The new National on 10th

We like beer. We like good food. And we like rooms with good vibes. This is why Chris and I have been regulars at National on 17th — and will quickly become regulars at the new National on 10th, which just opened its doors. Last week, we were invited to join our Calgary media friends for an opening celebration that involved snacks such as corn dogs and fried pickles, not to mention beverages like pinot grigio and the infamous Hound Dog Hooch, made with wheat beer, lemonade and vodka. I obviously set aside my non-drinking ways for the evening. Bonus points for Stephen, Calgary’s top dog bartender, who handed me a Hound Dog Hooch made with gin instead of vodka. He knows the way to my heart.

The new National, which resides in the former Whiskey, is beautiful. We loved the high ceilings, strings of warm light, wooden barrels, secluded booths and long tables for making friends. What we liked even more? The ping pong tables and the soon-to-be-opened bourbon room — a sexy room with vintage nudes on the wall. And I can’t wait for the lower-level, 10-pin bowling alley to open. I may have been in a bowling league in elementary school. So cool. I know.

National on 10th

National's kitchen

Ping pong at National

Congratulations on the great new space, National friends.



80th & Ivy Wine Kitchen

There’s a new hotspot on 17th Ave. you have to check out: 80th & Ivy Modern Kitchen. I stopped in a couple of Fridays ago for a post-Stampeding snack and drink and had a great time. The lounge in front is open, bright and welcoming, and the dining room up some stairs and in the back of the establishment is cozy and buzzing with the kitchen’s energy. 80th & Ivy was fairly busy, considering it had just opened its doors earlier that week. But that’s not surprising; the spot is the latest from the guys who’ve brought us 1410 World Bier Haus, 1600 World Bier Haus and Classic Jack’s. All places we’ve frequented often.

Check out 80th & Ivy’s dining room:

We had some wine and a couple of snacks, including this delicious tomato salad:

We love that 80th & Ivy is all about using local suppliers, too. Here’s their list:

I’m looking forward to trying dinner there soon!



Two New Calgary Hotspots: Cibo and National

Last Saturday, I embarked upon an eating and drinking adventure with my good friend, Melissa, who was visiting from Edmonton. We were on a mission to check out two of Calgary’s newest hotspots: Cibo, Bonterra Trattoria’s new restaurant on 17th Ave., and National Beer Hall, where Mercury used to be. We hadn’t seen each other in ages and were all smiles, all night.

Here’s the lowdown. Cibo –pronounced Chee-bo — is fantastic. Everything on the menu is meant for sharing and is very reasonably priced. (Definitely more affordable than Bonterra, which I love but save for special occasions.) We started out with three appetizers: broccolini, asparagus (with a delicious hazelnut vinaigrette. I’m sure that’s not the right word for it but, whatever it was, it was yummy) and ricotta, which we smeared on the accompanying bread crisps. So good!

We shared a delicious bottle of white wine (Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Reisling, for $35) and a speck, pineapple and arugula pizza. Everything was delicious. Our only mistake was not ordering a couple of more appetizers because, after we’d polished off every bite of pizza, we weren’t stuffed. How that’s possible, I don’t know. But if you’re two girls with healthy appetites, you may want to start with five appys instead of three.

Next, we moved on to National Beer Hall, which was busy! I loved the room — lots of windows, big communal tables and a great crowd. The beer selection is massive; blueberry beer was my ale of choice. National’s only downfall is the layout because, while the big tables are great if you’re sitting with friends, they don’t make for easy moving and mingling. We determined that, should you be single and looking to meet people, the best place to sit is at the end of a table. Makes for much easier access.

Sorry for the lack of photos! At this point, I’d forgotten all about photography duties. So, your very difficult homework is to have a beer at National and check it out yourself. I’ll see you there.



Top Spots for After-Work Drinks

When I moved to Calgary in 2006, my group of friends went out for drinks all the time, especially for the after-work variety. Over the years, our lives have changed and our after-work adventures have dwindled, slowly but surely. This is a good thing. My wallet and my kidneys could not have kept up  the pace. But now that spring is here, I’m feeling the itch to go out with friends after work, even just for one quick drink. So that’s what I did yesterday with my friend, Anna. Neither of us had been to Craft Beer Market in ages and it was busy, although this pic doesn’t do it justice:

One of my favourite things about Craft is that it serves one of my favourite drinks: grapefruit Stiegl Radler. So when the waitress said they were out of it, I was bummed. But not too devastated — I ordered a glass of Fruitesse instead. It seemed to go down okay:

As for other spots we’ll likely hit this spring and summer, I’m thinking Local 522 and West‘s patio, because they have two attractive qualities: they’re downtown and they’re busy. What are your go-to downtown spots? I’d love to check out some new — or new to me — watering holes.