The other day, I heard local restaurant review legend John Gilchrist, on his weekly CBC Radio Eyeopener segment, mention a two-hour lineup for Saturday breakfast at the new OEB location, in the heart of downtown Calgary. Two hours!
Now, I consider OEB the consistently best, most creative breakfast joint in Calgary. Enough so that I’m willing to wait, say, 15 minutes—while sweating in a winter parka—for a table at its original, Edmonton Trail site. Beyond that, I’m outta there.
The problem is most other good Calgary breakfast places also have lineups, unless I arrive when their doors crack open. Which is never earlier than 7 am and on weekends at the ungodly late hour of 8, when far too many folks are up and about.
You’d have thought Calgary’s recession would have whacked these lineups, especially when a lot of these “diners” are still charging $16 or more for their upscale breakfast offerings. You’d have thought wrong.
Which is why Grumans Delicatessen is my go-to breakfast spot in Calgary. Even though they don’t open till 8 am on weekdays and 9 am on weekends. Even though you have to pay for downtown street parking after 9 every day but Sunday.
Why do I love it? Because every time I show up for breakfast, there’s never more than a handful of occupied tables. Even though the food is always excellent, innovative, plentiful and, by Calgary standards, affordable.
The only reason I can figure for this morning vacancy rate is Grumans is a little out of the way, at the unappealing eastern edge of downtown Calgary. Also, perhaps downtown workers don’t want to stop, that close to the office, for breakfast. Grumans is considerably busier at lunch, when office workers show up for the best smoked-meat sandwiches in the city.
But the breakfast fare is equally good, featuring Jewish deli standards like potato latkes, lox Benedicts and that Montreal hybrid, smoked-meat poutine. The best deal is the breakfast special: two eggs, double-smoked bacon, latkes, toast and good coffee, all for a grand total of $9, if you order before 9 am.
With prices and food this good, you should be running down to Grumans. On second thought, maybe not. I don’t want to stand in line.
230 11 Avenue SE, Calgary, Alberta
Weekdays 8 am-3:30 pm, weekends 9 am-3:30 pm.