Looking back on 2022: Alberta's food and drink scene

How Alberta's food and beverage community fared in 2022

Photo of the Một Tô restaurant team at Air Canada enRoute's Top 10 announcement party for Canada's Best New Restaurants 2022. Photo via Facebook.

Alberta’s food scene had more than its share of memorable moments throughout the past year. From the first-ever Terroir Symposium in Calgary and the monumental 100-year anniversary of Jasper Park Lodge to interesting new concepts like Fu’s Repair Shop, Bluebird Restaurant, Major Tom and Một Tô, to the resurgence of in-person events, community-building collaborations, and so much more. 

Without further ado, here are some of the many highlights from the past year in Alberta’s hospitality industry.

New beginnings

Photo of Fortuna's Row via Facebook.

Considering the amount of restaurant closures over the past few years, it brought us great joy to find that there were simply too many notable restaurant openings in 2022 to mention them all here. Some of the new dining concepts that stood out the most to us included Leopard and Fu’s Repair Shop in Edmonton, Brazen and Bluebird Restaurant in Banff, and Fortuna’s Row, Barbella Bar and Một Tô in Calgary. 

Alberta also welcomed a few new breweries into the craft beer community, including Best of Kin Brewing, Tailgunner Brewing Co, and Asymmetrical Brewing as well as the queer-owned-and-operated taproom Rising Tides. Other interesting new (some of them new-to-Calgary) concepts like DandyPop, Jelly Lab, Fuwa Fuwa's, and The Artist Lounge also garnered plenty of buzz throughout 2022.

Restaurant milestones and birthdays worth celebrating

Calgary's Calcutta Cricket Club turned 5 in 2022. Photo via Facebook.

While there weren’t as many major milestones for Alberta restaurants as there were in 2021, we were still happy to see Calgary’s Model Milk celebrate its tenth anniversary, Calcutta Cricket Club celebrate its fifth, and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge reach a remarkable 100 years in operation.

Restaurant closures across Alberta in 2022

Photo of Blue Plate Diner via Facebook.

Thankfully, the amount of closures over the past year has also decreased, but we were nonetheless bereaved to bid farewell to beloved institutions like Silver Inn Restaurant, Bea’s Cafe, A1 Cantina, and Koi in Calgary along with Blue Plate Diner, High Dough, Canteen, Nudoru Ramen Bar, and Ralph’s Handi Mart in Edmonton.

The resurgence of food festivals and events

Sashay, Fillet! 2022 saw Top Chef Canada fan favourite Billy Nguyen and drag queen Valerie Hunt take home the crown(s).

After far too many months without much in the way of in-person food and beverage events, 2022 saw a relieving resurgence of both food festivals and pop-ups. Based on attendee responses, the province truly rejoiced!

Major food events that took place in 2022 included the first-ever Terroir Symposium in Calgary, along with festivals like Brewery and the Beast, Dandyfest, Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, Swine and Dine Dinner, and Feast in the Field. Our pals at the award-winning Blue Jay Sessions event series and The Prairie Emporium always had something cool up their sleeves.

Of course, the most triumphant of returns belonged to the Calgary Stampede which was back to its original glory, crazy midway foods and all.

The team at Eat North was incredibly proud to pick up where we left off in the pre-pandemic era by relaunching our Prairie Grid dinner series and—with a cool film component thanks to Vicki Van Chau who saw great success in 2022—Sashay, Fillet! as well as our dinosaur-inspired Alberta Era pop-up in Drumheller.

Separately from Eat North, Dan Clapson teamed up with Saigon-based cultural curator Linh Phan of Hidden Saigon to host the one-day festival Vietnam Now in the summertime.

We also had the opportunity to collaborate with more restaurants and bars for our Shake, Stir and Strainbow! campaign than ever before to raise a record-setting amount of funds for Skipping Stone Foundation

Awards and accolades for Alberta chefs and restaurateurs

The omission of Alberta-based chefs from this year’s season of Top Chef Canada notwithstanding, many of the province’s popular restaurants and bars found themselves on the receiving end of several awards. 

Calgary’s legendary River Cafe was the lone Alberta restaurant to crack the Top 10 on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list, followed by Major Tom and D.O.P. in the Top 20, and Shokunin, Eight, Nupo, Ten Foot Henry, Lulu Bar, Jinbar, Orchard, and Foreign Concept rounding out the Top 100. Major Tom was also named the best new retaurant of the year by Canada's 100 Best.


A post shared by River Café (@rivercafeyyc)

While Edmonton restaurants including Hayloft Steak & Fish, Fu's Repair Shop and Pei Pei Chei Ow graced the longlist of nominees, it was Calgary's Major Tom and Một Tô to officially secure Top 10 placement on this year’s Air Canada enRoute Best New Restaurants list. Pei Pei Chei Ow received a special recognition for Best Trailblazer, which was great to see.

Last but not least, Monogram Coffee’s Ben Put won the Canadian National Barista Championship, and we were overjoyed to see Prairie Grid alum and Hotel Arts chef Scott Redekopp finish first overall in the Canadian Culinary Championship regional qualifier as well as chef Serge Belair in Edmonton's regional competition. We can’t wait to cheer both of the chefs on during the finals in 2023!

Banff's food scene continues to evolve notably

Lupo by Banff Hospitality Collective has become a hot spot. Photo via Facebook.

After a seriously big year for Banff’s food and beverage scene, the Rocky Mountain town is finally starting to become a culinary destination. This is thanks, in no small part, to Banff Hospitality Collective.

The small mountain town saw several concepts open in 2022 including the aforementioned Bluebird Restaurant and Brazen and Lupo Italian Ristorante, as well as Hankii, and The Lodge.

The Alberta hospitality industry rises up for human rights and supports community

In addition to the art of drag becoming more popular by the minute with performers popping up at restaurants and bars across Alberta, as well as spaces like Rising Tides The Attic YYC (pictured above with drag queen comedian extraordinaire Karla Marx on the stage) setting the bar for creating a welcoming space for all, the province promoted inclusivity and acceptance in general like never before.

Edmonton-based blogger Linda Hoang and Calgary food writer Carmen Cheng spearheaded two incredible new initiatives to bring about much-needed change in #StopAsianHateAlberta and #AdoptAShopAB.

Alberta breweries also got in on the altruistic action with Last Best Brewing and Distilling, Campio Brewing Co., Banff Ave Brewing Co., and Jasper Brewing Co. collaborating on a new charity brew in support of first responders; Banded Peak Brewing launched a special mimosa sour ale for International Women’s Day; and The Establishment Brewing Company became the first in Calgary to join the Brave Noise beer movement.

Last but certainly not least, we would be remiss not to mention the horrific incident between Valbella Foods, Canmore Pride, and the Crush Collective, which saw Alberta businesses big and small rally quickly in support of Canmore Pride while exposing the hypocrisy of brands that only promote Pride for the marketing opportunities.

Throughout the troubling ordeal, the courage shown by the two Canmore organizations to continue their mission of love in the face of such hate was beyond inspiring.