In honour of the 101st Calgary Stampede and those who moved mountains to put it on two weeks after the record floods. Where’s the beef? At the end of a shovel.
Southerners can get mighty particular about barbecue—about smoke rings, chopped or sliced, etc. Me, I don’t know much, but I do lean toward flavour, moistness and an absence of syrupy sauces. So, Calgary’s Holy Smoke BBQ hits pretty much all my bases. Its barbecue has a nice, smoky flavour and ain’t dry, with a dozen sauces in bottles, so I can add what heat and sweetness I want. It also hits my price point, $6 for a generous, regular chopped beef brisket, stacked inside a typical hamburger bun; better bread would kick things up a notch. Add buck-a-bone ribs for more protein or sides like coleslaw or a tiny piece of cornbread, and you still haven’t cracked $10. I avoid the lunchtime rush, so my car-to-car time, including eating, is an impressive five minutes, and I’ve got the vacuum turned off.
The flagship Holy Smoke is located in an industrial part of southeast Calgary, with outdoor picnic tables for summertime dining and indoor seating surrounded by bumper stickers. To wit: “If you’ve been married three times and still have the same in-laws, you might be a redneck” and “Dress code: four tooth minimum.”
Authentic BBQ at 51 degrees latitude? I’ll let the purists debate that. But for quick, affordable beef on a bun, it goes down fine with a little rodeo.
Holy Smoke BBQ
4, 4640 Manhattan Road SE (two other Calgary locations)
Weekdays 10 am-8 pm, Saturday 10 am-4 pm. Closed Sunday