Enjoying Your Visit
To most, Calgary is known for two things - being a corporate hub for the incredible oil boom Alberta is currently enjoying, and as a western metropolis with a culture rooted in agricultural and ranching traditions. As it happens, Calgary is all this and more!
While the world-reknowned Calgary Stampede is by far Calgary's biggest tourist attraction, some people often forget that Calgary has much more to offer its visitors than just a rootin-tootin good time. Calgary has something for everyone, no matter what your age or interests.
www.downtowncalgary.com has a great deal of information regarding bars, pubs etc. located in Calgary's historic downtown core. We have also compiled a short list of some of some of our favourites:
- The great thing about a Canadian University is that the drinking age is 18 or 19 (18 in Alberta). As a result, most campuses have their own pubs. The campus pubs are both located in the MacEwan Student centre (aka Mac Hall) on the eastern side of the food court. Called
- They are located on the lower floor and main (upper) floor respectively.
- Brentwood mall (on the east side of Crowchild Trail along 24th Ave NW) has a nice Irish Pub called Kilkenny's.
In the Downtown Core (via C-Train or a - cab ride from U of C)
- The James Joyce - 114, 8th Ave SW. - This Irish pub hops non-stop, particularly on weekend evenings. The specialty of the house is Guinness, poured at three temperatures, and live Celtic-style bands and Irish dancing on Wed eves, Sat afternoons.
- Brew Brothers - 607, 11th Ave SW. - The location consists of a Taproom with a 40 ft bar Restaurant with internet access at the tables. Brewery is open for tours and viewing. Courtyard with retractable roof. Over 10 years of award winning hand-crafted, cask-conditioned, beer. Live music on the weekends.
- BottleScrew Bills - 140, 10th Ave SW. - Home of the Buzzard Breath Ale, owner Stu Allan has developed this traditional English pub into one of the more colourful spots to visit downtown. With more than 170 different brands of beer, you shouldn't have any difficulty finding something to your taste. The next-door location of Buzzards Cookshack and Watering Hole means the food is good, and if you are looking for somewhere down-to-earth and friendly, this is it.
- Ceili's (pronounced KAY-LEES) - 513, 8th Ave SW. - Some people will tell you that the measure of a good Irish pub is in the quality of its beer, its crowd, and atmosphere. This Irish-styled pub scores high on all three. It has a large selection of imported beers including Boddington's, Caffrey's and Guinness, and a menu that includes Irish stew (made with lamb, of course), fish and chips in beer batter and an assortment of pies. The patio rooftop is a popular spot with the downtown crowd, especially on the weekends.
- The Unicorn - 304, 8th Ave. SW. - Calgary's original pub serving great food, great beverages, and good times. Featuring Twisted Horn Cream Ale, a big beer with a lite price. Newly renovated function spaces for intimate get togethers and meetings. Free wireless internet. The best fish and chips in town. Can get a bit noisy.
17th Avenue SW (The Red Mile) (via a - cab ride from U of C)
- The Ship & Anchor - 534, 17th Ave SW. - This English pub attracts the city's tattooed set from the young alternative to the old war vets. Known across the city for its eclectic mix of live music, diverse people and inexpensive eats, this traditional English pub is a favourite haunt of locals and U.K. expatriates alike. Mix in live entertainment from local bands, stage jams, a great chicken sandwich that's loaded with veggies and more than 20 beers on tap, little is left to explain why the Ship & Anchor is always lined deep with loyal patrons. For those soccer fans who pine for their glory days back in the old country, games are broadcast live across the Atlantic on a big screen TV. Call ahead for a recording of all upcoming games and times.
- Morgan's Pub - 1324, 17th Ave SW. - It's hard to believe, but this used to be one bad biker bar. That was then. Now, this wayward establishment has been reincarnated into one of the more popular spots on the 17th Avenue strip. What it lacks in the kitchen, serving up the standard bar fare of hot wings and burgers, it more than compensates in atmosphere. When you walk through the front doors you face a stage that hosts some of the best bands in the city and a rocking Saturday afternoon blues jam that always draws a crowd. It also offers two pool tables, video games, a big screen TV and a huge patio that is prime for watching summer slip away: this place is loaded. But if the patio is not your thing or it's too cold outside, you can always belly up to the huge bar that is always busy Friday and Saturday nights. Great live Blues jam (with no cover charge) on Saturday afternoon 4 - 7pm.
- The Rose & Crown - 1503, 4th St. SW. - The Rose and Crown Pub is hard to miss when searching for a quick pint before heading home from downtown, or looking for somewhere friendly to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. After cutting across traffic on 4th Street you can soak up the sun on the patio in summer, or cozy up in front of the fireplace on those cold winter evenings in one of the best English style pubs in the city. Featuring a selection of more than 30 beers on tap and single malt scotches to sip on, a full pub menu including traditional specialties like steak and kidney pie, this renovated 80-year-old former funeral home emanates a traditional comfort that has been packing in patrons for years. If you're between 19 and 91 and don't mind the occasional live band, the taps open at 11am and pour until close.
- Melrose Restaurant & Cafe - 730, 17th Ave SW. - Begins with late afternoon beer and/or cocktails and stays packed all night. Check out The Theatre, a private room downstairs, with four big screen TVs and a 10-foot projection screen.
Kensington (via C-Train or a cab ride from U of C)
- Molly Malone's - 1153 Kensington Cres. NW. - Pub owners Brad Ingarfield and Jeff Hunter have transformed Hurley's, the one-time popular 80's spot, into a delightful Irish pub/restaurant. "Our motto is 'where great friends gather," Hunter says of the new pub which features a variety of theme rooms offering cosy sitting, eating and drinking areas. It you're looking for somewhere quiet and cosy to spend an afternoon or lunch with friends, Molly's is perfect (there isn't a TV in the place and the owners hope to keep it that way). Evenings promise to be livelier with live Irish music on tap. One word of caution. If ghost stories upset you, you might want to avoid the library and female washroom where reports of a strange fog-like apparition and sudden cold temperatures surfaced during construction. Scary stuff or just a wee bit of Irish blarney? You be the judge.
- Kensington Pub - 207, 10a St. NW. - Nestled in the heart of one of Calgary's most vibrant districts this cosy little hideaway functions as a quiet neighbourhood pub, or raucous party place, depending on the day. The multi-floored building gives ample opportunity for a quiet couple to spend time over a couple pints of draught. Open spaces near the bar allow for larger groups. Space is a little cramped, and in the evening it can get both very crowded and very noisy. But since everyone is likely to know your name in this neighbourhood haunt, it hardly seems to matter. The pub offers standard pub grub, with daily specials and a menu that doesn¹t creep over . Cold beer, good company and an inviting atmosphere. All the ingredients for a good time.
Lounges & Martini Bars
In the Downtown Core (via C-Train or a - cab ride from U of C)
- Tribune Restaurant- 118 Stephen Ave. SW - Newly opened in the historic Tribune Block on Stephen Avenue, this restaurant features a retro elegant décor with sandstone walls, tin ceiling and wood-and-leather booths. Small but classy bar/lounge area.
- Vintage Chophouse - 322 11th Ave. SW - Live blues and jazz Fri and Sat in this upscale lounge. Leather club chairs, cozy booths, tapas and a full dinner menu from the chophouse dining room.
- Vicious Circle - 1011, 1st St. SW. Vicious Circle serves up tasty food in a trendy atmosphere at a snail's pace. A range of food is available at better-than-reasonable prices. Specializing in the appetizer, their nachos and perogies are a must. With two pool tables, a big-screen television and an eyeful of unique modern art work, there's always something to keep you busy while you're waiting for your endearingly-relaxed server. A versatile little place and an ideal date location with candle-lit tables and dim lights. It's also a perfect locale for hanging out with friends for drinks and snacks before or after a night out. The Circle features live bands, but only sporadically. The tunes create a nice atmosphere that remains at a don't-have-to-shout-to-be-heard decibel level. If you like laid back and trendy, Vicious Circle is the place.
- Cannery Row - 317 10th Ave. SW - New concept and fantastic décor. Great menu from Chef Peter Whatmough; fresh oysters. Retro cocktails, martinis, live music Fri and Sat nights.
- Beatniq Jazz & Social Club - Beat Niq is the kind of place that the Calgary jazz scene was lacking for a long time: A place with a secretive underground ambiance (you enter through an alleyway door) combined with a sense of jazz-age sophistication. Curved walls and discreet lighting and the intimate size means that almost every seat in the house is a winner. The up-and-coming musicians aren't the only artists in the place; the chefs in the kitchen upstairs at sister cafe Piq Niq are also quite masterly in the command of their chosen medium. It's all lighter fare that goes quite well with a martini and some crooning vocals. With the sensitivity paid to so many details, it is clear that this is a venue not only made for jazz lovers, but made by them as well. Cool, Daddy-o.
- The Metropolitan Grill - 318, 8th Ave SW. - Both locations offer a fusion of Californian and Mediterranean cuisine. Triple-A Angus beef, the "famous" coconut shrimp martini, Saskatoon berry chicken, great martinis. Dancing on Thur, Fri and Sat nights. A la carte brunch Sat, Sun.
- Earl's / Fuel - 315, 8th Ave SW. - Earl's offers a fun atmosphere for lunch and dinner. Monthly seasonal specials, plus Earl's house ale, Albino Rhino. Margarita Mondays add to the fun--in fact, there are specials every night. Drop in for a snack or a meal. Fuel is Earl's swanky new high octane lounge next door. Despite the somewhat overdesigned interior, suggesting overblown prices, food and drink clock in at reasonable rates and the service is prompt and friendly, not slow and haughty, as you might initially assume from the too-hip-for-you appearance.
- Muriettas - 808 1st St. SW - Located in the historic Alberta Hotel Building (c.1890). The menu features Pacific crab cakes, rack of lamb, fresh seafood, pastas and flatbreads. Huge list of wines by the glass. Classy lounge with live piano.
- Belgo - 501 Stephen Ave SW - Residing in the heart of Stephen Avenue's restaurant row, Belgo's inviting atmosphere attracts an upscale casual clientele. Customers will experience fresh, European draft beers featuring Belgian style ales and lagers while indulging in casual French cuisine. The ambiance reflects a grand, European-influenced design with a mezzanine creating a classy, yet relaxed locale that is sure to satisfy every taste.
17th Avenue SW (The Red Mile) (via a - cab ride from U of C)
- The Bungalow - 524, 17th AVe SW. - New on 17th Ave, this urban watering hole is packed on weekends with the city's beautiful people. Great Mojito's!
- The Yardhouse - 718, 17th Ave SW. - Formerly the Kaos Jazz & Blues Bistro, the Yardhouse is a posh sport lounge featuring tall tables and stools, televisions set into the walls, and leather bench seating. Everything is smooth and rounded in this lounge, with a sizeable oval bar and curved walls and tables. A small outdoor patio fronting 17th Avenue seems permanently packed, a result of the lounge's prime location in the heart of the city's trendy district. The YardHouse's friendly staff are quick to reel off a wide selection of beverages and on the menu you'll fine better than your average pub food fare.
- Ming - 520, 17th Ave SW. - Now here's a bar with a real air of underground sophistication. While there are a few street-level window seats facing 17th Avenue, one must descend some stairs to partake of the coziest seating areas. Ming has an exotic, den-like feel. The colour scheme ranges from the rose glow emanating from cauldron-shaped tables to the deep red sheen of the upholstery to the shadowy blackness flickering around groups of huddled patrons. The menu is equally successful in pulling off the exotic theme: An order of sweet potato fries, with generous dashes of banana ketchup, is a must. While the food is taken seriously, the approach to cocktails is decidedly irreverent. Heck, why be a Buddha when you can drink one? Perhaps a Karl Marx is the true opiate of the people. There's something that keeps packing the crowds in every weekend. So whether it's a mood of retro kitsch or a metro foodie itch, Ming covers all the bases without even breaking a sweat. Cool.
- Lucky - 510, 17th Ave SW. - Circular booths and dark wood. Martinis, great wines and Asian-inspired tapas menu. A decidedly LA vibe.
- Buchanan's ( - cab ride from U of C) - 738, 3rd Ave SW. - A shrine to single malt whisky, Buchanan's features 146 selections plus a predominantly North American wine list with dozens of by the glass choices. Contemporary food in a comfortable, old fashioned setting.
In the Downtown Core (via C-Train or a - cab ride)
- The Conga Room - 109, 8th Ave SW. - This Latin club and restaurant features salsa lessons and dancing on Thurs, dancing and DJs Fri and Sat. Great vibe, superb dancing, expensive cocktails.
- Cowboy's - 826, 5th St. SW. - For years, Cowboy's has been the biggest and best venue for boot-scooting fun every night in Calgary--at least according to those who pack the club each week. Whether it's the urban wannabe cowboys and cowgirls or the horse-riding, hay-pitching variety (many more of the former than the latter), they all find what they're looking for at Cowboys. With its huge dance floor, DJ music, live bands and country dance lessons, you just might find yourself knockin' a few heels and joining a line dance. They open the doors and take the party outside during the 10-days of Stampede with daily entertainment. Thursday nights are a cowboy's dream as seven bars serve up drafts for a quarter. But if you're looking for a quiet drink or expert bartending, just keep walking on by because this watering hole isn't for the weak of heart; the atmosphere can get a bit too much cat-calls and caterwauling at times, and the staff seems easily distracted, leading to occasional mixological disasters. Exercises some sartorial face control.
- Mynt Ultra Lounge - 516 C, 9th Ave SW. - New bar on 9 Ave SW with several rooms and sexy décor. DJs and live music upstairs, dancing and Top-40 downstairs.
- The Roadhouse - 840, 9th Ave SW. - Large-scale dance club with several bars. Guest DJs, big dance floor. Mostly Top-40, Thurs Ladies' Night, Sat Top-40, Uncensored Sundays. cover. Bring ID, the bouncers are no-nonsense.
- Tantra - 355, 10th Ave SW. - Large, circular bar, decent dancing and a sexy, meat-market vibe. Not too much option for anything off the dance-floor. A young scene. The alcohol selection is limited, and the circulating shooter-girls and -boys circulate a bit too often. Bouncers if possible even more no-nonsense than The Roadhouse; sometimes absurdly long queues.
- The Twisted Element - 1006 - 11th Avenue SW. - Calgary's only gay club. Open Tuesday through Sunday; Friday and Saturday are particularly happening nights. Each evening offers a different themed entertainment (karaoke, etc.)
- The Whiskey - 341, 10th Ave SW. - Plays Top 40 and 80s faves. Packed on weekends with over-25s. Large dance floor with disco feel. Some tucked away tables in case you need a breather for quiet conversation; very capable bar staff and excellent selection of liquours.
Other Areas (a - cab ride from U of C)
- The Back Alley - 4630 Macloed Tral S. - Many Calgarians hear the words 'The Back Alley' and a combination of thoughts like; El Camino Mullets, good ol' rock 'n roll, tighter than tight jeans, and Pilsner automatically come to mind. Sometimes Calgary's young and hip tend to avoid the Macleod Trail staple for fear of offending the other patrons... patrons rumored to ride Harleys, and rock out to ACDC.
Then you go there.
No Harleys out front, no (well, a few) mullets. Is this the right place? you ask yourself. Where's the promised scene from a bad 80s metal video? The Back Alley does cater to those who enjoy a good rock-out session, but is not the myth incarnate one often hears about. It's a good party bar, a good place to people watch and a good place to dance to music you never knew (or wanted to admit) you knew the words to. It's also a huge venue ideal for live acts. Kim Mitchell, Big Wreck and hundreds of local bands have played to large crowds here. They have the typical bar draws - like a Ladies Nite with "exotic dancers" and tons of drink specials, but they also have "Free Concert Fridays" with CJAY 92 and a night dedicated to showcase local musical talent. The volume, however, can reach the near deafening, as one would expect from the Meatloaf reputation. Ahh. . . The Back Alley. Not the mythical metal bar after all, but a pleasant alternative to the standard dance club most Calgarians are used to. Long live the Mullet!
Ranchman's - 9615 Macleod Trail S. - Barbecued grub, western decor and good ol' country music are the main ingredients in Ranchman's recipe for success. Steeped in western heritage, Ranchman's is the "Official Hospitality Location of The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association," so it is no coincidence that you'll find real live rodeo cowboys, ranchers and chuck wagon drivers hanging out here (in contrast to Cowboy's, where you are likely to find management consultants who think they are cowboys). Although a Stampede-must for tourists, especially Sunday night's wrap up party, it throws one heck of a great night out during the rest of the year, too. The menu features cowboy cuisine like ribs, steak, beef on a bun, salads, corn-on-the-cob, and baked potatoes, and you can work off your saddlebags with a little two-steppin' to live music. Western memorabilia like pictures and trophy saddles from world-renowned rodeo champions enhance the country atmosphere. The Canadian Country Music Association has saddled the Ranchman's with its club-of-the-year honour on three occasions, so you can count on a whole lotta two-steppin', line-dancin' and foot stompin' on the large dance floor and you can expect big crowds on weekends and throughout the 10-day Stampede.
www.downtowncalgary.com has a great deal of information regarding restaurants located in Calgary's historic downtown core, as does Where Magazine. We have also compiled a short list of some of some of our favourites:
NOTE - Restaurants in Calgary can get exceptionally busy. Reservations are always a good idea, even for lunch.
- There are lots of fast food places in the MacEwan Student Centre (aka Mac Hall). The main floor has pizza, burgers, chinese, tacos, sandwiches etc. The lower floor has a Subway sandwich shop and an Opa Souvlaki restaurant.
- The Den & the Black Lounge, located on the lower floor and main (upper) floors of Mac Hall also serve food.
- The ICT building has two more sandwich places (Good Earth Cafe and Ploughboys) as well as a sushi place.
Near Campus (~ 15 minute walking distance from campus)
The Brentwood mall area (on the east side of Crowchild trail along 24th Avenue NW) has a few more eating establishments.
- Kilkenny Pub
- Madisons Restaurant
In the Downtown Core (via C-Train or a cab ride from the U of C)
- Catch - 100 Stephen Ave SE - Live crab, lobster, fresh oysters, and fish are flown in daily from around the world to this eatery in landlocked Calgary. The oyster bar, on the main level, is rowdy but has more lower-price menu choices; if you want a more intimate setting, opt for the elegant dining room on the second floor, which has tall swagged windows and white-cloth-covered tables. Reservations essential.
- The Saltlick - 101 Stephen Ave SW - Located on the Stephen Avenue Walk, Saltlick is an elegantly designed steakhouse. They serve hearty dishes created by chef Dwayne Ernest. Ahi tuna salad, grilled cheese toast, steaks, sandwiches and more are available. Daily specials are also offered. The Skybar Lounge is located upstairs.
- The Conga Room - 109 Stephen Ave SW - Live, Eat, Drink and Dance with Passion, vibrantly to the sounds of a Conga drum. We are pioneers to what we serve, we bring to Calgary Nuevo Latino. This new trend is product of the internationalization of the Latin American culture. You have seen it in music, arts, sports & now in cuisine. This is the best blend of global ingredients & international cooking techniques with the flavour & spices of authentic South American home comfort cooking. We serve the best of Cuban rums & Mexican sipping tequilas, original blends as well as world famous drinks such as Mojitos & Caipirinhas.
- Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro - 113, 8th Ave SW. - This estimable bar and restaurant calls itself a "wine and cheese bistro," and while a casual spot for a drink and cheese platter is welcome on busy Stephen Avenue, Divino offers a lot more. This bustling, stylish gathering spot offers intriguing light entrees from sandwiches -- lamb confit melt with fig jam -- to pasta -- cannelloni filled with lobster and Chantrelles -- in addition to full-flavored and satisfying main courses such as applewood-smoked Alberta rib-eye and five-spice roasted halibut. And whether you start or end your meal with cheese, you'll appreciate a choice of over two dozen cheeses ordered from a sushi-style checklist. A class act.
- Tribune Restaurant- 118 Stephen Ave. SW - Newly opened in the historic Tribune Block on Stephen Avenue, this restaurant features a retro elegant décor with sandstone walls, tin ceiling and wood-and-leather booths. Serves classy comfort foods such as rabbit rillette, steak frites and a peach-sauced savarin.
- Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club- 109 - 7 Ave SW - A real southern BBQ restaurant featuring American slow-cooked barbecue. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken dishes are created on a custom-made smoker from Missouri that weighs one tonne and holds 750 pounds of meat. LONG LIVE THE SMOKER!! Non-barbecue dishes also available. Retro Western setting. Large patio. Breakfast served Sat.
- The Belvedere - 107 Stephen Ave SW - This fine-dining establishment has quickly become one of Calgary's best spots for a special-occasion dinner. Set in a refurbished bank building, the restaurant features a large skylight, wall-hung mirrors, and atmospheric lighting. Up front, separated from the dining room, is a lounge for those who want to soak in the ambience. The menu is updated Continental, culling ingredients and preparation techniques from all over the world. Dishes are complex and exotic, including rack of lamb in artichoke crust with peppermint beet glaze, Angus beef tenderloin with truffled mushroom confit, or grilled Arctic char with saffron risotto. Appetizers and desserts follow suit, and although dishes are elaborate, the quality of cuisine is outstanding. Allow for a leisurely evening.
- The Metropolitan Grill - 318 Stephen Ave SW - This restaurant offers a fusion of Californian and Mediterranean cuisine. Serves Triple-A Angus beef and a coconut shrimp martini. Dancing on Thur, Fri and Sat nights. Sunday brunch and prime rib dinners.
- Belgo - 501 Stephen Ave SW - A Belgian brasserie and French bistro, Belgo brings a perfect blend of nouveau with traditional French culture while introducing the art of romancing fine beers. Belgos menu is unique to Calgary and offers world class dishes from Moules & Frites, Fallen Roquefort & Tarragon Souffle to Grilled Diamond Willow Range Organic Alberta Beef Tenderloin created and prepared by Executive Chef, Shaun Desaulniers. Residing in the heart of Stephen Avenue's restaurant row, Belgo's inviting atmosphere attracts an upscale casual clientele. Customers will experience fresh, European draft beers featuring Belgian style ales and lagers while indulging in casual French cuisine. The ambiance reflects a grand, European-influenced design with a mezzanine creating a classy, yet relaxed locale that is sure to satisfy every taste.
- Muriettas - 808 1st St. SW - Located in the historic Alberta Hotel Building (c.1890) Muriettas has a fantastic glass-ceiling dining room that makes you feel as though you are dining in a European courtyard. The menu features Pacific crab cakes, rack of lamb, fresh seafood, pastas and flatbreads. Huge list of wines by the glass. Classy lounge with live piano.
- Chicago Chophouse - Corner of 5th St. and 8th Ave (Stephen Ave) SW - This new stop on the steak and red wine circuit is marketing itself as THE place for a power lunch or dinner, with dry-aged Canadian Angus beef on the menu, and bottles of wine that cost more than what some of the help earns in a week.
- Teatro - 200 8th Ave SE (Stephen Avenue) - Next to the downtown Centre for the Performing Arts in a restored 1911 bank building you will find this stylish restaurant that features "Italian Market Cuisine". The wine list is large, with a good wine by the glass section. This is one of those places where each dish has 15 ingredients but the combinations are done with skill and the cooking is excellent. One of only a few places in town I would order rissoto and expect it to be made to order.
- The Verve - 237 8th Ave SE (Stephen Ave) - The menu includes salads, pastas, internationally-inspired entrées; plus great steaks, and seafood. If you are looking for somewhere to relax, hang-out and enjoy a great martini this is the perfect spot.
- Zen 8 - 513 8th Ave. SW (Stephen Ave) - It's obvious from the crowds that this is the downtown destination for Japanese cuisine. The expansive restaurant fills up at lunch, as does the sidewalk dining area. Inside, the clean-lined space sports lots of wood and select Asian accents. If you're with a group, search for a table, or find one of the tatami rooms; if you're alone, the sushi bar is ideal. Speaking of, the selection of sushi and sashimi is enormous, including everything from the familiar to the exotic, not to mention a few local specialties, such as the caterpillar roll (smoked salmon and barbecued eel) and the cowboy roll (aged beef, ginger, and cucumber). You can order by the piece or have a platter made up with your favorites. If you crave something else, look for teriyaki and tempura dinners, and make sure you don't forget to try the sake. Presentation and service are both outstanding.
- Mango Shiva - 507 8th Ave SW (Stephen Ave) - An Indian food restaurant with a twist, Mango Shiva features Western influenced Indian favourites. Try the mint chocolate chai.
- Cannery Row - 317 10th Ave. SW - Specializing in Cajun food since before it was hip, this dark and woody bar and restaurant in the south-of-downtown Beltline district serves up New Orleans-style R&B and jazz music with food fresh from the coasts of Louisiana and Canada. Diners can find a table or park themselves at the 12-seat oyster bar to watch the kitchen crew get to it on moderately priced classic dishes like "Our Famous Blackened Snapper" and Jambalaya.
- The Silver Dragon - 106 3rd Ave. SE (in Chinatown) - The Silver Dragon Restaurant has been serving Chinese food to Calgarians for over 30 years, so obviously they must be doing something right. They have an excellent reputation that not only spans three decades, but includes excellent quality and service. Because it is located in Chinatown, you are literally in the heart of downtown, so you are only minutes from five-star hotels as well as Prince's Island Park and the Eau Claire Market. The Silver Dragon serves both Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine, and you can choose from over 200 menu items. It offers dim sum on a daily basis. Private dining rooms and banquet facilities are also available. All of the tables have white linen tablecloths with centerpieces that add a touch of class and elegance to the surroundings. It is large and airy, with just the right amount of fresh air and muted lighting.
- The Keg - 1101 5th St. SW - If you're a Canadian steak-lover, you're probably already familiar with the Keg. Serving up food in the steak/seafood/pasta vein with a casual contemporary steakhouse setting, this chain of restaurants often fits the bill for an easy and pleasurable family dinner. Pleasurable, that is, as long as there aren't any vegetarians present. While there are some alternative selections to the standard fare such as the chicken fajitas, this is definitely the world of the "I-heart-Alberta-beef" bumper-sticker fans.
- Vintage Chophouse - 322 11th Ave. SW - As revealed in its name, Vintage Chophouse is an old style steakhouse serving Alberta beef the way people remember and love. The Butcher's Platter is a popular choice, offering the customer choice of size and cut of steak. Fresh seafood is also a specialty. Friday and Saturday features jazz and blues in the Tavern.
17th Avenue SW (The Red Mile)(via a cab ride from the U of C)
- Buon Giorno - 823 17th Ave SW - You will find Buon Giorno's restaurant located on trendy 17th Avenue, just across the street from Mount Royal Village, which is just the place for an after-dinner stroll. This quaint little Italian eatery has more than location to offer, though: they feature traditional Italian food like linguini in clam sauce and a locally-famous lasagna; the beautiful and elaborate fireplaces make you feel like you are sitting in someone's cozy and intimate home.
- Fiore Cantina Italiana- 638 17th Ave SW - While many new restaurants attempt to put a contemporary spin on traditional cuisine, Fiore is happy to stick with the classics. All the Italian standards are here: linguini alla marinara and gnocchi alla Bolognese, as well as thin-crust pizzas, chicken, veal and seafood dishes. The decor is smart and casual, with linen and flowers on the tables and tins of tomatoes lining the windows. Take a seat on the sunny patio, order a bottle of vino from the short and reasonably priced wine list, and dig into some traditional Italian cuisine. - except for Sun, Mon & Tues which offers .95 entrees all day.
- The Coup- 924B 17th Ave SW - The Coup is a small vegetarian restaurant on 17th Ave run by Dalia Kohen and Tabitha Archer. Opened on November 25, 2004, they use organic and local produce when possible. Environmentally friendly customers who bring their own take home container for left-overs get a discount on their meal.
- The Sultan's Tent- 909 17th Ave SW. - Although not much to look at from outside, this place is fantastic! Moroccan music plays quietly in the background as you enter the luxurious Sultan's Tent and are seated at a table draped to offer privacy and intimacy. Lean back on beautiful plush pillows while your hands are washed with rose water---all of the eating is done without cutlery. Enjoy the rich experience of Moroccan food with its subtle flavors and scents: delicious, aromatic soups, stews and couscous accompanied by marinated vegetables. Wash down your meal with delicious mint tea and top it off with one of the succulently sweet desserts available. Reservations recommended.
- Kyoto 17 - 908 17th Ave SW. - If you like Japanese food, you have to try Kyoto 17. Make sure that you make reservations because it can get very busy. Whether you want an authentic Japanese meal, sitting in sock feet on the floor, or more Western style dining, Kyoto 17 is perfect. Great food, great atmosphere, and a perfect place to bring friends and family.
- el Sombrero - 520, 17th Ave SW. - This cheerful restaurant offers ceviche Acapulco (snapper, sole and baby shrimp in spicy red sauce). Try the tajitas and generous house and Mexican combos.
Kensington (via C-Train or a - cab ride from the U of C)
- Muse - 107, 10A St. NW. - This elegant, whimsical dining room serves steamed mussels with Pernod and red onion, grilled beef tenderloin with rustic potato Provençal, greens with Alberta fireweed honey vinaigrette. It was also voted one of the best new restaurants of 2004 by Air Canada magazine. Sexy lounge downstairs.
- Osteria Di Medici - 201, 10th St. NW. - Elegant dining room with specialties like bocconcini buon gustaio (rolled veal with ham and cheese) and broiled filet with bearnaise. The dishes here are classics, and none are a better testament to that fact than Antonietta`s tiramisu. It melts in your mouth. Reservations recommended.
- Tandoori Hut - 217, 10th St. NW. - My favourite Indian restaurant! Popular entrées include the butter chicken, tandoori prawns, chicken tikka masala and vegetable korma. Newly renovated with ample seating.
- Marathon - 130, 10th St. NW. - Really there is no better Ethiopian restaurant in Calgary. To be honest there are few better restaurants of any type. Along with the laid back atmosphere, the wonderful music and the exceptionally nice staff it is really a treat for anyone who takes the time to go. The vegetarian/vegan choices are abundant with about 1/3 of the menu made up of pure-veg delights... All of which are essential choices! The best part though is their buffet! A huge selection of the best dishes, including a number of veggie dishes, make this buffet a must!
- The Broken Plate - 302, 10th St NW. - A contemporary Greek kitchen and bar. Fresh cuisine, attentive service and festive atmosphere.
- Julio's Barrio - Corner of Memorial Drive & Kensington Rd. NW. - A new large and lively spot in the Kensington area, serving authentic Mexican cuisine in generous portions. Lots of sharing-sized appetizers, ten different flavours of margaritas. Festive environment, great bar and plenty of parking. Patio.
Other Areas (via a - cab ride from U of C)
- Bookers Crab Shack & BBQ- 316, 3rd St. SE. - With a rustic warehouse interior, this casual barbecue seafood restaurant offers buffalo shrimp and shellfish by the bucket, apple brandy BBQ ribs, catfish po' boy and a great jambalaya. All you can eat snow crab Suns and Mons. Live blues bands Fri and Sat nights.
- The River Cafe - Prince's Island Park - Inspired by the natural surroundings of Prince's Island Park, on Bow River, this restaurant has the look of a fishing lodge and creates a pastoral dining experience. The exquisite regional Canadian cuisine includes Northwest Territories caribou, British Columbia oysters and Pacific salmon, Alberta Black Angus beef, and Alberta lamb. Reservations essential.
- Aida's Mediterranean Bistro- 2208, 4th St. SW. - This bright Mediterranean bistro features delicious, homemade Lebanese cuisine. Try the roasted red-pepper dip and stuffed-grape leaves. Food is very good and the prices are reasonable. Wine list is pretty good and also priced right. None of this "3 times store price". Vegetarians welcome! It is, however, often infuriatingly busy, with half of the tables reserved but no one sitting there. Thus, reservations are recommended.
- Fleur de Sel- #2, 2015, 4th St. SW. - French cuisine in a brasserie setting. Combining nouveau with traditional, try tuna loin and wasabi beurre blanc, rack of lamb with maple mustard crust. Try the chocolate pate...for all that's holy TRY THE CHOCOLATE PATE!
- Wildwood Grill & Brewing Company - 2417, 4th St. SW. - With one of Calgary's most praised fine dining establishments on the open, airy upper level, and homemade brew served up in the pub below, you might just be tempted to reset your Rocky Mountain destination from Banff to Wildwood for just one weekend. It does, however, beg the question: What is Rocky Mountain cuisine anyway? Well, right off the bat, you do not need to be versed in the nuances of jerky and granola in the least. Anticipate local ingredients galore, like buffalo, Caribou, Spolumbo sausage, rabbit, buckwheat honey and Yukon Gold potatoes. Yes, in Alberta, we do know how to grow more than just cows, though you'll find some of that on the menu as well. Now, the essential goodness of these down-home ingredients is combined in thoroughly savvy ways: There is saffron halibut served over barley risotto with Oka cheese. There is caribou ragout, and forest mushroom flatbread, and lamb burgers with ligonberries. Naturally, there is back bacon. And a great wine list too.
- Buchanan's - 738, 3rd Ave SW. - Buchanans looks like an old fashioned San Francisco neighbourhood Chop House. A delightful modern interpretation of an American classic, this restaurant is famous for Alberta Beef, yet they always serve an excellent daily fresh fish. A shrine to single malt whisky, Buchanans features 146 selections plus a predominantly North American wine list with dozens of by the glass choices. Contemporary food in a comfortable, old fashioned setting. Lunch and dinner with a bar that is always open late.
- Singapore Sam's- 555, 11th Ave SW. - A favourite with late-nite club hoppers, Sam's is open late and has a great buffet.
- Gerry's Downtown (formerly the Husky House) - 1201, 5th St. SW - Another stop for night-owls, this place serves breakfast 24 hours a day!
Some of our favourites by style:
Buddha Veggie; vegan Chinese restaurant -- top Canadian
5802 McCloud Trail
Mysore Palace; south indian
731 6th avenue sw
Chutney's; beautiful decor, downtown in the Sunlife building
112 4th Avenue SW
La dolce vita; everything is fresh
916 1st Avenue NE
Osteria de Medici
Kensington and 10th Street
The King and I; neomodern Thai, remarkable decor
822 11 Avenue SW
Selected Fish, game, etc.:
River Cafe; game
Prince's Island Park
Catch by the delta
Stephen's Avenue Mall
Deane House; Ok food, quiet, historic
Sunfood cafe; vegetarian
2 Flr Sundance Mall
Beaujolais; superb restaurant, quite expensive at 150 dollar per person
212 Buffalo St.
Eden at the Rimrock; the best in Banff, have to make reservations months in advance
Things to do around Calgary
- The Royal Tyrell Museum (in Drumheller, 138km; about a 1.5 hour drive northeast of Calgary). Drumheller is located in a area known as Dinosaur valley in the Canadian Badlands and has been designated a United Nations World Heritage Site for the sheer abundance of dinosaur remains found there. Driving into the valley is a surprise (since it's difficult to see from the prairie above) and provides a stunning desert experience. Click here for a PDF of the Drumheller Travel Guide. The Royal Tyrell museum is one of the largest paleontological museums in the world and is a great place to take the whole family. Bring your hiking boots since there are many desert trails you can follow. Admission is for adults, for children between 6 and 17, and free for children under 6.
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (165 km; about a 1.75 hour drive south of Calgary near Fort Macleod) is another UN World Heritage Site. Aboriginal people would use the cliffs to drive herds of buffalo off to their demise. Head-Smashed-In is a site that had been used on and off for the last 5,700 years. This site is very important in that it gives a very extensive explanation of an ancient way of life. Admission is .50 for adults, for children (children under 7 are free).
- The rivers around Calgary are home to a world class trout fishery. Trout are caught in the Bow river right in downtown Calgary. Down stream from the city the Bow is a true blue ribbon river where large rainbows and browns are routinely taken on a fly. Along with the browns and rainbows, cutthroat, brook and bull trout can also found in many of southern Alberta's waterways.
Things to do in Calgary
www.downtowncalgary.com has a great deal of information regarding sights, events, shopping, restaurants, pubs etc. located in Calgary's historic downtown core. Where Magazine is another great resource. We have also compiled a short list of some of the sightseeing highlights:
- The Calgary Zoo- Attractions Canada recently voted this park the top outdoor site in the country. It features more than 1,100 animals from around the world and an ever-growing portfolio of innovative exhibitions, which allows guests to get up close and personal with grizzly bears, moose and wolves. Life-sized dinosaur models lurk in the badlands of the Prehistoric Park, and the more genteel setting of the botanical park includes a butterfly garden. Admission is for adults and .50 for children under 12. Easy access from the C-Train.
- Heritage Park Historical Village- Experience the sights and sounds of life at the turn of the century. Heritage Park brings the nostalgia of yesteryear to life - right in the heart of Calgary. Ride the rails aboard a thundering authentic steam locomotive, enjoy the thrills of an Antique Midway, then step aboard the S.S. Moyie Sternwheeler and cruise the reservoir. With regular paid admission, you can also enjoy a FREE western breakfast from 9 -10 a.m. daily throughout the summer. Admission is for adults and for children under 17. No C-Train access but is a easy drive or taxi ride.
- The Stephen Ave Mall(AKA 8th Ave. SW) is a pedestrian mall in the downtown core. It has oodles of shopping, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
- Eau Claire Market is within walking distance from downtown and contains a number of indoor/outdoor cafe's and restaurants, tourist shopping, and an IMAX theatre. It is also the gateway to Calgary's beloved Prince's Island Park. Click here for some pictures of Eau Claire Market & Prince's Island Park.
- Prince's Island Park- Statistics say that Prince's Island is one of the most used urban parks in North America. Come here on a sunny day and you will not doubt it. Way back when, the Island was used to catch felled trees floating down the Bow River from logging projects upstream. Now this bit of serenity in downtown serves as a favourite venue for joggers, football tossers, family picnics, flocks of Canada Geese, buskers, Shakespearean actors and nearly every major festival that Calgary hosts. This is also a great place for a quiet paddle down the river. Admission is free. The park is also at the heart of Calgary's 500 km of recreation pathways and 260 km of on-street bike lanes.
- Calgary Pathway System - Calgary boasts the largest pathway system in North America. Nearly every day of the year, regardless of the weather, you can find Calgarians running, walking, riding, rolling and even skiing along 500 kilometres of paths. The network twists its way through countless municipal parks, alongside rivers and reservoirs, past skyscrapers, into valleys and through mini-forests, fields of wildflowers and other surprises. Use of the pathways is absolutely free. Click here for a map of the pathway system.
- The Calgary Toweris Calgary's most famous and identifiable physical landmark (it looks like a "baby" CN tower). Though now over 35 years old, the Calgary Tower offers the Best View in Calgary and is still a must-see on any tourist's itinerary. The tower contains a restaurant and bar as well.
- The Glenbow Museumis western Canada's largest museum. The art collection contains some 28,000 works which date primarily from the 19th century to the present. Glenbow acquires historical, modern and contemporary works from the northwest quadrant of North America, focussing on the representation of this region and its place in western Canada.
- The Calgary Science Centre- This science and technology learning center attracts many visitors for its notable Discovery Dome Theatre, a huge dome screen equipped with digital sound. There is a series of exhibitions for children, with plenty of hands-on learning stations. A food kiosk and a science-oriented gift shop round out the experience. Admission is charged for adults and for children. Easy access via the C-Train.
- Devonian Gardensis one of the world's largest indoor botanical gardens filled with over 20,000 species of plants as well as original art and fish ponds. Free admission.
- Fish Creek Parkis Canada's largest urban park (stretching some 20 kilometres), covering much of the southern breadth of the city. Running along shallow, winding Fish Creek, the park is a labyrinth of walking and cycling paths, peppered by groves of mature trees and open meadows. The park features no organized recreational grounds, with day usage intended instead for walking, cycling, blading or picnicking, although tobogganing is popular in the winter. Stables are at one end of the park, and at the far east and south end is the man-made Lake Sikome beach and swimming area. In between are endless acres of largely unspoiled land, where visitors often spot deer or beaver. Archaeological work indicates the Fish Creek valley has been used extensively by humans for more than 2,000 years. To protect this unique area, the province declared it a park in 1975. The Fish Creek Environmental Learning Center, at the west end of the park, is intended primarily for school groups. At the east end, the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Center, a small bakery cafe, and a more upscale sit-down restaurant, dubbed The Ranch, greet visitors. Easy access from via the C-Train. Free admission.
- The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centreis located on the Bow River at 2425 - 9 Ave. S.E. Nestled beside the Bow River at the east end of 9th Ave south, the city-owned sanctuary offers two-and-a-half kilometres of hiking trails that take you through 80 acres of grasslands and riverine forest habitats, home to both whitetail and mule deer as well as foxes, coyotes and long-tailed weasels. And what would a bird sanctuary be without birds? Some 250 species of birds call Inglewood home year round or during their spring and fall migrations. Admission is free. No pets or bicycles.
- Fort Calgary- Meet characters from the past as you stroll through Calgary from 1875 to 1940, in our interpretive center. Check out Calgary's first boxcar train station, play with vintage toys in the backyard, record your own radio play or take a virtual streetcar tour of the old town. You can also live a day in the life of the North West Mounted Police, as you visit the 1875 Fort. Be sure to grab a bite to eat in the Mess Kitchen or at The Deane House restaurant. History has never been so much fun! Located at 750 - 9th Avenue S.E. (right on the N.E. corner of 9th Avenue and 6th St. S.E.). Please call (403) 290-1875 if you need directions. About a 3 block walk southeast of the 4th St. SE C-Train stop. Admission is charged for adults and for children (children under 6 are free).
- Horse Racing at Stampede Park- When the Stampede pulls up stakes and leaves town, there is one place that remains active throughout the year: Stampede Park. The oval track hosts live thoroughbred and standardbred horse racing for seven months a year, plus year-round simulcast wagering from across North America and Hong Kong. The spring thoroughbred meet leads up to the Alberta Derby in mid-June and the 0,000 Nat Christie Memorial, late August, is the crown jewel of the summer standardbred season. The grandstand at Stampede Park offers outdoor seating for those who just have to be close to the action. If you want you can hang out down near the rail and watch the horses twitch their ears as they warm up prior to the race. When the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can head inside and watch the races on several televisions throughout the grandstand. If you must sit in the lap of luxury, you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for it. You can enjoy a reserved box or rail seat in the clubhouse and swap betting strategies with your neighbours over a pre-race meal.
- The Chinook Centeris one of Calgary's premier shopping malls with over 200 shops and restaurants as well as a nice (if preposterously decorated--think the Egyptian temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark) movie theatre.
- The Eaton Centre/TD Square/Scotia Centre is a large indoor shopping area nestled within the buildings in the downtown core.
Things to do in the Rockies
- No trip to Calgary is complete without a visit to the Rockies. Banff is only a 1 - 1.5 hour drive from Calgary. But why restrict yourself to Banff? You can go hiking, camping, or sightseeing in any one of the many nearby Rocky Mountain National and Provincial parks in the Calgary area.
- Forgot your hiking boots? The University of Calgary's Outdoor Center has a HUGE selection of outdoor equipment to get you geared up to enjoy the outdoors.
- If you prefer to avoid driving, you can take a tour of many regions in southern Alberta (including Calgary & the Rockies) through a company such as Brewster.
- There are also a number of more commercial activities that one can enjoy in the Banff area, such as: