Inglewood’s main street—9 Ave SE—was Calgary’s original downtown, established in 1875. Since then it has seen various transformations, from pioneer village to rundown suburb, a mecca for antiques and home décor, and finally Calgary’s most prominent up-and-coming neighbourhood.
By Sally MacKinnon
Inglewood may not have as many antique shops as it did a decade ago, but it still has a higher concentration than any other neighbourhood in the city. At Junktiques, it’s all about furniture, whether it’s antique, restored, or custom-made. The colourful glassware at Circa is also antique, specifically hand-blown items made between 1940 and 1960. In addition, there are also vintage art glass lamps and contemporary glass art.
Eat! Eat! is a cheerful café with bright yellow walls, local artwork and brunch items such as whole-grain pancakes, French toast, and build-your-own omelettes. They serve breakfast seven days a week. Kane’s Harley Diner is an old-school greasy spoon, where you can eat bacon, sausage and eggs—or lunch fare like meat loaf and mac ‘n’ cheese—surrounded by Harley Davidson memorabilia.
This is where it all began: in 1875 the North West Mounted Police built a fort where the Bow River meets the Elbow River, and the city of Calgary was born. The purpose of Fort Calgary was to bring law and order to an area dominated by the whiskey trade, but it soon became a gathering point for settlers and First Nations.
Today, the original fort is gone, but the site features a museum and replicas of the 1875 palisade and 1888 barracks. Next door, The Deane House is a 1906 home that has been converted into a restaurant and serves brunch, lunch and murder mystery dinners.
It’s hard to drive down 9 Ave SE and not notice Suzie Q Beads, Buttons & Bijoux: the exterior sign is made of tiny mirrors dancing in the wind. The interior is no less brilliant, with colourful décor and scads of beads, buttons and ready-made jewellery. Knifewear is the new kid on the block, and the place in Calgary for Japanese knives, many of which are designed and handmade specifically for the store.
For dinner shows head to Club Paradiso, an intimate venue above the Village Cantina. Thursdays The Garter Girls present a burlesque show, Friday night Billy and the RPM Band sing Frank Sinatra tunes, and Saturday night features the female impersonators of Carly’s Angels. The menu includes items such as grilled pork tenderloin and flatbread with basil pesto, artichoke hearts, garlic shrimp and sweet roasted pepper. Shows are often sold out in advance, so call ahead.
The specialty at Rouge is locally sourced, French-influenced cuisine, such as AAA Alberta beef chateaubriand and chargrilled lamb chop with saskatoon berry couscous. This year, Rouge was #60 on the S. Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants 2010 list.
Back on the main street, Italian restaurant Capo was named by enRoute as the #2 Best New Restaurant in 2006, and has been going strong ever since with their trio dishes: the Other White Meats Trio features roasted pheasant breast, rabbit mortadella and pork belly.
Inglewood is located just east of downtown, across the Elbow River. Get on 9 Ave S and head east.