We’re getting plenty of hits lately from people trying to plan where they’ll eat when they come to Calgary for next month’s Stampede. (It’s the 100th anniversary of the Stampede this year and it’s going to be huge!) We’re happy to oblige. We’ve put together a list of things we recommend you eat (and drink) while in town.
1. Dinner on the patio at The Living Room
Sit on the patio and watch the crazy Stampede crowds go by. Nab the spot by the fireplace if it’s cold out. We won’t tell you what to order — it’s all very, very good. (But bossy Michelle says, “Order the beef tartare.” Amazing.)
2. Quinoa waffles at AKA Wine Bar
These quinoa waffles are best way to start a weekend. They’re big and puffy with little exploding bits of quinoa. They come with a rasher of bacon if the quinoa sounds too healthy for you. Not into waffles? S. swears by their eggs benny with house-made brioche.
3. Drinks and tapas at Ox and Angela
Dangerously good drinks and even better tapas. We don’t know the name of our favourite cocktail here; we’ve imbibed a few over the last year. Just let their bartenders work their magic and keep a steady parade of cheese and paella coming to your table.
4. Sandwiches from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery
In short, here is owner Aviv Fried’s story: he loves good food. He loves good food so much that food trumped getting a real job. He finished his master’s degree in engineering, turned down a finance job, worked in a cheese shop and taught himself to make bread. Very good bread. Now he sells his bread at shops all over town, has his own store (open two days a week) and sells his mind-boggling sandwiches on Stephen Avenue over the lunch hour. What’s in a mind-boggling sandwich? For one, roasted butternut squash with Harissa aioli, pea shoots, cilantro goat cheese and fried chickpeas.
They’re sister restaurants that specialize in three things: delicious locally sourced burgers, marvelous breakfasts and a welcoming vibe. Since Stampede isn’t Stampede without a burger, consider these: lamb burger (Michelle’s favourite), bison burger (Chris’ favourite) and feta-spinach burger (a TG all-round favourite).
6. Brownies from Choklat
As if we’d leave dessert off the list. This little Inglewood shop was the first artisan chocolate maker in western Canada. If you like dark chocolate, theirs is deadly. Also deadly, their truffles (they make them right in front of you), brownies and s’mores (made with homemade marshmallows).
7. Beer from Village Brewery
This microbrewery is less than a year old but it’s quickly become a local favourite. It’s on tap at least nine places in town (the count is rising all the time). Or you could have an awesome keg party. In either case, we like their community-minded approach as much as the beer.
8. Falafel quesadillas from The Coup
Contrary to popular belief, we do have vegetarians in Calgary and they do eat well, even during Stampede. If you’re a vegetarian or can’t handle any more beef on a stick (a Stampede tradition that refuses to die), hit up The Coup for scurvy-preventative fare. We’re both hooked on the falafel quesadillas. A warning: Calgarians love this place. Expect to wait. You’ll have to hang out next door at Meet, drinking cocktails and eating veggie apps. That’s a good thing.
9. The Stampeder roll from Hana Sushi
When we’re too hungry to wait at The Coup, we head over to Hana Sushi on 4th Street. It’s unpretentious, friendly and has some of the best quality sushi in town. They specialize in fat slices of sashimi, which makes both Toque Girls very happy. We recommend the Stampeder roll (a delicious snake of tuna, salmon and a few other things). It’s freaking good and it fits with the Stampede theme. Throw in a Double Happiness Roll and a Looover’s Roll, and you’ve got all the Stampede themes right there on your table.
Everyone gets Stampeded out. That means you’ve done it right. In that case, hit up these three places. They’re quite different than anywhere else in town. The patio at West is very LA, the bar at Hotel Arts is very Las Vegas, and Alloy is a sanctuary that’s placeless. The food is always delicious and its patio is outstanding.
There, now you won’t leave Stampede hungry.
~Chris & Michelle