Where’s the beef for the 2012 Calgary Stampede?


The Bistecca from Mercato Gourmet is considered by many to be the best steak in Calgary. (Photo courtesy of Mercato)

Story by Jody Robbins Writer 

CALGARY, ALBERTA — To say Calgary is well known for its beef is an understatement. From tongue to tail, there’s a new take on steak, simmering rapidly throughout CowTown.

Alberta beef, really is all that, says Anju chef Roy Oh. “There’s a lot of history here, and when the farmers take such pride in their beef, it shows.”

So if you’re hankering for some good old Alberta beef during the 2012 Calgary Stampede or at any other time in the city, these restaurants will steer you in the right direction.

Starting with the classics, Caesar’s Steak House, has become a Calgary institution since 1972, serving up Sterling Silver Alberta beef, aged for 28 days. Dig into Caesar’s Specialty New York Strip ($39/250g; $46/350g) slathered with a house specialty sauce, but save room for the decadent stuffed baked potato and cheesy bread.

Placing ninth on Vacay’s Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list, Rouge, also gave our editor, Adrian Brijbassi, the best beef tenderloin ($42) he’s ever eaten in Canada. When asked how he accomplishes such culinary feats, chef Paul Rogalski explains, “It’s all about love and respect for the animal when it’s alive, and carrying that through when we’re cooking.”

Vintage Chophouse brings out all the stops, including presenting customers with the various raw cuts, and explaining how each is best cooked. Go for the Cowboy ($79), a 32-ounce, bone-in prime rib chop, that’s meant for two, but occasionally attempted by hungry heifers.

Plowing through 240 kilos each week of their Bistecca alla Fiorentina ($39/18-20 ounces or $76/40 ounces), it’s safe to say Mercato’s meaty, bone-in rib steak is the city’s reigning steak. Ceremoniously delivered on a wooden platter and topped with lemon, coarse salt and fresh arugula, you’ll discover tiramisu isn’t needed to enjoy la dolce vita (thought it never hurts).


Clive Burger is a new hit with Calgary’s foodies. (Jody Robbins/

Unpretentious joints like Boogie’s Burgers do not disappoint. These burgers (from $4.75) made with 100% pure Alberta beef, are messy two fisters. Each comes topped with Boogie’s tangy red sauce, lettuce, tomato and onions — fried or raw. There’s also the added bonus of Deb’s Place on site, for all your esthetic needs. If there’s anywhere else in Calgary where you can nip in for burgers and a bikini wax, I’d like to know.

For those who like to mix things up, Notable offers a monthly Burger Inspiration ($17) on a housemade bun. Sometimes you’ll get a sirloin/chuck combo, other times ground pork, but all the time, you’re guaranteed a savoury, smoky mouthful.

Winning over even the most disconcerting burger aficionado, The Burger ($19), at Model Milk, is topped with fresh cheese curds and morel mushrooms. Oozing with natural juice, that deserves to drip down your chin, Calgarians are grateful the kitchen stays open till 1 am, with this staple.

New kid on the block, Clive Burger, dishes out organic, hand-shaped patties, with 100% gluten-free and vegetarian options. Get it Clive-style ($7) with lettuce, tomato, pickle, cheddar and clive-sauce or choose your own toppings.

Charcut delivers a powerful protein punch by topping their sausage patty ($17) with a gloriously runny egg. If you can’t get downtown, follow their Alley Burger Bus for the ultimate street meat.

Folks flock to Anju, specifically for the oxtail pasta ($12). The secret to this rich dish is braising the beef tail for up to 12 hours and coating it generously with Korean spices before topping it off with soy, truffle oil and fresh parmesan.

Those stranded in the burbs mosey over to The Cattle Baron for snacks of short dry ribs ($12) or their surf-and-turf combos (from $32).

And nothing could be more Albertan than beef on a bun — except perhaps a pickup truck with a yellow licence plate still on it. Brake for Cowtown Beef Shack, on North Macleod Trail, for a traditional beef dip ($8) or the traditional southern smoked brisket ($8). You’ll be glad you did.


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Jody Robbins is a travel and lifestyles writer. Contributing to the Calgary Herald, Today’s Parent and Up! magazine, she divides her time between Calgary and Canmore. She is also the Family Travel Columnist for and the Alberta Regional Chair for the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, which earned 2.5 million Twitter impressions in its first month for the #Vacay50 hashtag campaign. Jody is active on Twitter (@Jody_Robbins) and maintains her own blog (Travels with Baggage), where you can keep up with all of her latest adventures. When not travelling with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband and one dog), this wannabe foodie can usually be found chowing down at the latest hotspots before attempting to work it all off on the trails.

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