Calgary is rising in the Canadian culinary scene thanks to a generation of inspired restauranteurs and chefs finding innovative ways to carefully integrate local, foraged, and farm-to-table food into their kitchens.
By making a point to showcase delicious greenmarket ingredients, these restaurants offer both locals and visitors alike exceptional local fare, in addition to one of the freshest possible dining experiences.
As a result, no matter where in the city you wander you can expect some truly sensational grub. Here are five top Calgary restaurants (in no particular order) that are definitely worth checking out.
MARKET opened on February 2013 and has since hired two Co-Executive chefs, Alex Edmonson and Sean MacDonald. Alex Edmonson and Sean MacDonald are native Calgarian’s and have lots of international as well as national experience. Together they have raised both local and national attention for their work at Calgary’s MARKET restaurant, where diners are guaranteed a range of enticing homemade, local, seasonal and regional dishes.
Cooking with the freshest of ingredients, Alex Edmonson, Sean MacDonald and their team, constantly prepare beautifully balanced meals. Their fresh ingredient philosophy begins in their kitchen, where they bake their own breads, cure their own meats, do their own butchering, make their own cheese and grow their own herbs, microgreens and select vegetables.
In fact, MARKET grows microgreens and herbs on site in an internal home garden, Calgary’s first commercial urban cultivator.
With such a bounty of fresh produce on hand, MARKET offers a combination of small and large plates, plates that include: wild and cultivated mushrooms; confit duck leg tacos; beef tartare; sweet potato beignets with apple, raisin, hazelnut brittle and rosemary syrup, and smoked pork belly served with pistachio, yam cheddar agnolotti and marsala lacquer.
Address: 718 17th Avenue SW, Calgary
With a fierce dedication to seasonality and product-driven cuisine, Head Chef Justin Leboe and Sous Chef Eric Hendry of Calgary’s Model Milk have developed a menu comprised of inventive local and regional taste sensations.
Indeed, it is the restaurant’s sole mission to source great quality local and regional products, prepare them simply and present them at their best. Diners who visit Model Milk can therefore look forward to fresh, local, quality ingredients on each and every visit.
Dominated by an array of tapas-like offerings, Model Milk’s menu encourages diners to try a variety of flavour-packed dishes. Cured trout, bison tartare, rabbit mordadella salad, and crispy fried duck are among the specialties featured. Dessert is an indulgent affair and entails a slice of the restaurant’s signature ‘fat kid cake’.
Since opening in 2011, Model Milk has been received warmly by both critics and patrons alike, with enRoute Magazine adding it to its list of the ten best new restaurants in Canada.
Address: 308 17th Avenue, Calgary
River Café Restaurant
Having played a huge part in Calgary’s farm-to-fork movement, River Café Restaurant continues to deliver delicious cuisine from ingredients indigenous to the region. Since their opening over 15 years ago, the restaurant has remained connected with local growers and producers and still to this day sources quality local produce, foods grown and raised naturally, and wild foraged ingredients in season and perfectly ripe. They also grow an edible garden on site, producing many herbs, berries and edible flowers during Calgary’s short growing season.
From the kitchen, diners can expect to find a range of appetizing dishes including: Stinging Nettle and barley risotto; Prince Edward Island scollops; milk braised wild boar shoulder and Driview Farms lamb lion, just to name a few.
Address: 25 Prince’s Island Park, Calgary
Blink Restaurant & Bar
Contemporary, locally-inspired food, an extensive wine list and a sophisticated setting is what you can expect when visiting Blink Restaurant and Bar, situated in the heart of downtown Calgary.
Executive Chef Chris Dewling’s menu is all local and features a varied selection of appetizers, mains, desserts, and drinks. Given the restaurant’s concept, it’s not surprising that the menu changes regularly with the seasons and whatever fresh and local ingredients are available.
A sample of Blink’s constantly evolving menu looks like this: grain fed Alberta chicken pot pie; rigatoni pasta with slow cooked Alberta pork; crispy skinned confit of duck with potato gnocchi, and red wine braised short rib of beef with smoked onion & potato terrine.
Address: 111 8 Ave SW, Calgary
East ‘Meats’ West at this lunchtime only ramen shop, located at 827 1st Avenue. Using local pork from local farms with freshly made-in-house ramen noodles, Shiki Menya shows how Calgary’s food scene has evolved to focus its attention on international foods.
Ultra hip and stylish, Shiki Menya offers patrons the choice between classic ramen bowls like: tonkotsu, miso, chili goma, and veggie, as well as a few ‘new school’ varieties in the form of tonkotsu black, kara miso garlic, and goma mazemen. In addition to their ramen bowls, Shiki Menya also offers goza, edamame, and a variety of rice bowls.
Centering on quality over quantity this Japanese noodle eatery, serves up only 150 ramen bowls a day. They open at 11 a.m. and close up shop around 3 p.m. or so depending on when they sell out of this number.
Address: 827 1st Avenue N.E., Calgary