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B-Side Dinner & Drinks: Eat at the Bar in Calgary


Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

When you’re out for dinner and drinks in Calgary, consider requesting a seat at the bar. Bartender banter, cocktail clatter and the sociable setting of a communal elbow rest deliver an instant dose of nightlife. Also on the plus side, most venues’ dinner menus can be enjoyed at the bar sans (typically) reservations. Below is a guide to a varied assortment of great restaurant bars.

The Bar: Bright and contemporary, its blonde wood backbar and red bar seats are a fun and modern twist to this French bistro.
The Appeal: You can cozy up to your dinner date at this intimate six-seater. The rustic French food far exceeds its price tag.
The Feel: Refined yet happily casual.
Specials: Occasional weekend special: homemade ice cream sandwiches, seafood du jour.
Bar Reservations: Call ahead on Fri and Sat.
Recommends: Steak frites with béarnaise and aioli paired with a fine French red. Or the Drink French Fluently cocktail made with St. Germain liqueur and Champagne.
Hours: Mon – Thu, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 10 pm; Fri, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sun, closed
• Avec Bistro, 105, 550 – 11 Ave SW, 587-352-0964, www.avecbistro.com
• Map and reviews

The Bar: With 30 seats, the lengthy bar sits squarely in the centre of the room under warm orange lights and big screen TVs.
The Appeal: Elbow-to-elbow socializing and plenty of pizza eating.
The Feel: Suits and bowling shirts both apropos at this casually hip basement bar.
Specials: Happy Hour! Mon – Fri, 3 pm – 6 pm, $5.00 bar snacks, draft and bottled beer, red and white wine by the glass and bubbles.
Bar Reservations: Recommended for dinner, Thu – Sat.
Recommends: Chorizo salami pizza with grilled pepper, niçoise olives and goat cheese paired with a cold glass of Koster Wolf Riesling.
Hours: Mon – Fri, 11 am – late; Sat, 5 pm – late; Sun, closed
• Double Zero Pizza, 751 – 4 St SW, 403-265-9559, www.doublezeropizza.ca
Map and reviews

The Bar: With its marble countertops and glass-bulb ceiling, the 15-seat bar is a contemporary art piece.
The Appeal: Watch the bartender mix lovely elixirs such as the Vietnamese Ramos Gin Fizz, shaken with duck egg whites, citrus and milk.
The Feel: Glam cocktail chic.
Specials: Thursdays feature live music by local jazz and folk performers.
Bar Reservations: Not required.
Recommends: Pair a chili-marinated prawn salad with a Blossom Cooler (a vodka-based cocktail made with maraschino liqueur, orange blossom water, Chinese five spice syrup and garnished with edible flowers).
Hours: Mon – Thu, 4 pm – 11 pm; Fri – Sat, 4 pm – 1 am
• Raw Bar by Duncan Ly, Hotel Arts, 119 – 12 Ave SW, 403-206-9565, www.hotelarts.ca
Map and reviews

Chef Ly preps entrees at Raw Bar by Duncan Ly (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Chef Ly preps entrees at Raw Bar by Duncan Ly (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The Bar: The restaurant is situated in a refurbished 1900s bank, and its suitably elegant bar 20-seat bar is gorgeously lit.
The Appeal: Clad in a crisp white shirt, vest and tie, the natty barkeep mixes equally neat martinis.
The Feel: Impossibly posh; think New York circa the 1930s.
Specials: Mon – Fri, 4 pm – 6 pm, half-price premium highballs, beer and wine from $5.00.
Bar Reservations: Not required.
Recommends: Artisanal cheese plate with a glass of Napa Valley Honig Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hours: Mon – Fri, 11:30 am – 2 pm, 4:30 – late; Sat, 4:30 – late
• The Belvedere, 107 – 8 Ave SW, 403-265-9595, www.thebelvedere.com
Map and reviews

The Bar: Set on the main floor, it’s a low-lit 20-seat retreat of leather and dark wood.
The Appeal: Bartenders Will and Andy craft inventive cocktails and know their sports and music to boot.
The Feel: Elegantly cozy.
Specials: The lounge menu, 3 pm – 5 pm and 9:30 – 10 pm, features beef tartare, elk Wellington and mussels with chorizo and smoked tomato sauce.
Bar Reservations: Not required.
Recommends: Seared scallops with crispy oxtail, butternut squash and vanilla plus an Old Fashioned cocktail with a slow-melting, giant ice cube.
Hours: Mon – Thu, 11 am – 11 pm; Fri, 11 am – 12 am; Sat, 4 pm – 12 am
• 100, 118 – 8th Ave SW, 403-269-3160, www.tribsteakhouse.ca
Map and reviews

The Bar: Fifteen seats and 24 beer taps line the main bar at this old-English-style tavern.
The Appeal: If everyone doesn’t know your name, they will after a couple of pints.
The Feel: Brit pub with a Cheers ambiance.
Specials: Food and drink features nightly, including Wing Wednesday and two-for-one appetizers Thursdays.
Bar Reservations: Recommended on Fri.
Recommends: Secret-sauce-marinated Maui ribs with a pint of Shock Top.
Hours: Mon – Thu, 11 am – 12 am; Fri, 11 am – 1 am; Sat, 10 am – 1 am; Sun, 10 am – 11pm
(Meal service available till one hour prior to closing.)
• 2475 – 27 Ave NE, 403-717-0670, www.toadnturtle.ca
Map and reviews

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