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3 nights in Calgary - where to eat

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Need some recommendations (or maybe just confirmation of a couple of ideas).

1 high-end dinner: already been to Capo and Teatro. Thinking of River Cafe. Menu looks good but curious about by the glass wine though. Not mentioned on their wine list. I prefer to buy by the glass, even though more expensive, because I hate trying to pair multiple courses to a bottle. And how early do you need to reserve a table?

2 less expensive dinners. Entrees in the $15-18 range? Any type of cuisine. Could we do tapas at Jaro Blue for $50-60 (not including alcohol)? What else should I try (middle eastern might be nice...). Staying at Palliser, but have car so location isn't important.

Ate at Wildwood years ago in the pub half, and vaguely remember it being good. Would it be a good dinner choice again? Or lunch? How does pub compare to dining room?

1 solo lunch? Maybe sushi?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. high end- River Cafe most def, they have a wide range of wines by the glass, enough for 9 pairings with a tasting menu a while back. Also consider Tribune, Il Sogno, Blink, Brava Bistro, many others that I'm sure will be suggested here. High end is the easy one to satisfy here.

    less expensive- Jaro Blue is very reasonable and you certainly can walk out for less than $30 a person for sure- also consider Cilantro, Laurier Lounge, Diner Deluxe? Resto at Wildwood is great, never eaten in the pub here. Excellent more elegant Middle Eastern is at Aida's and Sahara; there are many, many cheap falafel-shawarma options too.

    Solo sushi- I just had a superb experience at Blowfish which comes recommended by others here, but you can hardly swing a dead cat without hitting a sushi bar these days. My faves are also Globefish and Uptown Sushi but there are many that I haven't tried. I also made it to a new sushi place in Marda Loop called El's Japanese Fusion but I'd give it a few weeks to get broken in- must note tho that it has SEVENTY maki. Incredible creativity and most of what I had was good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      2nd JM's recommendations (and waiting for yen's dissenting opinion about River Cafe)

      If your trip brings you here Friday-Sunday and you have the time the Calgary Farmer's Market at Currie Barracks would fit the bill for local fare including elk, bison etc: http://www.calgaryfarmersmarket.ca/
      Also for a wonderful after-dinner treat I'd recommend Nectar Desserts in Inglewood. Decadent, delicious desserts with wine pairings: http://www.nectardesserts.com

      EDIT: How could I forget... for a solo lunch aside from sushi (I'll leave that to the experts, JM being one of them) I'd check out Cafe Artigiano 332 - 6th Avenue SW http://www.caffeartigiano.com/caffe.html one of the best paninis in town, nevermind the world class espresso and beautiful space for reading a paper or people watching. :)

      1. re: maplesugar

        Artigiano will probably be for lunch on one of the days my wife is free. She is allergic to seafood, and I love sushi so take advantage of solo meals to indulge.

        Was already thinking of the CFM, as I am a regular at the Strathcona Market here in Edm. and want to compare. Where is it?

        Also just looked at Nectar's website. Looks interesting. Might be a good place to go to the night we get in - driving down after work, probably stopping in RD for dinner, but will save room for a dessert.

        1. re: Dan G

          Nectar is just a beautiful experience, thank goodness we have something like it here- I had the chocolate and salted caramel tart last visit and time stood still, just amazing.

          To get to CFM you get to Crowchild and head south, take the Flanders exit (the next exit south of 33rd Ave) and follow the signs- first right into the former military base, then left, then park and enjoy. You can also take the 20 bus (maybe others but I only know the 20), though that takes a transfer from the 2 from downtown and is a bit complicated.

          1. re: John Manzo

            Love Nectar's Chocolate & salted caramel tart! I've made it through most of her menu heh and I've been amazed every time :)

        2. re: maplesugar

          Ok, as requested. I wouldnt bother going to the River Cafe :) The menu sounds better than it tastes. For high end, where wine by the glass was equally important, i'd go to Divino. Really consistent food with the great wine service. Extensive by the glass selections. The food is more moderately priced, and the best frites in the city.

          Living Room also does pretty well by the glass, but the food is no where near as good, or consistent.

          Other high end places i'd consider in addition to those listed is Rouge.

          Middle end places. Jaro is good. Just skip dessert. The Coup fits too - nothing like it in Edmonton, though it is vegetarian. Aida's is a nice option - i'd skip Sahara. Wildwood Pub is good - more of a bistro take on pub food. Perfectly in your price range. Artisan Bistro is moderately priced (topping out around $25 for entree's). I'll admit, there's very little these days in the $15-$18 range - most of them ethnic, or chains (Earls, Joey's etc...). Unless you're eating flatbread everywhere. Atlas is persian, and good, and fit's the price. Im in love with Korean food lately - it isnt much to look at, but Bow Bulgogi (SW) has great food in that range, as does Hankang (NW).

          Solo lunch - depends on cost and location. Im happy to recommend some places with more details.

          +1 on Nectar, and CFM.

      2. Okay, I really like River Cafe. I have never had a bad meal there. I also like it for Sunday Brunch...at least you can make a reservation the walk is pleasant both before and after a meal of course that depends on the weather and although its not far it can be miserable if its cold and windy (and your date is wearing heels). Maybe its a woman thing. How about Blink? It's fairly new and on the Mall so you can walk there and have no fear of drinking and driving. Unlike other places on the mall (Belevedere, Tribune, Catch) you can actually get an entree under $40.00. Is it me but dinner for 2 over 400.00 is starting to make me ill??? I also love Mercato for lunch on the weekend ...we had dinner there twice but found it a bit pricey so I stick to lunch ...its the best people watching in town on the weekend. Wildwood had to be shut down (voluntarily I might add which was really good of them) because they had a case of hepatitis last year ...went to my Doctor's recently to request the Twinrix vaccine as I was going to Mexico and he said he had heard no cases of hepatitis in Mexico but several from Calgary (I guess thats a whole different story...but find it a turn off and therefore would not eat there again....besides its too chain like) I second the motion for Globefish. Very good sushi. Il Sogno is nice and I find it romantic.... In case you are coming with a special someone, but that would be higher end in price too. Joey Tomatoes at Eau Claire can be nice for cheaper meals. Buchannan's (again since your downtown -- my vote for best hamburger) and Joey Tomatoes for more informal but still good grub. There is also good italian downtown with Abruzzo.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lynnrb

          Dinner for 2 for over $400 is why I don't go out to high end restaurants that much. I find that it generally isn't worth it. I have better ways to spend my money.

          As for Wildwood. I was one of the unfortunate ones that had to be vaccinated b/c I ate there during the hepatitis issue (and I was 8 months pregnant at the time). I would still eat there. It was not a Wildwood issue, it was a "Young person going to a third world country without getting the proper shots & then going back to work sick" issue. It could happen anywhere so unless you are going to eat at home, I would advise getting your vaccine & then not worrying about it.

        2. For a less expensive meal in a more expensive place, I like the antipasti platter in Centini. You can sit at the bar or in front of the chef's prep area for an entertaining evening. It is plenty for a small meal for two.

          1. I second the suggestion for Rouge. For a high end evening, this is a great example of local talent and real Calgary flavour, both in ambience and food. Innovative modern French cuisine with a commitment to local product. Paul Rogalski and team are an impressive brigade.

            I would also like to mention Muse in Kensington. Though I find the decor unappealing, the chef, Cam Dobranski is a humble and underappreciated talent in Calgary. He has traveled extensively in the last 12 months and his expertise is evident in his cooking. A tasting menu here would be money well spent.

            1. I've never had a great meal at River Cafe. Go for the atmosphere, not the food. For higher end, Alloy is good, so is St. Germaine. Rouge is wonderful. I think Capo and Teatro would round out my top 5 (but you've already been to those two).

              1 Reply
              1. re: philverine

                I have been lucky, I guess, because my meals have always been very good at River Cafe.