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Best Calgary restaurants?

One week of dining ahead. Hearing great things about the Calgary scene. I'd really prefer to take my rec's from local CH's than a newspaper, though. We're open to any kind of cuisine. Places with a great and unusual wine list are preferred. Any thoughts?

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  1. Recently had another fantastic meal at Teatro which has been a mainstay in the Calgary fine dining scene for two decades. Don't miss the seafood lasagna.

    They also have a fantastic wine list with a tilt towards Italian varietals.

    2 Replies
    1. re: crazy_eoj

      Thanks! Teatro's definitely on my radar. Are there other splurge restaurants that you like? As well, we're just as happy at a hole-in-the-wall (with wine of course) that has great food as anywhere else. Is there anything in that category you like?

      1. re: Googs

        Although not really a hole-in-the-wall kind of place Thai Sai On has one of the best value wine collections in town. Definately a hobby of the owner, their food is excellent and great wines to match if you're looking for something a little outside the traditional box.

    2. Blink is fantastic and my go-to special dinner place.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Beachy1

        Wow! If Blink's by-the-glasses are that nice, I look forward to a bottle. Are there any dishes you'd recommend?

        1. re: Googs

          Their menu changes but I've had the duck a few times, different ways and it's always been delicious!

      2. I had an excellent meal at Carino recently. Although I don't drink, I've heard their wine list is good/unique.

        12 Replies
        1. re: piano boy

          Carino looks lovely. I have to admit, I'm more of a Japanese traditionalist than izakaya type. Do you know of a good one with an extensive nigiri list?

          1. re: Googs

            No izakaya should have nigiri at all, if you're a purist. At any rate, Carino is Japanese-Italian fusion, not even close to an izakaya but also not close to traditionalist... which an izakaya is actually.

            My fave sushi place in Calgary these days is Red Ember on 14 St NW north of Kensington Rd. But there are scores of other options.

            1. re: plateofshrimp

              True, it should be sashimi only and other low-fuss foods. It isn't on my list of places to go since it's Japanese dinner rather than bar food we're after.

              Is there something more traditional than Red Ember, but more creative than strict Japanese? The menu kinda lost me at Mexican Roll.

              1. re: Googs

                Well you're not forced to order the Mexican roll... I'd recommend Shigatsu also though that's a bit out of the way if you're staying in the core (4 St NW up by the cemetery- it's not a suburban hellhole but there are many many more options more central, I just mention it because it seems to be what you're asking about).

                1. re: plateofshrimp

                  I'm asking about traditional Japanese dining with a few non-trad flairs from a creative chef. Not fusion as much as straight-up Japanese and a chef who doesn't mind driving off the road once in a while. Somewhere between this:

                  and this:

                  1. re: Googs

                    How about Sushi Bar Zipang? When I was there last, I had a whole shrimp. They offered to fry the head when I was finished consuming the rest.

                    1. re: Office Broccoli

                      BINGO! That looks perfect. Thank you Office Broccoli. How's their sake list?

                      1. re: Googs

                        Had a ride with a limo driver who had lived in Japan for several years, she told me that her favourite sushi spot was Zipang, that it was the best and most authentic in Calgary. I have yet to make it there, only because it is not in my part of town. Gotta go soon though.

                        1. re: Googs

                          Sorry I don't actually know... I'm a teetotaler.

                          1. re: Office Broccoli

                            Nothing a quick phone call from me won't solve. Thanks Office Broccoli.

                          2. re: Googs

                            FYI. Sorry for the quality of the photos - still in the cellphone dark ages.

                            1. re: cancowboy

                              No, those are perfect. Tells me everything I need to know. If they actually have everything listed in these shots, that's a very serious collection.

            2. Don't forget to check out Rouge in Inglewood

              1. I really like Model Milk. More known for cocktail creations than wine but I have yet to be disappointed with the food.

                you might like Vin Room in Mission if you're into wine & tapas.

                River Cafe is reopening soon. nice setting, very popular.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cellophane_star

                  Have you tried Model Milk's Sunday Supper? What's it like? That concept intrigues me. Cocktail creations, sure, but that wine list is incredibly creative as well. Like it. Thanks!

                  1. re: Googs

                    I had it once and it was great! Their fried chicken with waffles.... So good! Portions are big but not overwhelming. Lots of food to go around.

                2. I can't speak to whether the wine menu is unusual or not, but our current "splurge" night is the tasting menu at Muse.

                  1. We've had excellent meals at Avec - killer wine list and Darnell is an incredible chef. Another vote for vin room and you should also check out Yellow Door Bistro. If you have time - we love the Post Hotel in Lake Louise - silly expensive but outstanding service and a crazy huge wine list.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 2 italianfoodies

                      I agree with Avec but I was super disappointed with Yellow Door.

                    2. Googs, a general suggestion, and a link:

                      Whenever I have guests from out of town I usually take them somewhere to taste local, ( and by local, I mean "Prairie" ), like pickerel, game, Saskatoon berry something, etc. Typically if food is local, a producers name will appear in the menu item. If you are looking for beef, look for Prime grade, Alberta produces fantastic Prime beef.

                      As to wine, generally you'll find more BC wines here than in Toronto and I have had some very good ones and some different grapes that I never noticed in Ontario, like ehrenfelser, a German varietal grown in BC.

                      And finally, the link: While I've only been to Teatro, which is just tremendous, Mrs Scary has been to the other two and speaks highly of them, though maybe that was the corporate account speaking:


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Scary Bill

                        From what I've seen of Michael Dekker courtesy of Untamed Gourmet, he's the chef that would hit all your points. And good ones they are too. Do you know if he's still teaching at SAIT or is there a restaurant where I can enjoy his work?


                        1. re: Googs

                          He is still teaching at SAIT. They have a restaurant up there. Can't remember the name. Highwood? Something like that. They also have a downtown culinary campus where students cook for a cafeteria style establishment (weekdays, lunch only). It's in scotia centre. The bakery part is usually very good there too.

                          1. re: josey124

                            Yeah, the Highwood is great. Prices are super cheap but service is somewhat interesting as the students are learning. What I;m saying is, don't book a meeting after your dinner because you'll be late but the food is great. It's always great to see people learning the service industry the right way! Most of these kids belong in 5 star places...

                          2. re: Googs

                            Googs, one other thought, given your wine appreciation, many restaurants in Calgary allow you to bring your own wine, some with corkage, some without. There are quite a few great wine and liquor stores in the downtown area you may wish to browse. If this was of interest, mention it and I expect a downtown chowhound could make a few recommendations, as my knowledge is mainly of stores in the south. Also, you may find some products at much lower prices than the LCBO, for instance one chain is selling Remy XO for $158, all-in, a really good price, though that sale ends today.

                            1. re: Scary Bill

                              Funny you should say that. I've been to Willow Park Wine and let me just say it blows the doors off of any LCBO I've ever seen.