Alberta’s culinary scene is burgeoning, and has been for years. Whether it’s killer pizza at your neighbourhood pub, pasta that any Italian nona would be proud of, or ramen that has people lining up down the block, there’s no shortage of amazing eats in our province.
From Calgary to Edmonton (and all of the small towns in between) chefs pride themselves on showcasing local ingredients and traditions, while still embracing diversity and modernity in the food they cook. In that vein, we’ve compiled favourite restaurant dishes from various personalities across the province including food critics, writers, football players, and even the premier of Alberta, Ms. Notley herself. See what their go-to choices are for a failsafe meal out:
Premier Rachel Notley
Eats at Langano Skies, Packrat Louie, and Meat
I feel like I haven’t had a chance to eat recreationally for a long time, but that being said, around the corner from my house in Edmonton is an Ethiopian place called Langano Skies. It’s one of the few places my kids can eat with their fingers without getting yelled at. I love the injera (flatbread) with different dishes, especially the spicy ones. The goat is my favourite. Their salad is also super-yummy; it has a nice, light vinaigrette, not sweet, and really tangy. If you have not tried Ethiopian food, you should.
The lemon pizza at Packrat Louie is also a decade-long favourite. I love the lemon and the way they do their crust; it’s very crunchy. There’s no tomato, just a mix of cheese, herbs, and lemon. Across the street from there, you can’t go wrong with the jalapeno mac n’ cheese at Meat either.
Rob Cote (Calgary Stampeders)
Eats at Shiki Menya and Sandwich’d
So here’s the thing: my wife always gives me a hard time when we go out to eat because she hates how I order. I am always torn between two (at least) things on the menu and end up making some convoluted request to combine parts of them both until I can be satisfied.
So in the spirit of that I can’t rightfully give you just one favourite, but two. The first is the Tonkotsu Black Ramen from Shiki Menya that is to date the best bowl of ramen I have ever had. The perfect noodles are made in-house and the broth is spiced with garlic and voodoo to make it unbelievable. What sets it apart though is the Char Sui, which makes for one of the better bites of pork you can get in a bowl of ramen.
The second is the Gruush from Sandwich’d at the Calgary Farmers Market. They combine a beautiful piece of fried chicken with loads of melted cheese and bacon, and serve it alongside their signature sauce and onion rings. What else can I say? Not for the faint of heart, but if you need to eat your feelings, this is the ticket.
Liane Faulder (Edmonton Journal)
Eats at Bar Bricco and Corso 32
One of my favourite eats is at Bar Bricco in Edmonton, an Italian spuntini bar that serves something called Egg Yolk Raviolo, Ricotta and Boschetto Al Tartufo. It’s essentially a broad ravioli that bursts with a creamy egg yolk when you cut into it. It’s creamy, and has a tart lemony flavour too, and a touch of sage – it’s a beautifully balanced dish.
Another dish I love is at Bar Bricco’s sister restaurant (they are both owned by local chef Daniel Costa), Corso 32. There is an amazing dessert there called Chocolate Torta with Salty Hazelnuts, a sinfully rich and creamy bite, in which the sweetness of the chocolate is balanced by the salty hazelnuts. Amazing.
Amber Schinkel (Global Calgary Morning News)
Pizza at Ducks on the Roof
Calgary and the surrounding area have several restaurants that serve great pizza, which is great because I love pizza! I live in Cochrane, just outside of Calgary, and the pub, Ducks on the Roof, has a delicious pepperoni, mushroom, and green pepper pizza. I’m not sure how they do it, but the cheese on top forms an amazing sort of crust.
Twyla Campbell (CBC Edmonton restaurant critic)
Sautéed Mushrooms with Egg Yolk on Toast at Three Boars
I crave it any time of day. Three Boars doesn’t open until 5 p.m., but this could be a breakfast or brunch dish, easily. It’s also the perfect late night snack. This dish has all the right elements: it looks pretty, it has great texture (with the soft yolk mixed in with fried mushrooms), and it has umami and flavour to spare. The best thing, though, is that it’s a simple dish made with top quality ingredients. I order this dish every single time. I try to ignore it, but I can’t.
Julie Van Rosendaal (CBC Calgary)
Vietnamese Beef Carpaccio at Song Huong
It’s tough to pick just one of my favourite restaurant dishes – I have so many! But one not many people might know is the paper-thin Vietnamese beef carpaccio with Thai basil and lime at Song Huong, just off 17 Ave and 61 SE. Chef Duncan Ly introduced me to it – it’s fresh, bright, and hits all the right texture and flavour notes, and it also inspired his version when he was at Raw Bar.
Phil Wilson (Baconhound)
Eggs Moliterno at Bar Bricco
A plate of eggs is my favourite dish? Yes, yes it is. These eggs are absurdly rich and creamy, and absolutely loaded with deliciously salty Moliterno cheese. That first bite is truly memorable, and a spoonful of Eggs Moliterno atop a toasted crostini is about as perfect as a bite gets.
John Gilchrist (CBC Calgary and Calgary Herald)
Roasted Carrots at Ten Foot Henry
I love the roasted carrots at Ten Foot Henry. The contrast of colours – multi-coloured carrots against a backdrop of avocado puree – is visually engaging, the textures are crunchy and creamy, and the addition of pistachios and shoots heightens the flavours.
Mike Chalut (The Bounce, Edmonton)
Cocktails and Chicken Platter at Rostizado
One of my favourite places is Rostizado. It’s elevated, creative Mexican cuisine served in stylish surrounds, accented with brick and exposed wood. What do you need to order? Well the menu is over the top, and the cocktails are delish! I suggest you start with a signature margarita, or 3! Be sure to try the chicken platter. The chicken is locally raised, brined for 12 hours, dry rubbed in a house blend of spices, and slow roasted until perfect. It is served with rosti-papas, tortillas, pickled vegetables, and salsa.
Linda Garson (Editor-in-chief, Culinaire Magazine)
Eats at Safari Grill and Escoba
I have many favourite dishes in Calgary; they’re the ones I never tire of and go back time and time again for my fix. Safari Grill’s Masala Mogo is one of these dishes; they’re chunky, crunchy sticks of deep-fried cassava in a mild and flavourful masala sauce of crushed tomatoes and spices. Escoba’s Signature Mushroom Soup is another fave; it’s creamy, and chock full of wild mushrooms, with ingredients such as sherry and grainy mustard to give it a lift. A hug in a bowl.
Jill Belland (BT Calgary)
Eats at Charbar
My favourite dish, especially heading into patio season, is at Charbar. I love their charred Napa cabbage salad with avocado and mint; it’s lightly dressed and has delicious seeds for crunch. I’ll add the chimichurri chicken for something more filling; it is so flavourful! To start, try the avocado and pistachio bruschetta. A cocktail on the rooftop makes it a perfect summer afternoon!
Dan Clapson (Eat North)
Devilled Eggs at Briggs Kitchen and Bar
When I was a kid, I remember my mom making big batches of devilled eggs for dinner parties. I’d always sneak into the kitchen and eat a few before the guests arrived. At Briggs, I can’t steal from the kitchen – that just wouldn’t be right – but I always make sure to order their signature devilled eggs. A smoky mushroom and egg yolk filling finished off with a big, crispy chorizo chip. They are absolutely delicious.
Sasha Spencer (KiSS 95.9 radio host, Calgary)
Saskatoon Berry Pie Fries at The Beltliner
I love brunch, so The Beltliner is one of my go-tos in Calgary. Every time I’m there, I can’t resist ordering the pie fries along with my meal. They always taste like they’ve just come out of the oven, light and flaky, and that vanilla sauce you get to dip them in? I want some right now!
Tom Firth (Culinaire Magazine)
Lemon Conchigliette at Cilantro
Hands down, one of my favourite restaurant dishes has to be the Lemon Conchigliette from Cilantro on 17 Avenue SW in Calgary. I like it so much, I really couldn’t tell you what else is on the menu. Bursting with flavour, scallops and lobster, cream and cheese, it’s rich, delicious, and pairs perfectly well with a beautiful rosé or beer on a sunny day.