Calgarians are fortunate in that we have so many top-notch restaurants to choose from. From all you can eat Dim Sum in Chinatown to award winning haute cuisine, your palate never gets bored! The hardest part is deciding which fabulous eatery to try. Well fear not, as we sum up the five best Calgary restaurants by category.
Best Ethnic: White Elephant Cuisine
When it comes to dining gems, looks can be deceiving. Hidden in an unsuspecting hotel is one of the best Calgary restaurants for Asian cuisine: White Elephant Cuisine. What this place lacks in ambiance however, it more than makes up for with its unbelievable food.
If you're looking for authentic Thai food, this little hole in the wall should be on the top of your list. Penang curry, savory hot and sour soup, Coconut Prawns, and Garlic Prawns are just some of the mouth-watering offerings that have guests lining up for a taste. Prices are reasonable, and the potions are generous.
After winning numerous awards, White Elephant Cuisine is no longer Calgary's best kept secret. If you want to beat the crowds, reservations are pretty much mandatory.
808 - 19 Street NE, Calgary (403) 464-8558
Best Fine-Dining: Q Haute Cuisine
You can experience fine-dining at its best at Q Haute Cuisine (formerly La Calle of the Bow). Chef Michele Aurigemma presents diners with a fresh look at French favourites. On top of having some of the best dining in Calgary, the location overlooking the Bow River is definitely easy on the eyes. Service is also exceptional to match.
The seasonal menu changes often, and the dishes are refined and visually stunning. Some of the notables on past menus at Q Haute Cuisine include Quail with farcite with herbs, variations of onion, aerated sponge cake honey glazed farm vegetables, eggplant caponata corn bread puree, Beef Tenderloin served with a quail stuffed sausage, artichokes and pickled asparagus, and Mushroom Truffle Terrine wrapped with cucumber and served with seasonal vegetables.
If you don't mind taking your time, the Chef's 7 Course Journey is an 8-12 course tasting menu that takes your taste buds to new heights. If you're eating on a budget, their express lunch is a steal, with a starter and a main costing only $15.
100 La Caille Pl SW Calgary (403) 262-5554
Best New Restaurant: Model Milk
What do you get when you combine a talented chef, fresh local ingredients, and take away all of the rules? You get Model Milk, one of Calgary's most exciting restaurants.
Located in Uptown, this happening eatery headed by Chef Justin Leboe, and draws in Calgary foodies with his innovative menus, original signature dishes and updated comforting classics. Model Milk has earned many awards including Best New Dining in Calgary, by Avenue Magazine.
The menu is always changing but some standouts in the past have included Shrimp and Grits, burgers, and Whole Roasted Fish Tacos. Every Sunday, Model Milk hosts a "Sunday Supper," a multi-course meal served up family style. The restaurant is housed in one of Calgary's historic buildings, making the space as inviting as its tantalizing menu choices.
308 17 Avenue SW, Calgary (403) 265-7343
Best Vegetarian: The Coup
Who says vegetarian food has to be boring! The Coup serves up delicious meat-free meals that would tempt even the biggest of carnivores. When it comes to vegetarian meals, there's no better Calgary restaurant than the Coup.
Located in Lower Mount Royal, this lively eatery uses local and organic ingredients to create modern vegetarian delights, that deliver on flavour. And when we say modern, we mean every aspect of the business. The Coup is 100% wind powered, plants trees to offset their environmental footprint, and encourages customers to bring in their own containers for tax-free take-out!
The Green Eggs, No Ham, Bun-Me Vietnamese inspired sub, beachfront hot pot, and the Falafel Quesadillas, all come highly recommended. Note: Closed on Mondays.
924B - 17th Ave SW, Calgary (403) 451-1041
Best Bargain: Holy Smoke BBQ
Eat like a BBQ pit master for under $10. Don't let the location(s) or the tacky hillbilly decor fool you. If you're craving BBQ in Calgary, Holy Smoke BBQ is finger licking good. The long line-ups of hungry fans is a true testament of their affordable excellence.
Some of Holy Smoke BBQ's most popular items include their Pulled Pork Sandwich, fall off the bone pork ribs (buck a bone), and the Manwich. Don't forget the fix-ins with house made coleslaw, corn bread and potato salad among other Southern favourites.
The experience at Holy Smoke isn't just about the food, however. Hilarious bumper stickers, strung up pig lights, and license plates keep you entertained while you wait for your order. While you eat, a strong line-up of homemade sauces on the tables make for endless flavour combinations.
3 locations: #4 - 4640 Manhattan Rd SE. (403) 605-9365, 420 - 16 Ave NE. (403) 263-4659, 901 - 64th Ave NE. (403) 265-1185
Krista Kehoe, Calgary real estate agent & REALTOR®