The Best Restaurants in Calgary, Canada

Calgary is the perfect city to walk around and admire pre-or-post meal
Calgary is the perfect city to walk around and admire pre-or-post meal | © Patrick mcvey / Unsplash
Photo of James Moore
10 September 2020

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.

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant

Restaurant, North American, Seafood, $$$
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An oasis of serenity in Fish Creek Park, Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant benefits from its scenic setting in a restored ranch house in one of the largest urban parks in North America. Contemporary Canadian cuisine is the order of the day, with the restaurant’s diverse menu featuring delectable dishes such as the Alberta veal chop – 12oz of milk-fed veal covered in a wild blueberry sauce – in addition to a wide selection of wines and a weekly six-course tasting menu. Book for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Shokunin Izakaya

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
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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.

Alloy

Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
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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.

La Brezza Ristorante

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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For one of the freshest meals you’ll eat in Calgary, slink over to La Brezza Ristorante, where “everything is fresh,” says owner Marco Abdi. Abdi, born in Somalia, married a local whose mother is now the restaurant’s highly skilled chef. On La Brezza Ristorante’s compact menu you’ll find a range of starters, mains and desserts, including a popular choice, the linguine Mediterranean, served with jumbo prawns in a herb and garlic rose sauce and garnished with fresh asparagus.

Model Milk

Bar, Restaurant, Thai, Canadian, Vegetarian, $$$
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Situated on Calgary’s trendy uptown 17th Avenue, Model Milk sits inside a former dairy building – the first to use trucks to move milk across Alberta. The building’s history is palpable in the restaurant, with a prominent white cow’s head suspended artfully over its entrance, and a cozy lounge, once used as a milkshake and ice-cream bar. The menu is revised every few weeks to ensure the best local and regional products are incorporated. Favorites include Nashville hot chicken served with buttermilk fried bread, dill pickles and wedge salad.

Calcutta Cricket Club

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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.

NOtaBLE – The Restaurant

Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
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The perfect resting place for passionate foodies, Calgary’s NOtaBLE restaurant serves a range of delectable dishes that exemplify the chef’s zest for superlative victuals. The masterminds behind this popular eatery, tasked with rustling up NOtaBLE’s celestial fare, work hard to include the best seasonal ingredients when crafting their menus. The mussels and frites on the dinner menu come highly recommended, served in a Thai red curry broth with cilantro, fries and grilled focaccia. Make sure you call in advance to secure a table.

Bread and Circus

Restaurant, Italian
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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.

Bridgette Bar

Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
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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.

Q Haute Cuisine

Restaurant, French, $$$
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Stimulate your taste buds in the relaxing environment of Calgary’s Q Haute Cuisine restaurant on the banks of the Bow River, a popular spot with food lovers. Try the chef’s tasting menu, where Q Haute Cuisine’s mouth-watering offerings 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.

Ten Foot Henry

Restaurant, Canadian
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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.

River Café

Cafe, Restaurant, Bar, Seafood, Canadian, $$$
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River Café’s expansive menu of delectable Canadian cuisine is complemented 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 decor 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 with its panoramic vistas of the park. For diners with a penchant for the outdoors, with 24 hours’ notice the restaurant can even rustle up picnic baskets.

Pigeonhole

Wine Bar, Snack Bar, Wine, Snacks, $$$
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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.

Teatro

Restaurant, Italian, Mediterranean, $$$
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Teatro is a central feature of Calgary’s fine dining and specializes in 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 spot 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 pasta. Tables in this elegant modern bistro can be reserved online.

Native Tongues Taqueria

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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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.

These recommendations were updated on September 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.