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Calgary on a Dime, Part II

Discover our favourite budget-friendly stores and restaurants, where you’ll find quality eats and merchandise for $20 or less.


Weekend brunch at River Café
This idyllic café sits in the middle of Prince’s Island Park. Specializing in a regional, seasonal menu, they take the idea of Canadian cuisine seriously—the chefs even have their own garden. Brunch is a great way to experience the restaurant when you’re on a budget.
Cost: Most brunch dishes are listed at under $20

A cone from MacKay’s Ice Cream
It’s a bit outside of Calgary (in Cochrane) but this handmade ice cream in 15 flavours is worth the drive. This is a family-run business that has been serving its own ice cream since 1948.
Cost: $2.50 – $7.50

Country-style roast beef dinner at Smuggler’s Inn
A 7-oz.-cut of Alberta prime rib served au jus with fresh vegetables and red jacket mashed potatoes. Plus, a choice of soup, their own baked bread, and a trip to their long salad bar.
Cost: $18.95

Crave cupcakes
These sweet and colourful concoctions are worth the calories. The icing is buttery and delicious and the selections are plentiful.
Cost: $2.75

Ginger Beef at Silver Inn Restaurant
The Cheung family, who own this authentic Peking restaurant, were the first to introduce ginger beef to Calgary, and possibly even Canada. Tender pieces of Alberta beef are dipped in batter and then fried in a chili and ginger sauce (2702 Centre St N).
Cost: $11.75

A Spolumbo’s sub
Find thick subs and sandwiches stuffed with homemade sausage and deli meats at this deli started by three childhood friends, who later became CFL players for the Calgary Stampeders.
Cost: $6 – $10

Prairie Oysters at Buzzards
If you can get over the fact that you’re eating bull’s testicles, this is a traditional ranch treat.
Cost: $10

Coffee from Phil & Sebastian Coffee Company
At the Calgary Farmer’s Market these direct-trade specialty coffees are made from freshly roasted beans (none are kept for more than two weeks) that are brought in seasonally. If you can’t get to the Farmers Market, head over to Deville or Bumpy’s—they’re also worth a visit for good coffee and good eats.
Cost: $3 – $20

A slice of pizza from The Wicked Wedge
The Wicked Wedge’s slices come big with interesting toppings on whole wheat crust. Toppings range from caramelized onions, fresh rosemary, lime-grilled chicken and Spolumbo’s spicy Italian sausage.
Cost: $4.20/slice

Beer from a local brewery: Brew Brothers, Wild Rose Brewery, and Big Rock
These local breweries offer various flavours and densities from traditional India pale ale to darker lagers, and they also incorporate prairie ingredients like Saskatoon berries.
Cost: Usually under $7


Lisa Heinricks’ Belts
Calgary artist Lisa Heinricks’ art has been displayed in the prime minister’s office, Hollywood, and Italy, and in the belt loops of people’s jeans. Her one-of-a-kind belts are streaked with paint. In Art Central.
Cost: $20

Zoo Water Bottles
These stainless steel water bottles are environmentally friendly, and are a great memento of your visit to the Calgary Zoo.
Cost: $12.99 & $13.99

Heritage Park Souvenirs
Cook up cuisine enjoyed by Alberta’s early settlers with Heritage Park’s Ranch Man’s Cookbook. Antique-style cards depicting historic Calgary scenes are also available.
Cost: Cookbooks $9.95, cards $5.95

Jewellery from Galleria
Galleria sells a variety of art and crafts from over 350 Canadian artists, with the majority of these being local, including handmade jewellery. Look for beaded necklaces by Kristi Eby.
Cost: Starting at $15

Cowboy Hats
Hats of various quality and prices can be found all over the city, but for the best deal, try a souvenir shop along Stephen Avenue (8 Ave S, between Macleod Tr SE and 3 St SW).
Cost: Starting at $15.99

Flames Puck
Take to the ice with a puck from Calgary’s NHL hockey team. Calgary Flames pucks come in multiple designs at Flames FanAttic.
Cost: $5.99 – $9.99

Longview Beef Jerky
Enjoy quality beef from Longview, Alberta. Made with marinated beef steak, this soft-textured meat comes in seven flavours. At Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Cost: $5.75

Dream Catchers
Traditional, delicate creations by Alberta’s First Nations’ tribes, believed to protect you from bad dreams when hung by your bed. At Micah Gallery.
Cost: Starting at $12

2009 Stampede Poster
This year’s official Stampede poster is based on the painting July Explosion: Grated Coconut, depicting a rodeo cowboy on a bucking bronco, by Calgary artist Jody Skinner. At the Calgary Stampede Store.
Cost: $6

Alberta Stuffed Animals
After enjoying the panoramic views of the city and nearby Rocky Mountains at the Calgary Tower, take home one of Alberta’s wild animals with a stuffed moose, bison, or black bear.
Cost: $7.50 – $18

Historic Walks of Calgary
This book, written by local author Harry M. Sanders, is an insider’s guide to the city’s historical buildings and walks. At the Glenbow Museum Shop.
Cost: $19.95

Callebaut Cowboy Hat
Bernard Callebaut, a Calgary-based chocolaterie offers a decadent Calgary symbol year-round. His cowboy hats come in dark, milk, and white chocolate.
Cost: $4.50 & $12.25

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