As we say goodbye to 2016, the fresh calendar means we can resolve to try more of Calgary’s many terrific new (or new-ish) restaurants that are worth checking out.
From low-key casual to more elegant options, here are our picks for 20 must-try Calgary bars and restaurants in 2017.
A recently-opened option for cocktails and eats in an eye-catching space, Bridgette Bar aims to bring its “chef-driven” bar concept to Calgary’s Design District. Look for an expansive dinner menu, bar snacks, and a brunch selection, in addition to beer, wine, and craft cocktails.
Address: 739 10th Avenue SW
Located in the space previously occupied by Janice Beaton’s FARM restaurant, Mabou is a bar with a cheese-centric menu. While there is something old, something new, and even a few things “borrowed” from Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, Mabou in itself represents something new and dear to Beaton’s heart and Cape Breton heritage.
Address: 1006 17th Avenue SW
3. Deane House
Deane House Restaurant in Fort Calgary opened in mid-September after a lengthy renovation, and it has been expertly serving Calgarians modern Canadian cuisine ever since. Forming the menu around the idea of ‘farm, forage, prairie, coast,’ Executive Chef Jamie Harling – formerly of Rouge – knows a thing or two about how to make customers keep coming back for more.
Address: 806 9 Avenue SE
The historic Costigan house has finally been transformed into a local brew pub that will house a full on-site brewery, beer hall, and a retail store. Mill Street Brewery has its own selection of beers, plus some seasonal blends and locally inspired special brews up for grabs. The suds pair with a menu of Canadian comfort classic pub fare.
Address: 219 17th Avenue SW
Serving dinner as well as a bar menu, Foreign Concept spans a range of eats from charcuterie boards to numerous small and large plates representing a broad swatch of Asian flavours and techniques.
Address: 1011 1st Street SW
The former Carino Japanese Bistro has become JJ Ramen Diner, focusing their menu on the namesake dish. With ramen renditions like Spicy Umami Miso, Ebi Shio Wonton Ramen, Spicy Umami Tsukemen, Tonkotsu Gyokai “Umami” Shoyu Ramen, and more, JJ Ramen offers styles like tsukemen (dipping style) and broth options like Shio (“salt”) and Shoyu (“soy sauce”). Side dishes include the trendy raw fish dish, poke.
Address: 709 Edmonton Trail NE
Named as a nod to the United States’ 18th Amendment (the one that signalled the start of the Prohibition era, when booze sales were illegal, and the speakeasy scene was born), Lounge Eighteen is aiming to be Calgary’s chic new cocktail lounge destination. Lounge Eighteen made its debut this fall with a menu of classic cocktails with a twist, as well as an elegant food menu.
Address: 1005 17th Avenue SW
If you haven’t been to Charbar yet, bump this one to the top of your list. In contention for the 2016 Best New Restaurants in Canada list, Charbar’s super-cool Argentinian-inspired fare has been delighting Calgarians since mid-2015. Look for items hot off the wood-fired grill, an expansive raw bar selection, and tapas-style share plates.
Address: 618 Confluence Way SE
With self-serve tables loaded with Asian and Asian fusion fare, including ample and limitless sushi, and, at dinnertime, sashimi, the restaurant is certainly an affordable way to achieve gut busting status: Lunches start at $16.00, with AYCE dine-in dinner days starting at $26.00 It’s the stuff obsessions are made of.
Address: 6715 Macleod Trail SE
Escape your winter blues at this tropical hangout. Ricardo’s offers an impressive rum-focused cocktail menu (with 50 plus rums listed). Craft beers, wines, and a range of new and classic cocktails are also available. In terms of food, Ricardo’s serves up a variety of Latin-inspired dishes, from ceviche to curried goat.
Address: 1530 5th Street SW
Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey is all about Texas-style BBQ, which is done with smokers, and served up communal-style in an inviting hang-out space. If you are looking to get (responsibly) sauced, turn your attention to their impressive list of 150 whiskies from around the globe.
Address: 1136 Kensington Road NW
With its stunning decor and menu of European fare, it’s no wonder Whitehall turned heads when it made its debut in 2015, and was in contention for enRoute Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in Canada selection this year. Chef Neil McCue is in the kitchen, serving up what he calls “honest food that is seriously comfortable.”
Address: 24 4th Street NE
13. Made By Marcus
Known for its creative flavours and premium quality, Made By Marcus products were only available for purchase at selected retail outlets, until summer 2016, when they opened up a brick-and-mortar shop in Calgary’s Lower Mount Royal neighbourhood. Made By Marcus offers an assortment of adventurous ice cream flavours, available by the scoop or in soft serve form. The storefront also boasts a take-away freezer that houses grab-and-go pints and tubs, as well as other sweet treats.
Address: 121 – 1013 17th Avenue SW
14. The Guild
Housed in the iconic Hudson’s Bay building on Stephen Avenue, The Guild (brought to life by restaurant group Oliver & Bonacini–a Canadian leader in fine dining) features the finest traditions of butchery, cookery, and bar-keeping. Focusing on live-fire cooking, The Guild will specialize in local beef, game, and fowl, prepared over mesquite fruitwood and charcoal grills.
Address: 200 8th Avenue SW
15. Wise & Wright
Located in the Core Shopping Centre, Wise & Wright brings health and flavour together in a delicious and nourishing way. Wise & Wright’s menu is diverse and ranges from baked goods (muffins, coconut “no cream” pies, vegan power cookies, chocolate and cashew butter cups, waffles, and the list goes on), to more substantial plates.
Address: 163, 317 7th Avenue SW
16. Ten Foot Henry
Ten Foot Henry offers a range of all-day eating options, family-style dining, fair trade organic coffee, and a solid cocktail list. Locally-based chef Stephen Smee (previously at Ox & Angela and UNA Pizza + Wine) heads the kitchen and has crafted a vegetable anchored menu that focuses on the bold flavours of North American cuisine.
Address: 1209 1st Street SW
Veggie lovers need to check out White Rose Kitchen. The name and the vintage decor takes its cue from the location, which was a White Rose gas station in the 1950s. On the menu are vegetarian dishes, including a majority that are gluten-free. The food showcases fresh, seasonal fare, embracing local and global flavours.
Address: 6512 Bowness Road NW
Cluck ‘n’ Cleaver is a casual spot offering take-out Southern fried and French-style rotisserie chicken. Sister duo Nicole Gomes (of Nicole Gourmet and Top Chef Canada season three) and Francine Gomes are spearheading the fast-concept eatery, where you can pick up delicious chicken, house-made salads, biscuits, and gravy.
Address: 1511 14th Street SW
19. Mango Mania
Mango, mango, mango: You might say Mango Mania is crazy about mangoes. The casual quick-serve and take-out restaurant in Crescent Heights offers fans of mango a haven in YYC thanks to their menu of mango-centred drinks and desserts, as well as a selection of bao buns to nibble on.
Address: 1115 Centre Street NW
20. KLEIN / HARRIS
Officially opening its doors at the end of March 2016, KLEIN / HARRIS celebrates the exceptional bounty that Canada has to offer. Chef James Waters (previously at Home Tasting Room) administers an honest and humble approach to “True North Canadiana Cuisine.”
Address: Main Floor 110 8th Avenue SW
With files from Aadil Fazal, Jess Fleming, Hanna McLean, and Lindsay William-Ross.