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ISO of dining suggestions for Calgary and Edmonton

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Yes i do realize there is a search function. but was hoping to find some up to date information.

i haven't been to either cities in 3 years. i am from Vancouver and looking for some good eats!

Where is the best steak house in town?

For Calgary, a friend suggested Mercato. would love to get some vietnamese satay pho and sub. last time i tried the one in Chinatown. which place has the best? i had a memorable meal at a Himalayan restaurant.

I am drawing a blank for Edmonton. I dont have any fond memories of dining in Edmonton. I am sure there are some unique eating spots. Please advise.

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  1. You're probably going to have to be a bit more specific about what you are looking for in Edmonton. Pretty hard to recommend something without knowing if you want cheap, expensive, prairie cuisine, ethiopian...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Dan G

      sorry, i understand. i have no budget or dietary restrictions. prairie cuisine sounds intriguing.

      how about borscht, perogies and cabbage roll? or ukrainian food in general...

      this is vague, but any food that makes you go 'wow' is worth investigating.

      any recent experiences with culina highlands and hardware grill?

      1. re: betterthanbourdain

        Had lunch at Culina Highlands about a month ago - but can't remember anything about it :). Not because it wasn't good - I recall being very pleased - but I've had a lot of travel and great food since so it is all a blur.

        Hardware...had my annual "let's try Hardware again" dinner there last weekend. I'm still not its biggest fan. Good, but not great. Some dishes seemed like they sat for too long before serving, wine service is laughably silly. Decanters are huge science beakers, which 1) look dumb in that setting and 2) aren't easy to pour from, and I hate it when a server spills wine on my table...should never happen in a place like this. But it will continue to be hugely popluar in Edmonton because you can get a weekend's worth of protein on one plate (which are the worst plates around...everything comes in a bowl, and cutlery just slides into them....).

        Red Ox is, of course, worth going to always.

        Haven't been to The Marc yet, got snowed in at home on my first attempt then have been away too much to reschedule. Corso 32 is top of my list, but I've called about reservation a couple of times and just get a machine and no one calls me back.

        For good casual food, I'd also recommend The Bothy, a whisky bar with very good pies and haggis.

        1. re: betterthanbourdain

          If you want Ukrainian food pretty much the only restaurant doing that solely is Taste Of Ukraine. If you are willing to eat in a shopping mall food court at Kingsway Mall (or go to the north end location where they have a fast food sit down outlet) you could go to Shumka.

          Another option is the Ukrainian Heritage Cultural Village outside of Edmonton but while there is food, they do not have a restaurant.

          1. re: anonymoose

            is the at TOU food good or worthwhile >? would it be more food court/fast food OR home cooking food?

            The UHCV sounds wonderful but doubt i'll have the time in my short visit.

            1. re: betterthanbourdain

              Taste of Ukraine is more home cooking style. Very, very large portions. A little expensive in my opinion, but the food is usually good.

      2. Definitely agree with Dan G that your request is quite vague... without much direction here are some places I would bring out-of-town friends to

        In Calgary - best Viet satay sub is Thi Thi in Chinatown... I like the satay pho at Noodle King in the NE but have heard that Pho Hoai in Chinatown is also good.

        I find Mercato in Calgary to be over-rated but many people may beg to differ. For steak in Calgary I like Carver's in Sheraton Cavalier. I also love the prime rib and other dishes at Charcut (one of my new fav restaurants). Some of my favs in Calgary are: The Coup (vegetarian), Diner Deluxe (for brunch), Avenue Diner (also for brunch or lunch), Rocky Burger Bus, Una Pizza and Wine.

        In Edmonton, a new restaurant has opened - Corso32. I have recommended this place to everyone and anyone who will listen. I love Daniel Costa's food - very rustic Italian. Pasta is freshly made. I love his ravioli fonduta, arancini (risotto balls), housemade goat ricotta, and chocolate torte with salty hazelnuts. Daniel also created and managed the menu at Red Star Pub which is a more casual version of his food (the Pembina Pork Pasta is amazing).

        We also like Culina for brunch and Zaika for Indian Buffet in Edmonton.

        -----
        Avenue Diner
        105 Steven Avenue Mall, Calgary, AB T2P 1B4, CA

        Diner Deluxe
        804 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E 3J6, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodkarma

          It is a good list.

          My recent experience is that Red Ox has gone up, Blue Pear remains the same but has become pricier, and Characters is overrated , or at best , inconsistent. In terms of PHO, Noodle King on 95 remains at the top of my list ( despite the odd placement of the bathroom)

          -----
          Blue Pear Restaurant
          10643 123 Street, Edmonton, AB T5N 1P3, CA

        2. The scene in Edmonton doesn't change that fast. There are a bunch of restaurants that seem to get at least some votes for "best" food (price no object) on a pretty consistent basis. The list is constant enough that people start talking about how they feel certain places have "gone downhill over the years".

          In no particular order:
          Culina
          Red Ox Inn
          Hardware Grill
          Madison's
          Jack's Grill
          Characters
          The Blue Pear

          Other places that often get good reviews, but never seem to quite get mentioned as "best in the city" candidates:
          Wild Tangerine
          Gabbana

          Some relatively newer places that have attracted fans (again, higher end dining):
          Wildflower Grill
          Sabor Divino

          The newest places that people are talking about:
          The Marc (French bistro)
          Corso 32 (Italian)
          MRKT (small plates? haven't been there personally, not sure what the best description would be)

          -----
          Blue Pear Restaurant
          10643 123 Street, Edmonton, AB T5N 1P3, CA

          Jack's Grill
          5842 111 Street, Edmonton, AB T6H 3G1, CA

          Red Ox Inn
          9420 91 Street, Edmonton, AB T6C 3P4, CA

          Wildflower Grill
          10009 - 107 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 1J1, CA

          Wild Tangerine
          10383 112th Street, Edmonton, AB T5K1M9, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: egon61

            i think the 'gone down hill' sentiment if often heard. as all restaurants have ups and downs just like the flames. ;-D
            The Marc and Mrkt looks like a great place for lunch.

            thank you for such a complete list.

          2. I had a good meal at Culina (highlands) a few months back. Check their website to see if the price point/menu is what you're looking for: http://culinafamily.ca/highlands/

            -----
            Culina Highlands
            6509-112 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5W 0P1, CA

            1. Thanks for the replies. So far, here are the options:

              For Calgary

              Lunches
              Chinatown- ThiThi for Sub
              Pho Hoai for Pho
              Diner Deluxe
              Dairy Lane Cafe

              Dinner
              Charcut
              Rouge

              How is the food at Teatro, Rush and Vin Room?

              Any other dinner recommendation's?

              For Edmonton so far
              Culina
              Hardware
              Corso 32(is it better than Capo in Calgary?)

              9 Replies
              1. re: betterthanbourdain

                I doubt that Corso 32 is anywhere near Capo, but not trying to be I don't think. Teatro has been very good every time I've been there, last time was probably a year ago. Rush also has good food but the service has been very spotty on each of my visits. I won't go back.

                Food at Rouge was also great, though I find their attitude a bit condescending. On my last visit, they kept explaining French dining to me, such as what an amuse bouche was, even though they never used the term. And telling me how they use local ingredients. I've spent time in France, I know as much about food as the server, and you're not the only ones in Calgary doing local...get over yourselves! Read your customers - when I respond that I know all about what you are talking about, stop treating me like I'm some hick from the middle of nowhere in town for a fancy meal! Calgary restaurants to me have great food but the service negates much of the experience.

                Try Chef's Table when you are there too.
                I haven't been to Charcut yet, but have reservation for next week.

                -----
                Teatro Restaurant
                200 8th Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K7, CA

                1. re: Dan G

                  Dan G:

                  Thank you for the morning laugh....mistook you for someone who had just fallen off the turnip truck! [smile]

                  I too have not been back downtown to try Corso 32 but think you are correct that he is not trying to be what di Gennaro is at Capo

                  Have not been back to Hardware Grill when they discontinued lunch service [am aware that it has now been reinstituted] but your reference to the bowls and sliding cutlery reminded me of the same experience.

                  1. re: Bob Mac

                    I actually like Hardware for lunch - great burger, great tuna sandwich (still in the silly bowls, however). Last fall they were giving out $25 gift certificates for lunch to anyone who signed up for their mailing list. I got a bunch of friends to sign up and went 5 times for pretty much free!

                    Re: the bowls, last week when I was there I had wild boar loin that came with a cabbage bread pudding , sort of a dense and sticky muffin-like lump that wasn't very cabbage-y (and obviously, from my description, not very good). It did, however, work quite well to hold my knife because it was stuck to the plate so when not using the knife I would just wedge it into the pudding! To be fair though, the boar loin was quite tasty - though a bit overdone and was the item I felt was done long before others dishes at our table so sat for a while - and the accompanying piece of boar belly was fantastic. And the gingerbread cake on the dessert menu is always fabulous.

                    1. re: Dan G

                      I will have to give it a try when I am back downtown.

                      I usually end up in 100. Sherlock's or Moriarty's or take back soup to the office from Soul Soup more out of habit than anything else.

                      Did enjoy Marc last week but it is a little out of the way for my culinary "trap line".

                  2. re: Dan G

                    i totally agree about your comments about service. great servers are a rare bunch. not talking about being professional. but a server that understands the finer nuances, or just 'get's it'. reading your customer's is a skill you cant really teach. i bet my bottom dollar that hiring and keeping great servers is a major challenge in Calgary. for instance, you get better benefit and steadier compensation in other industries. FWIW, I have never met a student/artist/server that got it.

                    iirc rouge was on the san pelligrino top 100 list. so i suppose they get their share of culinary tourist.

                    Ingredients wise BC and Alberta are very similar. there really isn't any unique must try places that i can think of. maybe a place with great bison/elk/game meat...., is there such a place?

                    Great food is my main objective. Sounds like rouge and teatro are safe bets thus far. haggis and pies at the brothy sounds comforting. may drop in for lunch if schedule and travel permits. too bad river cafe is closed till feb.

                    1. re: betterthanbourdain

                      Been to Teatro several times. Each visit is pleasant but I expect the service and food to be great there so it hasn't exceeded my expectations.

                      For game, maybe The Ranche - I haven't actually been but many of my friends have raved over their brunch http://www.crmr.com/theranche/

                      If you're heading out to the mountains at all, The Bison in Banff is one of my favs. It was rocky for a bit when they changed hands but I believe the original exec chef has returned and the last time I was there the food was back to original standards. http://thebison.ca/

                      -----
                      Teatro Restaurant
                      200 8th Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K7, CA

                      1. re: betterthanbourdain

                        Game in Edmonton - a lot of restaurants will usually have bison on the menu (like Red Ox and Wildflower). Normand's has a special wild game menu.

                    2. re: betterthanbourdain

                      "Dinner
                      Charcut
                      Rouge

                      How is the food at Teatro, Rush and Vin Room?"

                      Not to be too much of a downer, but I think Charcut and Rouge are overrated. Last I was a Charcut, I really enjoyed the salads, but the other sides I had (pork fritters, bone marrow, mac'n'cheese) were kind of meh. I was also underwhelmed by Rouge when last there. My meal was good, though my date had issues with hers. But I don't really remember it that well - which is disappointing because that's pretty much what I'm paying for and expecting at that level (and was surprised when they popped up on the san pellegrino list).

                      Unlike Dan G, I've had good luck with Rush, and recommend them. I'll also +1 their Chef's Table recommendation. I've yet to go to Teatro.

                      The food at Vin Room is good, but it's more of a small plates/grazing style. Their great wine selection (and knowledge) is the true attraction.

                      1. re: marcopolo

                        I'll also +1 for Rush and +1 for Chef's Table. Wife and I were just at Rush this past weekend and ordered the chef's Tasting Menu, our 2nd go at it at Rush, and once again were completely blown away. If you want a great dining experience, I'd recommend dinner at either one of these wonderful restaurants... and if you want a special dining experience, get the chef's Tasting Menu at either place... you really can't go wrong, and the service is spot-on.

                    3. thank you everyone for your suggestions. here is my quick report of places mentioned in this forum.. ended going to:

                      Thi Th - i already miss the sate beef and chicken banh mi. have heard they changed their bread. was there early and found the bread to be very good and fresh. didnt have any problems with the bread.i
                      Carcut - the was good, service was ok. a manager/owner showed me the kitchen and a short tour which was great. very nice fermentation unit. and they do some prep upstairs with their immersion circulator. there were some hits but with the hours of operation and menu i cant think how they wouldn't have some consistency issues with their food. it is a solid recommendation but no wow factors.
                      Diner's Deluxe - a very solid diner with good food. service was erratic. i found our server not the most pleasant. but did notice the other server was very personable and professional. would recommend for brunches
                      Hardware Grill - does have some very solid menu and wine list. this was one of the pricier dinners at over $130p/p. Does strike me as top restaurant in the city but may be resting on its previous success a little food wise. food was solid. service very good. a tad pricey perhaps due to its reputation.
                      Capitals - this is a weekday business lunch meeting at the sutton place hotel. the food was uninspiring. prob wouldn't return for the food.
                      Thieh Kieu - missed getting sate pho in calgary, so this was its substitute in edmonton. it wasn't as good as the ones i've tried in calgary. the other food items were merely ok. wouldn't return.
                      Von's Steakhouse - the sterling beef was cooked very well. the prime rib and bison were also solid. but everything else could have used some inspiration and focus. the service was inconsistent. i haven't seen such poorly cut and presented side veg's in a long time. unacceptable for a finer dining room.
                      Fairmont Brunch Buffet - beautiful room, very good food/bev selection, acceptable service but pricey at $51p/p for brunch.
                      The Blue Pear was a last minute replacement and a pleasant surprise. the food was different without trying to hard to be 'innovative'. interesting combination of flavors. not everything works and some works only in small dosage. service was good. might return but not before trying other destination.

                      thanks for your help. happy eating...!

                      -----
                      Blue Pear Restaurant
                      10643 123 Street, Edmonton, AB T5N 1P3, CA

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: betterthanbourdain

                        BetterthanBourdain - Thanks for reporting back... sorry doesn't sound like any restaurants really gave you an all around Wow experience though.

                        1. re: foodkarma

                          A hound had gave me some better suggestions, unfortunately i couldn't make some of the recommendations.
                          i think there there are very few wows unless you travel a little away. food on the west coast of north america are similar enough i find with some exception.
                          looking forward to visiting alberta again.

                        2. re: betterthanbourdain

                          betterthanbourdain

                          Thieh Kieu - is that in Edmonton?

                          I think your assessment is consistent with my experience that higher end restaurant food in Edmonton is generally overpriced when compared to similar or better quality food in, for example, Vancouver. Overpriced beyond what could perhaps be attributed to the different availability of quality ingredients like seafood and vegetables.

                          1. re: felix the hound

                            yes TK is in Edmonton. its on the same street as Pagolac iirc. the sate pho is better in Calgary.

                            one thing vancouver reigns supreme over Edmonton is is Chinese food. :-P i had a few meals that i didnt mention in my post.

                            i believe the price point were similar. i wouldnt be able to draw comparisons as to the value. but what i can say is that vancouver has a much better selection of dining destination.

                        3. For Pho, PhoTauBay on 98 Street in Edmonton, having lived in asia for 8 years and Vancouver for 3, TauBay is as good as any pho you can find. One warning, they only serve pho, don't expect anything else, no spring rolls, no com, no ga, nope, only pho. imho, better than King Noodle House on 97 Street (second best and different from Pho King - I think) and far far better than Pagoloc and about half a dozen other pho restaurants in that area.

                          Hehe, pho is a bit of a passion of mine, tried no less than 20 pho joints in Edmonton already, imho (but I am not vietnamese), TauBay is the best in Edmonton.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Fergie007

                            i second Tau Bay's pho awesomeness, as an avid eater of pho, have to say it`s the best i've tried anywhere in canada, jackfruit shake is excellent too, too bad they don't serve appetizer rolls