Barbeque is hot – here’s some smokin’ destinations — Wanda Baker
Once known as a steak and potatoes town, Calgary has been gaining momentum and popularity with its ever-expanding food culture and offerings. The art of Southern slow cooking has been wholeheartedly embracing the North and while barbecue is not new to Calgary, its slowly come into its own with more than a handful of restaurants specializing in Southern-style barbecue.
From well established and popular locations, to new school whiskey infused iterations, each barbecue joint offers its own unique spin on barbecue and are guaranteed to deliver on delicious tasting smoked meat, proving our Canadian pitmasters do right by time-honoured traditions.
We talked to several restaurants to learn more about the key to their smoking success and what they love about barbecuing. The one common denominator they all share, is they love their brisket.
Here’s a round-up of our favourite barbecue joints in Calgary you need to try.
Belle Southern Kitchen + Bar
1919 4 St SW, Calgary • bellebbq.com
Wood used to smoke: apple, cherry and birch
With names like Boozy Blanche, Sweet Reba, and Hot Susan sauces, this new addition to Mission is sure to turn a few heads.
Belle Southern Kitchen + Bar joins the ranks of big brothers Anejo and Blanco Cantina. The name is meant to invoke the feeling of the old-fashioned girl next door cooking; a southern belle is a woman with class, beauty and tradition; she knows her way around a kitchen and loves entertaining.
At Belle Southern chefs utilize not one, but two smokers; a large Southern Pride gas powered convection smoker capable of steaming, cooking and smoking all in one. A smaller smoker focuses on smaller cuts of meat adding a more intense smoke flavour.
The glorious array of low and slow cooked meats found here are served au natural (not sauced) to show off their merits. Southern-style classics like the Memphis pork wrap, St. Louis ribs, smoked turkey leg, blackened fish, smoked brisket and Cajun roasted chicken are just a few of the items you can choose from. A selection of creative sides, salads and snacks are also available. For those looking for quick lunch options they offer a picnic lunch to eat in or take out.
Big Starr Smokehouse
818 16 Ave SW, Calgary • bigstarr.ca
Wood used to smoke: brisket – persimmon and pecan, pork and chicken – cherry and hickory
Big Starr Smokehouse has been open just over two months and is already receiving rave reviews on their brisket and house made corn fritters. Their goals are simple; to serve tasty, authentic barbecue and affordable beverages in a warm and inviting environment.
This new Mount Royal Village restaurant serves up a variety of smoked meat and sandwich offerings alongside some true Southern hospitality. Discover Alabama chicken wings, SGT pepper sausage, the Texan Cubano sandwich, and classics like ribs and brisket. Creative bar snacks and sides catching our attention include dirty fries, not-so-wedge-salad and lazy potatoes.
Everything here is made in house including the rubs, sauces and desserts. Whether you love your meat as is, or prefer to douse it in sauce, hungry meat lovers will have several sauces to choose from including Peach Vinegar, Carolina Mustard, Alabama White Sauce, Memphis Bourbon and Texas Pepper. Deep fried delights find their way onto this menu including fried pickles and bacon corn dogs.
Any sized appetite is sure to have a Smokin’ Good Time at Big Starr Smokehouse.
2014 36 ST SE • www.janebondgrill.com
Wood used to smoke: hickory
Chef Jenny is a trailblazer when it comes to barbecue in Calgary being one of the only women chefs here to run a full-fledged barbecue operation.
Jane Bond started as a food truck full of character, heart and unique food. The catering services and BBQ joint came later and added an extra dose of sass to the already established BBQ Wagon. Jane Bond takes traditional items, adds a fun twist and incorporates influences from various regions all over the world.
Fried catfish, grilled chorizo, hoagies and burgers accompany classics like brisket and pulled pork. The more adventurous can try the BBQ Parfait, Waffles and Chicken or Gator Bites, finishing their meal with Mud Pie in a Jar.
The Bond Platter is the way to go at this barbecue joint, set in the heart of International Avenue, if you want to try several items at once. It comes with pulled pork, brisket, chicken, chorizo and a whack of sides like coleslaw, baked beans, corn and cornbread will feed a small army or family of 4-5.
This BBQ Feast in the East is open every day until 10pm for eat in, takeout or delivery. “They say watch your figure and mind the calories, we say, come on in Calgary, and eat whatever you want. If anyone gives you a hard time, you just go on and eat them too.”
Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey
1136 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary • www.haydenblockyyc.com
Wood used to smoke: apple and cherry wood
Located in the heart of Kensington in a turn of the century brick building, the name Hayden Block is etched on the top trim of the building. After viewing the name many times while having discussions about the restaurant concept, the owners began to sense Hayden Block, the name, represented the community they were in, the heritage of the building, and the brand they were trying to create.
Here you will find Texas style smoke-infused barbecue fare including chicken wings and ribs, brisket, pork spare ribs, hot sausage links, pulled pork and BBQ turkey every night of the week. All using a well seasoned Ole Hickory Smoker from Austin, Texas and all cooked low and slow.
Hayden Block offers up an extensive whiskey list for those looking for an extra kick while enjoying finger licking good food. All meat is half price after 10pm.
With two locations to wet your whistle, one in Calgary and their sister restaurant Main Street Beer & BBQ in Airdrie, down home barbecue is never far away.
Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery
3610 Burnsland Road SE, Calgary, • paddysbrewbecue.com
Wood used to smoke: cherry wood
Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery is the newest kid on the block to open in Manchester Park.
Setting themselves apart from the other barbecue joints, Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery opened their doors earlier this month offering fresh barbecue and freshly made in house small batch craft beer.
The menu here is simple. Find classics such as brisket, chicken wings, turkey breast and pulled pork plus a handful of sides. From the brewery they offer beer available in tasters, by the glass, growlers and guests taps. On Fridays eat in or take out a whole smoked chicken and three sides.
One of Paddy’s favourite menu items is the pastrami which is brined for a week, rubbed and smoked for 17 hours. The Family and Friends Feast is bound to satisfy any carnivore with an appetite featuring a sampling of three meats and three sides. Wash it all down with a fresh made brew.
The Palomino Smokehouse
109 7 Ave SW, Calgary • thepalomino.ca
Wood used to smoke: BC Applewood
One of the founding fore fathers of barbecue in Calgary, The Palomino Smokehouse has been filling ours senses and tummies with smoked culinary delights since 2003.
This downtown destination has a regular following and proudly boasts smoking and serving – 800-1200lbs of brisket per week. Live music happens in their showroom every Friday and Saturday night appealing to all generations. You will always find four classic barbecue meats on their menu: brisket, pork, ribs and turkey. Additional popular items include smoked chicken, New Orleans style Catfish Po’boy, chili and rib-sticking macaroni and cheese. For those adventurous types they recommend the Fat Ass Platter which contains a little bit of everything.
At The Palomino they boast barbecue, bands and beers as the three cornerstones of what keeps their customers coming back. That and working hard, fundraisers and continued commitment to their community.
Arlen recommends pairing a glass of Kentucky bourbon with 2 ice cubes with any of their smoked meat.
With so many methods, tips, types of wood used in smoking, and cooking techniques, there is definitely a reason to visit all these locations and try each of their barbecue offerings. Through the process of research and writing this story we’ve discovered each location is unique, incorporates their own style into their barbecue and inspiration comes from everywhere. They all agree the secret to amazing smoked meat is Low and Slow. We are excited to share these restaurants with you and believe it’s a good time to be a carnivore. Now who’s up for a barbecue crawl?
Other must tries are Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse, Bookers BBQ Grill & Crab Shack in Calgary, Holysmoke BBQ, and Wild Bills Legendary Saloon in Banff.