Founded upon a thriving oil industry, Calgary is a bustling metropolis with no shortage of exemplary cuisine. As our updated guide reveals, the city’s culinary offerings reflects a unique combination of prairie tradition and contemporary adventurous flavor seeking. Here are 10 of Calgary’s restaurants and bistros that are not to be missed.
An oasis of serenity in Fish Creek Park, the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant benefits from its stunning position in one of the largest urban parks in North America. Enjoy these Arcadian environs at all hours of the day; the restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Contemporary Canadian cuisine is the order of the day, a theme reflected in the restaurant’s gorgeous setting in a lovingly restored ranch house. The diverse menu features delectable dishes like the Alberta veal chop, 12 oz of milk-fed veal covered in a wild blueberry sauce; a Canadian tour de force. The restaurant also offers an enormous selection of wines and a weekly six-course tasting menu.
At the very centre of Calgary’s restaurant scene, downtownfood’s, philosophy is that ‘the heartbeat of any great city is its food – downtown.’ downtownfood strives to embody this philosophy, growing much of its own produce in Calgary’s first rooftop eco-driven garden with solar-powered drip irrigation, two beehives and in excess of 40 different vegetables, herbs, fruits and greens. The restaurant’s menu offers ravenous revellers ‘True Canadian Cuisine,’ including dishes like the Qualicum Bay scallop; albacore tune, stripe prawn, coconut milk, aji amarillo, pickled celery and tandoori popcorn.
Lope over the 17th avenue to discover Calgary’s premier Greek restaurant, Kuzina. Appropriately enough, Kuzina is the Greek for kitchen and the restaurant prides itself on producing memorable Greek favourites on its satisfying diverse menu. Delve your teeth into the heart of the koutpoulo gemisto dish; succulent chicken breast stuffed generously with fresh baby spinach, salty barrel feta and drizzled in a zesty lemon sauce. Food can be procured at both lunch and dinner time, with a unique menu for each.
For one of the freshest meals you can eat in Calgary, slink over to La Brezza Ristorante where ‘everything is fresh,’ says owner Marco Abdi. Abdi, a Somalian émigré, who passed through the United Arab Emirates and Italy on the way to Canada, married a local whose mother is now the restaurant’s highly skilled chef. La Brezza Risorante has lunch and dinner menus; a dinner favourite is the linguini alle volgole dish with fresh baby clams in your choice of herb garlic tomato or white wine and garlic cream sauce, all served on a bed of fresh linguine. Bookings can be made online.
Situated on Calgary’s trendy uptown 17th Avenue, Model Milk sits inside a former dairy building, the very first in to utilize trucks to disseminate frothy fresh milk across the province. The building’s history is palpable in the restaurant, with a prominent white cow head suspended artfully over the restaurant’s portal, and a cosy lounge, once used as a scrumptious milkshake and ice cream bar. Every trip to Model Milk is sure to be unique; the menu is refashioned every few weeks to ensure the best local and regional products are used for each season. Delicious dishes on the menu include delights like the Driview Farm’s lamb rump, slathered in an eggplant puree, goat yoghurt, black malt and a piquant olive jus. Reservations can be made on the restaurant’s website.
The perfect resting place for passionate foodies, Calgary’s NOtaBLE restaurant serves a myriad of delectable dishes that exemplify the chefs’ zest for superlative victuals. The creative chefs tasked with rustling up NOtaBLE’s celestial fare work hard to include the best seasonable ingredients when crafting their menus. Recommended from the dinner menu is the Salt Spring Island mussels and frites, served in a luxurious ‘Marseille-style’ broth, swimming with chorizo and saffron aioli. To make a reservation, be sure you call in advance.
Stimulate your taste buds in the relaxing environs of Calgary’s Q Haute Cuisine restaurant. Situated on the banks of the Bow River, intrepid food lovers make mouth-watering pilgrimages to this culinary hotspot. To experience the pinnacle of gustatory sensation, try the Chef’s tasting menu, where the very best of Q Haute Cuisine’s palate enliveners are showcased. Ruminate on a mouthful of char, quinoa puffs, sweet pepper and milk crisp before chewing on some succulent sous vide and roasted striploin wagyu beef.
River Cafe’s expansive menu of delectable seasonal Canadian cuisine is matched only by the beauty of its setting in the sylvan paradise of the Bow River Valley. Perched by a lagoon in Prince’s Island Park, the restaurant’s rustic décor reflects that of a traditional fishing lodge; hunker down at the bar made from a boat, warm your hands by the open-hearth fieldstone fireplace, and recline on the outdoor terrace that offers panoramic vistas of the park. For diners with a penchant for the outdoors, with 24-hours notice, the restaurant can even rustle up abundant picnic baskets for customers to munch on in the park itself. Chefs and owners Sal Howell and Chef Andrew Winfield are revered for their culinary aptitude; be sure to sample their delights on the broad menu. Reservations can be made online.
Teatro is a central feature of Calgary’s fine dining milieu and specialises in serving Italian cuisine with a French twist. Dwelling in the 20th century Dominion Bank building, the restaurant’s lofty ceilings, expansive windows, and open brass kitchen make it a charming to spend an evening. The menu is overflowing with local organic produce and game, offering a range of antipasti, wood-burning-oven-prepared pizzas, risottos and pastas. Tables in this elegant modern bistro can be reserved online.
Swanky and refined, The Belvedere is a Calgary favourite for celebratory dining, business lunches and swoon-worthy dates. The contemporary menu is perpetually evolving with an emphasis on utilizing the best seasonal produce. Begin with a rich mouthful of foie gras before moving on to more fulsome fare like the robust Alberta bison served on a creamy beetroot risotto. Nestled in the bowels of a grand sandstone building, the restaurant’s interior is awash with elegant walnut woodwork, plush draperies and skylight that floods the restaurant with ambient luminescence. Oenophiles look no further; the restaurant also offers an impressive wine selection, with in excess of 750 quaffable wines, as well as five- or seven-course tasting menus with apposite wine pairings.