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Good food, something "different" - Calgary?

DH and I are entertaining my brother and three of his friends during the second weekend of Stampede. The four of them visit from Vancouver every July on a wine-buying excursion and they usually like to do at least one night "out."

This year's request is to find them a restaurant that has good food and is a little "different." These guys like to eat and like to drink wine, so a good wine list would be a bonus. Area of the city isn't important, nor is price - within reason (no $100+ tasting menus). I think they're looking for something with a little bit of an experience to it. For instance, last year, we all went to Bolero. The merits of Bolero can be debated in another post, but it served the purpose of being something a little different. No specific food types have been excluded.

Any ideas?

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  1. How about the Sultan's Tent? I haven't been myself, but my daughter has and raved about the experience as much as the food. It's supposed to be an authentic Moroccan place.


    That will give you more information than I could provide.

    1. Gold Wonton is a new-ish Chinese hot pot restaurant in Falconridge. It's expensive for hot pot ($23 for all you can eat - I think this is the only option), but everything is very fresh and tasty and there's a lot to choose from. I know there isn't wine involved here, but it's interactive and fits the bill of being a bit different.

      Here's the address:
      5441 Falsbridge Drive NE
      (403) 285-8399

      1. we stopped into Jaro Blue on the way back from Sled Island last night (just int time, kitchen closes at midnight) and they are just getting better and better. Very nice wine list and it would be pretty much impossible to spend more than, say, $50 a person on food.

        Only prob: no reservations. But this place is a treasure.

        1 Reply
        1. re: John Manzo

          I was actually thinking of suggesting Jaro Blue...the no reservations worries me. How hard is it to get in on a Friday night for dinner? There'd likely be five of us. What time should we attempt it?

        2. You should take your friends to "The Ranche" in Fish Creek park on a Sunday for brunch. The Ranche only does brunch/breakfast on Sunday and I suggest a reservation. However, its the best brunch in Calgary, better than River Cafe and better than deluxe diner...Calgary's best kept secret.

          The apple fritters with devonshire creme are awesome, as a brunch appetizer and either the elk ham eggs benedict or the tenderloin/crabcake with poached egg and hollandase are simply awesome - kind of a surf and turf breakfast. Have great mimosa to wash it all down!

          Great ambiance in the rustic house which harkens back to old alberta. And when you reserve ask if you can sit on the porch, for a little extra ambiance.

          Here is the menu...http://www.crmr.com/theranche/pdf/The...

          Best of luck entertaining!!

          1. I would also give a vote to Jaro Blue. We made our first trip there for lunch on Sunday, and the food was excellent.

            1. If they are coming from Vancouver then I would recommend staying away from Asian restaurants: they can get much better Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Malaysian, Vietnamese etc food generally speaking than we can hope for here.

              The Ranche is a very good suggestion: good chance to try elk, buffalo, organic beef and such in an impressive setting (have watched deer from the windows while eating, well, deer, which can be a bit unsettling I suppose), decent wine list. I often take out-of-town guests there, or River Cafe of course (though it's hard to get out of River Cafe for less than $100 per person...), but both places may be booked for Stampede events by now.

              Rouge is also interesting: nice setting in a historic building, well-prepared food, local ingredients, good wine list, pricey but not excessively so.

              If you could get into Mercato they would probably find that to be a memorable experience, and you could probably get out of there without spending too much if you take some care. Again I don't know how hard it would be to get in during the Stampede, it is hard to get into most evenings regardless.

              1. my recommendation would be the reader's garden cafe. sit on the veranda if it's nice, and you can take in all the sights and sounds of stampede without actually having to visit the stampede grounds. the food is excellent, and the location is outstanding. like a smaller cozier Ranche, but with a nicer garden and right smack dab in downtown.

                4 Replies
                  1. re: marcopolo


                    Where downtown? I'm interested.

                    1. re: Major_9000

                      well, maybe not right smack dab in downtown, but not too far, that's for sure. Reader Garden cafe is at 311 25 Avenue SE. that address is a bit misleading, though. you have to park at at parking lot which is off of 25th Ave SE, just east of Macleod trail northbound. That's the north end of the cemetery. you then walk up a path leading through the rock gardens to the restaurant. In the summer when the plants are in full bloom, it's quite impressive (the gardeners obviously take a lot of care in their jobs. i can barely grow herbs here...). here's an oldish review about their lunch

                      1. re: marcopolo

                        It's walking distance from the Erlton LRT stop too.

                  2. Thanks for the ideas, everyone. They've decided on Marathon for Ethiopian. It'll be a new experience for all of us.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LittleMrs

                      I haven't been there for years DH & I still talk about it - very different for sure and delicious - fill us in on your experience when you get a chance :)