15 eateries that aren’t afraid to put a little grease in their cooking
By Jennifer Hilliker
Let’s face it: when you’re on vacation, you’re allowed to eat unhealthy. At all-inclusive resorts or huge Vegas buffets, you can get tacos, prime rib, hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza, french fries and three desserts, all in one meal. Why should a Calgary vacation be any different?
That’s why we’ve rounded up 15 places in town to get your grease on.
Find authentic, southern-style barbecue at Big T’s, a hidden gem tucked inside a strip mall between Crowchild Trail and Motel Village. Traditional BBQ meats like ribs, pork, and chicken, basted in homemade sauces and slow-smoked on a one-tonne smoker that can cook up to 600 lbs of meat. They also have deep-fried pickles and corn on the cob (seasonal).
This Brazilian-style steakhouse is a meat-lover’s dream come true. $37.50 earns you an all-access pass to 17 types of meat skewers; use a red and green wooden cue to signal when you want more or when you’re taking a break. The grilled pineapple is a must-try.
Although Bookers has been newly renovated, with a new menu and new staff, they still celebrate southern cooking, barbecue and seafood. Try all-you-can-eat snow crab on Sundays or baby back ribs on Mondays. They also have live music from 10 pm to 1 am on Saturday nights.
Waitresses clad in ‘50s-style pink jumpsuits serve up all day breakfast, sandwiches and burgers at this no-frills diner. They are famous for their pies, especially the Mile High Flapper Pie, which is about four inches high and consists of a graham-wafer crust, cream filling and meringue.
In the Calgary breakfast business for more than 50 years, Phil’s has perfected the art of homestyle food. We recommend the beef chubbies (round, mini sausages) or the traditional mixed grill, which comes with bacon, sausage, ham, two eggs, and your choice of pancakes, waffles or toast and hash browns.
Boogie’s has an original burger selection, boasting imaginative creations like Shawn’s Burger: three patties topped with cheddar, bacon, a fried egg, Boogie’s signature red sauce, lettuce, tomato and onions. Also choose from regular fries, spicy fries or yam fries to finish off your meal.
Fatburger’s claim to the “last great hamburger stand” is earned with 2.5 to 24-oz. patties of 100 per cent pure lean beef, hand-scooped, real ice cream milkshakes, and fries cooked in cholesterol-free oil. The décor is ‘50s-style, a throwback to hamburger stands of the diner decade.
In business for more than 45 years, Peter’s is known for its old-standbys–hearty burgers, thick milkshakes made with real ice cream and fruit, and melt-in-your-mouth onion rings. The best part is you can mix up to three (of 30) milkshake flavours, creating combinations like blackberry blueberry bubblegum. Warning: bring cash. They don’t accept anything else.
Rocky’s Burger Bus
An old city transit bus has been “beefed up” and converted to one of the best fast food joints in town. Find juicy, hand-formed burgers made from Alberta beef, excellent onion rings and an impressive rendition of poutine, made with fresh cut fries and real cheese curds.
Chicken on the Way
This fried chicken shack doesn’t make any qualms about serving up paper boxes filled with grease; they’ve been doing it since 1958. Crunchy, flaky, and full of flavour, their chicken has a loyal local following. Also find corn fritters, French fries, potato salad and coleslaw. Their location at the intersection of 14 St and Kensington Rd NW is hard to miss, thanks to a brightly painted outdoor mascot.
Known for their marinade—made with peri-peri, an African chili pepper—Nando’s flame-grilled chicken is flavourful and moist. Choose from medium, hot or extra-hot, or if you don’t like spice, lemon and herb sauce. Sides include peri fries, classic fries, spiced rice, coleslaw and baked potato.
If you’re looking for a ketchup-and-mustard kind of hot dog, this isn’t the place. Instead, this Calgary staple boasts original creations like the signature Tubby Dog, topped with mustard, homemade chili, raw onion, nacho cheese and bacon. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, try the Cap’n Crunch Dog, made with peanut butter, jam and Cap’n Crunch cereal. Veggie dogs available.
Although Michael’s isn’t cheap (a small pizza averages around $11.50), it has been popular among the downtown lunch crowd since its opening in 1981. While you can order sandwiches, salads and seafood, the place is known for their hearty pizza with a generous amount of toppings. It’s also a popular spot to watch Calgary Flames games.
This cozy, family-owned restaurant on the west end of 17 Ave uses traditional Greek pizza recipes passed down from two generations. Expect thick pizza with plenty of toppings, such as the House Special: pepperoni, mushrooms, back bacon, shrimp, olives, green peppers and salami. Take-out and catering are also available, ample parking behind the restaurant.
Smuggler’s specialty is 6 oz. to 2 lbs. of roasted prime rib. Also find center-cut New York steak, filet of tenderloin, rib eye, bison flat iron, sirloin and more. Known for being unique to the city, Smuggler’s won a Where to Dine Award in the Quintessential Calgary category. Reservations recommended.