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Apr 8, 2013 09:20 PM

Good, cheap eats near Univ ?

Coming in from Vancouver in two weeks' time for a 2-1/2 day work gig. Staying at "motel row" on Banff Trail. I'll have long days, so for dinner I just want to hit a place well within walking distance from Banff Trail, then go back to my hotel bed and hit the hay (sorry, it is Alberta after all .....)

Big T's BBQ & Smokehouse looks promising. Is it ? Any others in that vicinity ? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Big T's is good. Close by is Juree's Thai Place on 16 Ave. I really like their food. Nicks used to be good, but I've heard they have been sliding over the years, If you don't mind a 20 minute walk, in the Stadium Shopping Centre, there's Saigon Star for Viet and Billingsgate Lighthouse Cafe for seafood. If you want cheap, you can try the food court at the UofC (Mac Hall). I like Bake Chef there for their Vietnamese subs. I also like Fuel for Gold for their healthy options. Also 20 min away. If you really don't mind walking and are starving... Jimmy's A& A for their shawarma and donairs. (25 min)

    And well, if you are just too tired to care, then there is Boston Pizza, Red Lobster, and McDonalds in Motel Village. There is also the food court in North Hill Mall, but nothing remarkable.

    1. Red Lobster is now closed, not that you should go there anyways.

      Can recommend Big T's, it's pretty good. And I think there is a Vietnamese restaurant in the same strip mall, never eaten there but Vietnamese is generally a good bet anywhere in Calgary.

      Nicks is probably worth a try for a close walk. It's definitely up and down but if you happen to get it on a good day you'll enjoy it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: crazy_eoj

        I would avoid Saigon Y2K, I've eaten there before and wouldn't go back.

        1. re: crazy_eoj

          Is Big T's worth going to these days? I went a couple of times when they opened but found it really lacking - nothing tasted smoked.

          There's a Phil's close by, good for breakfast.

        2. Thanks very much, folks ! Even though it's only 2.5 days, my stay would be marred by any eating in fast-food establishments, so this is all good and useful info.

          Re: Phil's ..... I read some bad reviews on Urbanspoon. Sounds like they've had their heyday ?

          I'd go to Big T simply because southern BBQs is not a strong suit in Vancouver, and I'm a carnivorous-leaning omnivore (maybe makes me more Albertan than British Columbian ....).

          I'll try to check out Saigon Star for a good bowl of Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio and some good banh mi's

          Welcome any additional suggestions :-)

          5 Replies
          1. re: LotusRapper

            I like Song Han much more than Saigon Star, in terms of freshness and quality and value... Song Han is located in Kensington.

            I also like Vendome (Kensington) for the duck panini, salads and soups.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              Nick's and Phil's don't even serve the same kind of food... Not sure why anyone would compare the two. Phil's is a cheap diner for breakast, Nick's is a steak house, for crying out loud.

              Big T's hardly qualifies as southern BBQ, IMHO.

              Pulcinella is overrated. They always burn the bottom of the crust. Arg.

              1. re: Shazam

                I don't find Pulcinella overrated at all since so many people seem to despise it. Higher Ground, now there's a place that's OVERRATED. Terrible coffee. I actually quite like Pulcinella and have had lots of good meals there.

                Nick's is a steak and PIZZA place. I've only ever had their steak at Marda Gras but have had their pizza countless times. It's good.

                There is no such thing as "southern BBQ." There are regional differences all over the south. Memphis and Carolina BBQ are like on different planets. And Big T's is as good as most places in Canada, BBQ in Vancouver is for sure not one bit better than Calgary. Not that that's saying much. You just don't get good American regional food in Canada PERIOD so don't look for it. Not Calgary, not Toronto, not Vancouver, not Montreal, nowhere, PERIOD.

                1. re: plateofshrimp

                  Believe me, I know there's lots of variations of southern BBQ. And Big T's mimics none of them.

                  Holy Smoke is worlds better than Big T's. Worlds.

                  And yeah, I know Nick's sells pizza. Point being, Phil's and Nick's aren't really comparable restaurants.

                  Higher Ground's coffee is terrible. Has always been terrible. Their lattes are amazingly awful. But they survive because of their location and because the locals there don't care about coffee quality.

                2. re: Shazam

                  Totally agree with Shazam's post. Regardless of what style or combination of styles Big T's is trying to emulate, it's just not particularly good. . .Canadian strip mall BBQ at its finest!

                  Phil's is acceptable if what you're looking for is a cheap greasy spoon style breakfast after a night out.

                  I almost never go there anymore but I actually kinda like the pizza, steak and 80's atmosphere at Nick's. In my experience years ago, I was always surprised by the quality of their steaks given the price. They definitely had a better supplier than your typical family style resto or pub.

              2. Lotus, I'd grab the C-Train right at the Banff Trail station- that would be a minute walk from your hotel- south (towards the city centre) to Kensington, that's a 10 minute ride tops. Dozens of restaurants there.

                Sorry the stop is called SUNNYSIDE but the district is called Kensington if you want to look up Urbanspoon listings. From the station head south along 10 St and you'll find something. There's shawarma, Indian, Vietnamese, sushi, Thai, pubs.

                1 Reply
                1. re: plateofshrimp

                  Good to know, Plateofshrimp. I'll keep that in mind. Ah yes, I see their many choices:


                2. Big T's is ok. I haven't been in years. I wouldn't say that it's particularly memorable but it's not awful either. It's not one of those bbq joints down south that make people drive miles out of their way for. I can't say if it's even better than Memphis Blues in Vancouver. Personally, I would avoid Saigon Y2K. It's quite westernized and no where near the quality you might come to expect of Viet food along Kingsway.

                  An interesting place worthy of note is South Silk Road on 14St NW, in the Kensington area.They serve Yunnan cuisine. I'm not sure if there's even any place in Vancouver that serve Yunnan cuisine (I'm not aware of any). I'm not sure if you may have a vehicle or not. By vehicle from you motel, it should be no more than 10 mins drive. If you don't have a car on this trip and decide to take the C-train to the Sunnyside station from Banff Trail station (the train will say Somerset), according to google maps, it's only about a 13 min walk from the Sunnyside station.

                  Juree's Thai Place is ok, albeit a tad westernized. I did enjoy their Pad Thai.

                  Phil's to me is like a Denny's. They are not high on my list of dining choices. I'd rather eat a Nick's than at Phil's if you really are in need of a place close to your motel.

                  As mentioned previously, Jimmy's A&A is good for their chicken shawarma if you don't mind the walk.

                  If you are in need of a meal quite late, you could take the C-train the other direction (north heading towards Crowfoot) from Banff Trail to Brentwood station (2 stops away), and eat at Jamesons Pub. It's the standard pub fare but decent and they are open past midnight every day.