Paper Lantern: Inside Calgary's tropical Vietnamese street food speakeasy

May 17 2022, 4:00 pm

Paper Lantern is one of Calgary’s true speakeasies.

It never feels like a gimmick and it never feels like it’s hiding in plain sight.

Paper Lantern is just confident enough in what it offers to know that people will find it eventually, show others, and keep coming back.

This Vietnamese-inspired cocktail bar is located in YYCā€™s Chinatown atĀ 115 2nd Avenue SE. With no signs or directions, it can be slightly difficult finding your way in. Just head down the stairs and poke your head around.

We admit that it may have taken us a few minutes to find a way in, but once we did we were so happy.

You’re immediately transported into a tropical environment that doesn’t feel like you’re in Calgary anymore. The space is open and vibrant but still feels intimate with the darkly lit lighting and massive plants scattered around the floor.

paper lantern

Dished/Daily Hive

The artwork found on all the walls adds to the entire ambience of the underground secret hidden lounge.

paper lantern

Dished/Daily Hive

paper lantern

Dished/Daily Hive

The food and drinks here were incredible and they went so well together.

The small bites for the table alongside crafted cocktails made with house-made syrups couldn’t have made for a better match.

We definitely recommend ordering all of the bar snacks on the menu, because they’re cheap, go great with beer, and will likely offer something you’ve never tried before, like the shrimp crackers or pickled leeks.

We also tried the marinated chicken skewers, prepared with onions two ways, coconut hoisin, and peanuts. You can also grab pork belly or beef versions of the dish.

There is a fresh and a crackling option for spring rolls, and we tried (and loved) both of them. The crackling salmon spring rolls are made with sushi-gradeĀ salmon, prawns, sesame seeds, rice paper, and fish sauce on the side.

paper lantern

Dished/Daily Hive

Of course, all of the tiki-style cocktails were just as good as the food.

Served in glasses with umbrellas, hurricanes, and even pineapple-shaped glassware, it’s an event when the drinks arrive at the table.

After trying a few, the favourite had to be the PL Rum Barrel, made with Rum Blend #2, tropical juices, passionfruit, honey, almond, secret spices, and even absinthe.

But they were all winners.

 

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It’s a fun bar to explore and show people, whether it’s a special someone or a large group.

We have the address, but the rest is up to you.

Good luck and have fun!

Paper Lantern

Address: 115 2nd Avenue SE Basement, Calgary

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