By ELIZABETH CHORNEY-BOOTH
Whether you’re entertaining clients and colleagues or catching up with friends, this time of year is prime party season. The holidays call for fun and frivolity around a dinner table or over a glass (or two) of cheer, but if you’re trying to put together a last-minute shindig, it can be difficult to navigate Calgary’s wide variety of wining and dining options. Whether you’re aiming to impress or just want to do some holiday socializing, there’s a spot in Calgary to help host a cheer-worthy celebration.
Out on the Town
Calgary has no shortage of great restaurants and—provided you have time to make a reservation—most can accommodate medium-sized groups for a holiday dinner, while some also have private rooms that can be booked for a larger holiday party. For something special, turn to fine-dining restaurants like Rouge or The Deane House, both of which have several different rooms within their regular dining areas that offer a bit of privacy for larger tables. The Nash, owned by celebrated chef Michael Noble, also has the option of larger tables for big groups looking for an excellent meal. For something more explicitly Christmas-themed, the Fairmont Palliser Hotel has a high-end holiday menu in its Rimrock Dining Room and throughout the entire season the hotel’s lobby is decorated in full Christmas splendor, which is worth seeing even if you’re not a guest at the hotel.
Calgary’s restaurant scene also has a number of restaurants that are perfect for hosting smaller groups of foodies keen on using the holidays as an excuse to check out the city’s hot spots. Acclaimed restaurants like Pigeonhole, Ten Foot Henry, Avec Bistro, and Anju all offer creative and modern menus. Just as importantly, they all take reservations, allowing revelers to plan ahead when entertaining clients or friends.
Gather Round the Hearth
If you’d prefer to celebrate outside of the confines of a traditional restaurant, there are plenty of ways to get great food to come to you. Popular restaurants like Foreign Concept, Charcut and Sauce Italian Kitchen & Market all have catering programs. For a restaurant-quality experience that is near, but not quite in a restaurant, The Guild is a popular downtown restaurant that’s also attached to the massive Hudson event space—depending on availability, the large space can be broken up into smaller party rooms to accommodate any size of group.
More casually catered office parties are also a good last-minute option—many Calgary businesses are able to get food together for a party with fairly short notice. Meez Cuisine and Catering offers holiday-specific menus, as does Sunterra Market. For something even less formal, Italian Centre Shop can put together gourmet deli platters and charcuterie boards with just 48 hours notice.
If a full dinner isn’t in order, Calgary is full of elegant cocktail bars that are idea for an impromptu holiday get-together. Celebrate with carefully crafted cocktails at Proof, Ricardo’s Hideaway or Milk Tiger Lounge, all of which can also provide some bites to go with those drinks. Wine lovers may prefer Winebar Kensington, Bar Von Der Fels or the Vin Room. For a more whimsical night out on the town, Calgary is home to a number of speakeasy-style lounges, like Betty Lou’s Library—which requires a reservation and a password—or Cannibale, a cozy cocktail bar hidden behind a functional barber shop.
Something to See
While eating and drinking is the centerpiece of any great holiday party, for those who really want to treat associates or loved ones over the holidays, there are a few options that come with added entertainment value. Teatro, one of Calgary’s most classic restaurants, is conveniently located just across the street from Arts Commons, home to many venues that host holiday-themed concerts and theatre events. The Selkirk Grille, which sits just outside the gates of Heritage Park Historical Village, is a great place to host a gathering that can tie into the park’s much beloved Once Upon a Christmas event, which runs weekends from November 25 to December 23. Heritage Park also hosts a “shared party” at its Gasoline Alley on December 7, meant to offer a big party experience for smaller companies. And, finally, for anyone looking to create memories together over a few beers and plates of upscale pub grub, be sure to book a lane at National on 10th’s bowling lanes.