Known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, Calgary can often be thought of as a city to pass through on the way to the real destination. Unless it’s summertime, of course, a time when many flock to the city for the annual Calgary Stampede. Unbeknownst to most visitors to the city, YYC is full of hidden gems and popular joints alike with really delicious, affordable menus. Whether you’re just passing through or staying to meet some real Canadian cowboys, we’ve come up with a list of wonderful restaurants that won’t break the bank.
Here’s our list of the best cheap eats in Calgary!
For fresh, authentic Vietnamese dishes look no further than Pho Huong Viet. Arguably one of the best Vietnamese spots in Calgary, their Banh Mi (Vietnamese subs) are a must-try. While all of the sandwiches are under $10, and there are plenty to choose from, we recommend the Sate Chicken Sub. The crispy bread, spicy peanut sauce, and beautiful assortment of veggies never disappoint.
You can’t go to one of the most Canadian cities in the country and not try the poutine. Fries, gravy, cheese curds. We needn’t say more but The Big Cheese in Calgary does anyways. From Montreal Smoked Meat to Veggie Nacho, they’ve got a poutine style for everyone. Better yet, a large is only $9.99.
Let us put you on to one of the best affordable vegan/vegetarian joints in Calgary. This diverse, plant-based menu is a blend of western and traditional Indian cuisine. Try the house coconut and lemongrass soup or start with the option of wrap or bowl style and choose from fillings such as curried jackfruit and tandoori cauliflower for a unique experience of fresh, healthy ingredients.
This charming, ’50s and motorcycle-themed diner is the perfect place for a classic breakfast. Of course, you’ll find all the breakfast staples here, from eggs benny to pancakes and steel-cut oats. You can also make your own omelet with over a dozen choices of fresh ingredients. No matter what you choose it is bound to be satisfying.
It wouldn’t be a guide of where to eat in Calgary without mention of Peter’s. Here is most certainly where you should get your fast food fix. The burgers and fries are consistently delicious, but everyone who has been, knows that the real gem of Peter’s are the milkshakes. With 30 flavours to choose from, and the option to choose up to 3 of them, the possibilities really are endless. The raspberry, pineapple, pina colada milkshake of your dreams awaits you at Peter’s.
With a Happy Hour from 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday selling $3 tacos and half-priced cocktails, this has to be your go-to place for a lunchtime fiesta. The Crispy Duck and Cauliflower Queso tacos are fan favourites but none of the tacos at Gringo St will leave you with food envy for your friend’s choice.
With over a dozen options on their Lotus Box menu for just $12.95, there are options for everyone at this Thai joint with two locations downtown Calgary. Served on your choice of jasmine, coconut or brown rice these protein-packed meals are prepared with an impressive array of spices and sauces. We also recommend trying the ever-tasty Candied Cauliflower bites appetizer.
Another top choice for cheap eats in Calgary with an incomparable Happy Hour, Cleaver is as the name suggests; prime cuts of a mouthwatering selection of meat. Get there before 6 p.m., or after 9 p.m., Sunday-Thursday and grab a couple of $5 sliders. Choose from tempura fish, lamb, matcha mushroom, beef and more for these sophisticated burgers.
If you have yet to try a pannenkoek, Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus is definitely the place to try them out. Pannenkoek is a thin Dutch pancake, similar to a crepe, with your choice of savoury or sweet ingredients baked right into the batter. While there are certainly more extravagant, pricier options on the menu we can attest that the simple lemon juice and brown sugar pannenkoek paired with their chai latte is the perfect breakfast that will stick to your budget.
Open until 4 a.m., U & Me is the ideal spot for late-night cheap eats in Calgary. Especially if those cravings have to do with exceptional Dim Sum. Dumpling options include chicken, shrimp, scallop, pork, mushroom and even more, all while being under $8. With all the different options, eating here won’t feel like a last resort choice when it’s the only place still open.