Best bars in Calgary: 40 exceptional places to drink

May 16 2023, 4:00 pm

Looking for the best places to drink in Calgary?

It can be difficult, not because there are so few but because there are so many.

The Calgary restaurant scene is in a fantastic place right now, but sometimes you just want a great bar that maybe also has some great eats. So depending on what you’re looking for, there will be incredible options. You just need to know where to look.

That’s where we come in to help.

We’ve compiled a thorough list of the best drinking spots in town, whether you’re looking for a cheap beer, tapas, and cocktails, a fancy wine list, a green new date idea, and everything in between.

These are our picks for the best places to drink in Calgary.

Award-Winning: Proof


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

One of the best bars in Calgary is also one of the best in Canada.

The dimly lit cocktail bar has comfortable bar seating with chairs and sofa booths in the bar, as well as lamps and wooden bar ladders that make the entire space feel cozy.

Proof maintains classic cocktail culture while remaining dedicated to old-fashioned service and has the awards to prove it. When you’re looking for the best places to drink in Calgary, this should be one of the first places you think of.

Address: 1302 1st Street SW, Calgary


City Icon: The Ship and Anchor

This low-key 17th Avenue watering hole brings Calgarians daily specials, a laid-back atmosphere, and a lineup of excellent rotating taps for those who want to try craft beers.

This is an iconic spot and ideal before a hockey game or in the middle of a 17th pub crawl.

Address: 534 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Busy Sports Bar: Home and Away

This is a premier place for pre-game and post-game Flames action if you’re lucky enough to have tickets and one of the best places to watch the hockey game if you don’t.

The sports and games are fantastic, but it’s the food that brings people back for every event. The menu features sporty comfort fare with fun twists, including inventive tacos, burgers, pizzas, hot dogs, mac and cheese, and so much more. It gets pretty wild in here on weekend nights too for a completely different vibe.

Address: 1207 1st Street SW, Calgary


Comfortable Dive: Leopold’s Tavern


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

This is a classic dive-style bar with walls covered in pictures and knick-knacks and an amazing comfort food menu.

Some of the other food items that are on the menu include Baja tacos, a buffalo chicken chop salad, a cajun chicken caesar wrap, pierogis, and garlic bread bombs, which are pull-apart knots topped with mozzarella, garlic butter, herbs, and choice of dip.

Leopold’s also has one of the best selections of interesting wing flavours you’ll see anywhere else.

Grab a beer here for a reliably fantastic bar meal.

Address: Various locations


Spooky Speakeasy: Shelter Cocktail Bar


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

Shelter combines pre-Prohibition-style cocktails with cutting-edge, modern mixing technology to create a seasonally rotating cocktail list.

The 1st Street SW hideaway also offers an extensive selection of wines and spirits and sharing plates combining both local ingredients and international flavours. The cocktail bar is home to several very Instagrammable design elements, including an artfully arranged wall of gas masks and a light fixture that has over 5,000 individually hung bulbs.

Address: 1210 1st Street SW, Calgary


Fun and Games: Greta Bar

Besides being constantly packed on the weekends and comfortably busy during the week, this is a bar with a party basement and state-of-the-art virtual video games.

The menu offers patrons a global selection of street food from around the world including countries like the US, Jamaica, Greece, and Brazil to name a few.

Address: 213 10th Avenue SW, Calgary


One Wild Party: One Night Stan’s Bar Room and Divery

Known for wild party nights (and being 17th Avenue’s first dog-friendly patio), the interior gives off throwback vibes with coloured plastic lights, neon signs, and an old-school wooden bar complete with a couple of TVs. This is one of the best places to drink in Calgary when you’re looking for a good time.

Address: 520 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Classy and Intimate: Frenchie Wine Bar


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

This little back wine bar has close to 15 wines by the glass, from refreshing sparkling to bold reds. Grab a bottle and stay a while, with wine from all over the world and priced so that you can sip on a budget and go for some higher-end options.

In addition to wines, this wouldn’t be much of a speakeasy-style spot without an amazing cocktail list. There are no massive garnishes or gimmicky ingredients here, just well-crafted original cocktails that taste amazing, especially with the food (like cheese fondues).

If you’re looking for a private corner or a first date spot then this is one of the best places to drink in Calgary.

Address: 616 17th Avenue SW, Calgary (behind Una Pizza)


Tiki-Inspired: Ricardo’s Hideaway


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

This trendy tiki bar is a part of the Concorde Entertainment Group, which has started some of Calgary’s best restaurants, such as Major Tom, Lonely Mouth, and Surfy Surfy.

Located at 1530 5th Street SW, Ricardo’s Hideaway combines the best parts of Cuba and the Caribbean with just a touch of the South Pacific to create an exotic paradise.

Address: 1530 5th Street SW, Calgary


Calgary Staple Taproom: National

The popular bar, known for its great beer selection and tasty pub-style food menu, has become a staple in Calgary.

Each spot feels a little different while also staying the same, with amazing burgers, salads, sandwiches, bowls, and more, which turns into a bit of a party throughout the week.

Address: Various locations


Wild Cocktails: Cleaver

Cleaver on 17th Avenue has an extensive meat-centric food menu and a list of original cocktails with some wild garnishes. Smoke bubbles and Caesars topped with a fried chicken drum and wing, jalapeno waffle, beef slider, house bacon, tomato fennel ketchup, and a tempura corn dog are just a couple of examples.

Address: 524 17th Avenue SW Unit 102, Calgary


Low Key Vibes: Missy’s This That

This enticing bar is a small and intimate one, with low lighting, simple decor, and comfortable seating. If it wasn’t for the large windows overlooking the Mission and Beltline area, you might think you’re in a Brooklyn bar.

Offering a simple but excellent menu of beer, wine, late-night-style snacks, and cocktails, this is a low-key spot that’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking hard enough. That’s part of the charm.

Address: 348A 14th Avenue SW, Calgary


Hipster Spot: Cannibale Bar

Attached to a barber shop (so hip), Cannibale’s food menu consists of chipotle spareribs, pork carnitas nachos, Yucatan chicken tacos, and more. There is a wide selection of beer, cider, and wine but it’s also the cocktails you’ll fall for at this tucked-away spot in Calgary’s Bridgeland neighbourhood.

Address: 813 1st Avenue NE, Calgary


Arcade-Style: PinBar

Located on the corner of two amazing food streets (4th Street and 17th Avenue) is PinBar.

This is a pinball arcade that’s also a sandwich shop and a fun bar with an entire wall dedicated to the classic machines.

Address: 501 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Irish Pub: Joyce on 4th

Joyce is that classic spot that’s often very hard to find. It’s consistently full but there always happens to be a table for you. Sports and live music are regular events here, and with tins of TVs and a massive pub menu of delicious food, this is a great spot to post up for a few hours.

Address: 506 24th Avenue SW, Calgary


Bar… in a House: Civic Tavern

Civic Tavern has a vibe unlike anything else in Calgary. It’s truly a house party here. Sure, other places might be built inside renovated homes, but this space still feels like it and welcomes you in the same way. You can even grab your beer and sit outside the front door on the porch or on the window sill.

There are often events here, but the craft beer and housemade pizzas are always enough reason to go.

Address: 213 12th Avenue SW, Calgary


Italian Food Hub: Fleetwood Lounge


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

The modern vintage décor of the space here is inspired by the fashion and style of the 1930s brought into the modern era. The best example isn’t just the velvet chairs or barter lamps but the rare 1933 Cadillac Fleetwood that sits on display.

This throwback bar is a great place to sip on a martini, shaken or stirred.

Polenta fries fondue dip, jumbo green tiger prawns, grilled lamb lollipops, and poutine with pulled duck confit, taleggio cheese, cranberry mustard, and duck jus are just a few of the menu items here.

Address: 524 10th Avenue SW, Calgary


Three Story Bar: The Unicorn

The Unicorn on Stephen Avenue is actually three floors, each with its own vibe and concept.

Besides a fun bar, The Unicorn also has Suicide Wings level four chicken wings in case you want to try maybe the spiciest wings in the city.

Address: 223 8th Avenue SW, Calgary


Tropical and Instagrammable: Porch

Porch is a bright and airy space that pays tribute to the exciting porches found in Miami. The venue offers an “oasis escape from the hecticness of the every day,” and it’s also a great place to grab Instagram content.

Address: 730 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Back Alley Entrance: Business and Pleasure


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

Located in the Inglewood community, this low-key but very hip cocktail bar has an alleyway entrance, tasty snacks, and incredible drinks.

For drinks, cocktails are where it’s at here, even though there is a great wine and beer list. We suggest going for the floral and bright Marigold mixed with vodka, black raspberry liqueur, crème de cassis, fresh lemon juice, b&p schisandra berry soda, and rose bitters.

Even though it’s slightly speakeasy-style, the atmosphere here is still a welcoming one. It’s a neighbourhood spot that has friendly service and a surprisingly great food menu.

Address: 1327a 9th Avenue SE, Calgary


New Underground Spot: Pricket Richard

Located underneath the extremely popular corner BBQ spot Comery Block, this low-key but very hip space doesn’t advertise itself at all, hidden to the side of the building, behind a plain door, and in the old storage space. You even have to avoid the kitchen to get there.

Each dish feels elevated and modern, comforting, and playful, which is exactly how you want a speakeasy-style kitchen and bar to operate. For drinks, like any secret basement spot in the underbelly of a restaurant, the cocktails are where it’s at.

Address: Underneath Comery Block – 638 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Boas and Cocktails: Sensei Bar


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

This intimate but fun concept serves up a selection of variations on traditional Korean and Taiwanese eats. In addition to some top-notch eats, Sensei Bar offers a list of inspired cocktails, beer, sake, and more.

It’s definitely one of the coolest food spots in YYC, but definitely one of the best places to drink in Calgary as well.

Address: 1520 14th Street SW, Calgary


Excellent Shareables: Rain Dog Bar

Calling itself a “wine bar, for those who prefer craft beer,” Rain Dog aims to pour amazing craft beers and perfectly pair the right food with it, like well-crafted cheese plates and other finger foods.

Address: 1214 9th Avenue SE, Calgary


Margs, Beer, and Tequila: Anejo

Anejo is known for having some of the best margaritas in Calgary and the best tacos, all enjoyed in a room decorated with sugar skulls, flags, pottery, and more, making it feel like you’re in a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint.

The inspired menu here is made up of authentic dishes cooked with contemporary flavours. Anejo is one of the best places to drink in Calgary, especially if you love margs.

Address: 111 Banff Avenue, Banff


Neighbourhood Watering Hole: St. James Corner

Sometimes you just need a classic pub. There are a lot of places TRYING to be a classic pub, but to succeed you need the right ambience, no frills, solid food, cold beer, and quality deals. Luckily, right in the heart of YYC, is St. James Corner.

Address: 1219 1st Street SW, Calgary


IYKYK: Betty Lou’s Library

When you wander around 16th Avenue SW, keep your eye out for a glowing red lamp. It’s subtle, it’s red as a rose, and it is the entrance to this unique American Prohibition-style speakeasy.

You’ll then find an old 1920s telephone, pick it up and a librarian will ask you for the password. You will then be escorted past the red velvet rope and behind the hidden door. Here you’ll find sultry burlesque shows and vibrating jazz performances.

Sip on Esther Jones or Zelda Fitzgerald and let Betty Lou’s Library do the rest.

Address: The Devenish Building — 908 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


A Classic Choice: Bottlescrew Bill’s Pub

The space was always been a place to enjoy a few beers and bites, but after the pandemic forced the team here to rethink how it operated, it recently reinvented itself as a brewery with its own beers.

Address: 140 10th Avenue SW, Calgary


Rustic-Chic: Model Milk

Located on Calgary’s famed 17th Avenue, Model Milk has a rustic-chic vibe featuring fun and inventive dishes like mortadella and cheddar donuts, fried buffalo sweetbreads, and apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust.

This restaurant has a reputation for being a celebrity hot spot, and it also has one for being one of the best places to drink in Calgary.

Address: 308 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Sky High Glam: Major Tom


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Major Tom (@themajortombar)

Major Tom’s menu boasts a pretty fantastic-looking beef program along with a selection of hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, veggie dishes, pasta, and desserts.

It may be more of a restaurant than a bar, but if you choose to sit at the wood, it feels like one of the best in the city.

Address: 40th floor of Stephen Avenue Place — 700 2nd Street SW, Calgary


Tropical Speakeasy: Paper Lantern


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

The Vietnamese-inspired cocktail bar is located in YYC’s Chinatown, a true speakeasy in a tropical environment serving salty snacks and delicious drinks. It’s one of the best places to eat in Calgary, even though it’s known for cocktails.

Address: 115 2nd Avenue SE Basement, Calgary


Mexican Street: Native Tongues

Native Tongues Taqueria is dedicated to the traditional methods of Mexican cuisine, with a focus on Central Mexico, Aztec, and Mayan periods. Tacos Al Carbon are made in-house from scratch on an open-fire grill, crafting extraordinary flavours.

Address: 235 12th Avenue SW, Calgary


Cozy Cocktails: Pigeonhole

Pigeonhole is a genre-bending restaurant that is a spot you can order caviar for hundreds of dollars, a hot dog, and plenty in between. It feels like a bar too, especially if you sit at the wood or order any of the house-created drinks.

Address: 306 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Romantic Pizza Spot: Una

A Calgary institution, Una Pizza is known for its signature thin-crust pizzas, salads, sides, and uniquely vibrant (and romantic) dining rooms. The 17th Avenue location is small and intimate with a long bar top, giving it a deserved spot on this list.

Address: Various locations


Chef-Driven: Bridgette Bar

This “chef-driven” bar concept in Calgary’s Design District was built inside a former furniture shop. Bridgette Bar will boast a rustic-chic mid-century vibe, complete with exposed beam ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and open-flame cooking.

There are two levels here, and the bottom floor has a seated bar, standing bar, and cozy places to sit and people watch.

Address: 739 10th Avenue SW, Calgary


Elevated Pub Food: Free House

One of the coolest spots in the city, this menu feels like a fine dining chef decided to chase their passion of running a pub. It also has one of the coolest rooftop and street patios in the summer.

Address: 1153 Kensington Crescent NW, Calgary


Hawaiian-Themed: Lulu Bar


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

Surfboards on the walls, plants in the corners, and hanging lantern-style lights are a few touches that perfectly complement the Asian fusion food and cocktail menu at Lulu Bar.

Address: 510 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Japanese Sake Bar: Lonely Mouth


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

The room is beautiful, the sake list is likely the best in the city, and the food is inventive and delicious. Lonely Mouth has outstanding cocktails, a rare whiskey highball system, and one of the best happy hours in the city.

Address: 528 17th Avenue SW, Calgary


Homemade Italian: DOP


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

This intimate Italian joint has superb antipasti options, pasta made in-house, family meatballs, and massive veal chops, but it’s the enormous raviolo that’s the most eye-catching.

Like Una or Frenchie, it’s a long room with a vibrancy because even when it’s packed it feels like you’re always close to everyone. It’s probably the best Italian, but it happens to also be one of the best places to drink in Calgary.

Address: 1005A 1st Street SW, Calgary


So Many Choices: First Street Market

Located at 1327 1st Street SW, the foodie destination is an incredible food hall in YYC, offering top options for all kinds of different cuisines.

There’s also a bar, a patio, two huge TVs, and a sunroof that allows for natural light to pour in. It’s one of the most beautiful spaces in the city and it feels effortlessly casual. It’s always the right amount of busy here which makes it easily one of the best places to drink in Calgary.

Address: 1327 1st Street SW, Calgary


Hidden Retro: Side Hustle

The concept for the aesthetic space, filled with couches and a shagadelic carpet, is retro mid-century modern vibes with a food menu made up of comfort dishes turned up a few notches.

Address: 2252 33rd Avenue SW Unit 101, Calgary


Want to stay in the loop with more Daily Hive content and News in your area? Check out all of our Newsletters here.
Buzz Connected Media Inc. #400 – 1008 Homer Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2X1 [email protected] View Rules
Hogan ShortHogan Short

+ Dished
+ Booze
+ Restaurants & Bars
+ Best of