Scenic Dinner and Breakfast in Calgary
We will be in Calgary for one evening and breakfast the next day on our way to the mountains. We would love a great (but not the most expensive) dinner along a river or park. Downtown could be fun too. We are desert rats and can't wait to see water and green! We are staying at a hotel by the airport but can drive anywhere that's worth it! Appreciate your suggestions!
in a similar vein to River Cafe (restaurants in parks), you could try The Ranche (http://www.crmr.com/theranche/ ) which is down south in Fish Creek Park. If you want something slightly more casual, the Reader Garden Cafe might work also (sun review here: http://www.calgarysun.com/cgi-bin/pub... ).
I can't really think of a breakfast place in a park, unless you're here over the weekend and can sleep in a bit to catch brunch at the River Cafe. But downtown, you can't go wrong with the Avenue Diner. Other good breakfast options are the Galaxy Diner, Dairy Lane, the Belmont, Diner Deluxe...
River Cafe and the Ranche are in great locations, I often entertain out of town guests at these restaurants. You get what you pay for at River Cafe, yes it's expensive but very very good. I was there a few weeks ago for an excellent chef's tasting (wine pairings with each course and there were a lot of them, the full show) with a business associate from New York who said that the dinner was as fine as any of the best restaurants he has eaten at in Manhattan, and a lot less than what he would have paid for a similar evening there: expensive is relative I guess.
Annie's next to the Ranche is open 10am to 5pm daily for more casual edibles, same nice location down in Fish Creek Park, quite far south for you tho.
The breakfast places listed by marcopolo are all excellent. I would add 1886 Cafe at Eau Claire downtown, fun old historical building (we don't have a lot of them in Calgary) and a short walk to the river, I like the scrambled eggs Kenny's Special, always have.
Another choice would be the Calgary Farmer's Market in the old Currie Barracks (Fri, Sat, Sun only, open at 9am) which has all-day breakfast options, coffee and tea, Belgian crepes, excellent baking, fresh organic fruit.... and you could stock up with some quality picnic supplies on your way out to the mountains.
If you are looking for nature at breakfast, keep in mind that Canmore isn't really that far away, and neither is Banff if you get on the road earlyish. I would drive all the way to Banff for the Duck Confit and Chevre Eggs Benedict on the brunch menu of the Bison Mountain Bistro. In fact I would crawl there for it.