As much as we all love a beautifully-composed plate of eggs benedicts, perfectly toasted English muffins, and an impeccably drizzled Hollandaise, sometimes a good quality diner breakfast does just fine too.
If you’re not sure if you’re in the mood for fried eggs with an extra side of bacon at the truck stop, a classic, no-frills grilled cheese sandwich with processed cheese (hey, everything in moderation!) or a big ol’ pile of pancakes at a hipster-chic breakfast spot, there is a diner-style spot is for you.
In 2009, Mauro Martina set out to create a chef-driven restaurant that would take traditional breakfast dishes to the next level – and OEB, or Overeasy Breakfast, has been a hit from the minute it opened its doors. About 1,400 customers sit in OEB’s 36 seats every week, almost half just at weekends.
The décor is fun, but OEB is serious about ingredients. Their own hen flock produces the 3,000 free range, dark yolk, omega-3 eggs that they go through every week (they served 180,000 eggs in 2015!), and Paolini’s Meats makes their exclusive gluten-free sausages. Potatoes are twice fried in organic duck fat.
There are many highights on this menu; try the Box’d breakfasts, OEB’s take on breakfast poutine, with playful names and add-ons like lox (‘A-Lott A-Lox’), black truffles and pork belly (‘Gold Digga’), pulled chicken (‘Chasing Chickens’), duck confit, and lobster. Or ‘My Mom Can’t Make This…’ – a French Toast Trifle with Meyer lemon curd. You can’t go wrong!
824 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary 403-278-EGGS (3447)
Blackfoot Truckstop Diner
As far as history in Calgary goes, Blackfoot Truckstop Diner has become a landmark for locals and transients alike. With red leather booths featuring stitched traffic-themed backs, Trucker’s Breakfasts, and even a toy locomotive speeding around the restaurant, stepping foot into the Blackfoot Diner really feels like stepping all the way back in time to 1956. A very affordable menu (maybe their prices haven’t changed since 1956!), the Blackfoot Diner covers everything from a classic hot roast beef sandwich to homemade pancakes and waffles.
One of the best parts about the diner? It’s always full. Whether you’re going in for a family dinner or need a midnight snack (yes, they’re also open 24 hours a day), it’s hard to call yourself a Calgarian if you haven’t trucked over to the diner!
1840 9 Avenue SE, Calgary 403-265-5964
Galaxie Diner is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, although you could be forgiven for thinking it’s been around fifty years more, with its 1940s classic diner look, the vintage booths and open kitchen. Proprietor Brad Myhre also owns the smoked meat shop next door, Myhre’s Deli, and you can enjoy his Montreal smoked meat in a hash as well as an omelette at Galaxie.
“We specialize in feeding friends, families, and hangovers,” they’ll tell you, and you’ll know why when you choose from the All-Day Breakfast or All-Day Lunch menu. Breakfast Burritos are legendary, and filled to bursting with scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, peppers and more – $11.75 for one or $15 for two!
And it’s here you’ll find probably Calgary’s only one price, unlimited choice omelette. There are 13 different ingredients to choose from – go on, see how many you can try. Don’t say we didn’t warn you; all the portions are generous at Galaxie – come hungry!
1413 11 Street SW, Calgary 403-228-0001
Every great diner needs great pie, and Hathaway’s Diner has old-school pies that would make your grandma swoon. A rotating selection of cream pies like chocolate or coconut cream, and fruit pies such as the quintessential apple pie, call to you for dessert – or even for dinner, there’s no judgement here. Co-owner Pam Charlet knows her pies are good (she makes them all herself), and she will sweet talk you into having a slice every single time you stop by.
Pam’s husband Lyle heads the kitchen, slinging all day breakfast selections like bacon, eggs and pancakes, along with lunch staples like clubhouse sandwiches, and turkey dinners. Hathaway’s combination of down-home food and small town friendly service are definitely reminiscent of days gone by. Be warned, though, this small neighbourhood diner closes early (4 p.m.) and doesn’t open on Sundays.
13225 132 St NW, Edmonton 780-488-5989
Blue Plate Diner
Nestled in the heart of downtown Edmonton on 104 Street, the Blue Plate Diner boasts a colourful room filled with paintings by local artists. The mismatched, vintage table sets and glassware offer a homey, kitchen feel, and a comprehensive menu caters to a diverse downtown clientele.
Scanning the menu, you’ll find the diner standards are all there – meatloaf, mac and cheese, and burgers of course. Don’t be too quick to order or you might miss some not-so-typical selections like polenta cakes, or maple glazed cornbread. The Blue Plate Diner also has a selection of well thought out vegan and vegetarian options, like curry chickpeas with paneer, so there will be no need to “just have the salad.” On a warm, summer Saturday, with the beloved City Market bustling on its doorstep, this funky spot is the place to be.
10145 104 St NW, Edmonton 780-429-0740
The Downtown Diner, Fort Saskatchewan
You know those crazy food ideas you get when you’ve had a drink too many with friends? Keith Bramley, owner of The Downtown Diner, not only has those ideas, he puts them on his menu. Need proof?
Check out Bramley’s Shepherds Pie Burger, which is the diner’s homemade burger patty, topped with a panko crusted mashed potato cake, smothered in gravy and the requisite veggies to keep your mom happy. Or maybe the Downtown Diner’s take on the Monte Cristo is more your style – it’s wrapped in puff pastry and baked until it’s golden brown and the cheese is perfectly gooey.
The milkshake flavours are too numerous to count, from favourites like chocolate and strawberry to whimsical creations like peanut butter and jelly. No matter the flavour, they will leave you full and happy. Whatever you choose, when you slide into the ‘50s style red vinyl booths to sample their unique spin on diner classics, you’re guaranteed to get great homemade food at great value.
10209 100 Ave, Fort Saskatchewan 780- 998-1435