Over the past fifteen years, Calgary has grown from a city with a burgeoning restaurant scene to a place with a robust food and drink community, chock full with everything from nationally acclaimed eateries to amazing breweries, unique distilleries and more.
As the pandemic continues to effect small businesses of all shapes and sizes, but especially the restaurant industry, the City of Calgary regularly reminds locals about the importance to support local businesses through their campaign entitled #SupportLocalYYC. Whether you're heading out for a cup of coffee, a lavish dinner or otherwise, make sure you're setting your sights on something independently owned.
In that vein, we asked our creative director and long-time food writer Dan Clapson to dish on some of his favourite places for eats and drinks in a few Calgary BIAs: Beltline, Inglewood, International Avenue and the Downtown Association. Here's what he had to say.
For a simple grab-and-go breakfast, I am always a sucker for Rosso Coffee Roasters’ breakfast sandwich. A fried egg sandwiched between halves of a grilled cheddar biscuit with crispy bacon and slathering of honey mustard. The mustard really makes it!
Their Stephen Avenue location is temporarily closed, but you’ll find Rosso in the Beltline and Inglewood too.
Not a full breakfast per say, but Lil E Coffee Cafe in Sun Life Plaza has an amazing mantra behind their business model and employs Calgarians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Caffeine with an accompanying great cause!
Head over to International Avenue to get your fill of delicious Vietnamese food at one of my absolute favourite spots, Pho Dau Bo. From the bot chien to bun bo hue and sate pho, you can’t really go wrong here. Make sure to go with a friend or two so you can order a ton of food.
Seriously, order as much as is humanly possible. You won’t be disappointed.
Mikey’s on 12th is definitely a hidden gem of a spot in the Beltline. I love chef Alli Said’s take on a Cubano sandwich. They don’t press the sandwich here, but it’s filled with braised pork, ham, plenty of mozzarella, pickles and Valentina mayo.
Bridgette Bar always hits the spot. It’s got a great vibe and, in my opinion, it’s one of the most consistent contemporary restaurants in the city. One thing that’s great about Bridgette is that they’ve always got enough dynamic dishes to keep a food lover’s curiosity–and taste buds–piqued, but if you’re with someone who isn’t overly adventurous, they can always lean into a tasty pizza or bowl of pasta.
Though 17th Avenue gets most of the limelight in this part of the city, in addition to Bridgette Bar, there is no shortage of places in the Beltline to enjoy a quality dinner too. From modern Asian cuisine by Duncan Ly at Foreign Concept, reliably delicious tacos (and margaritas!) at Native Tongues, beautifully constructed small plates at Bar Von Der Fels (order the hasselback potatoes with Dungeness crab), the list goes on…
Calgary certainly has no shortage of micro-breweries these days, but I always find myself returning to Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co. The space is big and open, while still retaining a cozy vibe and their brews go down easy. The brewery also actively supports the LGBTQ2+ community in the city, which is another easy reason to opt for a drink here.
When I am craving wine, which is often, I’ll head downtown to Bar Annabelle. Tucked in right beside Annabelle’s Kitchen on Stephen Avenue, this teeny, but swankily designed bar has got a fun and robust wine selection as well as plenty of snacks to go along with whatever you’re sipping.
Every time I’m here, I feel like it’s one of Calgary’s best kept secrets.
Head back to Mikey’s to catch some live music...once it's permitted to resume again. Seeing as Inglewood’s secondary name is the Music Mile, there are many great spots to watch local performers from the King Eddy (can we consider that the cusp of Inglewood?) all the way down to The Blues Can.