Tubby Dog’s atmosphere is as quirky as the menu – in a good way.
Tastefully decorated restaurants are a dime a dozen. Sometimes you just want to eat somewhere that’s a little wonky. Whether they’re old-school establishments that have refused to keep step with the times, or new-school rogues that have no desire to follow current trends, here are some of the quirkiest restaurants around:
This true-life truck stop in Inglewood has been around since the ’50s. Open 24-7, it’s the kind of place where the scrubs-clad waitstaff call you “hun” while they top up your coffee and serve you pancakes the size of hubcaps and slabs of pie with six-inch meringue toppers. The candy-pink walls are hung with plenty of eye candy, including a toy train that rounds the upper perimeter of the dining room. If you like playing deejay, bring along a handful of toonies and request seating at one of the private jukebox booth tables.
(1840 9 Ave. S.E., 403-265-5964)
The Grizzly House
A fixture in Banff for over five decades, the Grizzly House is a blast from the swinging ’70s ski resort past. Once known as a hub of hedonism, today the Grizzly House is a tamer experience, though it remains charmingly dated with its fondue menu and table phones (to facilitate hooking up with other diners, naturally).
(207 Banff Ave., 403-762-4055, banffgrizzlyhouse.com)
Kane’s Harley Diner
Inglewood’s Kane’s Harley Davidson dealership opened a kitschy, 1950s-styled diner back in 1999. Decorated with motorcycle memorabilia, the diner serves up everything from liver and onions to grilled peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. Elvis would have approved.
(1209 9 Ave. S.E., 403-269-7311)
Last Chance Saloon
Another one that’s a bit of a drive, but well worth the time and effort. Located off the beaten track, 14 km southeast of Drumheller, Wayne is home to a handful of residents and the historic Rosedeer Hotel with its aptly named Last Chance Saloon. A favourite destination for the weekend-warrior motorcycle-riding set, the Last Chance’s walls offer up a visual buffet of everything from a taxidermied bull snake to a vintage band box that plays Benny Goodman.
(403-823-9189, 555 Jewell St., Wayne, visitlastchancesaloon.com)
The Mermaid Inn (Danish Canadian Club of Calgary)
The restaurants inside cultural organizations are often hidden gems. Located right in the heart of the Beltline neighbourhood, the Danish Canadian Club of Calgary’s Mermaid Inn (a reference to literary icon Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid,” no doubt) offers up hearty buffet lunches and dinners as well as fishy Scandinavian delights, all in a room that could never be mistaken for a “restolounge.”
(727 11 Ave. S.W., 403-261-9774, danishclubcalgary.com)
A longtime fixture on the Red Mile, this lower-level lounge is best known for its extensive menu of cocktails named after famous Communists and other revolutionary figures. Where else can you order a round of Ghandi’s?
(520 17 Ave. S.W., 403-229-1986, mingeatdrink.com)
Pizza Bob’s Classic Pie
Wedged into a strip mall at the crux of Memorial Drive and Kensington Road, this colloquial pizza joint can feel a bit like a David Lynch film set sometimes. The weekly Torrid Thursdays live music nights feature garage, punk and experimental bands playing on the tiny stage. If that’s not weird enough there’s also karaoke on Friday starting at 10 p.m.
(2610 Kensington Rd. N.W., 403-521-2627, pizzabobs.ca)
Sure, the hot-dogs and Taco Tuesday specials are great, but a big part of what’s made this 17th Avenue spot so legendary is the decor, a wild pop-culture mishmash of framed photos and glass display cases packed full of vintage cereal boxes and other non-perishable memorabilia. Along with the old cartoons screening on the back wall, there’s also a row of old-school arcade games, so bring along your sockfull of quarters and prepare to beat your Pac Man score from 1985.
(1022 17 Ave. S.W., 403-244-0694, tubbydog.com, @tubbydoghotdogs)