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15 Ways to Enjoy the Best of Calgary

Our Guide to the top places in Stampede City.

THE BEST SPOTS FOR MEAT LOVERS

Model Milk

Model Milk

Photo: Courtesy of Model Milk

The welcoming room and staff, along with the cocktails and appetizers, are the complete package. (Think Chinatown baked oysters with XO aioli and dry-aged beef tartare with PEI cheddar, potato and horseradish.) A large-format dinner, like the juicy smoked brisket for two with milk buns, nahm jim and peanuts, seals the deal. The restaurant was chosen as one of Air Canada enRoute’s Best New Restaurants in 2012, and chef Justin Leboe’s newest restaurant, Pigeonhole, topped the list at number one in 2015.

308 17th Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-265-7343, modelmilk.ca

 

Charcut Roast House
When the modern steak house Charcut was opened five years ago by co-chefs John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, it brought competitiveness and camaraderie to Calgary’s chef-driven restaurant scene. The obnoxiously great poutine and a butcher steak with chimichurri are must-haves. Though the name Charcut Roast House sounds as meaty as can be, their albacore tuna conserva is one of the best dishes on the menu: big chunks of tuna cooked slowly in lemon olive oil with fresh thyme from their garden and preserved lemons.

899 Centre St. S.W., #101, Calgary, 403-984-2180, charcut.com

 

Charbar

Charbar

Photo: Courtesy of Charbar

The evolution of Charcut can be seen at Jackson and DeSousa’s recently opened Charbar in the 1912 Simmons warehouse building. Executive chef and part-owner Jessica Pelland puts the focus on locally sourced meat, vegetables and fish, including beef from a herd of Texas longhorns raised at 7K Ranch, south of Calgary. Pelland knows her way around the restaurant’s 900°F hardwood coal-fuelled parrilla: There are short ribs, grass-fed butcher steaks and ultra-dry-aged porterhouse steaks as well as the accompanying Argentine-inspired pit sauces and sides. (Hello wood-roasted beets with seeds and queso azul.)

618 Confluence Way S.E., Calgary, 403-452-3115, charbar.ca

 

 

Chuckwagon Cafe
At the Chuckwagon Café – an hour outside of Calgary – not much has changed since the 1970s: not the wood panelling, not the carpet, not even the cast iron stove warming a Pyrex pot of coffee. The place is justifiably famous for its burgers since they taste more like a beautifully charred steak than a blue plate special. That’s partly because owner Terry Myhre started raising organically fed Murray Grey cattle (an Australian breed) on a ranch near Longview, in the foothills, but also because the beef for the six-ouncers is dry aged for about 28 days, assertively seasoned and cooked just as you like ’em.

105 Sunset Blvd., Turner Valley, 403-933-0003, chuckwagoncafe.ca

 

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery
A tasty fixture of the Simmons culinary hub, Aviv Fried’s Sidewalk Citizen Bakery offers legendary organic sourdough loaves and gorgeous pastries; also up for grabs is Alberta beef (heritage Angus from Prairie Land and Cattle). Try the Middle Eastern-spun sandwiches and daily stews, such as spoon-soft beef cheeks and pomegranate on a bed of almond freekeh.

618 Confluence Way S.E., Calgary, 403-457-2245, sidewalkcitizenbakery.com

 

Anju Restaurant

Anju Restaurant

Photo: Courtesy of Anju Restaurant

More international steak spins can be found on 17th Avenue, where Anju does a creative Korean take on carpaccio, spun out of hanger steak, Asian pear, bone marrow, egg yolk, pine nuts and sesame. Then, for a super satiating main, move on to heritage Angus short ribs with sweet soy and kimchi.

344 17th Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-460-3341, anju.ca

 

Vintage Chophouse & Tavern
For an oldie but a goodie – and “Est. 2003” is old in Calgary restaurant terms – head to Vintage Chophouse & Tavern in the historic Beltline neighbourhood of Victoria Park. On offer are nine different cuts, including a dry-aged daily “butcher block special,” proudly presented tableside by gentlemen servers in white butcher coats. Order a tender steak, be it Wagyu or striploin, with killer doughnut-size onion rings, and a throwback baked Alaska for dessert.

320 11th Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-262-7262, vintagechophouse.com

THE BEST PLACES TO SHOP

Gravity Pope

Gravity Pope

Photo: Courtesy of Gravity Pope

This Edmonton shopping staple recently upgraded to a larger, five-storied contemporary space on 17th Avenue Southwest. Browse through racks of labels, like Acne Studios, Paul Smith and Maison Kitsune, as well as shoes from Fly London, Fluevog and hard-to-find Aigle boots. Owner Louise Dirk’s effortlessly cool offerings also include bags from Montreal’s Want Les Essentiels and a selection of jewellery and fragrances.

1126 17th Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-209-0961, gravitypope.com

 

Metrovino
This large, airy room attached to the Cookbook Company carries an excellent selection of wines and spirits. Let the highly knowledgeable staff guide you through the shelves and help you pick a reasonably priced rosé to pair with your Tuesday night dinner or the perfect bottle of champagne for a special occasion. With the spotlight on family-owned French and Spanish wineries, Metrovino hosts unique tastings and events at the Calgary Wine Tasting and Education Center next door.

722 11th Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-205-3356, metrovino.com

 

Kent of Inglewood

Kent of Inglewood

Photo: Mason Hastie

One of the newest additions to the up-and-upcoming Inglewood neighbourhood, Kent of Inglewood is reminiscent of Jermyn Street – home to the finest menswear establishments in London. The shop focuses on keeping men looking sharp with an arsenal of Japanese straight razors, shaving creams and brushes, beard oils and balms. Kent of Inglewood also carries a number of British fragrances for men, including the aptly named Jermyn Street from Floris.

1319 9th Ave. S.E., Calgary, 403-457-1595, kentofinglewood.com

 

Goldgrass Home
Combining Nordic sensibility with urban rustic style, this home furnishing store focuses on the natural, the non-toxic and the handmade. This philosophy is reflected in the merchandise, which includes pottery by local ceramics studio White Owl, glassware by Calgary’s Bee Kingdom and a mix of internationally sourced linens, towels, robes and pyjamas.

1237 9th Ave. S.E., Calgary, 403-452-1001, goldgrasshome.com

 

Dade Loft

Dade Loft

Photo: Courtesy of Dade Loft

A fixture on Inglewood’s busy main street since opening in 2009, Dade Loft has recently relocated to the 1,500-square-foot townhouse of co-owners Darcy Lundgren and Greg Fraser. Inspired by the famous concept store Apartment by the Line in New York’s SoHo district, the couple repurposed their home into a retail space where everything is for sale. The collection includes works by local Calgary artist Barry Lorne displayed on the walls, Seletti Hybrid dishes in the cupboard and colourful Spanish linens by Zuzunaga on the bed.

1212 13th St. S.E., #104, Calgary, 403-454-0243, dadeartanddesignlab.com

THE BEST HOTELS

Azuridge Estate Hotel

Azuridge Estate Hotel

Photo: Exon Studios

Decked in timber beams and rundle rock, this retreat in the foothills of the Rockies combines the tranquillity of a mountain lodge with the elegance and service of a boutique hotel. (The general manager is a member of the prestigious Guild of Professional English Butlers.) Take in the views of the pine-dotted Albertan landscape from the comfort of your suite through floor-to-ceiling windows.

178057 272 St. W., Priddis, 403-931-0100, azuridgehotel.com

 

Hôtel Le Germain
Stylish and eco-friendly, this hotel offers soothing interiors that incorporate natural materials like volcanic rock tiles, granite and wood, which counterbalance the hectic pace of nearby Stephen Avenue Walk. Spacious rooms come with such signature touches as goose down comforters, rain showers and Molton Brown toiletries. The hotel houses a fitness centre, but for a more relaxing experience, treat yourself to a hot stone massage at Santé Spa.

899 Centre St. S.W., Calgary, 877-362-8990, germaincalgary.com

 

Kensington Riverside Inn

Kensington Riverside Inn

Photo: Courtesy of Kensington Riverside Inn

This 19-room boutique hotel – a Relais & Château property – is a quiet refuge after a busy day. Situated on the banks of the Bow River, the Kensington Riverside Inn offers comfortable beds equipped with Frette linens, spacious bathrooms with granite countertops and soaker tubs, and a homegrown line of skin-care products from Canada’s Skoah Spa. Enjoy brunch at Chef’s Table, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, with a plate of steak and eggs, made with braised Alberta beef and a soft poached egg, asparagus and mushrooms.

1126 Memorial Drive N.W., Calgary, 403-228-4442, kensingtonriversideinn.com

 

Hotel Elan
With a location near buzzy 17th Avenue Southwest – a hub for restaurants, shops and bars – this modern stay boasts a clean and contemporary design with shiny crimson tiles covering its facade. The bright rooms feature pillow top mattresses, L’Occitane en Provence bath products and complimentary Wi-Fi. The fitness centre houses Google Maps-enabled treadmills, allowing you to train on a variety of terrains from around the world.

1122 16th Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-229-2040, hotelelan.ca

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