There’s a lot more to Calgary than its famous stampede and the 10 days of shameless partying it brings. “Cowtown” is just as enticing throughout the year – even in the dark depths of winter – thanks to its vibrant food and drink scene (that, and the nearby skiing).
Here’s everything you need to know about where to stay and play in Calgary.
Where to Stay when visiting Calgary?
The Westin Calgary
Warm, welcoming and wellness-focused: these are the best words to describe The Westin Calgary. Centrally located in the heart of downtown, the hotel – which was originally built in 1964 and last renovated in 2009 – makes for a reliable and convenient spot to stay. A Keg Steakhouse adds to the homey feel of the hotel, especially in the colder months when comfort food cravings set in. For all the indulging, however, guests can easily incorporate wellness with things like the hotel’s rooftop gym, heated indoor swimming pool and sauna. If you forgot to pack your running shoes, it isn’t an issue; the hotel has partnered with New Balance to provide athletic shoes and apparel for guests during their stay for $5.25 CAD. The Westin Calgary’s RunWESTIN program provides customized running maps to help guests explore the area, and greets them with bottled water and fresh towels upon their return.
Delta Hotel Calgary Downtown
The newly redesigned Delta Hotel Calgary Downtown offers a sleek and convenient stay that cuts no corners. The hotel features simple yet refined rooms, some with jetted tubs and views of downtown or the river. Other highlights include a large (by hotel standards, at least) 24-hour gym, yoga classes and an indoor pool and whirlpool. Platinum elite and Marriott Bonvoy members get access to the snack-filled 24/7 Elite Pantry, a space on the 24th floor where you can stock up on everything from fresh fruit and cereal, to baked goods and soup. One of the best offerings at this hotel (especially in the crisper months) is The Shoe & Canoe Public House, which serves up elevated yet approachable Canadian cuisine – with menu highlights like charcuterie, pastas, pizzas and meat dishes – and their exclusive Stargazer Ale. The perfect spot to curl up with a newspaper or book and a glass of wine, the cozy lounge here features a fireplace and comfortable couches and lounge chairs.
Where to Play on your next trip to Calgary?
Calcutta Cricket Club
The stylishly designed and always lively Calcutta Cricket Club – often recognized as one of Calgary’s best restaurants – serves up sharable small-plate versions of comforting Indian dishes and cocktails. Guests can either order a la carte, or opt for a four-course tasting menu ($45).
The Dandy Brewing Company
For some quality local brews, hit Calgary’s beloved Dandy Brewing Company. One of Calgary’s best-known small-scale brewers, the establishment offers a unique brewing experience, with a full-service tasting room restaurant that serves gourmet grub to accompany the spot’s offerings of 20 taps of Dandy beers, cocktails and wines.
Native Tongues Taqueria
To satisfy a craving for quality Mexican food, hit Native Tongues Taqueria for their modern spin on Mexican street eats. An assortment of creative cocktails accompanies things like tacos that have been called the best in the city, tostadas and antojitos.
Bar Von Der Fels
Since it opened up shop September 2016, Bar Von Der Fels has made a name for itself as one of Canada’s Best 100 restaurants. The intimate wine bar (there are only 28 seats) offers wines of all varieties and serves up dishes like charcuterie, smoked bison tartar, wild pink scallops and a green tomato and cabbage pancake.
Milk Tiger Lounge
If you have a soft spot for bars, Conde Nast’s Traveler recognized Calgary’s Milk Tiger Lounge as one of the best in the world. Since it opened its doors in 2008 to shake up the city’s bar scene, Milk Tiger has been a busy go-to for those in search of an extensive classic cocktail list and quality snacks.
Ship + Anchor Pub
The nearly three-decade-old Ship + Anchor Pub offers a low-key and storied watering hole for the pub-seekers. This spot – which has become a Calgary institution – offers live music, a community of sport-watchers, frequent dance parties and satisfying pub food.
Don’t let the name fool you; Alumni Sandwiches isn’t just a grab-and-go spot. The lively but relaxed diner-like restaurant serves up goodness like comforting sandwiches of all varieties, salads and snacks, with an assortment of photo-worthy cocktails.
Rustic and welcoming restaurant Cannibale doubles as a barbershop by day. Aside from haircuts, the spot – which opened up shop in 2015 – features a variety of food, craft beer, wine and cocktails. Appreciated perks here are specials like $5 happy hour drinks, and 20 per cent off cheese and charcuterie boards on Wednesdays.
Self-proclaimed ‘loud, fun, rock ‘n roll-lovin,’ Japanese-ish’ restaurant and lounge Gorilla Whale is the place to go for sharable, fun takes on Japanese cuisine and cocktails. Creative and comforting spins on burgers also hit the spot. The vibe here is relaxed, and things like vintage Japanese concert posters grace the walls.
Eighty-Eight Brewing Co.
Rooted in celebration of the retro vibes of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, Eighty-Eight Brewing Co. serves up nostalgia along with its selection of brews and quality New York-style Noble Pie Pizza. The taproom here features old school TVs that play footage if the ’88 Games while guests enjoy creative brews.
Since opening up shop in a former dairy in 2011, celebrated rustic-chic spot Model Milk has been a go-to for Calgary’s elevated comfort food-craving set. Staple highlights on the otherwise ever-changing menu include their famous Nashville fried chicken, the cheese curd-adorned burger and the Alberta Wagyu beef. If you’re craving some Sunday soul food, the spot offers a set price family-style meal each Sunday night.
Located in the downtown Marriott Hotel, ONE18 Empire offers breakfast, lunch and dinner menus full of sophisticated comfort food (including an assortment of sharables) with a side of a bustling vibe and over 100 whiskies to choose from. In addition to creative whisky cocktails, the spot also offers craft beer and wine on tap.
It isn’t until you take a step back and look around that you realize how beautiful our own backyard is. In this case, it’s our own country. Canada is full of incredible, exhilarating and culture rich destinations. Calgary is one of them. I hope this quick city guide of the best vibes helps you plan and navigate your next trip. Don’t forget to share your trip along the way and tag us @ViewtheVIBE for a chance to be featured.