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Trip To Calgary, First time to Canada

WaTriChowHound Sep 24, 2013 11:06 AM

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.

  1. plateofshrimp Sep 24, 2013 03:36 PM

    In Calgary, I'd say River Café.

    1. c
      crazy_eoj Sep 25, 2013 10:06 AM

      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
        plateofshrimp Sep 25, 2013 07:25 PM

        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
          hawkeyeui93 Sep 27, 2013 05:34 PM

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

          1. re: hawkeyeui93
            Shazam Sep 30, 2013 09:28 AM

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

            1. re: Shazam
              hawkeyeui93 Sep 30, 2013 09:36 AM

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

              1. re: hawkeyeui93
                plateofshrimp Sep 30, 2013 10:22 AM

                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
                  hawkeyeui93 Sep 30, 2013 10:49 AM

                  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
            Leibowitz Oct 1, 2013 03:21 AM

            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
            misterpeer Oct 4, 2013 06:39 PM

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


          4. cellophane_star Sep 25, 2013 02:40 PM

            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. s
              Scary Bill Sep 26, 2013 03:53 PM

              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. w
                WaTriChowHound Sep 27, 2013 09:56 AM

                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: WaTriChowHound
                  Scary Bill Sep 27, 2013 03:12 PM

                  Big Cheese for poutine.

                  1. re: Scary Bill
                    plateofshrimp Sep 27, 2013 06:17 PM

                    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
                      cellophane_star Sep 30, 2013 09:58 AM

                      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
                      josey124 Sep 27, 2013 04:56 PM

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

                      1. re: WaTriChowHound
                        piano boy Sep 27, 2013 10:57 PM

                        Rocky's Burger Bus

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

                        1. re: piano boy
                          Scary Bill Sep 28, 2013 08:55 AM

                          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
                            TSAW Sep 28, 2013 06:30 PM

                            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
                              Scary Bill Sep 28, 2013 09:35 PM

                              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
                                TSAW Sep 29, 2013 10:23 AM

                                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
                            crazy_eoj Sep 30, 2013 07:45 AM

                            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.

                          3. b
                            beggsy Sep 28, 2013 07:43 PM

                            Notable, Without Paper Pizza, Una

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: beggsy
                              piano boy Sep 28, 2013 09:53 PM

                              I'm really going to have to disagree with all three of your recommendations. None of them offer a unique Calgary experience.

                              1. re: piano boy
                                plateofshrimp Sep 30, 2013 10:25 AM

                                Una is a great 17th Avenue experience and is emblematic of how urbane Calgary has become- maybe the food isn't typical of Calgary (whatever that means for a new young city) but it's a nice example of where the city is going and what it's growing up to be.

                                1. re: piano boy
                                  crazy_eoj Oct 1, 2013 09:15 AM

                                  LOL a burger from a bus is hardly representative of a unique experience either!

                                  1. re: crazy_eoj
                                    piano boy Oct 1, 2013 10:01 AM

                                    Rocky's Burger Bus is a Calgary landmark serving great local beef and quality poutine (both relevant to the OP).

                                    Una is what again? Mediocre pizza? Please explain to me what's so hilarious.

                                    1. re: piano boy
                                      crazy_eoj Oct 1, 2013 12:23 PM

                                      Hey I don't mind Rocky's and love local beef too, but to say it is any more 'unique' than Una is laughable. Every city in the world has fast food served out of a truck.

                                      As for the food, if you think Una is mediocre pizza compared to many other places in Calgary then you must acknowledge Rocky's is downright pitiful. Want some local ingredients really crafted into a masterful burger... head to Blue Star Diner or Dairy Lane.

                                      1. re: crazy_eoj
                                        existential_crisis Nov 11, 2013 06:16 AM

                                        Every city in the world is buying into the "gourmet" and "local" trends too. I'm at the point where I want to discover local traditions, rather than the newest hippest restaurants serving "local" food. I still dream about the burger at Rocky's. I forget I ever ate the burger at Dairy Lane.

                              2. s
                                Scary Bill Sep 30, 2013 09:11 PM

                                WTC, re: poutine. find a traditional poutine, then go from there. Get to appreciate the traditional first. Wiki has a good description. Then move on to the high-falutin' imposters. But start with a real poutine.

                                1. anonymoose Oct 4, 2013 11:42 AM

                                  For Edmonton, I would suggest Rge Rd, Red Ox Inn, Wildflower Grill, Culina, Madison's Inn.

                                  We have La Poutine if you want an option for that... it's a decent choice for somewhere outside of Quebec.

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