By Linda Garson and Phil Wilson
The good news for us is that when the economy gets tough, entrepreneurs are tempting us with happy hour specials, fixed price lunch menus, Sunday suppers, free corkage, and buck a shucks – you just have to know where and when to go.
Some of the best deals are where you least expect to find them, so we’re delighted to bring you our pick of great value eats and drinks in Calgary and Edmonton.
As Calgary’s only Relais et Chateaux restaurant, you might think Chef’s Table is mostly for special occasions, but think again! Unwind in front of the roaring fire with the Flights & Bites special – chef Sean Cutler’s selection of house-made charcuterie, cheese, paté, gravlax, pickles, mustards and jams, all perfectly paired with a flight of three wines – for just $20. (Insider info: watch for more great value specials after refurbishments in Spring!)
Anything that’s on for a loonie will grab my attention, and on Wednesday nights, the fantastic $1.00 corn fritters at Belgravia Hub will reward you handsomely for your spare change. The fritters with house made ketchup and strawberry jam at this small, independent restaurant are a musthave — even at full price. You can pair them with an Alley Kat beer for just $5.00 as well.
Full Circle Pizza & Oyster Bar
Josh and Amelia Stoddart take their oysters seriously at Full Circle, and they’re fresh in every day – so check out their Buck-a-Shuck specials for the last two hours of business starting 9:00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Ikki Izakaya and Japonais
Staying with the loonie theme, a pair of Japanese eateries on the west end of Jasper Avenue will lure you in with some great weekday deals. Ikki Izakaya boasts nightly specials like Tuna Tuesday ($1 Tuna Sashimi all night!), Takoyaki Wednesdays (Octopus Balls are only fifty cents each), and Yakitori Thursday ($1 Chicken Skewers). Once you’ve had your fill there, head across the street to Japonais Bistro where they offer buck-a-shuck oysters on Tuesdays.
Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey
Up there with the best for true Texas BBQ meats smoked in-house daily, Hayden Block start afresh every day, so from 10:00 p.m. until close all meats are half price. Which means you can get a half-pound of brisket or pulled pork for around $5. Not everything will be available, there may be no smoked turkey left, but get your fill of whatever meats they have left.
Full-on happy hours may not be plentiful here in Edmonton, but both of Nineteen’s locations definitely put the happy in happy hour, with a special menu from 3:00–6:00 p.m. daily. The Terwillegar location features different $10 food items like Bolognese Flatbread and Mini Tenderloin Sliders. The St. Albert location boasts just as delicious half price favourites including Beef Tenderloin Tataki and Gorgonzola Cream Moules Frites.
The 3 o’clock start means you might want to ditch work early and get started on $5 beer, wine, and even a feature cocktail, too! I’m sure your boss won’t figure out that your “appointment” was with a tasty Vodka Thyme Lemonade at Nineteen.
Murrieta’s Bar and Grill
This relaxed, yet classy, West Coast bar and grill has happy hour deals aplenty. Chill out on weekdays with live piano while enjoying a pint of draught and your choice of wood fire thin crust pizzas for only $15 on Wednesdays, and buck-a shuck on Mondays. Or start your weekend with a threecourse dinner for $35 on Fridays. There are deals in Murrieta’s Canmore too – on Mondays, a pound of fresh Saltspring Island mussels in your choice of sauce, are only $10 all day. And a two-course express weekday business lunch is only $15!
The Black Pearl
In the heart of downtown Edmonton, The Black Pearl also has Tuesday bucka-shuck. If you’re a seafood lover, come back Wednesday and keep the seafood party going with half price fish tacos!
River Café and Deane House
River Café is regularly voted Calgary’s Best Restaurant and Most Romantic Restaurant in Calgary, and one of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, but you might not realise that they, along with new sibling, Deane House, allow diners to bring in their own wine and waive the $25 corkage fee on Sundays!
If buck-a-shuck’s your thing, Von’s Steakhouse has to have the best deals on oysters in Edmonton. Running weekdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and all night Sundays, wash down those salty delights with one of their rotating daily drink specials.
Tango Bistro’s new Raw Bar is going great guns, and the good news for seafood lovers is happy hour runs from 2:30–6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday! You’ll find $2 shrimp cocktails, $4 lobster claws, $2.50 tuna tartare, $1.50 oysters and more. That’s a lot of very happy hours for us – we’ll see you there!
Edmonton and Calgary
Want a great selection of craft beers to celebrate the end of a tough workday? Beer Revolution offers their four-four-five deal Monday through Saturday from 4:00–6:00 p.m. That’s four select beers and four snacks for $5 each. They also have a different special daily; my favourite is Tuesday’s $3 Bavarian Pretzels – and on Sundays they offer $5 off all pizzas!