The perfect D-I-Y Calgary Poutine Week restaurant crawl

Market 17 Avenue Calgary menu
Market's poutine uses smoked bocconcini cheese instead of the regular curds.

Looking back to its humble beginnings in 2011, many people might not know that Calgary Poutine Week started out simply as a poutine pub crawl (of sorts). One bus full of excited foodies were led by Calgary Poutine founder and social media maven, Karen Richards, all across the city to try different poutines from the simple at fast food-style at Calgary King of Subs studded with chunks of Montreal smoked meat to creative variations like a meatball poutine at Laurier Lounge (which is currently closed for renovations) and plenty more.

Since then, Calgary boasts plenty of food-themed weeks now highlighting dishes like pizza, burgers and tacos, all with some sort of charitable component because, let's face it, being gluttonous is always acceptable when there's a good cause involved.

There are more restaurants than ever taking part in this year's Calgary Poutine Week which officially kicks of Friday, April 21st. Proceeds from every poutine sold from participating eateries around the city will go to the Mealshare program.

Since the poutine crawl is no more, here is a suggested itinerary to have you hopping around town with friends eating more variations on a cheesy, gravy-y theme than you ever thought imaginable. Have fun!

1st stop: 17th Avenue for Market Calgary's Dirty Bird Poutine

From Home and Away's cheese steak poutine all the way down the street to the donair poutine at Mill Street Brewpub, it should come as no surprise that 17th Avenue has the highest concentration of Calgary Poutine Week offerings in all of Calgary. Start off with chef Evan Robertson's creative entry comprised of duck confit, smoked bocconcini cheese and a gravy made using Last Best Brewing's robust Black Lager. They will also be competing in the 2nd annual Gravy Bowl Battle happening Saturday, April 22nd at Briggs Kitchen and Bar.

718 17th Ave S.W., marketcalgary.ca

2nd stop: Mission for Aida's Tajen Poutine

Probably the most unique of all of the poutine variations around town, Aida's Bistro adds some interesting Meditarrean ingredients into the mix. Garlic roast potatoes can come topped with either a cumin, onion and tahini sauce with chunks of salty halloumi cheese (in lieu of curds) or with shawarma spiced beef sirloin, onions and tomatoes. The poutine portions here aren't too ginormous, so it will be easy enough to try them both.

2208 4 St S.W., aidasbistro.ca

3rd stop: Downtown for Bookers' Creole Smoked Turkey Poutine

Popping into Bookers marks the halfway point of this calorie-ridden journey. Staying true to their Southern focus, this restaurant on the edge of downtown is serving up a poutine of epic proportions. Beer-glazed smoked turkey, a cornbread and andouille sausage dressing sit on top of freshly made french fries along with cheese curds before being doused in a spicy mustard gravy. Best order a few pints of beer to help wash this one down.

316 3 St S.E., bookersbbq.com

4th spot: 4th Street NW for 4th Spot's Poutine With A Chance Of Meatballs

One of my personal favourite spins on poutine is when chefs take the Italian route. Thus, this big plate of poutine topped with a house-made tomato sauce, meatballs, parmesan and a little basil is at the top of my list for tasting this weekend. If your group has especially large appetites, then pop across the road to The Block where they are also serving up an interesting poutine with sous vide Alberta beef brisket and aged cheddar.

2620 4 St N.W., 4thspot.com

5th and final stop: Haysboro for Cured Deli's Cured Poutine

The last stop on this unofficial Culinaire poutine crawl takes you to Cured, a great little delicatassen just off the corner of Elbow and Heritage Drive in the Southwest. This is partially strategic to end your crawl fairly removed from other poutine temptations, but also a must because this business has got extra creative with their poutine entry by cold-smoking fresh cheese curds and serving them with a homemade sausage gravy.

8409 Elbow Dr S.W., curedyyc.com

Alright, now off to the gym!

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