If you are looking for a place to eat in Calgary, you’ve got a wide array of options, like Italian, Thai, Mexican, modern comfort food, and vegetarian cuisine. The city’s restaurant scene continues to evolve and take fun and creative turns that result in memorable meals from spots that range from high end to homey hole-in-the-wall. For anyone that wants to narrow down their must-eat list, here are the best restaurants in Calgary, in no particular order.
The humble sandwich isn’t so humble anymore at Alumni Sandwiches. The casual space is friendly and inviting and there are always around 10 sandwich options available, so whether you’re a vegetarian, meat eater, picky eater, or primed for a hearty meal, something on the menu is sure to entice. Sandwiches don’t come with sides but they are plenty filling on their own. Should you be in the mood, several tasty sides, salads, and snacks are also on offer. Sandwich options range from roasted turkey and brie to hot chicken to Mexican tortas.
Workshop Kitchen + Culture
You’ll find Workshop Kitchen + Culture inside one of western Canada’s oldest theaters. Opened in 2014, the sleek space serves some seriously creative plates that are both comforting and lovely to look at. Diners can expect contemporary Canadian cuisine with an emphasis on technique and the use of local, seasonal ingredients. In addition to the concise menu of sharable plates and main courses, diners can opt for the three or five course tasting menus to really experience the creativity that comes out of the kitchen.
Opened in April of 2019 in the former home of Local 510, Lulu Bar quickly developed a following for their lively dishes and drinks inspired by the regions around the Pacific, from Asia to British Columbia. The menu here consists of bar snacks and sharing plates—think fun items like hot dog bao, house spam skewers, steamed lobster dumplings, and salt and pepper pork belly. Pair your plates (whether sharing or not) with a tiki drink. The drink list also includes a variety of craft beer, wines, and sake. The space is warm and inviting and they even have year-round patio seating with garage-style doors facing 17th Avenue, perfect for people watching.
Foreign Concept is the brainchild of award-winning chef Duncan Ly and chef de cuisine Hyungjae Lim. Serving modern Pan-Asian cuisine, the dishes take their inspiration from Ly’s Vietnamese roots and Lim’s Korean background. Needless to say, bold flavors abound at Foreign Concept. There are small plates like butternut squash and green mango slaw, or larger mains like lemongrass glazed half duck with cucumber, tamarind hoisin, or Chinese crepes. No matter what you order, dishes always highlight sustainable, seasonal and local ingredients
Make your way to the heart of Calgary’s Design District and snap up a table at Bridgette Bar. Mid-century modern decor sets the aesthetic tone, which is stylish without being at all stuffy. It doesn’t hurt that the space gets plenty of natural light and is further brightened by an abundance of hanging plants. When it comes to the food, the menu takes full advantage of a large wood-burning grill and oven and features a lot of sharable plates (heavy on the veggies) as well as grilled meats and fish, pasta, and excellent pizzas. The busy kitchen is open to the main dining area so you can watch your food being carefully sauced and plated while you wait.
Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant
If it's fine dining you’re looking for, Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant is one of your best bets in Calgary. The food consistently excellent and the setting (a historical landmark in Fish Creek Provincial Park) is equally impressive. Only a short drive from Calgary's downtown, Bow Valley puts the culinary spotlight on Canadian produce and proteins, from Rocky Mountain game meats to seasonal vegetables harvested at their peak. When it comes to those aforementioned veggies, a lot of them are sourced directly from the on-site vegetable and herb garden, which is maintained by the chefs.
Bring the whole family for a meal at cozy Annabelle’s Kitchen to enjoy uncomplicated Italian fare that’s been elevated beyond the basics for dishes that taste as good as they look. Choose from a shortlist of pastas, pizzas, and antipasti along with a kids’ menu and a couple of desserts. But rather than a simple plate of noodles and red sauce, you might get delicate linguine served with green beans, new potatoes, fresh herb pistou, and ricotta salata. Or maybe a kale campanelle with cherry tomato compote, olives, fresh basil, and olive oil. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. They also sell “take and bake" kits for things like vegetable lasagna or four-cheese mac and cheese to enjoy at home.
Comery Block Barbecue
West-Tennessee barbecue and bourbon are the name of the game at Comery Block Barbecue, where meats are smoked between 10 and 14 hours an intense depth of flavor and incredible tenderness. The bustling space also boasts a whiskey list of about 150 options. Choose from pulled pork, turkey, pork ribs, brisket, and chicken along with sides like collard greens, yam casserole, grits, and potato salad. House-made sauces (which you won’t want to skimp on) are served at the table.
Una Pizza + Wine
If you ever find yourself in the mood for pizza while in Calgary, Una Pizza + Wine should be on your shortlist. The restaurant serves California-style thin-crust pizza along with dishes inspired by Mediterranean flavors. In terms of what you can expect of your pie, each one is cooked on stone deck ovens which create a pizza that is crispy on the bottom and chewy in the middle. Start with the kale caesar salad or crispy arancini and then choose from a variety of pizzas (including a vegan option). Should you find yourself with a wait for a table, Frenchie Wine Bar is located right behind UNA pizza + wine and a nice spot to pass the time until you get your table..
Purlieu (which means “the area near or surrounding a place”) is a neighborhood restaurant in the Oakridge Calgary community. Billing itself as a modern bistro, the menu features small plates for sharing as well as a few pasta options and larger mains if you’re not in the mood to share. To start, you might opt for some salt and pepper calamari or chicken dumplings. While a larger meal might mean tucking into duck confit mac and cheese or a hearty house burger served with addictively crispy fries. No matter what you get, local and seasonal ingredients are used whenever possible. And though this spot is located in a suburban strip mall, you’d never know it based on the high quality of food on offer.
The Allium is a vegetarian restaurant operating as a worker cooperative, but you won’t be getting any faux chicken or soy patties here. Instead, the restaurant opts to create its immensely flavourful dishes using local and seasonal vegetables, seeds, nuts, cheese, herbs, and spices. The intimate space has hanging greenery for a soothing vibe and the menu (which changes seasonally) features small and large plates with flavors spanning the globe. Here, each vegetable (whether a fingerling potato or oyster mushroom) is elevated in a way that shows off its best qualities. Choose from pizzas, cheese breads, dips, salads and more. Don’t miss the Caesar salad, made with whatever greens happen to be in season.
Head to Añejo for your Mexican food fix in Calgary (they also have a location in Toronto). Located in the landmark 4th Street Rose building, the vibrant space is the kind of restaurant you can’t help but have fun and feel good in. Fresh, locally grown ingredients are cooked Mexican style with some contemporary twists, from tacos to chilaquiles and tortas. Guacamole is served tableside and if you’re in the mood for tequila, Añejo boasts a collection of more than 200 (known to be the largest selection in Canada).
Open since 2011, this lively spot serves up modern comfort food from a regularly rotating menu featuring local ingredients. Expect creative plates that are not only fun to eat but delicately prepared for a well-rounded dining experience. At one time the space was a 1930s dairy of the same name and the interior leans into that history with decor that draws from the period. There are even chandeliers made from milk bottles. Menu-wise, it would be a shame to miss out on the Nashville hot chicken for two, but there’s always plenty to please any palate. On some Sunday nights, the restaurant also hosts a Sunday supper, which gets you three courses served family-style.
Calcutta Cricket Club
While you won’t be playing or watching any sports here, Calcutta Cricket Club will put your taste buds on high alert with their Bengali-inspired modern Indian cuisine and extensive cocktail list. The menu consists of small plates that pack a ton of flavor like seared paneer cheese topped with honey and pistachios, along with kati rolls, curries, and more.
Less than a ten-minute drive from downtown, Rouge is an award-winning restaurant set in a historic house in Calgary’s Inglewood neighborhood (which also happens to be the city’s oldest neighborhood). The menu here puts the focus firmly on fresh, seasonal ingredients, highlighting their natural beauty. Many of those ingredients (from greens to herbs to produce) are grown in the on-site garden making the dishes even more special.