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75 Tastes Of Calgary

Get a feel for the culinary flavour of yyc with these dishes


For 75 years, Where Magazine has been the most trusted source for travellers looking for the inside scoop on what the world’s greatest cities have to offer. To celebrate this milestone, here are some of the most iconic and unique dishes the city has to offer, from local meat and produce to flavours balanced to perfection to cult favourites. It wasn’t easy, but we had a little help from some of Calgary’s top food experts—John Gilchrist, Karen Anderson, Linda Garson, Anh Chu, Catherine Caldwell and Andree Lau. Happy eating!

#2 - Grilled Cheese at Janice Beaton, photograph by Jason Dziver

1. “The Whole Truck” at Alley Burger Food Truck • This juicy burger is made from 100 per cent Spring Creek Angus beef with your choice of toppings. We liked it with piri piri aioli, fresh cheese curds, pickles, tomato and lettuce. There might be a line-up, but it’s worth the wait. Watch for their location via Twitter @AlleyBurger.

2. Grilled Cheese at Janice Beaton • Creamy Oka “Classique” cheese mingles with sharp cheddar and tomato chili jam, served on a freshly baked ciabatta bun.

3. The Crave-O-Licious Cupcake at Crave Cookies and Cupcakes • Moist chocolate cake is topped with blue vanilla buttercream icing and shaved dark chocolate.

4. Vegetarian Pad Thai at Delicious Thai • A hearty helping of noodles, sprouts and chunks of sweet, crispy tofu, with robust flavours of peanuts, lime and chilis.

5. Ricotta Gnocchi at Capo • Billowy ricotta gnocchi swims in a rich Lobster Américaine sauce, topped with black truffle oil and greens.

6. The Masala Mogo at Safari Grill • A plate of deep-fried cassava (a tropical root, similar to a potato) mixed with masala sauce: Indian spices with crushed tomatoes.

#3 - The Crave-O-Licious Cupcake at Crave Cookies and Cupcakes, courtesy of Crave Cookies and Cupcakes

7. Scones by Sidewalk Citizen Bakery • A dollop of sour cream keeps things moist, then throw in inventive flavours, like pear and vanilla bean, or lime zest, mint and white chocolate.

8. A Latte at DeVille Luxury Coffee & Pastries • A rich and creamy latte made with a hint of hazelnut and Black Cat espresso, pressed on a Synesso Cyncra machine, known for its preciseness.

9. Bone Marrow and Foie Gras Spring Roll at Rouge • Rich flavours of bone marrow and foie gras are married with herbs, then wrapped in pastry and deep-fried.

10. Falafel Pita at Chick Pea • A secret falafel recipe with 17 spices, topped with  traditional veggies and homemade hummus, tahini and garlic sauce.

11. The Speck E Ruccula Pizza at Pulcinella • Authentic Neapolitan pie with sweet housemade tomato sauce, bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, arugula and smoked prosciutto.

12. Duck Confit Poutine at Laurier Lounge • This poutine comes topped with pulled duck confit and dried cranberries.

#7 - Scones by Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, photograph by Avid Fried

13. Pig Head Mortadella and Brassica Mustard at Charcut • While you can’t go wrong with the prime rib, we can’t get past this cured meat appetizer: hand-mixed pork studded with pistachios and truffles,  shaved paper thin.

14. The Veggie Mezza for Two at Aida’s • Authentic Mediterranean dips: hummus, baba ghanouj, mouhammara, with fatayers (spinach pita pastries), rookaak (cheese and olive phyllo) grape leaves, falafel balls and either fattoush salad or tabouli.

15. Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Taste • High-quality white wine raises the bar of this traditional comfort dish; that, and Chef Shawn Greenwood’s orange cheddar Mornay sauce and duck fat-panko bread crumbs.

16. Lemon Cream Cake at Brûlée Patisserie • Lemon syrup-brushed layers filled with lemon curd and whipped cream. Then covered with a decadent frosted lemon buttercream icing.

17. Eggplant Chips at Vin Room • Chewy eggplant slices battered in panko and grana padano cheese before being deep-fried and presented on a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, with an herbed yogurt medley for dipping.

18. Grilled Pineapple at Bolero • Brushed with housemade caramel sauce, a whole pineapple is then rotisserie roasted before being served right off the skewer at the table.

#8 - A Latte at DeVille Luxury Coffee & Pastries, photograph by Jason Dziver, courtesy DeVille

19. Shroom Pizza at Without Papers •  Wild Italian mushrooms marinated in oil and garlic get spread liberally on a white roasted garlic panne sauce, doused with white truffle oil and topped with arugula.

20. Oatmeal from Diner Deluxe • This breakfast staple gets fried in maple syrup, and then placed on a heated cast iron skillet with warm vanilla bean cream and tart lemon curd.

21. Cheese Fondue at The Living Room • It may be decadent, but the eight-year-aged white cheddar cheese fondue with black truffles, truffle oil, and sprinkled herbs is worth it—whether you want to indulge in just the basket of chopped baguette and bread sticks, or feel “healthy” with an added side of grilled asparagus.

22. Deconstructed Crème Brûlée at Chef’s Table • A cable of vanilla orange Grand Marnier custard is laced with shards of sugar and surrounded by almond butter, hibiscus and pink rose petal meringues, Tahitian vanilla and Egyptian chamomile raspberries, crushed hazelnuts, bee pollen and wild flowers.

23. Linguine Carbonara at Bonterra • Salty chunks of wild boar bacon mingle in a decadent buttery sauce on al dente Barilla pasta, with fresh egg and chili, and a grating of grana padano on top.

24. Rack of Lamb at The Belvedere • Gremolata-crusted free-range lamb served on beluga lentils, with white asparagus and parsley pesto.

#10 - Falafel Pita at Chick Pea, photograph by Blair Hill

25. Milkshake and Burger at Peters’ Drive-In • This classic Calgarian drive-in’s menu of 30 milkshake flavours allows for over 4,500 different combinations, from rum & butter coffee to vanilla. Pair it with one of Peters’ signature one-and-a-half-patty flamebroiled cheeseburgers, doused in tangy barbecue sauce.

26. Prosciutto Sandwich at Caffe Mauro • Bocconcini cheese, salty prosciutto, roasted peppers, olive tapenade and jalapeño veggie spread served on your choice of bread: fresh baguette, panini or soft, herbed focaccia.

27. Waffles from A Ladybug Bakery and Café • Lighter than air waffles made from scratch in the Belgian style. They’re served with maple syrup, thick raspberry coulis sauce, whipped cream, strawberries and powdered sugar.

28. Tombo Tuna Salad Niçoise at Notable • Tombo tuna is breaded in citrus panko and rapidly deep-fried upon order, giving the outside a beautiful crunch while leaving the tuna rare and moist. Chef Michael Noble then adds garlic poached fingerling potatoes, Broxburn tomatoes, green beans, pickled red onions, arugula and a drizzle of tomato-based vinaigrette with crushed Kalamata olives, all with a fried quail egg on top.

29. Eggs Benedict with Elk Bacon at River Café • Everything here’s organic (and delicious): the brown butter hollandaise, poached eggs with juniper reduction, ranch-raised elk bacon, buttermilk biscuit, and even the hashbrowns.

30. Chicken & Pancetta Pizza at Cilantro • Ancho chili pesto is smeared on a thin crust, topped with salty pancetta and sweet onions, chicken, a zippy lime sour cream and a smattering of pickled chilies and cilantro.

#16 - Lemon Cream Cake at Brûlée Patisserie, photograph by Jason Dziver

31. Raspberry Yogurt Muffin at Heartland Café • This muffin’s so good that the owners copyrighted the recipe. Fresh raspberries sing and yogurt keeps everything moist.

32. Garlic Fries at The Palomino •  Handcut potatoes are first fried, then mixed with poached garlic oil, and tossed in minced garlic and sea salt.

33. Rose Lychee Macaron at Yann Haute Patisserie • Delight in white chocolate ganache (made with rose and 35 per cent white chocolate from Valrhona) and diced lychee sandwiched between two airy pink macaroon shells.

34. The Original Veggie Burger at Dairy Lane • This moist grilled vegetable patty contains brown rice, rolled oats, mushrooms and a touch of cheddar cheese to hold it together. It comes topped with butter leaf lettuce, local tomatoes, Dairy Lane mayo, aged cheddar, pickled red onion and hot banana peppers.

35. Chu Chi Kai Chicken at King & I • Chicken tenderloins get stir-fried with seasonal vegetables in a homemade chili jam sauce infused with basil and coconut.

36. Bucket of Bacon at District • The bacon at District is cured in-house and is good enough to hold its own in the spotlight. Order it in a bucket with a side of maple syrup for dipping.

#22 - Deconstructed Crème Brûlée from Chef's Table, courtesy Chef's Table

37. McNally’s Extra at Big Rock Brewery • An Irish Ale from local brewer Big Rock’s signature series. It’s deep red and amber tones are reflected in its sweet and hoppy flavour, with notes of caramel and dark fruity plum. The beer is generous with the alcohol (7 per cent), as with the flavour.

38. The Crab Cakes at Selkirk Grille • Fresh crab and roughly chopped baby shrimp get mixed with red peppers, chives, dill, parsley, and mayo before being rolled in panko and served with red pepper aioli and tomato relish. Try it on their patio, overlooking Heritage Park’s Haskayne Mercantile Square.

39. Naan at Clay Oven • Clay Oven is renowned for this Indian staple. Their secret is to let the dough rise twice over the course of a full day, before popping it in their authentic clay oven. The result? Soft and airy naan.

40. Spinach and Potato Pizza at Double Zero • Try to get a bite of each ingredient on your fork—a piece of the thinly sliced potato, wilted spinach and the runny egg yolk. Their light but toothsome thin crust is a treat in itself.

41. Kashk-e-Bademjan Dip at Shiraz • The silky, gentle flavour of roasted eggplant is garnished with mint, fried onions, and crisp garlic, then topped with a drizzle of whey.

42. Garlic Caesar at Antonio’s Garlic Clove • It’s the garlic-infused vodka that takes this classic Calgarian cocktail to the next level. Antonio’s makes its own, by throwing cloves of garlic into the vodka and letting it soak up the flavour. Minced garlic is added to the Clamato, and garlic seasoning to the rim, to give it an extra garlicky punch.

#26 - Prosciutto Sandwich at Caffe Mauro, photograph by Blair Hill

43. Maultaschen at Wurst • Ground duck sausage gets wrapped in strudel dough then fried with black trumpet mushrooms, arugula, Bavarian cheese, and a sweet jus.

44. Short Ribs at Open Range • Fall-off-the-bone tender bison short ribs are marinated for hours on end in a zesty ancho chili mix, then are quickly seared in the oven and baked at low temperatures.

45. Maple Bacon Doughnut from Jelly Modern • Their preservative-free, raised yeast dough is sweet and delicate. For something unique, try the Maple Bacon doughnut with organically raised Valbella bacon crumbled atop a rich maple glaze.

46. Chili Ramen Soup at Shikiji • Thin Japanese noodles in a nutty, pork-based broth with chili and sesame flavouring. Ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, green onions and bamboo shoots make it a meal.

#27 - Waffles from A Ladybug Bakery and Café, photograph by Blair Hill

47. Soul in a Bowl at OverEasy • A rich breakfast poutine made with two poached eggs sitting on herbed potatoes, Quebec cheese curds, slow-cooked bacon, and smeared with hollandaise sauce.

48. Wasabi Steak at Blowfish • Take one succulent cut of AAA tenderloin, top it with a dollop of wasabi sauce, drizzle with garlic soy and serve along a side of rice and tempura onions.

49. Saté Vietnamese Subs from Thi Thi • A tasty sub with lightly spiced beef or chicken breast, pickled carrots, onion, cucumber sticks, cheese, mayo, cilantro, and pickled Thai chilis on a toasted French baguette. Expect a line-up—this hole-in-the-wall eatery draws a hungry lunch crowd.

50. Ginger Beef at Silver Inn • This dish is credited for being “invented” here back in the ‘70s. Deep-fried strips of beef rolled in ginger and spicy chilies create a texture that is at once crunchy and chewy.

51. Beer Float at Craft Beer Market • This grown-up version of a childhood favourite mixes Lindeman’s fruit lambic beer in flavours of either apple, peach or raspberry, and a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

#41 - Kashk-e-Bademjan Dip at Shiraz, photgraph by Blair Hill

52. Crispy Tofu at Anju • Cubes of tofu are breaded in panko and deep-fried, adding a nice crunch and giving the tofu a smooth texture. It’s then thrown on some sautéed kimchee with a dash of citrus aioli.

53. Bacon Cheeseburger at Buchanan’s • A tender AAA sirloin is ground and formed into a thick and juicy patty, made to order (we like it rare), with salty bacon, cheddar cheese and “secret” burger sauce.

54. Oven-baked Spring Rolls at Escoba • Filled with spinach, gooey feta and toasted almonds. Dip them in sweet chili aioli sauce.

55. Seasoned Pork Tacos at Los Chilitos • Authentically Mexican, the tacos here have lightly seasoned pulled pork, onions and cilantro, on a beautifully soft corn tortilla. Pick your own salsa—we suggest the “ranchera,” with spicy arbol and guajillo chili peppers.

56. Popcorn at The Uptown Stage and Screen • Like any award-winning recipe, this popcorn is a well-kept secret that has been perfected over the last 18 years. Made free of additives and preservatives, it’s popped in sunflower oil with a touch of salt and never sits for longer than one show. Try it with freshly melted butter.

#52 - Crispy Tofu, courtesy of Anju

57. Beef Carpaccio at Vintage Chophouse • Melt-in-your-mouth, paper-thin slices of raw smoked tenderloin with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkling of grana padano cheese.

58. Dosas at Southern Spice • It’s hard to choose just one dosa (golden brown crispy crepes made with rice and lentils and served with assorted chutney and sambar), but go for the Premium Paneer Veggie Dosa, stuffed with potatoes and mixed vegetables.

59. Prairie Oysters from Buzzards • A.k.a. bulls’ testicles, this unique delicacy is served in all sorts of ways—battered, with pasta sauce, or gravy, to name a few. Whether or not you’ll enjoy the taste, saying you’ve tried them is a Calgary rite of passage.

60. Chicken Apple Sausage at Spolumbo’s • Boneless chicken thighs and breasts ground up with 100 per cent natural apple concentrate make this a healthy alternative sausage.

#53 - Bacon Cheesburger at Buchanan's, photograph by Kelly Mulner, courtesy of Buchanan's

61. Beef Brisket Sandwich at Holy Smoke • Cooked slow and low, for hours on end at low temperatures, this lovingly tender piece of beef, with a fathomless depth of smoky barbecue flavour, is piled high on a chewy bun.

62. Ginger Cream Cookie at The Lazy Loaf & Kettle • Sandwiched in between two massive chewy handmade ginger cookies, made with cinnamon and all-spice, is a thick sweet cream cheese icing.

63. Thai Beef Jerky at Thai Sa-On • Beef sirloin is marinated overnight in a secret recipe of herbs and spices, and then dehydrated to reveal a magnificently tender, salty treat.

64. Traditional Vietnamese Crepes at Kol 3 • Gluten and dairy free, these crepes made from rice flour, coconut milk, tumeric powder and water, are stuffed with shrimp, onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts and your choice of pork, beef or chicken.

65. Toasted Seed Roll from Good Earth • A large gooey whole wheat sweet roll covered in honey, then sprinkled with pumpkin, sunflower, flax and poppy seeds.

66. Coconut Curried Calamari at Mango Shiva • Supple squid is breaded in a chickpea and panko mix, deep-fried and served on top of a coconut curry sauce with a coconut garnish.

#64 - Traditional Vietnamese Crepes at Kol 3, photograph by Blair Hill

67. Beet Sandwich at Wilder Nest Dream Café (1309 9 Ave SW, 403-265-3663) • The texture of roasted beets, creamy, tangy goat cheese, and the crunch of the spicy, sweet walnuts make this unconventional sandwich a beautiful thing.

68. Atlantica Scallop at Broken Plate • Using a fresh “U10” scallop (U10 meaning it’s oversized), this star of the sea is seared and baked before being served on a panko-crusted risotto croquette and drizzled with a triple sec and Grand Marnier orange glaze.

69. Strawberry Guava Mousse Cake at Yamato Desserts • This mousse cake is light, airy and silky smooth, with striking tropical flavours of strawberry and guava.

70. Bouillabaisse at Vero • Halibut, mussles, calamari, clams, prawns, and scallops get perfectly steeped in a light tomato pernod saffron broth.

#74 - Fishbowl at Melrose Café and Bar, photograph by Tony Johanson, courtesy of Melrose Café and Bar

71. Deep-Fried Dill Pickles at Big T’s BBQ & Smokehouse • A traditional Southern appetizer: salty dill pickles get deep-fried at this hopping joint.

72. Garlic Pork at Han’s • This hole-in-the-wall’s garlic pork is a punchy dish with fatty pork side cooked in spicy oil, soy sauce and enough garlic to nearly raise the dead.

73. Pani Pura at Rasoi Kitchen • A savoury pastry puff loaded with chickpeas, tomatoes and coriander and drizzled with yogurt sauce and taramind and coriander chutney.

74. Fishbowl at Melrose Café and Bar • Meant for sharing, this tropical cocktail is a blend of three types of rum, Crème de Banane, Grand Marnier, and Peach Schnapps for a total of 6 ounces of alcohol. There’s also fruit juice, cranberries and a cherry garnish.

75. Onion Rings at Tommy Burger • Jumbo onion rings deep-fried with panko breading, and served with in-house chipotle ranch sauce.

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