Finding the best restaurants in YYC is one thing, but looking for the best Calgary restaurant food dishes? That’s a tough task.
Thankfully, we’ve tried out so many of the best food spots in the city and have been taking notes on which food dishes we crave more than others, recommend to visitors the most, and absolutely have to order every time we stop by.
Whether it’s a dish that’s been around for decades or was a dish that was only around for a few months in 2023, there were many that could have made this mid-year list.
Here are our top picks for the best Calgary restaurant food dishes of the year (so far).
Ten Foot Henry
We have to include one dessert and it should have been a difficult decision. After all, basically every single food spot is going to have at least a few desserts.
There are many restaurants where dessert can’t be ignored, but at Ten Foot Henry, it’s often what brings us through the door. And we aren’t even talking about the (almost) equally adored coconut cake. For us, it’s the Butterscotch Pudding.
It’s served in a large glass dish with a thin, toffee-like top, and a creamy and wonderfully rich butterscotch ocean of pudding underneath. Crumbled on top is a generous portion of crunchy sponge toffee. The taste, the textures… the fact that it might be even better when you task it home and freeze it?
This is definitely our favourite dessert in Calgary this year.
Calcutta Cricket Club
This dish, like all at Calcutta Cricket Club, was made entirely from scratch to order, building each unique flavour and spice on top of the next to create an intense bowl of comfort flavours.
Basically, the entire menu here could have been included, so we couldn’t leave the papri chaat off this list because it really was one of the best Calgary restaurant food dishes.
The chaat is spiced potatoes topped with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and mint chutneys, and fresh root vegetables. It is a symphony of flavours and textures.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs AND Northern Divine Caviar
It might be cheating a little bit to include two dishes in one, but we had to do it because the caviar and hot dogs are exactly why we love Pigeonhole restaurant so much.
Here, you can wear a vintage music T-shirt or a dress. You can wear heels or white runners. You can come in for perfectly shaken Vesper martinis, or a few cold beers. At Pigeonhole, you can come for the hot dogs and you can also come for the caviar.
There are two Nathan’s Famous hot dogs here: either a Chicago-style dog with relish, ketchup, and mustard or a dog topped with cheddar cream and pickled jalapeño. Ah, the perfect balance. The 30 grams of caviar is served with creme fraiche and Lay’s potato chips. Why Lay’s, and not some wafer-thin house-made baguette with olive oil and cracked pepper? Because Lay’s are great, and Pigeonhole knows that.
Dining here is as fun, serious, classy, or casual as you want it to be, and these two dishes on the same menu prove that.
Calgary Momo House
This family-owned spot makes authentic Nepalese dishes from scratch in the back, including these amazing momos.
Each version of these Nepalese dumplings is vibrant, fragrant, and colourful, and comes with a story of where the inspiration comes from if you’re interested in asking.
You can have them wok-fried in chili with assorted vegetables, tandoori-style, fried, in soup, steamed, and more. As for the filling, you can choose from goat, chicken, paneer, or vegetable.
Each dumpling is packed with filling, covered in different sauces, had different textures from the various cooking methods, and generally felt entirely different from one option to the next.
If you want crispy, juicy, spicy, or sweet, you’re covered. These aren’t just delicious and visually striking, but a fantastic price value for the large amount you get with each order. If you like dim sum, gyoza, perogies, samosas, or any other type of dumpling-like food, then you need to try momos.
Boneless Fried Chicken
The concept here specializes in Korean-influenced cuisine but in bold and exciting ways. There are pizzas, snacks, and more here, but the Korean fried chicken is a must-have.
The fried chicken is perfectly cooked every time, with four flavours to choose from: Korean chilli glaze, honey garlic butter, jalapeno soy, and spicy buldak (dragon’s breath). We recommend grabbing them all, and a few dips like the lemon dill ranch dip.
Overlooking the city from the 40th floor, Major Tom is one of Calgary’s most chic and impressive restaurants.
Since it opened its doors back in July of 2021, reservations to get in and try the award-winning global fare and craft cocktails that are served in a stylish space have been hard to come by. So why has this restaurant that’s not even a year old yet made such an impact on the dining scene here in Calgary? It’s already landed on lists like Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants and Air Canada’s Best New Restaurants.
We think it’s the hors d’eouvres that are the most popular and talked about here. All of them are worth getting, but the one item we keep hearing about and ordering is the potato donuts.
These savoury items are made with fresh cheese, aged balsamic, and freshly cracked pepper.
D.O.P. is a destination spot for the experience just as much as it is for the food.
Part of that experience is the intimate room, friendly staff, and sharing of Italian dishes with friends. Sure, this restaurant that landed the number three spot on Canada’s 20 Best New Restaurant list has a massive raviolo that we could have chosen here, but it’s the family-style Italian food we keep craving.
That’s why we chose all of the small snacks from the entire Antipasti menu.
Bowls of Calabrian spicy sausage spread, whipped ricotta, pickled green tomatoes, burrata, anchovies, and balsamic marinated eggplant should cover the table for every visit. All of it is there to be casually picked at, enjoyed with high-quality olive oil and freshly grilled bread.
Bluefin Tuna Tartare
Steak tartare seems like it gets all the fun, while tuna tartare is always the same. Not here.
This modern Japanese restaurant has made a layered stack with avocado on the bottom, seasoned bluefin tuna in the middle, and a foamy miso emulsion smothering the entire thing. It’s served with udon crackers which are light, salty, and crispy and pair perfectly with the dish.
Actually Pretty Good
The pizzas at Actually Pretty Good are actually pretty great (sorry), and that especially applies to the Capriciossa made with smoked chili ham, olives, artichokes, semi-sundried tomatoes, and fior di latte. The crust is perfectly light and flaky, a wonderful balance between New York and Neapolitan-style pizza.
We have to recommend two things that make this pizza even better, and that’s a side of the housemate jalapeño ranch dip for the crusts and Eastern Slopes hot honey to drizzle all over.
Pho Grilled Cheese
It’s very tough to pick just one favourite from Mot To, especially since it made Air Canada’s longlist for the best new restaurants in the country for 2022.
Mot To is a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant featuring a menu made up of classic dishes with modern twists, like this pho-dipped grilled cheese.
This ingenious creation that improves on the classic comfort sandwich is made with cheese, but also beef, caramelized onions, basil, and a shot of pho broth for dipping.
This seafood lasagna has been on the menu for over 25 years, making it one of the most iconic dishes in the entire city.
Layered between fresh sheets of pasta on this one-of-a-kind lasagna dish are fresh lobster, scallops, and prawns. The seafood provides a decadently rich taste to the dish that’s typically made with ground beef instead. It’s a tasty twist and one that feels like it should have created hundreds of imitations. It hasn’t yet, but that’s likely because Teatro has simply set the bar too high with this one.
This ramen spot is so good that it only sells a limited number of bowls each day, so make sure you get it before it’s gone. If you miss out, Shiki Menya also has ramen kits at the First Avenue Corner Store located behind their restaurant.
The lines get extremely long and that’s just because this is one of the top choices for the best ramen in Calgary.
When we’re lucky enough to find a seat here, we always go for a bowl of Kara Miso. It’s made with negi, tamago, corn, menma, char sui, chili oil, and housemate noodles.
There is a black and garlic option, and both are fantastic. The back has black garlic, black noodles, and butter, while the garlic option contains a red garlic bomb to stir into the broth.
Calgary is a city for steak lovers, and there are many places we could have chosen, but we had to go with this impressive Fiorentina-style rib steak, served on a massive slab with arugula, grey sea salt, lemon, and high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
House-Made Potato Buns
These iconic potato buns are an absolute must-order.
The buns are essentially a small loaf of house-baked bread, served wonderfully warm, salted, covered in a honey glaze, and served with whipped butter. It’s delicious but also pull-apart, which makes it fun to share with the table and get your hands involved.
One of the best veggie dishes in YYC, this one is an interesting twist on the classic broccoli and cheddar.
This one is fried cauliflower with a base of whipped pimento cheese underneath. Don’t sleep on it.
Address: 1002 9th Street SW, Calgary