The votes are in and Calgary restaurants – and, really, those of us who dine in them – are coming up winners.
Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants has released its list of 2017 winners, showcasing the finest, tastiest and most creative establishments from the western edge of the country (with Tofino’s Wolf in the Fog) to the wild East Coast (Mallard Cottage in St. John’s, Newfoundland).
Seven spots in Calgary made the list – further evidence this city’s dining scene has shrugged off the reputation as a meat-and-potatoes town and is continuing to push the boundaries of innovative and inspiring cuisine.
At No. 10, Pigeonhole is the highest ranked of the Calgary spots getting recognition. The latest venture from chef-owner Justin Leboe had also previously earned a spot on the coveted list of enRoute’s best new restaurants in Canada. Known for shareable small plates that meld and play with different cuisines – and an intriguing and ever-changing wine list – Pigeonhole defies categorization.
River Café earned a spot at No. 29, followed on its heels by Ten Foot Henry at 30. Rounding out the list is Shokunin at 39, Anju at 61, River Café’s sister restaurant Deane House at 69, Model Milk tied at 80 with Edmonton’s Bar Bricco, and Foreign Concept, which only opened in December, nabbing the last spot at no. 100. (Executive chef Jinhee Lee recently took top honours at the annual Gold Medal Plates competition in Kelowna, so expect to see Foreign Concept higher up on Canada’s 100 Best in the year to come.)
While Calgary was once mostly known for steak, Canada’s 100 Best was quick to point out that several of the restaurants on their list are known for their veneration for vegetables.
About half of Leboe’s Pigenhole menu is focused on vegetable-centric dishes, while Ten Foot Henry is known for its concentration on non-meat options.
Meanwhile, just as those winners were being announced in Toronto, Avenue Magazine here in Calgary was showcasing the winners of their annual Best Restaurants issue, including the top 10 spots in the city and the leaders in dining trends.
Unlike previous years, the magazine went with an alphabetical list for their top 10, rather than a ranking – a nice change since it’s hard to compare fine dining and more casual spots. The long and short of it is they all do good food and are the best at what they offer.
Tried-and-true spots including River Café, Alloy and Rouge made the list, as did relative newcomers Native Tongues and Ten Foot Henry.
Avenue also focused on 11 trends, highlighting the restaurants doing the best work in those areas, including street-food-inspired dining, charcuterie, cocktail-forward restaurants and brew pubs.
Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. She regularly contributes to Avenue magazine, the Calgary Herald and is the restaurant writer for Where Calgary. She is looking forward to eating at all the restaurants who earned spots on the best restaurants lists.