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When people talk about food in Calgary, they’re often referring to the steak-and-potatoes variety. But while you can definitely get one of the best steaks in the world in Alberta, it isn’t the only thing the province has to offer. To help you choose, here’s our list of the five best Calgary food experiences.
1. River Café. Located at Prince’s Island Park, traditional regional ingredients and dishes — like stinging nettle, rhubarb, kohlrabi and perogies — are honored on River Café’s menu and incorporated into creative dishes. Rustic breads utilize local organic grains and are baked in-house, including sourdough from the restaurant’s own 15-year-old culture. Butchering, pickling, preserving, curing and smoking are also practiced at River Café, providing guests with an all-encompassing culinary experience.
2. Home Tasting Room. Situated in a Stephen Avenue heritage space, Home Tasting Room specializes in small-plates dining. The menu is a veritable hodgepodge of unique dishes — Bison tartare with truffle aioli and French baguette can be snacked on alongside horseradish hummus, house-seasoned potato chips and ricotta and herb gnocchi. Get into the spirit of things by bringing a friend and ordering a few dishes to sample together.
3. Farm Restaurant. As its name implies, Farm maintains close relationships with local farmers and aims to highlight the bounty produced in Calgary’s backyard. The food here is cozy, unpretentious and comforting. Served at long tables that invite sharing and socializing, the offerings include charcuterie boards, hearty lunch sandwiches and artisan green salads. The restaurant’s multi-course harvest menus are perfect for groups and those seeking a carefully orchestrated down-home experience.
4. Rouge Restaurant. Housed in a bright-red 1899 heritage home once owned by one of the Calgary Stampede rodeo’s founders, Rouge specializes in French cuisine with a focus on high-quality, fresh, local ingredients sourced from regional producers and the restaurant’s own garden, which covers six city lots. Under the guidance of part-owner and chef Paul Rogalski, Rouge earned a coveted spot on S. Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurants list in 2010.
5. The Ranche Restaurant. You don’t get much more Calgarian than The Ranche, an upscale restaurant housed inside a 100-year-old ranch house restored to the glory days of the cattle aristocracy. Alberta beef, bison, and caribou from local producers provide much of the meat of the menu, updated with sophisticated touches that keep the cuisine on the cutting edge while staying true to cowboy tradition. The Ranche also whips up a wicked brunch, with selections including banana bread French toast with apple-vanilla compote and caribou, bison and bean chili with fried eggs.