Lido Cafe, Calgary

Sometimes I just want food that’s straight-forward, fast and cheap. For years, the Lido Cafe has fit the no-frills bill. It reminds me of places we used to frequent when I was a university student, especially with its $6.95 full breakfast.

The Lido’s faded neon sign and table jukeboxes have withstood the test of time amid the trendy boutiques of Kensington. I doubt it’s changed the Chinese-Canadian menu much since the day it opened.

Ten bucks goes a long way. The daily specials come with soup (I’ve had chicken noodle and clam chowder) and dessert (usually Jello or rice pudding). They will fill you up. I’ve had two breaded veal cutlets ($9.95) with gravy, crinkle fries and a big heap of frozen vegetables. I don’t know what it is about diners like this but I always want crinkle fries.

The steak sandwich ($9.95) was strange because it was cut into a square on top of two slices of buttered whole wheat toast. The meat itself was OK.

The Chinese lunch combos (average $7.95) are a great deal. The Lido is generous with the fried rice (unfortunately bland), chicken chop suey, and sweet and sour pork which was hot and fresh.

As for dessert, there are signs on the walls advertising homemade pie. But when I asked who made them, the waitress said the lady who used to supply them got sick, so now they get it from “somewhere else.” Colette’s cherry pie definitely did not taste homemade. My rice pudding was pretty stale, so stick with the fun Jello with the obligatory whipped cream.

Lido Cafe, Calgary

Lido Cafe, 144 10th St. N.W., (403) 283-0131. Open Monday to Saturday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.Lido Cafe Ltd on Urbanspoon

Baby notes
Room for strollers: Yes
High chairs: No
Kids menu: No
Ambiance: Super casual. Excellent for babies and toddlers.