(Calgary) Taste Treats
Calgary restaurants please everyone’s appetites! Read on to discover which ones would suit your taste and which ones would be fun to try as a new experience.
Breakfast: Diner Deluxe || 804 Edmonton Trail NE
There is something about going for breakfast that is relaxing and feels like the world stops for a moment. Diner Deluxe matches that feeling for me. The restaurant is themed as a 1950s diner, taking you into a quieter, calmer time of white picket fences and apple pie, and did I mention that they have good size portions, are creative, and the food is fantastic. Be ready for a line up, and enjoy the time talking with the people in front and behind you about their favourite food inside.
Espresso & Cappuccino: Phil and Sébastien (Farmers’ Market)
There are a lot of pretenders out there in the world of coffee. This is the place to go in Calgary. If there is no line up, that means the market is closed. Seriously, watching coffee lovers take their first sip after waiting inline looks like they are having an out of body experience. Thankfully this coffee house was very clever by opening up shop on the furthest end of the market, making sure that coffee lovers would be safe in a closed environment, far from on coming traffic.
East Indian: Baba Ka Dhaba || D3504 17th Ave SE
The Indian phrase for abra kadabra, and rightly so. The food is authentic and magical to the taste buds. They are not messing around here, this is the real deal. A word of caution, they are catering to a mostly Indian crowd and their spice level is beyond what you may be used to, and worth it.
Fast and Fun: Le Chien Chaud Gourmet Hot Dogs || #3 –2015 4th St. SW
The couple that runs this place takes gourmet hot dogs seriously. The walls are covered with famous people eating hot dogs all over the world. This place has definitely taken the humble hot dog to the land of gourmet. Free range buffalo hot dogs, and many other high-end hot dogs that are dressed up “à la Méditerranéenne”, Mexican and many more.
French: Fleur De Sel || #2, 2015 – 4th St. SW
One of those finds that you tell everyone after you have been once. Quaint, New York Bistro like, that is perfect for a romantic evening.
Italian: Il Centro || 106 -6036 3 St. SW
Is it just me, or is there something about watching the Godfather, Goodfellas and Sopranos that makes me hunger for authentic Italian food? Il Centro does it for me, with their red and white checkered table cloths, that reminds me of the atmosphere of my favourite movies and TV shows, as wells as the perfect Italian pizza.
Mediterranean: Aida’s || 2208 4th St. SW
I have been to Israel a few times and I love Mediterranean flavours, the taste feels like home. Going toAida’s is like going home. I want to go into the kitchen after a meal and give the cook a big hug. Hummus, falafel, lamb kabobs, fish dishes and more.
Pizza by the Slice: Wicked Wedge || 618 17th Ave SW
Whole wheat and soon to be offering gluten free pizza dough with clever, creative high quality ingredients for the carnivore and vegetarian. A great place to have a goodpiece of pizza and look out onto the red mile, which is hockey heaven for Calgarians in the playoffs.
Seafood: Catch || 100 Stephen Ave SE
In 2007 Executive Chef Horen took a young chef under his wing and helped him win the Knorr’s Next Great Chef, and was also crowned National Chef of the year. Calgary is blessed to have this extreme talent. If you want to experience some of the most cutting-edge and best food in North America, at the fraction of the price of top restaurants in New York, and Los Angeles, and without a waiting list of months to get in, go to Catch and eat in the dinning room on the second floor.
Sushi: Hibiki || 6-630 1 Ave NE
The owner and head chef Hashimoto was raised in the world of sushi. His father successfully opened popular sushi restaurants in Japan and then Hawaii, while chef Hashimoto was growing up, and taught him the secret of perfect rice. Hibiki does everything right from the beautiful cuts of fresh fish, which melt in your mouth, friendly staff and reasonably priced meals that allow you to try many delicacies.
Vegetarian: Coup || 924B – 17 Ave SW
When I moved to Calgary over three years ago from the West Coast I went looking for a good vegetarian restaurant. After an exhaustive search I understood why they called this cowcountry. I guessed vegetarians were an underground society or sect that stayed close together, not sharing their secret and thereby not risking persecution. A few months later the Coup opened and immediately fully filled. I guess I was wrong. They have great vegetarian fare. I dare say that the Coupis better than the Naam (a vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver that is similar to going to Mecca for many non-meat eaters on the West Coast).
Desert/Pastries: Lady Bug (Farmers’ Market) || Located at H6 4421 Quesnay Wood Dr. SW
Friday to Sunday: Lemon meringue pie was a big deal growing up. As an adult my taste buds became refined, and mediocrity would not be tolerated. Many years went by searching, but never finding. The search ended over a year ago, and I have since converted many other seekers to Lady Bug’s lemon tart.
Beer: Wildwood Grill and Brewing Pub || 2417 4th St. SW
The group of people who put Wildwood together were progressive thinkers. They put a downstairs bar and brewery together that looks great, has fantastic food, and some seriously good beer. An open-space that is perfect for a pint and of course a Flames game on their many big screen TVs. Beer is brewed on site. Choose between a Pilsner, Lager, Cherry Ale, and many more.
Wine Boutiques: Metrovino || 722 11th Ave SW and Bin 905 2311 4th St. SW
Calgary is a blessed city to have privatized the selling of alcohol. With privatization,comes a much bigger selection than government run provinces, not to mention way better pricing than B.C.and Ontario. These two are my favourites, boasting knowledgeable staff, that will help you pair perfectly for your meals, wine and spirits for all palates and price ranges, and of course an amazing selection. By the way, Metrovino is also THE place to go for the gourmet foodie who thinks they have everything. Tarragon mustards, truffle salts and the list goes on and on in here.
Best Kept Secret: Highwood || 1301-16th Ave NW, located in the John Ware Building at SAIT
Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday. This is Calgary’s culinary school, which boasts some of the best chefs Calgary has to offer teaching the great chef’s of the future high-end entrées. The food is fantastic and the price is right. I suggest calling for a reservation, especially for the nightly four-course dinners (403-284-8615 ext. 2).
Highlight: Salon de Thé Yann Haute Patisserie Ltd. || 329, 23rd Avenue SW in the Mission area
Yann Blanchard has been an international pastry chef for more than 11 years. For the past three years as one of Calgary’s top pastry chefs at the Fairmont Palliser. This unique pastry salon provides exquisite sweets, chocolates as well as wedding cakes, with Yann’s meticulous standards and delicate craftsmanship. Yann Blanchard started working in his father’s shop at the age of 12 baking baguettes where he had to tip-toed his way to the oven’s third deck. Yann Blanchard’s dedication to culinary excellence and his commitment to French pastry innovation were employed in Paris where he did all his apprenticeship, in Germany, Chicago and Calgary. His unequaled palate of sight, taste, and touch has been displayed through his award-winning competitions in Calgary. He is also a professional ice-carver having won medals in various competitions such as Ice on Whyte in Edmonton and Ice Magic In Lake Louise.
~By Ari Hershberg