Lulu Bar, a relatively new chef-driven concept in the heart of Calgary’s 17th Avenue, just made a very exclusive list.
The restaurant and bar, which opened in 2019, snagged the 82nd spot on Canada’s Best Restaurants list for 2022.
“It’s an absolute honour to be a part of this list,” Amy Campbell, the general manager of Lulu Bar, told Dished in an email. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team that we have built and everything that we’ve all accomplished together.”
“This achievement also wouldn’t be possible without the support of our guests, who are constantly reminding us why we love what we do,” Campbell added.
The street patio, which can be covered in the rain and the winter, is the perfect place to people-watch. You can’t miss it either because the energy is pouring out of the room as you walk by.
The patio wraps around the entire side of the building, which can have about 20 more people and feels more like a tucked-away street food spot in some Honolulu alleyway.
The fully stocked bar where bartenders are busy pouring and shaking tiki-style cocktails stands in the middle, while the other side has the rest of the dining room. The mid-century modern dining room is stunning, with a warm mixture of West Coast and Polynesian accents.
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Surfboards on the walls, plants in the corners, and hanging lantern-style lights are a few touches that perfectly compliment the Asian fusion food and cocktail menu at Lulu Bar.
The beer list is long, the cocktails are outstanding, and the tiki cocktails are an absolute must.
Each one comes in an eye-popping glass, like a waving cat or a tiki statue.
We tried a few drinks, like the Bobcat, made with flavours of peach, orange, ginger, coconut, lemon, and your choice of bourbon or vodka. There was also the Mai Tai which came with crushed ice and a flaming wedge, and the King Kona, a coffee drink made with coconut rum, coffee rum, vodka, cold brew, coconut cream, chocolate, honey, and bitters.
There’s plenty more with twists on classic recipes, like the rooter daiquiri, or massive cocktails perfect for a group, like the $75 Moscow Mule with 12 oz of booze.
There are quite a few snacks on the menu that get things going right away, only taking a few minutes to leave the kitchen.
The food is mainly Pan-Pacific cuisine with inspirations from countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Hawaii, and even California.
We tried the popcorn, spiced with sambal and lime vinegar powder, and the steamed edamame with toasted sesame and a wasabi dressing.
The appetizers came out and they were so playful it was easy to forget we were in a top 100 restaurant in Canada… until we took the first few bites.
The fried coconut squid is a must-order and possibly the most popular and talked about dish on the menu. This crispy calamari-style dish comes with pineapple, pickled jalapeno, crispy garlic, and coriander on the plate for a perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
There are five different skewers to try, from house spam to beef tongue. We suggest ordering a few for the table. We had the grilled chicken satay covered in a chili peanut sauce and grilled lime for some acidity.
We also tried one of the tastiest (and most Instagrammable) menu items: the hot dog bao. This fusion starter is exactly what it sounds like, topped with a char siu pork weiner, pickled mustard greens, banana ketchup, and peanuts for that needed crunch.
Choosing our mains was the hardest part. We went with the halibut because not only was it cooked over roasted coals, but the flavours of turmeric, coconut, hot & sour, and stir-fried tatsoi sounded too good to pass on. It even comes with a charred brioche perfect for soaking up the creamy sauce.
We also ordered the BBQ roasted duck with braised leg meat, pickled vegetables, lettuce, and a couple of sauces to fold into turmeric crepes to make wraps at the table.
Every single dish we had didn’t just taste, unlike anything we’d ever tried in YYC before but was fun to eat.
So what’s next for a new restaurant that makes it onto such a prestigious list so early? For Campbell and her team here, it’s to always continue to strive to grow and improve on what they did before.
“Expanding our knowledge and creativity and continuing to provide our guests with an exceptional experience,” said Campbell.
“We will always try to innovate our menu, offering new seasonal food and beverage selections to our customers.”
Lulu Bar feels like a culinary discovery and one we can’t wait to embark on again.
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Address: 510 17th Avenue SW, Calgary