Calgary has experienced a boom of growth as a cosmopolitan centre, facilitated by Canada's oil industry's ongoing success. With the presence of the city's museums, theatres, restaurants, and other major cultural touchpoints rapidly growing and evolving, there are many things to do in this major Canadian city. A review of the iconic restaurants is one way to explore—and start to understand better—all this city offers, especially for new residents or those planning to move to the area. Read on to discover Calgary's most iconic restaurants below so you can start planning your next dining experience in this amazing city.
CHARCUT Roast House
Popular Dishes at CHARCUT Roast House
- Alberta Beef Butcher Steak
- Alley Poutine
- Creamy Polenta
- Roasted Pickled Beets
- Lemon-Roasted Potatoes
- Address: CHARCUT Roast House, 899 Centre St S, Calgary, AB T2G 1B8, Canada
- Hours: 5–10 p.m. daily
CHARCUT opened in 2010 and strives to bring rustic urban cuisine to the Calgary food scene, attracting high praise and widespread media attention since its launch. The menu features Italian and French influences, although it centres on local, farm-fresh ingredients and local chefs' visions. "Vintage" and "hand-crafted" are essential parts of CHARCUT's aesthetic, which balances sophisticated palates with simple ingredients and small production. The owners pride themselves on authenticity in every aspect of their restaurant.
Even the restaurant's name reflects its unique vision. "CHAR" aligns with the custom-built rotisserie and charbroiler designed explicitly for the restaurant, while "CUT" alludes to the vintage-inspired slicer as well as the charcuterie dining bar found within the restaurant.
Native Tongues Taqueria
Popular Dishes at Native Tongues Taqueria
- Pollo Tinga Tostadas
- Birria Tacos de Guisado
- Carne Asada Tacos al Carbon
- Flan Mexicana
- Address: Native Tongues Taqueria, 235 12 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 1H7, Canada
- Hours: 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. daily
Native Tongues joined the Calgary food scene in 2015, elevating the local Mexican restaurant game. It primarily aims to serve as a warm gathering place with its rustic cantina vibe and vibrant aesthetic. Native Tongues has been well-received locally, consistently being named Best Overall Restaurant by Avenue Magazine while landing among the top spots on Calgary restaurant rankings across various publications.
As a taqueria, Native Tongues serves tacos and other small plates. Its bar program centres on Oaxacan mezcal, although it does boast a vibrant tequila service and agua frescas. Native Tongues offers catering to help bring its bright Mexican fare to parties.
The range of tacos and other food items tends to vary with the seasons, although there are several considerations to keep in mind when ordering off the menu.
Alforno Bakery & Café
Popular Dishes at Alforno Bakery & Café
- Mafia Breakfast
- Eggs in Purgatory
- Mulled Wine Poached Pear Salad
- Short Rib Pappardelle
- The Godfather Pizza
- Baked Brie
- Address: Alforno Bakery & Café, 222 7 St SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0E4, Canada
- Hours: 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily
Alforno has been a member of Calgary's downtown food scene since 1993, so it's been a direct witness to a lot of local change while also maintaining a loyal fan base of regulars. This iconic restaurant covers many dining grounds, serving brunch, lunch, and dinner while operating an all-day bakery with house-made pastries and bread. As if these offerings were not sufficient, Alforno serves sustainable coffee in addition to a carefully curated selection of artisanal wine, beer, and spirits.
A reservation is needed to dine at Alforno. Both indoor and outdoor dining is available, and many diners follow their meals up with a quick walk around Prince's Island Park.
Popular Dishes at Model Milk
- Beef Tartare
- Smoked Brisket
- Big Milk Burger
- Roast Brome Lake Duck
- Honey Cheesecake
- MM Apple Pie
- Address: Model Milk, 308 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0A8, Canada
- Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 5–10 p.m.
Model Milk was built on love—everything its owners love about restaurants, that is, and about the space that Model Milk inhabits. The process of developing Model Milk created friendships that reverberate through every aspect of its food and drink offerings; in fact, the menu centres around creating food that is "both innovative and comforting," "both classic and original."
Buying top-quality local ingredients is extremely important to the Model Milk team. They also maintain working relationships with local farms, fisheries, and vineyards, committed to endorsing sustainable and organic methods.
Popular Dishes at Rouge
- Seafood Chowder
- Duck Duo
- Seared Halibut
- Beetroot Carpaccio
- Charcuterie and Cheese
- Roast Zucchini
- Address: Rouge, 1240 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0M7, Canada
- Hours: Monday–Saturday 5–8 p.m.
Rouge is tucked away in the historic Cross House less than 10 minutes from downtown Calgary within an evolving arts and culture district removed from the urban bustle. The restaurant is owned by two chefs, Olivier Reynaud and Paul Rogalski, who met during the 1990s after working in nine different countries across various continents. Rouge was born in April 2003; it has earned acclaim from publications that include the New York Times and Food & Hospitality Magazine over the years.
Rouge is a haven for wine connoisseurs, complemented by an elegant, classic menu that breathes life through seasonal inspiration but has distinct influences of French culinary heritage.
Ten Foot Henry
Popular Dishes at Ten Foot Henry
- Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
- Roasted Chicken
- Hanger Steak
- Mini Butterscotch Pudding
- Henry Salad
- Spring Salmon
- Address: Ten Foot Henry, 1209 1 St SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0V3, Canada
- Hours: 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. daily
Ten Foot Henry was named after a classic Calgary cartoon figure from the 1930s who came to represent the local creative community and was even the namesake of an underground nightclub in the 1980s. The restaurant's owners claim to "bridge the gap between what you should be eating and what you really want to eat." As such, the menu plays with local ingredients and finds new, subtle combinations of flavours that enhance each other while still fairly representing classic favourite meals.
Popular Dishes at NOtaBLE
- Crispy Potato Rolls
- Foie Gras
- Brisket Sandwich
- Salmon Burger
- Peruvian-Style Fried Chicken
- Seafood Risotto
- Address: Montgomery Place Condos, 4611 Bowness Rd NW #133, Calgary, AB T3B 0B2, Canada
- Hours: Sunday, Tuesday–Thursday 4:30–9 p.m. / Friday & Saturday 4:30–10 p.m.
Located in a Calgary condo building, NOtaBLE proudly embraces a mission of love and strives to lift its patrons' days with delicious food and warm service. Since famed Canadian restaurateur Michael Noble opened NOtaBLE's doors in 2010, it has focused on creating a home for people passionate about culinary experiences and live to slow down and savour great food and refined flavours.
Blue Star Diner
Popular Dishes at Blue Star Diner
- Bison Chili
- Fish and Chips
- Spicy Chorizo Burger
- Journey Bowl
- Double Chocolate Brownie
- Homemade Blueberry & Peach Pie
- Address: Blue Star Diner, 809 1 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 0C2, Canada
- Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 8 a.m.–9 p.m. / Sunday 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Blue Star Diner serves meals based on local ingredients, open every day except Mondays. Even though they have a steady roster of classic dishes and serve breakfast all day, Blue Star proudly claims to re-interpret local ingredients, which can even result in "introducing you to a vegan dish that might just knock your socks off."
Santorini Greek Taverna
Popular Dishes at Santorini Greek Taverna
- Arni Kleftiko
- Address: Santorini Greek Taverna, 1502 Centre St N, Calgary, AB T2E 2R9, Canada
- Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11 a.m.–10 p.m. / Saturday noon–10 p.m. / Sunday 4–10 p.m.
Santorini Greek Taverna opened its doors in 1986 as the vision of Andreas Nicolaides. He and his wife first opened a pizzeria with some other business partners; Santorini Greek Taverna became their first solo venture, and it's been thriving ever since. They seek to create a warm atmosphere where people can eat delicious, healthy food and take great pride in the number of celebrations under their roof. From birthdays through promotions, the owners are proud to supplement these moments of joy with good food and drink.
Experience Calgary's Most Iconic Restaurants
The diverse restaurant offerings available as part of the downtown Calgary food scene have many differences. However, they all share a desire to bring people together to celebrate top-quality local ingredients and innovative dishes that bring comfort and joy. As Calgary continues to evolve and grow and more commercial developments become available, it will be interesting to see where culinary progress goes next. If you want to have a front-row seat to see it, contact the Justin Havre team of RE/MAX First with Calgary Homes at 403-217-0003 to get in contact with a Calgary real estate agent and discover the perfect home for you in Calgary.