Tag Archives: Calgary breakfast

$18 Breakfasts Still Abound in Calgary

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Good, upscale breakfast at Calgary’s Blue Star Diner

I’ve lived in Calgary since 1980 and have thus witnessed numerous booms and busts. So while a number of food and drink places invariably fold with each crash, especially downtown, I’m no longer surprised when much of the restaurant scene chugs along as if nothing’s happened.

So it is with the most recent oil-price collapse, especially at breakfast. Calgary has long been one of the more expensive places to order breakfast in western North America. Think $15 for a good, though fairly standard morning feed. And yet people are perfectly happy to line up for these breakfasts, especially on weekends and even in winter.

An outsider might think such lineups would disappear and prices cut in the wake of this latest recession. No such luck. A quick survey of popular Calgary breakfast spots shows prices of $16 to $19 for more upscale morning offerings like lox waffles, meatloaf hash and tofu scrambles. One place even charges $14 for a breakfast sandwich and $15 for pancakes.

Thus it was when we recently visited Blue Star Diner in the city’s trendy Bridgeland district. At 8 am on a Saturday, it wasn’t lined up but still busy.

I often like to order breakfast offerings that venture well beyond the tried-and-true bacon and eggs. Blue Star certainly delivered on originality, and we were soon happily munching on slow-cooked brisket and grits ($17.50) and corned lamb hash and cornbread ($18.50).

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Corned lamb hash and poached eggs

I must say it was delicious, with lots of locally sourced ingredients, excellent execution and attention to detail. I’ll always happily pay a little more for quality. Still, $45 for breakfast and coffee for two? Sheesh.

Blue Star Diner
809 1 Avenue NE, Calgary, Alberta
Daily 8 am-10 pm
403-261-9998

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Shocking: A Great Calgary Breakfast With No Lineup

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Here’s the breakfast lineup at Grumans Delicatessen at 9 am on a Saturday. Photo: Helen Corbett

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.

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The house-cured lox Benedict, with potato latkes is just $14. Photo: Helen Corbett

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.

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This early-bird breakfast is $9, including good coffee; maybe the best morning deal in Calgary

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.

Grumans Delicatessen
230 11 Avenue SE, Calgary, Alberta
Weekdays 8 am-3:30 pm, weekends 9 am-3:30 pm.

Taking a Bite Out of High Calgary Breakfast Prices

Bite Groceteria & Cafe is in a bright, airy building in Calgary's Inglewood district

Bite Groceteria & Cafe is in a bright, airy building in Calgary’s Inglewood district

Sometimes, a place gets a bad rap in the online universe. Take Bite Groceteria & Café, in Calgary’s increasingly trendy Inglewood district. The word “expensive” shows up in a lot of reviews, and certainly the grocery side of this big, open, light-filled space might merit that description.

But the food? Give me a break. I order the most expensive thing on the morning menu, a $4.95, made-to-order breakfast sandwich, with fluffy eggs, avocado, Oka cheese, thick chunks of bacon, lettuce and tomato, all stuffed between two nicely toasted pieces of whole-grain bread.

When the chef pops the groaning plate on the counter, I’m stunned at what is by no means “bite” size. Even half this monster would be a bargain. It’s one of the better breakfast sandwiches I’ve eaten, to boot, almost a morning BLT with scrambled egg thrown into the mix.

A marvellous, monster breakfast sandwich for only $4.95

A marvellous, monster breakfast sandwich for only $4.95

For a buck less, the breakfast wraps and burritos are an even better deal. Lunch prices are somewhat higher, starting at $11.50 for a pulled pork sandwich or $9.40 for a bacon mac ‘n cheese.

Bite is on the ground floor of a stunning new building in east Inglewood. Popular, cozy Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar is just down the hall. And it’s well worth climbing to the 4th floor to visit one of Canada’s finest contemporary art galleries, the Esker Foundation, with a commanding view of Calgary’s downtown.

Great views of downtown Calgary from the stunning Esker Foundation art gallery

Great views of downtown Calgary from the stunning Esker Foundation art gallery

Bite Groceteria & Cafe
1023 9 Avenue SE, Calgary
Monday and Saturday 10 am-6 pm, Tuesday to Friday 9 am-6 pm, Sunday noon-6 pm
Bite Groceteria on Urbanspoon