Dine at these 4th Street restaurants during Lilac Fest on Sunday, May 25
After the miserable, drawn-out, and meddling winter, Calgarians are set to squeeze every droplet of outside time this summer. Before we get to the obligatory rafting on the Elbow, let’s kick summer off with some of the best food in the city, live music, artisanal crafts and signature Calgarian sunshine with the 25th Annual 4th Street Lilac Festival, in the flood-recovered Mission neighbourhood. It’s hard believe that there will be over 500 vendors showcased in just a few short blocks. Here’s a list to help you separate the must-haves and the mehs when it comes to restaurants to stop by.
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than soaking up the sun on the patio with a cold one? With its casual and inviting patio, extensive selection of beers from around the world, German-inspired dishes like roast half chicken, schnitzel, bratwurst platter and pretzels, Wurst is undeniably the best place on 4th street for that. Or, if you’re seeking shelter from the crowd outside, its spacious interior makes it a great place to hang out for ein maß (mass). Those looking for a calmer atmosphere can sit back on the airy and well-lit upper level, while those looking for more noise can head downstairs and make some friends at the communal tables. Prost!
While Mission has a lot of character and independent and trendy restaurants on every block, there’s a time and place for more predictable favourites, like the fare at Earls that you know will please the palates of your entire clan. Its signature burger, warm cheese and spinach dip, chicken, brie and fig sandwich and pecan chicken rocket salad are all easy going and reliable options for when you just want a night or afternoon out without fussing over details of the style of food you want. The newly renovated spot is great for a casual meal regardless of what you feel like having and who you’re with.
There’s definitely no shortage of pubs and beer halls in the city, with many watering holes on 17 Ave packed every night. But, if you’re looking for a sip instead of a swig, pinot instead of pilsner, pork belly lettuce wraps instead of chicken Caesar wraps, then head to Vin Room: a quiet, calm and elegant nook for some of the best wines in the world. With 64 different wines available to sample by the glass from the wall of enomatic wine dispensers, and hundreds more by the bottle at every price point, this bold and cosy spot is the place for everyone from wine beginners to experts to relax at the end of a long day.
With some of the city’s most popular brunch spots concentrated in Bridgeland, this gem may not always come to mind, but it should. Owner Mhairi O’Donnell insists on making everything from scratch, sourcing local ingredients whenever possible, and pairing breakfast items with cocktails, wine or beers. It’s hard to choose from classics like eggs and bacon, any of the five eggs Benny dishes, all the possibilities you can have with the omelettes, sandwiches, burgers and French toast. Whatever you choose, consider pairing it with the bacon Caesar; it will cure whatever ails you.
Named after a category of aged tequila, this modern Mexican-inspired restaurant is known for its selection of tequila (over 150), mescal, and cocktails made with the spirits. Find a spot on the intimate patio if you can. If not, grab a seat at the bar to learn all about different tequilas and their styles from the well-versed staff. Menu items cover small bites like empanadas and tuna tartare to traditional large plates like chili relleno and red mole chicken. Start with any of the eight wildly popular margaritas. If the chili coconut margarita borderlines on your heat tolerance, douse the flame with the tableside-made guac (served in a molcajete) and a zesty ceviche. Finish the meal off with mellow glass of the blue agave liquor.
Consistent with Alloy’s theme of global and Latin-inspired flavours, Candela Lounge, its whimsical sister restaurant, delivers platters, small plates and refreshing cocktails that create the perfect backdrop for date nights as well as stylish group catch-ups. The eclecticism of the decor mirrors that of the menu. Graze on house-cured salmon, seafood fritters with yuzu aioli, chicken tacos with yellow curry and mango chutney and lamb meatballs with feta and olives, or feast on lamb shank and steak. The global influence extends to the cocktail menu as well, with drinks like the ama-mizu (fresh watermelon shaken with soju, Absolut vodka and lime) and whisky tears (maple syrup, pressed cardamom and ginger shaken with Wisers spiced whisky and Pernod).