Who doesn’t have a favourite guilty pleasure food? Whether you’re eating your sorrows or celebrating with friends, there’s something comforting about indulgent snacks and treats. Here are some of Avenue‘s favourite guilty pleasure foods.
1. Bavarian Pretzels at Beer Revolution
Beer Revolution’s pretzels are the best pretzels in the city, and I’m prepared to defend this statement. The Bavarian Pretzels come in orders of three or six with the perfect grainy mustard aioli for dipping. The pretzels are perfectly warmed and sprinkled with just the right amount of sea salt. These crispy snacks go down perfectly with a pint of Lucky Penny Lager, or if you’re feeling particularly hungry, an order of the Blazing Saddle pizza. (1080 8 St. S.W., 403-264-2739, beerrevolution.ca, @RevolutionYYC) -A.M.
2. Cajun-fried pickles at The Blues Can
Dill-pickle lovers are usually salt-junkies who would rather gorge on crispy deep-fried fare like french fries over chocolate any day. Put together “deep-fried” and “pickles” and what do you get? Why, you get deep-fried pickles, a crunchy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside, salty-all-over treat, usually served with a mayonnaise-style dipping sauce for an extra burst of healthiness (I’m no doctor, but I can tell you that too many of these things will make your ankles swell up like paint cans). Even so, the call of the fried pickle is hard to ignore. When you hear it, follow your salt-crusted heart to the Blues Can, where they’re given a crunchy cornmeal-flecked crust and smoky chipotle aoli for dippin’. Wash ’em down with something equally classy and then dance the night away to live blues music. (1429 9th Ave. S.E., 403-262-2666, thebluescan.com, @Blues_Can) -S.A.
3. Bison Stacker at Dairy Lane
This sandwich is three slices of sourdough desperately trying to contain Bison chili and Sylvan Star cheddar. It’s not the individual ingredients that inspire guilt, it’s the combination – you couldn’t decide between grilled cheese and chili when ordering your meal. To get the sandwich in your mouth properly, you have to hunch over close to your plate and open wide. That and the stack of napkins you will need makes you look guilty, even if you don’t feel it. (809 1 Ave. N.E., 403-261-9998, dairylanecafe.ca, @dairylane) -J.M.
4. Pancake Puppies at Denny’s
That’s right, Denny’s gets a name drop. The all-day breakfast joint where coffee cups are bottomless and the servers are perhaps some of the most capable anywhere also serves the next best thing to mini doughnuts. These balls of deliciousness are served in six or ten with warm syrup on the side. The standard flavour is deep fried and dusted with cinnamon and sugar, but they also regularly offer themed bites including red velvet to coincide with its Hobbit menu. (Eight Calgary locations, dennys.ca, @DennysCanada) -J.M.
5. Malted Milkshake at Galaxie Diner
My occasional addiction to malts began in early childhood, when my parents, in an attempt to fatten me up, would make me one every night blended with raw eggs. I survived – I even found my way into adulthood at a normal weight and without diabetes – but I just can’t shake that malted monkey on my back. Which brings me to the Galaxie Diner – literally. The first in a long list of retro diners in Calgary has been serving classic milkshakes (with malt, on request) from the classic steel blender for many, many years now. It’s high-calorie comfort at its best. I’ll take a large. (1413 11 St. S.W., 403-228-0001, galaxiediner.com) -J.W.
I’m just as enchanted as all the other sophisticates in town by restaurants serving thin-crusted pizzas topped with fresh herbs and delicate shavings of cheeses I can’t pronounce. But sometimes, you just wanna get down and greasy. Inglewood pizza delivers the kind of pie that squirts hot juice down your chin and makes your fingers too slippery to turn on a lamp. They pack each slice with layers of meaty toppings and seal everything in with a generous layer of melty cheese. The foundation is a medium-thick crust that gets all crunchy around the edge – thicker than your average whisper-light crust but not all puffy and bready either. Winter, spring, summer or fall, it’s the best and worst thing in the entire world. I have their number in my phone contacts. (1225 9 Ave. S.E., 403-237-8220, inglewoodpizza.ca, @InglewoodPizza) – S.A.
7. The Break Up Tub at Milestones
This might be the anti-guilty pleasure, because if you are ordering a pint of ice cream in a public restaurant, you are beyond the point of anyone caring. But it is a tub of vanilla cookie dough ice cream with caramel sauce and crumbled chunks of cookie that comes presented in a carton. While the name suggests you should order it when you are working through heartbreak, I’ve ordered it plenty of times just because sometimes you want a pint of ice cream. (Three Calgary locations, milestonesrestaurants.com) -M.B.
8. Cheddar Bay Biscuits at Red Lobster
When you first search “Red Lobster biscuits,” a myriad of biscuit knock-off recipes appear. Somehow, Red Lobster has been able to keep the recipe for their warm, crumbly delectable biscuits a secret even though the restaurant boasts it serves 1.1 million of them a day. After many an overindulgence, I’ve learned to keep my meal size down – ordering only a salad and chowder – so I have room for plenty a biscuit. And, I’m not afraid to ask my waiter to refill my basket once, twice or if necessary, three times. Biscuit for dessert anyone? (100, 6100 Macleod Trail S.W., 403-252-8818; 312 35 St. N.E., 403-248-8111, redlobster.ca, @redlobster) -L.L.
9. Cookies at Subway
I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Subway cookies. They’re the perfect treat after your healthy sub. With a bit of crunch on the outside and melt in your mouth buttery goodness in the middle, I just can’t say no. My favourites are the chocolate chip, white choclate macadamia nut and M&M. Grab a trio and share with a friend, if you’re lucky they’ll still be warm from the oven. (93 Calgary locations, world.subway.com, @SUBWAY) -L.L.
10. Seafood Lasagna at Teatro
I know it’s not particularly au courant, but it is beloved. The first time I had it, near midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1999, I was transported, and it wasn’t just the turn of the millennium that sent me over the edge. I dream of the rich combination of lobster, scallops, prawns and bchamel more often than I indulge, and thank the food gods for that; otherwise, Atlas himself couldn’t lift me. A rare pleasure indeed. (200 8 Ave. S.E., 403-290-1012, teatro.ca, @TeatroCalgary) -J.W.