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Sep 24, 2013 11:06 AM

Trip To Calgary, First time to Canada

Hello fellow Chowhounds,

We are starting to plan a week trip during the winter to Calgary/Edmonton for some hockey and food. My wife and I have never been to Canada so we are very excited to experience all that these locations have to offer. I have read some of the other posts and have taken notes but if you were to take an out of towner for one meal to show them what Calgary food or Calgar/Edmonton food is all about where would you take them? Thanks so much for any information or recommendations you have.

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  1. In Calgary, I'd say River Café.

    1. One meal only? That's rather tough but it should probably be some excellent Alberta beef.

      Currently, some of the best steak houses (always debatable) in the city are:

      Vintage Chophouse

      My vote would be Vintage, and make sure you get the Prime beef.

      8 Replies
      1. re: crazy_eoj

        Caesar's is just depressing. You can get Allberta beef all over Canada- what this guy wants is something CALGARY and the only place I can think that merits a special visit on your list is Charcut.

        You have to understand that Americans used to soft, mushy corn fed beef are not going to be impressed by Alberta beef.

        1. re: plateofshrimp

          My experience is that comparing comparable quality barley-finished feedlot beef in Alberta isn't much different ....

          1. re: hawkeyeui93

            There's lots of Alberta ranchers that finish with grass *shrug*

            1. re: Shazam

              And there are plenty of Americans that do the same *sigh*

              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                Not enough. Most Americans have never come close to grass fed (never mind finished!) beef. The very fact that they've made "corn fed" an advertising slogan as if the environmental and biological nightmare that corn is for ruminants is, is a good thing, all you need to know- and it's also what Americans think of as beef.

                1. re: plateofshrimp

                  If you say so ... Lots of pride in an industry that is becoming more "finished" than you care to admit to at present. The irony of ironies in your global statement is that the cattle industry in large parts of Canada are currently on a "corn fed" marketing campaign. Grass Fed [and finished beef] is readily available in the United States, even in my State [Iowa].

          2. re: plateofshrimp

            Ah, bull. Caesar's is great if you treat it as a theme (Calgary's relationship to oil money being the theme). It's a gloriously silly place.

          3. re: crazy_eoj

            I agree with Alberta beef! Top one in Calgary goes to Vintage Chophouse and Top one in Edmonton goes to Vons Steakhouse.


          4. This is likely out of the way for you but if you have a car or are meeting people who live in South Calgary, I would recommend The Ranche. It's located in Fish Creek Park, inside a heritage house. The food and service were great and the setting is beautiful.

            Otherwise, I'd second River Cafe for the atmosphere, Charcut for the Alberta beef, Model Milk for the fun menu and Rouge for a fancy dinner (also in a heritage house).

            1. How about some Alberta foods, etc., to look for:

              Bloody Caesar (invented in Calgary)
              Ginger beef
              Dry Aged Prime Alberta beef
              Alberta Rye Whiskey
              Local Wheat Ale
              Sylvan Star Aged Gouda
              Saskatoon berries

              That's all I got.

              1. Thanks for the replies everyone. We will have a few days in each place so hopefully we can hit some of these spots. Very excited to check out some of the things on Scary BIll's list and some of the great restraunts listed. Any other must have's? My wife is excited for some Poutine which we don't have here in the states unless you make it at home and some prarie raised lamb.

                10 Replies
                  1. re: Scary Bill

                    I don't like the poutine at Big Cheese- fries are always burnt or raw and they use way too much gravy. I've tried Smoke's and it's fantastic, in fact I got plain fries (no gravy no curds) from their truck and they were excellent. There are other good options too.

                    1. re: Scary Bill

                      There's also Smoke's Poutinere but I haven't tried it.

                      to the OP: Google "Poutine Crawl YYC". It's happened for the past three years and you will be able to find reviews on who has the best poutine in Calgary.

                    2. re: WaTriChowHound

                      The District (Urban Tavern or whatever they call themselves now) for poutine. They have even a full poutine menu!

                      1. re: WaTriChowHound

                        Rocky's Burger Bus

                        Easily one of the top 3 burgers in Calgary and great poutine to go with it.

                        1. re: piano boy

                          Rocky is only open during the week now, back to winter hours.

                          And one caveat for the uninitiated: Rocky's is a basic burger, the usual toppings, but no fancy toppings. It is all about the beef, which is the best around, and the patty, which is big, juicy, and well-formed, not overworked like too many others.

                          1. re: piano boy

                            Totally agree with Rocky's for both poutine and basic burgers. If you're lucky you can sit at picnic tables in the nice crisp weather! But sadly only open mon-fri for lunch.

                            Charcut so muc more more upscale but a great 'share burger' and duck fat fried poutine.

                            Completely different experiences but somewhat the same. You decide!

                            And no one says "bloody" ceasar just ceasar!

                            1. re: TSAW

                              Re: "Bloody" Caesar (not ceasar) it gives a newbie an indication of the type of drink it is.

                              And at least one authority disagrees with you.


                              1. re: Scary Bill

                                Agreed, it does give you an idea of what it is. But I have NEVER heard a local say 'bloody'. That was my point. Either way, WaTri should try it.

                          2. re: WaTriChowHound

                            I think the Lobster Poutine at Brava Bistro is excellent, but it's a very non-traditional version.

                            Maybe after you try one of the other places consider going there, it's also an excellent restaurant that has been a mainstay in Calgary for over a decade.