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Fresh, local, casual food in Calgary

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We are flying into Calgary on a Saturday night in late August. Plane is supposed to get in around 6:30pm. Any thoughts on where to get a nice dinner with local, fresh and possibly organic food? I say casual because we don't want to dress up. But I'd like somewhere with a knowledable chef since I have celiac and want to be somewhere that is also knowlegable on this. Fancy food is not a requirement, just fresh and delicious. Any part of the city is fine since we haven't made our hotel reservation yet. And since it could take a couple hours to get through customs, get the car, check-in to hotel, etc...somewhere that doesn't close too early.

Thanks.

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  1. Una Pizza! They have gluten-free pizzas, are open until 1AM every night, and the food is magnificent.

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    UNO
    , New York, AB , USA

    1. For restaurants that emphasize locally-sourced ingredients, check out this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/688996

      And, as an aside, http://www.calgaryceliac.com/ has a list of Celiac-friendly restaurants, and another one for stores (like bakeries).

      1. What is your price range? If you can afford it, the River Cafe is nice.

        It seems there's no expectation that you dress up when going out in Calgary. You can wear shorts and flip-flops just about everywhere.

        12 Replies
        1. re: 23skidoo

          If you wear shorts and flip-flops at Rush or Catch, be prepared to feel monstrously conspicuous. Calgarians don't dress up for dinner (usually) but I've found it to be a lot less casual than many places- typical for an overwhelmingly white-collar city.

          1. re: John Manzo

            Visiting Calgary for a pre-move scouting trip, and was pretty put off by all the shorts and flipflops. I grew up in BC and have lived for the past ten years in CA, and am by no means a formal person. Eating dinner at Sugo's, the flipflopper at the adjacent table, facing the booth/bench where I was sitting, put his flipflop feet up next to me, a "my first time" experience at a restaurant with a wine list.

            1. re: bthc

              the funny thing is that people who are REALLY rich and powerful can wear whatever they want. on the other hand, people trying to appear as though they are from a higher class then they actually are tend to worry about how they look.

              1. re: nonlinear

                Not sure what this has to do with the conversation at hand. You don't know if flip-flops guy was rich or not.

                1. re: 23skidoo

                  My guess would be that he is rich. But I am only speculating here.

                2. re: nonlinear

                  Anyways, sharing a booth with shower sandles doesn't help one's appetite. Now proven by science.

                  To add some food content, the pasta at Sugo's was good, my only complaint was that the portion size seemed massive.

                  1. re: bthc

                    Gotta hate those massive portions,

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      I blame living a few blocks from a Cheesecake Factory for any oversized pasta portion snobbery.

                      1. re: bthc

                        Where was this? I thought that chain was only in the US- but agree, they have portions infected with elephantiasis, grotesque.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          In the US - Palo Alto.

                3. re: bthc

                  better stay in BC then :P lots of flipflopers in this city...I am one of them.
                  But that wasn't me at Sugo's.

                  1. re: jojok

                    Too late, I'm coming to Calgary!

                    Edit: And I should add that the Chowhound massive's food recommendations were helpful, that Tubby Dog is a civic treasure, and the range of coffee that I tried in YYC ranged from excellent to amazing, and I didn't even make it to a P&S.

            2. The Coup is a fun little restaurant on 17th ave with lots of local organic ingrediants that has lots of gluten free choices. They have a little bar next door I can't remember the name of with some amazing fabulous drinks as well. It's not overly casual, but not a dress up place either. Just kind of funky.

              1 Reply
              1. re: upsidedownorchid

                bar is called "Meet."

              2. FARM, on 17th ave S.W is great. very casual, decently priced and sourced out local food makes up their menu.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Lingcullen

                  It's good food, but the portions are tiny and expensive.

                  1. re: 23skidoo

                    that is sort of the side effects of buying local food.

                    The portions are much closer to actual necessary portions, and the prices are premium because the ingredients are as well.

                    Sorry I don't mean to sound like I am coming down on you for your opinion of the place, but its very disheartening when the biggest complaint people have for local food is the cost.

                    When food is not mass produced and shipped out frozen, or pumped full of preservatives it is much more expensive. Paying more for your food unavoidable side effect to eating better food to begin with.

                    That being said, their menu is about on par with the garbage frozen trash they serve on Earls or Moxies entree menu.

                    1. re: Lingcullen

                      I stand by my words.

                      "Necessary Portions" are a matter of opinion - there's a reason you mostly see women eating there. When I got the fondue I was offered some sausage on the side, and it must have been 1.5" of sausage cut into slivers for $6. But don't get me wrong, it was good sausage. I asked for extra bread, and the server looked at me like I was being a glutton.

                      The prices aren't high because the food is local. Check out Fresh Kitchen - you get huge portions of local food for a reasonable price. The prices are high because people are willing to spend a ton of money for tiny plates of charcuterie and cheese.

                      I really don't know what you mean about the menu being on par with Earls. The price, the portions, the kind of food, the atmosphere, everything is different. I hope you're not implying that Earl's is probably my kind of place because I feel that Farm is bad value for the money.

                      1. re: 23skidoo

                        I don't find Farm's prices to be high. I can get out of there stuffed to the gills for around $35. For that sort of quality I cannot complain.

                        1. re: 23skidoo

                          "Necessary Portions" are a matter of opinion

                          I disagree. Yes you may be able to eat more, but I applaud farm for not serving more. I like to see restaurants opting out of offering huge servings in order to make themselves more worth the price they charge for the food.

                          earls prices are VERY similar to farm, but yes the quality, serving sizes are different that is my point. If you feel you deserve more bang for your buck food wise, steer clear of places that focus on quality over quantity because portion size will never win in that competition.

                        2. re: Lingcullen

                          Where would one get local food from October to May in Calgaruy, other than some meat, some cheese, or some root vegetables? And maybe some bread?

                        3. re: 23skidoo

                          I've written about this before as well, but I'm with 23skidoo and HSK. I find the value lacking at Farm (and at Earl's too, but that's a whole different story). And it's not the effect of buying local either (but I'd hardly call their cheese selection local, even if you consider Quebec local...).

                          We were there just the other day for a late night snack. The service was excellent, and extra bread was offered when we finished the 7 slim baguette slices that came with our cheese. Since the cheese knobs are so small, I find myself cutting each chunk into very small slivers and trying to make it go further with more bread. No doubt it's excellent cheese.

                          Our 3 cheese selection, 1 dessert, 2 epiphany chocolates, 1 glass of wine came to $47 before tip. Obviously, we all have to decide for each other what good value is and clearly there are disagreements on this board -- but for me that is decidedly poor value.

                          I like Farm, but at that rate, my visits will be few and far between. For my money, Petite, District, VinRoom, Jaro Blue, Milk Tiger (, and others...) all offer better value while staying committed (more or less) to locally sourced foods.

                        4. re: Lingcullen

                          If you want charcuterie, MarketBar at Sunterra in Keynote is open until 10PM (2AM Fridays and Saturdays). Their charcuterie board has several local cheeses and meats (maybe 4-6 oz total, with lots of bread) and for $13 a much better deal than FARM (which I agree is expensive and tiny portions although I've only been once).

                          I've been twice now, and although I didn't love everything I had it was (mostly) local, fresh, and very well priced.

                          1. re: hsk

                            There are other things at Farm besides charcuterie.

                            MarketBar is unfortunately abandoning the 2am closing, at least for now. Just 10pm.

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              Oh. Where did you hear this? Not that I went very late (maybe 8-9pm both times). I thought they cut back the hours of the market from the first announcement but I might be wrong. MarketBar has its own entrance with an accordion screen across hallway to the market when it's closed. The website still says 2AM on Friday/Saturday (bottom of last page)
                              http://www.sunterramarket.com/st_DocL...

                              1. re: hsk

                                Right from the horse's mouth. Was at Sunterra last week, lady was offering pizza samples, asked about hours, she told me 2am was not working.

                        5. We really enjoyed District (607 11 Avenue Southwest) for pub food with a focus on local suppliers.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Merry113

                            Dairy Lane. I think they close early, at 8pm. And they usually have a lineup.If you get in, it is worth it. They try to source almost everything locally.

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                            Dairy Lane Cafe
                            319 19 St NW, Calgary, AB T2N 2J2, CA