Monday, December 17, 2012

Things I Like In Calgary - Restaurant Edition

My friends often ask me about where I like to eat in Calgary. I have a long list of places that I like, and probably a longer list of places I don't like. I decided to put pen to paper and make a list for myself and friends. This list is the "Best Restaurants" list. If I have a bad experience at a restaurant, I simply don't go back. I have no interest publicly trashing places so there will be no "Worst of Calgary". It's not my nature.

This list is strictly my opinion and it is based solely on my own experiences at each restaurant. I have absolutely no affiliation with any of the places listed below. 

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear it. 
Best Restaurants, 2012 Edition

Best Pho - Dong Kahn

Best Pizza (Slice) - Sedar Grove Pizza

Best Pizza (Wood Fired) - Una Pizzeria

Best Pizza (Chain) - BBQ Chicken Supreme from Domino's

Best New Restaurant - Cucina

Best Cafe - Vendome Cafe

Best Value - Moose Maguire's

Best Steak - The Keg
(Hon. Mention - Vintage Chophouse )

Best Restaurant Ambience - Vintage Chop House

Best Burger - Smash Burger

Best Greek - Santorini Taverna

Best Food Truck - The Steak Out Truck

Best Sushi - Zen Sushi

Best Indian - The Tandoori Hut

Best Greasy Spoon - Dell Cafe

Best Pub Food - Moose Maguire's

Best Sub/Sandwich - Alberta King of Sub

Best Coffee - Chiasso Coffee Company
(Hon. Mention Bumpy's)

Best Lunch Spot - The Holy Grill

Best Breakfast - Over Easy Breakfast
(Hon. Mention - Cora's)

Best Donair/Schwarma - Jimmy's A & A Deli

Best Bakery - Sidewalk Citizen Bakery

Best Appetizer - Eggplant Fritta - Borgo Trattoria)
(Hon. Mention - Scampi al Burro Aglio - Abruzzo Restaurant

Best Latte - Charcut Roast House - Caffe Umbria Latte
(Hon. Mention Spanish Latte from Chiasso)

Best Kept Secret - Brulee Patisserie

Best Cupcakes - Crave Cupcakes

Best Hot Chocolate - White Hot Chocolate at Second Cup

Best Chinese - Peking Garden

Best Place You've Probably Never Been - Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus

Best Overall Restaurant Experience - Brava Bistro


Best Pho - Dong Kahn
There is no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants in Calgary, and lots of good ones. The best Pho I've had to date is at Dong Kong.

Best Pizza (Slice) - Sedar Grove Pizza
Located across directly across the street from SAIT on 16th Ave and 12th St., they are turning out fresh pizzas all the time serving the students. An awesome slice is to be had here.

Best Pizza (Wood Fired) - Una Pizzeria
There have been more and more wood fired pizzerias popping up in the last few years. Una gets my vote for the best of the bunch. Every time I try a new place, I always order the Margherita pizza. I like to see how well they can do the basics. Una does it really well, although my favourite is the Truffle Mushroom pizza.

Best Pizza (Chain) - BBQ Chicken Supreme from Domino's
Not much to say about this other than it's delicious.

Best New Restaurant - Cucina

I went here for lunch during the first week of it being open and they were still working out the the kinks. None the less, the food was great and it is destined to become a hot spot for the downtown business crowd. Whether you are looking to get a quality lunch or pick up something quick from their lunch counter, Cucina doesn't disappoint. 

Best Cafe - Vendome Cafe
I once had a take out order from here mixed up and I accidentally ended up with vegetarian lasagna. It turned out to be a great mix up as it was the best lasagna I've ever had. It's a cross between a cafe and restaurant -  A Coffee shop with restaurant quality lunch food.

Best Value - Moose Maguires

It's pub food, but for my money it's the best pub food in town priced very affordable compared to other pubs. You'll get a great lunch or dinner here for as cheap as $7.50. 

Best Steak - The Keg
I've never had a bad steak at The Keg. While there are many great chop houses in town, I tend to go here the most for some reason.
(Hon. Mention - Vintage Chophouse )

Best Restaurant Ambience - Vintage Chop House
This place has a great vibe in the restaurant and the bar is rocking on weekends. It's a place to go for a great meal and then slide into the bar, grab a drink, and listen to some awesome Blues music.

Best Burger - Smash Burger
This category could be the most controversial. People are passionate about burgers and they are more than willing to share their opinion about the best burger in town. I don't like the fries here, they have to get that worked out, but for overall taste of the burger, Smashburger wins.

Best Greek - Santorini Taverna
The menu is pretty much identical to every other Greek restaurant I've eaten at in Calgary, but the food just seems to taste better here.

Best Food Truck - The Steak Out Truck
When the food trucks launched, I made it a point to try as many of them as I could. My overall consensus was that they were all just pretty good. None of them blew me away. I also found them to be a little pricey and generally not worth standing in the long lineups. The Steakout Truck bucks the trend of average food. Owned by the guys at The Holy Grill, this truck does not disappoint.

Best Sushi - Zen Sushi
I'm far from a sushi aficionado. I've really only been eating for a few years, but I love it. Zen can roll with the best of them.

Best Indian - The Tandoori Hut
It's worth the trip to eat the Paratha bread.

Best Greasy Spoon - Dell Cafe
Located in Bowness, it's classic greasy spoon that serves western and chinese food.

Best Pub Food - Moose Maguire's
Every Thursday night is Dino Rib night where they serve beef ribs that are big enough to satisfy Fred Flinstone. I've never had something here that wasn't great. I'm also a big fan of the Philly Cheesesteak. I find the food here very affordable too.

Best Sub/Sandwich - Alberta King of Sub
These guys are known for their Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches. A visit here and you will swear your are in Quebec. They do it proper, with great fries and dill pickles. They also have great subs which makes the name of this place very fitting. Located in Temple, it's a little out of the way, but well worth the trip.

Best Coffee - Chiasso Coffee Company
This is another category that people are passionate about. Lots of great coffee places in Calgary (Bumpy's, Phil and Sebastian, Vendome, etc...) but I have to give the edge to Chiasso. The Spainsh Latte will have you going back for more.

Best Lunch Spot - The Holy Grill
Two words - smash browns. They are to die for. I've never had a dish here that I didn't like. Any of the Eggs Benedicts or the paninis are home runs. It's probably my favourite place in Calgary.

Best Breakfast - Over Easy Breakfast
Breakfast done the way it should be with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Be prepared to wait for a table.
(Hon. Mention - Cora's)

Best Donair/Schwarma  - Jimmy's A & A Deli
Halifax is the donair capital of Canada and I lived there for 5 years while going to university. I appreciate a good donair and when I moved to Calgary, it was a major struggle to find a good donair spot. I tried many different places and I always seemed to leave disappointed. When I walked into Jimmy's and saw that they weren't weighing the amount of meat that goes into it, I knew I was home.

Best Bakery - Sidewalk Citizen Bakery
Aviv Fried has mastered the art of baking bread. If you haven't been here yet, you truly are missing out. Not only does he do many different kinds of bread, but he also does some sweets, sandwiches, and just recently pizzas. Look for his new location in Sunnyside in 2013.

Best Appetizer - Eggplant Fritta - Borgo Trattoria)
Panko breaded, fried eggplant sticks served with fennel yogurt that are to die for.

Best Appetizer (Hon. Mention) - Scampi al Burro Aglio - Abruzzo Restaurant
Far and away the best shrimp I've ever had.

Best Latte - Charcut Roast House - Caffe Umbria Latte
While Charcut is a meat lovers paradise, I've been there several times just for a latte. Cafe Umbria Coffee comes from Seattle and after visiting their flagship store in Seattle, I was instantly hooked. It is the best coffee I've ever had. Charcut is the only place in town to get it.

Best Kept Secret - Brulee Patisserie
It's easy to walk or drive by this little gem. Located in the basement of the Cookbook Company on 11th Ave, this is heaven for those who like sweets. 

Best Cupcakes - Crave Cupcakes
Crave has become a Calgary institution. When I first moved here, a friend raved about the place to me. I said to her, "How good can a cupcake be?" Then I tried one. Turns out a cupcake can be unbelievably good. I seriously crave the Cravolicious (chocolate with blue icing).

Best Hot Chocolate - White Hot Chocolate at Second Cup
I started drinking these in university about 11 years ago and haven't stopped since. If you haven't tried one, what are you waiting for? I look forward to your emails thanking me for turning you on to these delicious cups of chocolately heaven.

Best Chinese - Peking Garden
It's no different than any other Chinese restaurant. Same menu, with tons of flavour.

Best Place You've Probably Never Been - Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus
A pannenkoek is a Dutch pancake that is the size of a medium pizza. Dutch pancakes are a little different than regular pancakes, but they taste delicious. The come in sweet or savoury. Be prepared to wait for a table on weekends.

Best Overall Restaurant Experience - Brava Bistro
The food was great, the ambience was great, the service was great. It was one of those nights when everything came together perfectly.


  1. I seldom find interesting post like yours. I really would like to thank you for sharing.

    Zion National Park Restaurant

    1. Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)


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