Calgary’s vibrant and constantly evolving restaurant scene paints a picture of a city that has undergone a huge growth period over the last two decades or so, both in terms of size and cultural identity. It wasn’t too long ago that Calgary was a small but scrappy city designed to serve the oil and gas and agriculture industries with restaurants that served fairly conservative (and homogenous) meals centred around good ol’ steak and potatoes. While those kinds of restaurants still exist, as Calgary has diversified, so has its dining options, with an industry full of creative chefs and restaurateurs building businesses that better mirror the makeup of the city.
From fresh vegetable-forward hotspots with an emphasis on sharing to fine dining restaurants dedicated to locally produced food and restaurants representing cuisines that reflect a culturally diverse community, Calgary’s most iconic restaurants give both visitors and locals a taste of the city’s bright future with a delicious nod to that steak and potatoes past.
Ten Foot Henry (Beltline)
Ten Foot Henry tips its hat to Calgary’s history — it’s named after a 10-foot wooden cut-out of an old-time cartoon character that sat in a Calgary music club called Ten Foot Henry’s in the 1980s and now lives in the back of the restaurant — while setting the stage for how many locals like to eat today. The restaurant opened in 2016 and its influence on other contemporary restaurants in Calgary has been huge. While it’s often mistaken as a vegetarian spot, Ten Foot Henry is actually just “vegetable forward,” with a menu filled with shareable plates of seasonal veg presented with layers of purees, sauces, and dustings of nuts and cheese for maximum flavour. The rest of the menu has a moderate selection of non-vegetarian dishes such as tuna crudo and flat iron steak.
Dining in the restaurant: Open for indoor dining, with a newly extended seating area to accommodate more people, as well as a new outdoor patio.
Takeout: Ten Foot Henry does not offer takeout.
Foreign Concept (Beltline)
Chef Duncan Ly is one of Calgary’s most beloved restaurateurs, and Foreign Concept is a distillation of his version of contemporary pan-Asian cuisine. The dining room’s modern Asian-inspired décor is a match for the food, which combines elements of Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese cooking with Canadian ingredients and a multicultural point of view. Dishes such as the pork and shrimp imperial rolls and steelhead trout chả cá lã vọng (Vietnamese turmeric fish) have become signatures, celebrated by food lovers throughout the city.
Dining in the restaurant: As of late June, Foreign Concept is back open for indoor dining.
Takeout: In addition to curbside pickup, the restaurant operates a catering service for corporate and at-home events.
Probably Calgary’s most palatial fine dining room, Teatro occupies a former bank building, which left behind a grand façade and elegant architectural elements inside (including the old vault that now houses the basement wine cellar). The food is elegant and beautifully executed, with an emphasis on owner Dario Berloni’s Italian heritage and contemporary interpretations of classic Mediterranean cuisine in dishes such as lobster, scallop, and prawn lasagna or wood-fire smoked eggplant with pistachio gremolata and sweet harissa. Located across the street from the Arts Commons theatre complex, it’s the perfect stop for dinner before a show.
Dining in the restaurant: Both the indoor dining room and the secluded outdoor patio are open for dining.
Takeout: Takeout is available for pickup and delivery. The takeout menu includes casual items like burgers, designed to be enjoyed in the neighboring Olympic Plaza.
The Nash (Inglewood)
The Nash itself is less than a decade old, but it sits in the former National Hotel, which has been a Calgary landmark since 1908. The restaurant is designed to pay homage to the building’s somewhat infamous history (it drew in a lot of colourful characters over the decades), albeit with a sophisticated modern touch. Food-wise, chef de cuisine Dwayne Ennest’s menu is all about upscale protein-forward comfort food, such as pappardelle bolognese and rotisserie chicken.
Dining in the restaurant: The adjacent Off Cut Bar is darker and a little more gritty than the main restaurant, serving serious cocktails and tasty bar bites. Both sides are currently open for dine-in, as is the sidewalk patio.
Takeout: Takeout, including the popular happy chicken meal package and cocktails from the Off Cut Bar, is available for pickup and delivery.
Bow Valley Ranche (Deer Ridge)
Bow Valley Ranche has the advantage of sitting in one of Calgary’s most stunning locations — the restaurant itself is in an outstanding house that dates back to the 1890s and is surrounded by the natural beauty of Fish Creek Provincial Park. While the atmosphere is a huge selling point, the food is just as much of a draw, with a menu full of fine-dining dishes that make the most of fresh Canadian ingredients, from elk tartare with horseradish cream to British Columbia halibut with celeriac puree.
Dining in the restaurant: The dining room and veranda are open and the restaurant’s parent company, the Great Events Group, also holds outdoor dome dinners in the outdoor garden under its Foodies in the Park brand. To feel extra fancy, head here for afternoon tea.
Takeout: After considerable success during pandemic dine-in closures, Bow Valley Ranche is continuing its á La Maison takeout program for brunch and dinner, as well as takeaway picnics to eat in the park.
One of Calgary’s most celebrated restaurants, CHARCUT’s success was built on the perseverance, ingenuity, and personality of co-chefs John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, two of the most recognized figures in Calgary’s food community. Their food lives up to the restaurant’s high profile, with an unabashedly meat-friendly menu featuring dishes such as a butcher shop steak, an indulgent truffle poutine, and a selection of pastas. The must-order, however, is a platter of hand-crafted cured meats, which have become a signature not only for the restaurant, but for the city of Calgary, too.
Dining in the restaurant: CHARCUT is open for dine-in for dinner and lunch and is back serving its very popular “lunch all at once” special, a 45-minute lunch service with a bag of cookies to-go.
Takeout: The restaurant is offering curbside pickup for its Connie and John’s Italian menu as well as meat and provisions from its butcher shop.
Sukiyaki House (Downtown)
One of Calgary’s longer running restaurants, Sukiyaki House has been a presence in the city since 1976, but it continues to be a contemporary favourite thanks to the skill and vision of chef Koji Kobayashi. Professionally trained in the art of kaiseki, the highest form of Japanese cooking that follows the food of the seasons, Kobayashi has turned Sukiyaki House into a destination restaurant for both his special event dinners and its regular menu of sushi, hot pot, and other Japanese entrees and appetizers.
Dining in the restaurant: Sukiyaki House is open for dine-in.
Takeout: The restaurant’s takeout was extremely popular during periods of pandemic restrictions and items like the Sukiyaki at Home kits and “adult juice box” cocktails continue to be available.
Alloy has always stuck out for its location in an urban industrial park, but the fine-dining restaurant has managed to create a gorgeous oasis that feels a million miles away from the auto parts shops and breweries that make up the rest of the neighbourhood. Both the dining room and patio feel chic and relaxing, thanks to a series of plush half moon-shaped booths, but the biggest reason that this restaurant has been a mainstay for almost 15 years is chef Rogelio Herrera’s irresistible culinary style. The chef draws from a host of global influences, turning out plate after plate of exquisitely creative and incredibly flavourful food that includes roasted carrot bisque with herbed crème fraiche, crispy onions, and calabrian chili oil as well as yuzu cheesecake with honey crumb, peach and sake marmalade, and white chocolate flakes.
Dining in the restaurant: Alloy’s patio and indoor dining room are open for both lunch and dinner.
Takeout: Since ambiance is part of the Alloy experience, the restaurant does not currently offer takeout.
The Lake House (Lake Bonavista)
In an idyllic setting that doesn’t feel like it’s in the middle of the city, the Lake House is a go-to for romantic dinners and special events like weddings. It overlooks Lake Bonavista and is managed by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, which means the menu is full of distinctive cuisine that speaks to the land that surrounds the Canadian Rockies, as well as a fantastic wine list culled from CRMR’s legendary wine collection. Look for meals such as freshly shucked oysters, sous-vide bison striploin, and other dishes that evoke the spirit of mountain living.
Dining in the restaurant: Both the lakeside patio and the indoor dining room are open for business.
Takeout: The Lake House is currently offering takeout for pickup.
River Café (Prince’s Island)
River Café has been a jewel of Calgary’s restaurant scene for 30 years as one of the top restaurants in Canada for sustainability and support of local producers. The only restaurant on Calgary’s inner-city Prince’s Island Park, the elegantly rustic restaurant manages to feel both cozy and fancy at the same time. The menu falls into the realm of fine dining, with an emphasis on food that is meant to reflect the natural elements of the park and the Bow River that flows around it — think dishes such as grilled Pacific octopus with fermented banana pepper, wild garlic, Sudo Farms peas, and house-made salumi or sprouted heritage grain risotto with crème fraîche, seasonal mushrooms, Sylvan Star gouda, and sunflower shoots.
Dining in the restaurant: River Café is open for indoor dining, but it’s wise to try to snag a table on the river-facing patio for an epic view.
Takeout: The restaurant is currently offering takeout, which is best ordered in the form of a picnic that can be eaten in the surrounding park.
When it comes to fine dining in Calgary, it doesn’t get much better than Rouge, which is the only local restaurant to have ever made the list of the World’s 100 Best Restaurants. The restaurant is located in a charming historic home right on the bank of the river, with a huge and impeccably maintained outdoor garden full of produce used by the chefs in the kitchen. The food is a mix of classic French techniques and (often foraged) Canadian ingredients, creating a truly spectacular interpretation of what high-end food can look and feel like in a Western Canadian context.
Dining in the restaurant: Enjoy the famous six-course chef’s tasting menu or à la carte selections either inside the red house or from the garden patio. The restaurant is also open for weddings, private dining, and group bookings.
Takeout: Rouge is not currently offering takeout options.
Chef Darren MacLean’s original Japanese restaurant Shokunin — he also runs the ritzier Nupo and Eight restaurants out of the Alt Hotel — is a cool little yakitori joint with a focus on snacks and skewers that go well with the restaurant’s selection of cocktails, sake, wine, and beer. The house specialty here is chicken yakitori bites that use as much of the bird as possible, with items such as ramen and braised pork belly rib rounding out the menu.
Dining in the restaurant: Shokunin is currently open for indoor dining as well as weather-dependent patio seating.
Takeout: Shokunin “favourites,” as well as selections from its sister restaurants Nupo and Greenfish Sushi, are available for takeout.
Una Pizza + Wine (Beltline)
As one of Calgary’s original fork-and-knife pizza places, this fresh and energetic restaurant has been extremely popular for more than a decade. The richly topped thin-crust pizzas have always been Una’s calling card, but the kale Caesar salad, topped with mounds of crisp prosciutto and pecorino romano, is its most legendary dish. Una Pizza + Wine now has three locations in Calgary, with the original Beltline restaurant serving as the flagship.
Dining in the restaurant: Dining is available inside and also on the sidewalk patio.
Takeout: The Una Takeaway shop next door to the Beltline location is open for takeout and delivery and sells ready-to-bake frozen pizzas as well as ready-to-eat pizzas, pizza by the slice, starters, and other menu favourites.
Bridgette Bar (Beltline)
One of the key restaurants from Calgary’s ever-growing Concorde Group, Bridgette Bar is a beautifully designed room with a cool retro flair that is both comfortable and lively. Chef JP Pedhirney’s menu is eclectic and exciting, drawing on flavours and ingredients from around the world. Sharing is a good idea here so everyone can try multiple dishes, with small plate selections such as tuna crudo in a brown butter emulsion or a grilled octopus salad and larger plates of grilled farm chicken and maple barbecue rainbow trout, as well as pizza, pastas, and hearty salads.
Dining in the restaurant: Both indoor dining and patio seating are currently open.
Takeout: To better serve dine-in guests, Bridgette Bar no longer offers a curbside pickup option.
Caesar’s Steakhouse Downtown (Downtown)
If Calgary has a single restaurant that stands as an emblem of its past, it’s Caesar’s, which first opened in 1972. During the oil and gas booms of the ’70s and ’80s, this was the place to see and be seen, with many prominent business people holding court at their “regular” table for lunch every day. Today the restaurant retains its plush retro look as well as a menu full of classics such as shrimp cocktail, onion soup, and, of course, juicy Alberta beef.
Dining in the restaurant: Caesar’s is currently open for indoor dining, including its famous traditional tableside service.
Takeout: Takeout, including a to-go version of Caesar’s “emperor’s feast,” is available for pickup.
Cassis Bistro (Killarney)
One of Calgary’s most popular French restaurants, Cassis serves expertly prepared fare created by highly regarded chef Dominique Moussu in a cozy and intimate environment that never feels pretentious or intimidating. The food is classic French bistro, with entrées such as steak frites and a veal chop with foie gras jus, as well as luxurious appetizers including salade niçoise, duck rillettes, and what is arguably the best steak tartare in Calgary, served with duck fat potato chips.
Dining in the restaurant: Cassis’s indoor dining room is open, as is its patio when the weather is cooperative.
Takeout: The restaurant has paused its popular French essentials meal boxes while it focuses on in-person dining, but customers can still order à la carte items to go or put together a package of goodies from the L’Epicerie French deli shop.
Founded by “Mamma” Cathy and the late Victor Caracciolo, Mercato has long been a Calgary favourite because of its bustling energy and solid Italian menu. The name comes from the adjacent Italian market, but the restaurant itself is just as important, with its busy open kitchen creating an irresistibly vibrant atmosphere. The menu is broken up Italian-style into sections for antipasti, primi, secondi, and so on, with traditional dishes such as linguine alla vongole, arrosto misto, and caprese salad taking centre stage.
Dining in the restaurant: Both the market café and the restaurant are fully open.
Takeout: Many of Mercato’s menu items are available for online order and pickup.
Escoba has gone through many ups and downs over its lifespan — it made it through Covid! — and after 25 years it’s still going strong, serving great wines and an impressive menu of Mediterranean-style food. The restaurant’s dishes range from casual pizzas and a formidable chef’s burger to seafood-heavy entrées such as the restaurant’s signature paella and an Atlantic grilled salmon served over shrimp risotto.
Dining in the restaurant: Escoba is open for indoor and patio dining and is also hosting wine dinners and other special events.
Takeout: Takeout is available through curbside pickup and delivery.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.