It’s always fun to see new visitors to Calgary so surprised at what a fantastic food scene this city in the Prairies has. This fourth most liveable city in the world (a title it earned this year, above both Vancouver and Toronto, who also made the list) is often seen as Canada’s Texas thanks to the oil industry, its cattle trade and its renowned Stampede. And while you can certainly indulge in some of that famous Alberta beef here, there are also plenty of chic hot spots serving up some of the best meals we have ever had—we forced ourselves to narrow it down to just five of our favourites here.
Tacos are always a good idea, but they’re a great idea if you go to Native Tongues Taqueria.
The vibe: A fun and lively atmosphere that’d make a great spot for a second date (that is if you’re confident enough to eat messy tacos with a new crush),
What to order: The carnitas and suadero (with tender beef brisket) tacos are a solid choice but make sure to get something from the tacos al carbon menu, such as the pork belly pibil. These tacos are grilled over charcoal and served family-style, so get those elbows out to make sure you get your share of the dish before your squad devours it all.
Perfectly balanced flavours but without a stuffy fine-dining atmosphere is what you can expect at Pigeonhole.
The vibe: The staff is super knowledgeable about both the food, wine and cocktails so as a foodie, it’s a little bit of a waiting to exhale moment; you just know can relax as you’re in good hands here. The open kitchen and loftiness of the space add to pleasing vibe.
What to order: As many dishes as you can share; not one will disappoint. If you must narrow it down, opt for the seasonal vegetable (the asparagus dish we enjoyed in the spring was resplendent).
Even if you’re not a fan of spice, there’s plenty to love from the menu of contemporary takes on classic Indian dishes at Calcutta Cricket Club.
The vibe: The eclectic look pulled together by artist Maya Gohill—from vintage merry-go-round cheetah mounted on the wall behind the bar to the bamboo chairs and tropical mural—creates a lively space for a fun night out with friends.
What to order: The chilli chicken (a Chinese dish, which is a nod to the large Chinese population in Calcutta) is a sweet and savoury foodie’s dream come true. And ditch your no carbs rule for the night for a kati roll or two; these buttery, flaky flatbreads filled with your choice of tandoor grilled spiced chicken or lamb (or egg or paneer for non-carnivores) will haunt you with cravings afterwards.
With a vegetable-focused menu, Ten Foot Henry will knock the socks off of both plant- and meat-lovers with inventive, flavourful veggie plates along with a handful of top-notch meat and seafood dishes on the menu.
The vibe: The dining room is concealed from street view, but once you enter the restaurant opens up into a modernly simple but airy space featuring rustic wood finishes, clean white walls and doses of fresh greenery.
What to order: the jerk spice cauliflower with root chips and pineapple mayo is unlike any other take on this ultra popular veg you’ve had, and get your greens in the most delectable way with the broccolini with soft egg and bagna cauda.
For when you’re looking for Chinese cuisine but with a modern twist and an experience that’s high on style (sometimes you want more than a plastic tablecloth, right?) set your destination as Two Penny.
The vibe: It’s a sophisticated setting with art deco and Asian influences figuring into the design (think red lanterns and artwork featuring vintage Chinese cigarette cards), perfect both for dim sum with the ‘rents or silly good times with your besties.
What to order: Reluctant to order dishes when dining out you can easily make at home, like fried rice? Ditch that notion because this ain’t your mom’s fried rice. The bone marrow that’s stirred into Two Penny’s special fried rice tableside elevates this dish to rich and magical levels. The ginger beef, made with tender slow-cooked short rib, too, will change this classic dish forever for you.