Big flavour, small price: Cheap eats in Calgary

Fast food restaurant chains may be convenient, but bargain-priced restaurant meals need not be boring and bland. At the spots listed below, you’ll find chow time a cheap and decidedly delicious departure from the ordinary. Suggested meals clock in at or below the $12 mark.

Krazy Jerk Corp

1715 52 St SE, Calgary, AB T2A 1V1

Nowhere in the city will you find a greater variety of cheap, multiethnic cuisine than along International Avenue in the city’s southeast. Seating about 30 patrons, the friendly service and authentic Caribbean cooking at Krazy Jerk have earned the restaurant a loyal clientele. For lunch and dinner, regular-sized chicken meals are $12. Barbi-fry, jerk, stewed and fried, each plate also features rice and peas, fried dumplings and veggies. Dishes such as aki and salt fish as well as curry goat are only modestly pricier.

Vietnamese Sub Ltd

626 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0B4

No bigger than a large closet, this 17th Avenue Southwest takeout eatery is a baguette beast. Hand over fist, Kim Anh Sub cranks out sandwiches that are fresh, crisply roasted and generously filled with tender, savoury satay beef and chicken and sprigs of cilantro. Accompany a $6.50 sandwich with a fresh $5 fruit smoothie in flavours that include litchi, mango and avocado.

Spicy Amigos

821 4 Ave, Calgary, AB T2P 0K5

Cheap and exceedingly cheerful, Jalapeno’s Mexican Grill is located in the west end of downtown, a stone’s throw from the Peace Bridge. Fashioned after a Mexico City food stand, the brightly coloured café serves tacos, burritos, tostadas and quesadillas for $12. Its marinated meats are street-stall authentic, and portions are generous. Prepared with three crisp corn tortillas, refried beans and your choice of meat (try chipotle chicken or spicy chorizo), veggies, cheese and sauce, the tostadas are built for big appetites.

Pio Peruvian Rotissaire Chicken

104-2929 Sunridge Way NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 7K7

Zesty, spicy Peruvian cuisine features a mix of cultural influences from Incan to Italian. True to Andean culinary awesomeness, the delectable signature dish at Pio Peruvian is rotisserie chicken served with various sides including rice and beef sausage. The chicken with hand-cut fries or cassava fries is pure South American comfort food. Priced at $10.50 per serving, these mouthwatering meals invite return lunch and dinner engagements.

Alberta King Of Subs

22-7196 Temple Dr NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 4E8

Hailed as one of the city’s finest Montreal smoked meat sandwich shops, you can indeed order a basic two-hander (regular and queen-sized) for under $12 at Alberta King of Subs. Ditto, the majority of the restaurant’s cold sub menu. Stacked with sliced Montreal smoked meat and cheese, The King Cold is recommended at $11.95. Optional toppings include lettuce, tomato and onion as well as the house secret sauce.

Heritage Bakery & Deli

1912 37 St SW, Calgary, AB T3E 3A3

Though Heritage Bakery and Deli in Killarney carries imported foodstuffs, European home-style, handmade foods are the mainstay. Borscht, hand-pinched perogies, cabbage rolls, garlic sausage and potato pancakes are available fresh or frozen to take home. But with food this delicious, who can wait? The deli’s sit-down, eat-in area features a lovely list of hot lunch combos including perogies with hunters’ stew, garlic sausage and cabbage roll for $9.75.

Five Rivers Indian Cuisine

11 Castleridge Blvd NE, Calgary, AB T3J 3J8

Here’s an all-day Indian buffet and take-away in Castleridge whose price can’t be beat. Hand over a paltry $10.99, and it’s all-you-can-eat access to a vast vegetarian smorgasbord. Mains include aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower), bhindi (okra), palak paneer (spinach and cheese) and mushroom matar as well as several rice, mixed veggie and yoghurt side dishes. Appetizers, breads and desserts cost extra.

Dell Cafe

28-7930 Bowness Rd NW, Calgary, AB T3B 0H3

Bownessians are mighty fond of friendly little Dell Cafe, a neighbourhood Chinese and Western restaurant on Bowness Road Northwest. Its menu is loaded with Prairie café favourites. Order the Chinese combo dinner with any two items that may include chow mein, ginger beef, sweet-and-sour pork and more, plus rice for $9.25. Additional selections are $3.50 each. On the Western side of the menu, a monte cristo sandwich with fries or house-made soup of the day is $9.50.

1263915 Alberta Inc

209 1 St Se, Calgary, AB T2G 2G3

In a wardrobe-sized space on the east side of Chinatown opposite the Harry Hays Building, you’ll find one of the inner-city office crowd’s favourite takeout Vietnamese spots. Its menu is short and savoury and the banh mi baguette sandwiches are priced to move. Starting at $4.25 for the veggie and topping out at $7.25 for the mixed chicken and beef, with the addition of juice, milk, pop or a Red Bull, lunch here is $10 or less. Also visit Thi Thi Vietnamese Submarine’s slightly roomier Eighth Avenue Southwest location.

Indonesian Kitchen

3917 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0S5

Another International Avenue gem, most of Indonesian Kitchen’s entrees are priced in the low teens and numerous selections are $12 and under. These include spicy chili chicken and sate chicken skewers as well as squid in sambal sauce and several vegetarian dishes. Served with chicken and shrimp and topped with an egg, the nasi goreng and mie goreng entrees are both recommended.

Fat Kee Noodle House

345-3132 26 St NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6Z1

Just east of Barlow Trail and 32 Street Northeast, Fat Kee serves a sharable spectrum of Chinese-Western dishes as well as Cantonese and other regional meals. But if you’re after discount deliciousness, the restaurant’s soups are impressively cheap. Order the bestselling beef brisket or beef tendon noodle soup for $6.75 and add wontons for an additional $2. Further soupy specials include hot and sour soup as well as seafood with bean curd. Also bargain priced are steamed-rice combos including sliced beef in curry sauce and shrimp with egg.


101-1240 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3P7

The lineups may be long, but the sandwiches fly out fast, fresh and furious. One of Kensington’s busiest restaurants, Peppino rolls out Italian sub-style sandwiches for eat-in and takeout. Among the lengthy menu’s best are The Classic, served with sliced genoa salami, mortadella, lettuce and cheese as well as the beef meatloaf sandwich stuffed with house-made meatloaf, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan. Also available are the artichoke-turkey, prosciutto cacciatore and hot Italian meatball sandwiches, and all these robust beauties are priced under $10.

Lina's Italian Market

An Italian grocery and deli, Lina’s Italian Market also features a sunny cafeteria serving hot and cold lunches. Panini bar sandwiches such as the Pescara with roasted pork and peppers can be eaten cold or crisply grilled. Further mains include daily pasta with mixed greens or salad du jour as well as mini focaccia pizzas. Flavours include margherita, olives with anchovy and good old pepperoni. A visit to the oh-so-sweet pastry case is mandatory.

Pho Dau Bo

110-4909 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0V5

One of Calgary’s most acclaimed Vietnamese restaurants, Pho Dau Bo on International Avenue serves surprisingly cheap meals. All but one of its fragrant and intensely flavoured pho (noodle soup) bowls is just $8.50. The satay beef and satay chicken varieties are bestsellers. For a dollar more, the weekend-special spicy noodle soup with beef, pork and sausage is recommended. The balance of entrees, including vermicelli bowls and steamed-rice plates, are nearly all under $12.

Spolumbo's Fine Foods & Deli

1308 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0T3

An Inglewood sandwich shop owned and operated by an Italian-Canadian collective of former pro footballers, Spolumbo’s red-brick construction and two-storey ceiling lend it a cheerful atmosphere. Its Italian panini sandwiches are served on a plump Vienna bun and paired with a generous handful of sliced pickles. Piled with cold cuts, the Spolumbo’s Special can’t be beat. Other deli sandwiches include veggies and cheese, egg salad, salami and Montreal smoked meat. Prices range from $7.75 to $11.

Holy Smoke BBQ

4-4640 Manhattan Rd SE, Calgary, AB T2G 4B5

Whether you’re after a meal that’s big and meaty or, well, one that is even bigger and meatier, the bulk of Holy Smoke BBQ smoked meat sandwiches are priced to satisfy. Order a regular pulled pork, chopped beef or smoked chicken sandwich and two sides for under $12. Ditto, the smoked-chicken stew and chili con carne. The aforementioned extras include cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans and potato-macaroni salad.

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery Deli

338 10 St NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1V8

Calgary’s hottest bread maker operates a deli counter within Sunnyside Natural Market. The artisan bakery and organic grocer are a natural match. Grab groceries and visit Sidewalk Citizen for chunky, wholesome $10 sandwiches. Select from an ever-changing variety of vegetarian and meat (such as pork, beef or tuna) sandwiches. Alternately, order a slice of flavour-of-the-day pizza straight from the oven with, say, 200 grams of the daily salad selection (beet, kale, broccoli and such) plus a nice chocolate chip cookie for under $12.

Tubby Dog

1022 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0A5

A hotdog diner and live indie-music venue of national renown, Tubby Dog has been featured on Food Network Canada’s You Gotta Eat Here!. Order a creatively indulgent dog such as the PBJ, topped with peanut butter, jelly and Cap’n Crunch cereal; the Sumo, with its Japanese mayo, seaweed, pickled ginger and wasabi; or a more traditional Slaw Dog generously piled with coleslaw, chili and mustard. Partner with chips, onion rings or yam fries. Burgers are likewise a bargain on Wednesdays and Tuesdays are all about excellent yet economical tacos.

Little Lebanon Pita Pies & Donair

E-3515 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T3E 0B7

Friendly service and great-tasting Lebanese food have made Little Lebanon Pita Pies & Donair in Killarney a busy neighbourhood favourite. The pleasant spot now features dine-in seating. Chicken shawarma sandwiches, beef donairs and falafel sandwiches are saucy and generously portioned, but the shop’s meat, cheese and vegetarian pita pies (like thin-crust pizzas but different) are highly recommended. As are the calzone-style four-cheese, spinach-feta and chicken-shawarma pockets.

Village Pita Bakery Ltd

255 28 St SE, Calgary, AB T2A 5K4

Mediterranean meals are priced to move at Marlborough’s Village Pita Bakery. Pack up a pita pie at the deli, including spinach-feta, zaatar and potato-and-beef varieties. Pair these fresh-baked beauties with hummus, tabouli or eggplant dip. Also highly recommended is the Meat Pie Supreme, topped with beef, five cheeses, veggies, tahini and garlic. Just as savoury and satisfying, the chicken pita pocket is stuffed with shawarma chicken, veggies, tangy pickled turnip and garlic sauce. Dine-in seating is limited to a few stools at the front window.

Noodle World Vietnamese Restaurant

114-4909 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0V5

This International Avenue Vietnamese restaurant’s appearance may be ordinary, but its food is anything but. Known in the neighbourhood for its noodle soup bowls, the house special beef noodle pho is rich and hearty. Further standards include vermicelli bowls and steam-broken rice plates. Dinner dishes include chicken with lemon grass and chili and the surprisingly delicious fried macaroni with diced beefsteak.

Keiths Deli

206-6100 MacLeod Trail SW, Calgary, AB T2H 0K5

Located in Chinook Plaza just across MacLeod Trail from Chinook Centre, Keith’s deli is something of a sandwich institution. Standouts include Keith’s Special, a house-made barbecue pork sausage served on crusty bun and trimmed with cheese, lettuce, mayo and mustard. The deli’s compact sandwich menu also features corned beef, pastrami, pepperoni with pizza sauce and more. Add an order of the daily soup for a satisfying, stomach-warming meal.

Tiffin Curry & Roti House

188 28 St SE, Calgary, AB T2A 6J9

Eat in or take your meal to go at this sunny Marlborough restaurant serving East-African-influenced Indian food. Four out of five of the Tiffin Curry and Roti House combo meals are priced under $12. Choose one or two meat or veggie curries paired with rice and multiple rotis (soft flatbread). Purchasing a reusable tiffin tin for takeout dining earns a further 10 per cent off all combo meals.

Chicken On The Way

1443 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3R1

The giant rooster on the corner of Kensington Road and 14th Street Southwest marks the location of Calgary’s best-beloved fried chicken shack. The standard order at the yellow-and-red takeout eatery is the four-piece with fries and two corn fritters. On the seafood side of the menu, enjoy a steamy shrimp dinner or the two-piece fish and chips. Add-ons include potato salad, coleslaw and gravy.

Blackfoot Truck Stop Restaurant

1840 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0T8

A true-blue truck stop diner, this is a favourite haunt of hungry big rig pilots, shift workers and insomniacs. Hearty and heaping platefuls of breakfast, lunch and dinner are served 24 hours a day. From the Trucker’s Breakfast and the Denver sandwich to the chili burger with fries and roast beef dinner, most entrees are priced under $12.

Wow Chicken

324 10 St NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1V8

Fried chicken gets a Korean-style makeover at Wow Chicken in Kensington. And the cost of this breaded Asian delicacy is mere chicken feed. The finger-lickin’ wing meal, boneless meal and drumstick meal are all served with fries, salad and a fountain pop. Enjoy Korean pop music videos, free with every dine-in meal! Also order takeout chicken by the multi-piece pack.

T&T Supermarket

1000-9650 Harvest Hills Blvd NE, Calgary, AB T3K 4W9

A well-stocked Asian grocery in Harvest Hills, T & T Supermarket also features a hot dim sum counter with adjacent seating area. Clerks are available to fill takeout boxes with your choice of steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, siu mai, onion cakes and much more. Priced by the item, $12 buys you a seriously sizeable meal.

The quintessential Mexican meal, tacos are also a relatively scarce commodity in Calgary. However, we’ve done some digging and unearthed the select few restaurants that make truly marvelous versions of these hand-held snacks.
The city’s summer season features a delicious dance card of culinary festivals and events. Many, such as Stampede-time pancake breakfasts, are easy to access the day of, but the various tasting and tippling shindigs listed here can fill up quickly, so purchasing tickets sooner than later for these foodie festivities is recommended. Image credit:
The city’s pathway system is one of the longest in North America. Given its lengthy stretches, the occasional rest and snack stop, though few and far between, are a welcome sight when walking, biking and inline skating. Here are a few restaurants, cafés and snack shacks located on or near our scenic cycling system. Image credit:
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