Calgary Food + Coffee Worth Seeking

Bridge Calgary

Santiago Calatrava's Peace Bridge spans the Bow River and provides access to Calgary's culinary scene.

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Calgary is a thriving city in Canada’s Alberta province that straddles the Bow River and is historically known as a hub for oil and cattle. Recent years have brought the city an impressive skyline and a thriving public art scene, including Santiago Calatrava’s Peace Bridge. That’s where I witnessed a parade of Canadian geese, a far different kind of Calgary Stampede. Learn about 10 compelling places to eat and drink coffee in this increasingly dynamic city.

Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.

6. Model Milk

Canadian Food Calgary

Calamari fricassée has become a signature dish at Model Milk.

Justin Leboe runs three businesses at the corner of 2 Street SW: contemporary restaurant Model Milk, Model Citizen speakeasy, and adjacent Pigeonhole restaurant. Model Milk has been open since 2014 in a former dairy featuring a four-tier bar and dining experience, a white cow head over the entrance, and a seasonal Canadian menu that lists key purveyors in the left sidebar. With summer still on the rise, Leboe shucked chilled summer peas and plated with earthy fava beans, bright seasonal herbs and edible flowers. In the center of a vibrant ring, he filled in a shallow pool of nduja sausage aioli. The spicy spreadable Calabrian pork sausage provided fierce, creamy contrast to an otherwise light vegetable dish. Alberta tomatoes joined cured Arctic char and strawberry vinaigrette. Calamari fricassee is a signature dish that packs a punch, tossed with guanciale, edamame, and garlic croutons. Dill pickle fried chicken dredged in lemon and black garlic, coated in tangy herbs, and deep-fried, joined pickle slices and waffle batter fry bread drizzled with honey. A side consisted of crunchy cucumber salad tossed with tangy spiced yogurt, fried shallots, shaved red onions, and black sesame seeds. Dessert involved apple pie with a crispy aged white Cheddar crust, topped with house-churned vanilla ice cream.

MUST ORDER: Alberta Tomatoes, Calamari Fricassee, Chilled Summer Peas, Dill Pickle Fried Chicken, Apple Pie

7. Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

Coffee Calgary

Phil & Sebastian has become a driving force in Canada’s specialty coffee culture.

Not many coffee companies were hatched in a lab, but that’s the case with Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. The famed Calgary roaster can be traced to former college lab partners Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb, who started their eponymous business in 2007 with a stand at the Calgary Farmers Market. They now have five locations across the city, and I visited their airy Stephen Avenue outpost in Calgary Tower’s shadow, which started in early 2017. Phil & Sebastian divides featured coffees into two categories – exotic or approachable – and serves unique signature drinks. Black & Tonic balances smooth cold brew, sweet tart black cherry juice, and bitter tonic water over ice.

MUST ORDER: Black & Tonic

8. Philosafy Coffee

Coffee Calgary

Philosafy finds inspiration in philosophers, art, and of course coffee.

Philosafy is a philosopher themed coffee bar that Tahir Khan Wahdat opened in 2016. The space features copper accents and a plant-lined wood bar. The coffee program incorporates a three-group Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine, Luxus drip brewer and pourover bar. I enjoyed my cappuccino made with Socrates – a blend of Colombian, Costa Rican and Ethiopian beans – that didn’t impart the wisdom of the ages, but still kickstarted my day.

MUST ORDER: Cappuccino

9. Ten Foot Henry

Fish Calgary

Pickerel is a popular fish in Alberta, and Ten Foot Henry prepares it beautifully.

Aja Lapointe and Chef Stephen Smee named Ten Foot Henry for a cartoon character depicted on a wall by the entrance. This buzzy restaurant features white walls, an open kitchen, and hanging plants. The menu features modern seasonal dishes. Chargrilled carrots co-starred salsa verde, hummus, and crispy chickpea. Seared pickerel featured flaky river fish fillets with almonds, punchy pickled grapes, and Brussels sprout leaves. Spaghetti arrived tossed with pistachio pesto and shaved with grated Grana Padano, a seemingly simple dish with satisfying results.

MUST ORDER: Chargrilled Carrots, Seared Pickerel, Spaghetti

10. Village Ice Cream

Ice Cream Calgary

Village Ice Cream makes premium ice cream with local and seasonal ingredients.

Billy Friley debuted Village Ice Cream in 2012 and now runs three Calgary locations where “We’re all villagers.” The original outpost occupies an unlikely location in an urban cul-de-sac. The space features a large patio, wood and white color palette, and blackboard menu. I enjoyed their thin, crackling house-made waffle cone cradling two distinctly flavorful scoops: Guide’s mint ice cream chock full of chocolate cookie chunks, and Phil & Sebastian coffee made with locally roasted beans. Fun seasonal flavors like carnival corn and Fee Brothers 1864 cherry bitters also factor into scoops and sundaes.

MUST ORDER: Guide’s Mint Ice Cream, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Ice Cream, Waffle Cone

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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