Calgary, in the Rockies, is a thriving city with no shortage of great cuisine. Drawing inspiration from Canada’s diverse regional fare and often using locally sourced ingredients, it combines tradition with adventurous flavor-seeking. Here are the restaurants and bistros in Calgary you won’t want to miss.
Shokunin Izakaya is Chef Darren MacLean’s take on a contemporary Japanese restaurant. After his success on Netflix’s The Final Table and an extended stay in Tokyo, he was inspired to set up Shokunin Izakaya, curating a menu of traditional Japanese dishes with a twist. The restaurant’s small plates are perfect for sharing, and many are cooked using seasonal and local ingredients. Don’t leave without trying the signature Okami Kasu beer, infused with sake kasu and created in collaboration with local craft brewery Ol’Beautiful.
Stepping inside this elegant, airy eatery, you’d never guess you were in Calgary’s Manchester Industrial neighborhood. Restaurant critics speak highly of Alloy’s globally inspired dishes, praising the likes of its truffle gnocchi, lathered in black truffle butter cream, sautéed mushrooms and parmesan, and its beef short rib, served with tomato balsamic reduction, creamy mashed potatoes and heirloom carrots. Having grown up in Colombia, chef and co-owner Rogelio Herrera’s food menu is influenced by Mediterranean, Asian and Latin American flavors, while cocktail and wine lists are curated by co-owner Uri Heilik.
You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a Wes Anderson movie on arrival at Calcutta Cricket Club — a restaurant with decor as vibrant as its menu. Its Bengali-inspired fare brings the cosmopolitan flavors of Calcutta to Calgary, featuring updated, small-plate versions of traditional Indian dishes, as well as a selection of deliciously fragrant curries and a three-course tasting menu. The restaurant’s secluded terrace makes it a popular spot for a date night, with its front patio, decked out in tiki umbrellas, great for al fresco dining.
Bread and Circus is a secret speakeasy accessed via Una Takeaway. Despite being a small and intimate venue (with room for just 34), the restaurant, which is inspired by Roman-style trattorias, is a popular choice for family-style dining, as well as for a romantic date night. Like the venue, the menu is small, with options for antipasti, salad, pasta and dessert. It’s famed for its spaghetti alla bottarga, in particular, topped with house-made shrimp bottarga and packed with intense seafood flavor.
Serving up contemporary comfort food, Bridgette Bar is a favorite with locals and visitors for its ever-changing and inventive menu, featuring an array of small and large plates — many cooked inside the restaurant’s large wood-burning grill — alongside a diverse selection of cocktails, wines and beers. Favorites include the braised rabbit on toast and the legendary banana pie, served on a pretzel crust and made with rum caramel and spiced custard. Bridgette’s modern atmosphere, complete with artful decor and shabby-chic furnishings, is topped off by its exceptional service.
Named after Henry, the 1930s cartoon character and long-time Calgary icon, Ten Foot Henry prides itself on “bridging the gap between what you should be eating and what you really want to eat”. The menu boasts vegetable-focused dishes, packed full of flavor, including a popular favorite: Brussels sprouts with ponzu, bonito flakes and crispy vermicelli. You’ll also find an accompanying selection of fish, chicken and beef dishes. The restaurant is open daily from 11am to 11pm, with family-style brunch offered on weekends until 2pm.
Fancy dining out for breakfast? The soufflé pancakes at Pigeonhole are fluffy, thick and melt-in-your-mouth-delicious. Locally sourced contemporary Canadian food is served all day in this rustic-chic hideaway, decked out in effortlessly cool decor and with snug banquette seating. The restaurant’s open kitchen sees dishes made with rich ingredients on a regularly changing menu, full of eclectic small plates like the charred cabbage with mimolette and jalapeño salad cream. When the weather permits, browse the quirky wine and cocktail list on the cozy patio.
This Victoria Park staple is loved for its Mexican street eats and market-style foods served up in a fun and informal setting. Having received numerous awards since opening its doors in 2015, Native Tongues Taqueria is in equal parts versatile and classic, featuring homestyle staples and elevated Mexican–American dishes such as its famous burger, the hamburguesa al carbon, served with chips and hot sauce. Wash down with a smoky mezcalgarita or an inventive cold-brew cocktail from its Mezcal-centered drinks menu.
Additional reporting by Emma Gibbins.