Jimmy’s A&A Mediterranean Deli
Jimmy’s. If you live in the Calgary area and not under a rock, you must be a fan of Jimmy’s. This tiny, unassuming little ‘Mom and Pop’ cornerstore/eatery is (without a doubt) the home of the best Shawarma in the North West, if not the entire city of Calgary. I’m not joking. The one time we came back to Canada from Australia we stayed for two weeks in July. During that two weeks we made a point to visit Jimmy’s twice and my oldest son made a point of going there every day. Now back in Calgary, it takes our family at least 45 minutes to get up to the joint but that long trek is so worth it. Sometimes we visit on our way back into the city after a long back country hike. Jimmy’s is the only place where I have to warn friends and visitors that during those first few bites of chicken Shawarma, I will groan with pleasure. It is just so good that I forget the world around me.
It’s Easter weekend and my sister and brother in law are visiting from Vernon, BC and missing the 21 C weather there. They don’t care because today after a whole lot of shopping we drove across the city just to visit Jimmy’s for dinner. The weather here in Calgary is 11 C today and finally conducive to the outdoor dining area provided at Jimmy’s (though we did take the family there in November, lol). It’s not pretty but it’s adequate and more than once we’ve lingered here enjoying the sun and the happy looks on people’s faces when they drive down the street and realize they are near Jimmy’s. I believe it is the happiest intersection in Calgary.
The look of Jimmy’s has changed over the years. When you enter through the most northerly doors during the summer, you are blasted with enormous drafts of heat and roasted meat smells from the huge vertical rotisseries. The updated display cabinets hold all sorts of treasures, from Shawarma fillings and sauce to samosas, falafel, spanikopita, empanadas, several cheeses, olives and several Mediterranean type salads such as Tabbouleh. Nearer to the checkout area you can choose from all sorts of shapes of baklava containing different kinds of nuts. We really like the pistachio rolls or blossoms. Opposite the food counter, is a great selection of tasty cold drinks and Middle Eastern dry goods supplies like pomegranate molasses, sumac and other spices, beans and even sheesha supplies. In the summer you can get ice cream and gelato upstairs though I think Jimmy lives up there as well. I found this really great mini documentary about Jimmy and his philosophy here. He’s a real down to earth type of guy who loves life and appreciates the little things. When it’s busy you can be in line for quite a while so Jimmy finds time to entertain the people in line with his unique personality and cracks jokes with the kids.
We had a good selection of Shawarma for our dinner. Both my brother in law and I got the small chicken Shawarma. I think he ended up also having beef in his. Toppings include lettuce, tomato, pickles, banana peppers, onions, sweet and garlic sauce and hot sauce. Be warned, bro and I can eat a lot but neither of us have ever tackled a large Shawarma at Jimmy’s. I once saw a twelve year old demolish a large. I think he had to be carried away on a stretcher, it was obscene.
My sister likes to have her pita on the side and just gets the meat shaved into a take away container and a mixed vegetable salad on the side, covered in both sweet and garlic sauce. I think she’s on to something…
We also got some pistachio blossoom baklava for later on when we weren’t so stuffed.
I ended up never having any baklava or even dinner for that matter. That Shawarma lasted me the rest of the day. One thing about all Shawarmas though, is that they always ‘come back to visit me’ later on in the day. Do make sure that you have no where important to go to and are with people who have shared the Jimmy’s experience with you otherwise you may be ostracized for your garlic breath.
Jimmy’s A&A Mediterranean Deli
1401 20 Ave NW
Calgary, AB T2M 1G6