Common Sense Dining in Calgary

Do you remember the first place you ate in Calgary? Whether it was visiting a friend who took you for drinks and convinced you to make the move, or the night your new boss took you for dinner at “the best spot in town,” you’ve got some memories of some special F&B in this town.

Now that you’ve been here for a while (or even if you haven’t), you’ve probably developed a list of your own to share when someone asks “where to?” We’ve started to compile a little list of our own; the things you need to know when dining and drinking in Calgary.

So pardon us for stating the obvious, but here’s some common sense on Calgary cuisine.

If you’re asking an inner-city crowd, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t name UNA as one of the best overall restaurants in the city. That said, you’d be even harder pressed to walk in and score a table for four on Saturday night at 7:30. Considering they don’t take reservations, they do extend this olive branch: Twitter. Follow them for updated wait times so you can plan your starter cocktails accordingly.

Dad’s in town and wants some good old Alberta beef. For a classic boys’ steakhouse vibe, hit Caesar’s. Your incredible meal will be accompanied by the feeling that you just stepped into a scene from Scarface, which is pretty cool in itself.

We recently confirmed the rumour that OEB is one of Calgary’s best brunch spots, but here’s another truth: get ready to wait if you want to eat there on the weekend. Pro tip: challenge the lunch meeting status quo and go for brunch on a Monday instead. You’ll look innovative and get to eat something delicious. Win-win.

New restaurants are opening up all the time, so getting in the early days when new places are angling for your loyalty is always a good idea. If you follow Notable regularly, you’ll be the first to find out when places open. Right now, for example, Modern Steak will treat you well, so check them out.

Looking for a night where you can blend into the crowd and be a little bit anti-social? Hit Palomino for live music and garlic fries. Done and done.

Did you know that if you live close enough to Inglewood, Without Papers will deliver your pizza on a bike? Well, now you do.

It’s date number four, which means it’s time to feel like an adult and get top-notch service. Brava Bistro is your best friend. They’ll take your coats, serve you a few sips of wine while you wait a moment for your table, and call you a cab after your to-die-for meal. You’re welcome.

For a quick-but-quality lunch, Charcut guarantees you’ll be in and out in 45 minutes (with a bag of fresh baked cookies in your hand) if you go for their $15 set lunch.

It’s Friday night and you can’t go to bed without ‘za? Pay a visit to Ali at Awesome Kitchen on 12th Ave and 1st St SW. The tasty tandoori chicken or the donair (extra sweet sauce, please) are proven hangover combatants, we promise.

When that bottle of wine you got as a housewarming gift has been warming your wine rack for too long, it’s time for some BYOW. There’s free corkage at FARM on Mondays, Boxwood and River Cafe on Sundays, Open Range and Diner Deluxe on Wednesdays, and every night at The Belvedere. So pop that bottle. 

When you’re in the mood for cheap and casual, The Ship (& Anchor, if you must) is your obvious bet. It’s one of the only places in town where you can guarantee some atmosphere any day or night of the week. And the nachos are delicious.

If you have a sweet tooth and haven’t checked out ‘that yellow house in Mission’, Yann Haute Patisserie, go now and get a box of macarons. Your tastebuds will jump for joy. 

Disagree with some of our choices? Good. Because we’re going to give you a chance to change our minds starting very soon. We’ll be posting polls about your favourite spots in the city, so dig up your food critic notebook out and get ready to vote for the best of the best.


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