For years, Albertans have been stuck with that ‘steak and potatoes’ rap when it comes to their dining preferences. But, if nationally buzzworthy restaurants like Rouge or Model Milk in Calgary and North 53 and Tres Carnales are any indication, there’s a lot more diversity in an Albertan palate than some people may assume.
That being said, it’s hard to ignore the places that highlight one of the things Alberta producers do best. And, well, that’s undeniably beef.
Bears Den (Bear’s Paw, AB)
Nestled into the Alberta countryside, about a 30-40 minutes drive from downtown Calgary, you’ll pull up at The Bear’s Den. The restaurant has been around for years in the community of Bear’s Paw and just last year went through a big renovation.
Fireplaces and ambient lighting make this classic restaurant a cozy one. For starters, stay somewhat vintage with their take on a Waldorf salad before diving right into the mains. Prime ribs, tenderloins, rib eyes…you name it; they’ve got it.
Buchanan’s (Calgary, AB)
Dubbed as the city’s ‘original chophouse’, this eatery just a couple blocks away from the Bow River does right by beef. At dinnertime, Buchanan’s grills up New York strips, beef short ribs and all of the regular suspects, but what they’re consisting known for are their hand-ground burgers. After being open for over 25 years, I can say with 100% certainty that they were definitely hand-grinding and forming beef patties here way before it was the ‘hip’ thing to do.
Caesar’s (Calgary, AB)
Heading into its 43rd year, Caesar’s is one of the longest-running establishments in Calgary. Going with the ‘don’t mess with a good thing’ mentality, I don’t think this place has changed the menu much over the years, aside from minor updates. Dining here is a throwback, for sure, but a fun one.
Escargot, scampi, lobster tails and Caesar salad (prepared tableside, of course!) are just a few of the items that can grace your table along with whatever cut of beef tickles your fancy.
The Grizzly House (Banff, AB)
There are few places in Banff as iconic as this one. The set-up of the dining room has always been of interest to tourists, seeing as each booth in the restaurant is equipped with a phone, which diners can use to contact other tables throughout the meal. It’s rumoured the phone system was created when a ‘swingers’ culture was more prominent in the early 1970s. Back then the place was a disco bar. For real!
Aside from a large selection of beef for main courses, you can also opt for hot rock grilling and a variety of fondues. This really is an institution of the little mountain town, so if you have a little extra cash to spend, it’s an undeniably fun spot to grab dinner.
Melissa’s Missteak (Banff, AB)
Sadly, Melissa’s doesn’t offer an inter-communication system at her steakhouse, several blocks down from Grizzly, but she’s got some character nonetheless! Over 30 years old, this family-friendly spot offers the classic steakhouse dining experience for parents while boasting a lot of dishes that will appeal to kids (even the pickiest) like pizza and a mini ‘missteak’ weighing in at 4 ounces for any little carnivores in tow.
Out of all of the steak-centric restaurants on this list, Vintage should take the top spot for putting the most effort in. From the lobster mashed potatoes, creamed spinach (amazing!), and ridiculously gooey mac n’ cheese to their premium chops including a massive prime rib chop for two, this steakhouse kicks some serious ass.
Once you’re done slicing into your meaty meal – drowned appropriately in peppercorn sauce, obviously – the night is not complete without ordering Vintage’s spin on a Baked Alaska. Truly a thing of beauty, proving that some things really do get better with age.
Von’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar @steakshucker (Edmonton, AB)
If you love some more extensive ‘surf’ with your ‘turf’ when you’re trying to pick out a steakhouse to try in Edmonton, then Von’s is a safe bet.
Start off with some classic bacon-wrapped scallops or a big ol’ shrimp cocktail and then get your fill of filet mignon, rib eye and more. Oh yeah, a steak dinner is never complete without a loaded baked potato, so you better opt for one of those too!
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.