'm dying to go now.

        1. re: Bex_03

          weekdays, yes it can be a zoo- but they're open sat and sun; we go for lunch weekends and never have a problem getting a table.

      2. La Dona!

        It's on International Avenue.

        Also Oliver Green's (in Dover) has good Indian food.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Lainey1978

          Another vote for Oliver Green's from me!

          Also, Ogden Pizza (in Ogden - go figure!). They don't skimp on the toppings!

          Not in Calgary, but the Cochrane Cafe (in Cochrane!) is a total dive judging by its decor but if you're looking for homestyle cooking and decent western style Chinese, this is a good place to go. One of the few places I know that still serves liver and onions!

          1. re: Lucki

            Forgot about Ogden Pizza & Pub. I drive by that place all the time in the summer, as Ogden Rd is my backroads route down to my softball games. I've always wondered what that place was like.

        2. Recently, we discovered the Priddis View and Brew, about maybe 20 minutes south of Calgary. They have a wonderful turkey dinner every Sunday -- roast turkey and all the fixin's, plus soup or salad. They do an amazing job and everything just melts in your mouth. They serve dinner all weekend with different dishes every day. Saturday is roast beef tenderloin. Great desserts -- I recommend the Coca Cola Cake and the Apple Crumble. Haven't tried lunch there, but I suspect the food is just as good.

          http://viewandbrew.ca/pvb/home.html

          Sweet Home Bakery, Bowness -- do not buy anything else but the cream horns. They often sell out of cream horns and some people reserve ahead.

          7 Replies
          1. re: sweeterpea

            what a great, charming find! thanks!!

            1. re: sweeterpea

              Oooh, that sounds awesome. Exactly the kind of hidden gem I was hoping people would post in here :)

              1. re: electroleum

                You're welcome. I am very picky about food and everything we've had there has been terrific. Business has been a bit slow lately for them and I hope they don't close. Please support a local business (and no, I don't work for them!).

              2. re: sweeterpea

                The View and Brew sounds worth a visit - but I'm wondering the cost of the weekend dinners? The price isn't on the menu.

                1. re: emsmom

                  The turkey dinner is $14.99 or $15.99 pp, can't remember exactly; but it includes soup or salad and turkey dinner. The portions are quite big and I always end up taking part of my meal home.

                2. re: sweeterpea

                  we drove by there one day and were wondering what that place was. we thought it looked pretty good, but didn't stop because it looked like a house and we weren't quite sure what it was.

                  can you tell me, why do they have "brew" in the name? do they brew beer there or something?

                  1. re: nonlinear

                    methinks the "brew" refers to coffee.

                3. Priddis View+Brew Bistro
                  178067 Priddis Valley Road West
                  Priddis, AB T0L 1W0
                  (403) 931-3611
                  (in database but won't link in this thread)

                  added to database:

                  -----
                  Antojitos La Dona Restaurant
                  3603 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0R8, CA

                  Oliver Green Restaurant and Lounge
                  4036 26 St SE, Calgary, AB T2B 2Y4, CA

                  Ogden Pizza and Pub
                  7401 Ogden Rd SE, Calgary, AB T2C 1B9, CA

                  Cochrane Cafe
                  316 1 St E, Cochrane, AB T4C 1Z2, CA

                  Sweet Home Bakery
                  7930 Bowness Rd NW, Calgary, AB T3B 0H3, CA

                  1. OK, not in Calgary, but minutes away is Bistro Provence in Okotoks. Mrs Scary and I went Saturday for lunch, had the special, soup, sandwich, and coffee for $9.50. The soup was a really really flavourful thick vegetable puree with ham, the sandwiches, ham and ripe brie, or duck rilette (more like a rilette than a pate I thought) and pistachio on a mid sized baguette. Very good food, very good prices. Most other lunch items were $10-$15.

                    Very tempting desert selections.

                    Also apparently very busy for dinner, at least on weekends, as four people were denied dinner reservations as they were already booked for the night, and apparently the night before as well.
                    Owned and operated by a husband and wife from France who seem to be the only employees, but they put out food pretty fast.

                    Decor, if you are fussy, can easily be critiqued, but I'm about the food, and some of the bistros in France I've been in aren't exactly pretty either.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Scary Bill

                      Bistro Provence
                      adding link:

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                      Bistro Provence
                      52 N Railway St, Okotoks, AB T1S 1J3, CA

                    2. Lloyd's Patty Plus (also known as Mr. Lloyd's Caribbean bakery) in the Short Pants Plaza has amazing Jamaican Beef Patties. Chicken is good, but I always go for the spicy beef, not to spicy, just right. Try it in the coco bread, very tasty!

                      Although not a restaurant, Spiceland on Fairmont Drive is a great little Indian grocery for dry beans, grains and spices. The owners are always a big help if you have any Indian cooking questions.

                      My other favorite is not really a hidden gem, but Pepino's in Kensington makes a great sandwich, which is not always easy to find in Calgary.

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                      Lloyd's Patty Plus
                      255 28 Street SE #202, Calgary, AB T2A 5K4, CA

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bakerbear

                        I've boycotted Peppino's for years- IMO their sandwiches are terrible, full of horrid iceberg lettuce and fake white cheese. They also pulled me one of the worst espressos I've ever had in my life, no crema and with grounds floating in it... and their gelato has always been thin and tasteless.

                        There are many, many places to get a better sandwich. Unless something at Peppino's has changed- has it?

                        1. re: Scary Bill

                          This is pre-shredded iceberg lettuce and processed cheese, which while fine on a Blimpie sub, doesn't work on an Italian sandwich. It's also far from the deliciousness that is the iceberg wedge. (Try the BLT salad at the Vintage Chophouse. Oh man...)