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Looking for affordable regional food in Downtown Calgary

I'm going to be in Calgary for the first time for three days in early March, and am looking for a nice place to go to dinner on my first day. I'm doing "touristy" things that afternoon, so I'd like to stay downtown for dinner too. I would like to find a good restaurant that sells regional favorites, basically what I can't get or can't get as good anywhere else. I know this might be really hard / impossible to do, but I want to keep the price fairly low, hopefully under $20 for mains (I'm a graduate student...). If you guys know of anything, please let me know!

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  1. donairs - a&a deli on 4th street in mission

    other than that, calgary really doesn't offer anything that you can't get in every other city in north america. you might want to check out chinatown, but then again it's nothing regional or unique.

    1. I think Charcut would fit, it's downtown, regional, it's really good and you can't get it anywhere else. Mains can be under $20 depending on what you get. you can spend a lot more, too.

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      CHARCUT Roast House
      101 9 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, AB T2G 1B8, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: hsk

        +1 for Charcut. Although the OP needs a dinner recommendation, Charcut has a great lunch special for $15... daily soup, daily sandwich w/ kitchen pickles and warm bag of cookies.

      2. The District on 11th Ave & 5th St SW
        The Coup on 17th Ave & 9th SW

        1 Reply
        1. Not "downtown" per se, but close on 17th Ave SW -- FARM has a $25 three-course prix fixe menu on Tuesdays. The rest of the week, a few of the mains are still below $20, and most ingredients appear to be sourced locally.

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          Farm
          1006 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0A5, CA

          1. Fits the regional food description well, but just outside downtown, and over your price range:

            http://www.open-range.ca/

            1 Reply
            1. re: Scary Bill

              Crispy fried ginger beef at Silver Dragon, Harbour city or Golden Inn, I've heard it's regional. I also recommend Thi Thi's vietnamese subs not regional but delicious. All in china town.

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              Silver Dragon Restaurant
              211 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1E4, CA

              Golden Inn Restaurant
              107 2 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0B2, CA

            2. Calgary is a pretty expensive city. You will be hard pressed to find <$20 mains at a "nice place" downtown. As you probably know, beef is a regional food, namely steak. You may have to break the budget or consider going somewhere nice at lunch instead, as suggested by others.

              Yes, do try ginger beef if you are in Chinatown. It's a local deep fried delight! Also drink a caesar, invented in Calgary.

              1. Oh, just noticing from another thread--The Big Taste (formerly Dine Out Calgary) is March 4 - 14. So if you're here during that timeframe, there are quite a few restaurants offering $35 prix fixe three-course menus for dinner. From that list, I'd recommend the aforementioned Charcut, River Cafe, Bonterra (Italian, not really local), and Catch (seafood, a local institution but not really regional). Others may have different suggestions from the list:

                http://www.calgarydowntown.com/the-bi...

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                Catch Oyster Bar
                100 8th Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K6, CA

                Bonterra Trattoria
                1016 8 St SW, Calgary, AB T2R 1K2, CA

                River Cafe
                25 Prince's Island Pk SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0R1, CA

                CHARCUT Roast House
                101 9 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, AB T2G 1B8, CA

                4 Replies
                1. re: aktivistin

                  Oh cool, that's great! That expands my options as well, thanks for letting me know!

                  1. re: aktivistin

                    Just a small addendum to the Charcut suggestion.
                    If your timing is right, Charcut Alley Burgers.
                    http://ugonnaeatthat.com/2011/01/28/c...
                    On random Friday or Saturday nights.
                    You have to join their Twitter or Facebook feed to be notified.

                    It's beefy so that makes it regional ;-)

                    1. re: cancowboy

                      Actually, the Alley Burgers are sausage patties (80% pork/20% lamb) - not "beefy" at all - but delicious, nonetheless.

                      1. re: sidepockets

                        Thanks ... I failed the reading comprehension test.

                  2. Just wanted to add Boxwood Cafe on 13th Ave & 4th St SW.

                    1. As mentioned, downtown Calgary can be expensive as there are a lot of people on expense budgets. It can also be kind of dead after 6 pm on a week night. I would second District. It cures all its own meat and isn't overly expensive. The bucket of bacon is awesome. It is also a relatively lively place on Thursday and Friday nights. Other options:

                      Home Tasting Room on Steven Ave - I believe there are some options for less than 20 bucks.
                      Una Pizzaria on 17th - not "regional" but great, relatively inexpensive pizzas, etc.
                      Farm - see above, the mac and cheese is wonderful

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                      Home Tasting Room
                      110 8th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1B3, CA

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KCMcG

                        Stephen Ave. Not Steven. And Calgary can also be packed DT on a weeknight. It's not 1997 anymore.

                        Boxwood is a fantastic reco.