Top Menu

Calgary’s epic foodie scene

Calgary for foodies

The gateway to Alberta is Calgary, a bustling big Canadian city that I didn’t have a lot of expectations for. My mind was more on the mountains.

I’m going to be totally honest here; I was not expecting a foodie scene and so many epic meals. Hell, I love surprises when traveling! But more on that in a minute.

But I love giving cities a chance, and I think it’s important to be openminded about places when you’re exploring the world, don’t you? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and all that shit.

Anyways, I arrived in Calgary late in the evening right after New Years and headed straight to the Hotel Elan and planted facefirst into the comfiest bed ever.

Calgary for foodies

Calgary for foodies

The next morning I woke up early with my mind on coffee and headed over to the Simmons Building in the East Village. An old mattress factory converted into a thriving foodie center that just opened this year, I was really excited to see what was in store for me there.

Cough cough, hot coffee. Show me the beans!

Right next to the frozen river, the old school urban feel of the Simmon’s Building reminded me a bit of my old haunts around New York and New England, but I wasn’t prepared for just how an amazing experience it would be until I walked inside.

Wow, Alberta, you are full of surprises!

Calgary for foodies

Tucked away in the heart of the up and coming East Village, the beautiful wooden beams, exposed brick and soft lighting of the building created one of the most welcoming atmospheres I’ve experienced in Canada. It felt like it’s own little market.

Right next to me as I walked in was Phil and Sebastian, an open coffee shop that you could immediately likely serves the best coffee in Calgary. Normally when I arrive in a city I seek out cafes like this, minimal with a focus on high quality coffee. It’s like they read my mind.

I’m such an addict.

In the back I could see the Charbar and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and my nose and interest was piqued. Without skipping a beat I ordered my standard latte before grabbing a seat and waiting for company. I was immediately curious about what made this place tick. Sometimes you just know when a place has a story.

Calgary for foodies

And I was right, a rare occurrence.

When I walked inside the Simmons Building, I was immediately blown away by how cool of a spot this was. If you value quality food and meals prepared with mindfulness and love, THIS is the place for you!

A building destined for the wrecking ball, it was saved with the idea of turning it into a community space. Hundreds of people vied for the lease to set up shop but three innovators won out – a cafe, a bakery and a restaurant, none of them typical of course.

I’m not a food writer but this was too good not to share. Here’s their story along with my favorite bites from Calgary.

Calgary for foodies

Phil and Sebastian

Phil and Sebastian studied engineering together at university, working as lab partners. They became friends over good food and better coffee. You can probably see where this is going, the result of which is amazing coffee in Calgary that Me (and probably plenty of you guys) couldn’t get enough of.

Read more of their epic story here. Trying to summarize it would just do it an injustice.

I like my coffee with a story so I was lapping it up when I was hearing the story of engineers turned award winning baristas. Isn’t that something we can all relate and aspire to? Leaving the comfortable to follow your dreams in the hopes that they pay off?

It’s an inspiring space, and I love that you see every angle of how the coffee is prepared, even it seems a bit intimidating. I’d rather learn that not, you know.

Calgary for foodies

Calgary for foodies

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery

After a couple cups of coffee, I wandered over to the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. I needed something to stuff my face with after so much coffee. I was jittery.

With a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean menu and a no BS attitude, this Israeli owned bakery combines tradition and innovation in every bite. I knew I was going to like this place when the owner asked if she could feed me. Um, duh. Yes please!!!

With almost every ingredient made in house, including the yeast that makes the bread, there is though, purpose and love in every dish here to make you want to stay all day and try everything.

Calgary for foodies

Calgary for foodies

Calgary for foodies

Calgary for foodies

Charbar

Where do I start? The best brunch I’ve had EVER of all time was at Charbar. Omg did it blow me away. And I don’t say that lightly.

Blending together Argentinian, Spanish and Italian flavors over an Argentinian woodfire grill, I wish I hadn’t eaten for days to prepare me for this meal. But don’t worry, my mom raised me right and I didn’t leave anything. What was left came with me as leftovers. Obviously.

It’s also a really funky space. Definitely try the pizzas and ceviche mixto. ZOMG.

Working together with Phil and Sebastian and the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, they all compliment each other and really show off the best there is in Calgary.

Calgary for foodies

Calgary for foodies

Yellow Door Bistro

The rest of my time in Calgary I ate pretty well too, with dinner one night at the Yellow Door Bistro, an eccentric restaurant with a fine menu. In a different part of the city from the Simmon’s Building, it was the first time I tried pierogies in Calgary, a local staple.

As someone with a Polish ancestry who is not the best chef, I’ve always struggled with making pierogies so it had been a while since I indulged. GOD, they have to be one of my favorite dishes. And honestly, what more could you want when it’s a balmy -10 degrees outside?

I couldn’t get enough of the delicious perfect sized mains or the regal throne chairs. This place was cool.

Calgary for foodies

Red’s Diner

My last morning in Calgary I found I was quite bummed to leave the city. Living in one of the most remote, rural areas of the world here in New Zealand (wouldn’t have it any other way) I can fully appreciate it when I get to spend time in the big cities. Until I got a damn parking ticket. Seriously Calgary?

Starting with variety and ending with an ample selection of diverse and delicious food. Yum. I headed over to Red’s Diner, a local fave for a hot brunch before driving out to Canmore and the Rockies.

Ok, I am going to admit that I SERIOUSLY miss diner style food when I am outside of North America. It just takes me back to university and hanging with friends late at night or recovering from a big night out.

My spicy breakfast burrito with a whopping portion of guacamole was my last Mexican fix before heading back to a world without good Mexican food. And obviously we shared a plate of pierogies.

Calgary, I blame you for me not fitting into my snowpants when I arrived in Banff.

Have you ever visited a place with a surprising foodie scene? Have you been to any of these spots in Calgary?

IMG_1002 copy 3

Many thanks to Travel Alberta for hosting me in Canada. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me. 

65 Responses to Calgary’s epic foodie scene

  1. Erin February 29, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    I love the painting on the Yellow Door Bistro wall, it looks so cool on the brick. Also fell in love with the backstories of some of the places, it’s cool to know how they came about!

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      That’s actually Charbar! Yellow Door Bistro is also decorated really beautifully too xx

  2. Justine February 29, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    This is so cool! Calgary is my hometown and its really neat to read about it from an outsider’s point of view like this. I’ve actually never been to that building in east village but now I definitely plan on going! I have been to other Phil & Sebastian locations though; they have quickly become a local favourite in the past few years! I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Calgary!

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      They are so good!

  3. Sarah February 29, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    This all sounds so good! I have plans to visit some friends in Calgary this summer and, like you, I was not expecting anything special in the food scene! Now I have more to look forward to!

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      Save room for all the great food xx

  4. Ivana March 1, 2016 at 3:59 am #

    Great post! I had no idea this place even existed, but I’ll definitely have to pay a visit. I feel like Alberta often gets left out of the foodie scene. I’m from Edmonton, where the culinary experience is nothing short of incredible. There’s just so much to choose from! Hopefully you get a chance to visit us someday and experience it for yourself 🙂

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

      Next time I hope to make it to Edmonton too!

  5. Victoria | Girl Tries Life March 1, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    So pleased that you made it to my home town! It’s funny, when I was growing up in the late eighties/early nineties, the food scene in Calgary (in fact the culture in general) was pretty blah. We’ve really come into our own in the last decade. When I left high school I couldn’t imagine staying in Calgary. After doing some extensive travel, I’m really proud to call Calgary home… though I still love jetting off every now and then.

    Hopefully you’ll return to Calgary!

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

      I hope so too!

  6. Ron March 1, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    My first impulse after entering the old mattress factory would be grab a large coffee at Phil and Sepastians then head straight to Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and have my way with there Pain au chocolat and Danish Pastry supply. Later I’d search the town for plum pierogies.

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

      haha same xx

  7. Candace March 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

    Had such a great time meeting you Liz! You are a firecracker and I loved every minute with you. It looks like you really enjoyed your Rocky Mountain experience, as well! Thank you for the post, so sweet, so genuine…so you. If you are ever back this way, let me know I’d love to show you some other fantastic spots.

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

      Thank you so much for showing me an awesome time Candace!!

  8. Lavina March 2, 2016 at 3:55 am #

    My sis-in-law lives in Calgary and not being a foodie, doesn’t really venture out to try anything. This seems like a good start!
    P.S. your post : 5 Blogging Practices that Make Me Want to Scream – is still my favorite – I just wish I had someone to vocally scream about the same in person!
    Still a newbie, yet some practices out there are very disheartening!

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

      haha thanks!

      • Lavina March 7, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

        You replied! Hehe – Monday just got better 😛

  9. Lindsay March 2, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    I have a serious question – What is the point of your blog anymore? Your posts/Snapchats/Instagrams don’t appeal nor help the average traveler/general audience, and lack so much genuine content…..since all of your content is sponsored, paid for, etc., your photos are unoriginal and over edited, and your braggy attitude is very disheartening. “Thanks for hosting me!” You seep privilege and it’s hard to connect with you on any level. You no longer inspire me to travel to places when all I see are these expensive activities, 4-5 star (paid for) hotels, how you got upgraded to first class (again), & things that are either plain out of reach or your telling doesn’t seem at all authentic. Or both. It’s as if you continually recycle posts just so you can get more paid trips. It’s become so boring, and I’ve returned hoping time and time again, but you just don’t cut it when there’s so many other bloggers out there that just seem so much more genuine and real and helpful. Nothing jumps out, it’s as if your originality ran out, and it’s a chore finishing one of your posts now. You don’t engage with your readers and it’s sad to see. This whole blog is a sham and I don’t see why you even keep it up with how far the quality of your content has fallen.

    • Victoria March 2, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

      She’s allowed to make a living. If you no longer enjoy the posts, that’s fair, but no need to hate on her for it.

    • Abby March 2, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

      I don’t think her originality has run out at all. In fact, I think her latest posts have been even more inspired than before (though the older posts are still good). Whether or not a blogger is making money shouldn’t matter when critiquing their work, so I don’t see why you even brought it up. It kind of sounds like bitterness and jealousy.

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

      Dude, sorry you feel that way, if it’s such a chore to read me, go read one of those more authentic blogs you’re talking about, no one is forcing you on here. I’ve been open on here that I’ve been in a funk for the past few months and I’m trying to pull myself out of it, but thanks for so publicly being a dick about it, really appreciate it.

      • Lindsay March 3, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

        I am going to, that’s why I left this comment. So maybe you wouldn’t lose more readers or perhaps take a moment to reflect but it seems that any sign of critique ends up just getting your followers to call it “bitterness” or “jealousy”…or you resort to name calling. Kind of sad at how intellectually lazy and immature that is.

        • Liz March 6, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

          dude, stop. I think you’ve said enough.

        • Brittany May 20, 2016 at 8:30 am #

          I have to agree with Lindsay in some aspects of her comments. I used to read your blog religiously. I follow you on Instagram and have you on Snapchat too. The quality of your posts has gone downhill and I find nothing inspiring here anymore. I haven’t visited your blog in months and came back to see what you have been up to and am disappointed. Sure, you can say “fuck off” all you want – as I won’t be returning anytime soon to read your posts regardless. The lack of passion and quality of your writing has me struggling to read through your recent posts. I don’t blame you for taking all these sponsored trips and such, but it’s comes off as humble-bragging like you think you’re better than everyone trying to save up and travel on a budget.

          I just wish you would take a much needed break and return to your roots. I liked how you used to be so honest and separate from the typical sponsored bloggers who only take trips that are paid for. Now every post I read is filled with negativity, hate and privilege. Attitude is everything.

          • Liz May 20, 2016 at 11:11 am #

            Thanks for your opinion – while you probably don’t believe it, I actually do listen when people tell me things like this, thats why I’ve been around for so long, but I don’t see how it’s my fault that you’re not inspired anymore.

  10. Jeremy Larsen March 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    Usually photos of food are boring as hell but all the ones in this post really look great. Liz you make me want to drag my diabetic travelin’ butt to Calgary and try it all 🙂

    Actually I was in Banff a few years ago, and the first photo above, of the water, reminds me of that trip: it was summer but really cool, and the rich turquoise of the rivers (from glacial silt) was unbelievable.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Liz March 2, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

      Thank you!

  11. Alexa March 3, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    wow this seems to get weirder and weirder. I first found your blog by searching about new Zealand, after having spent a month travelling around both islands in 2013. oh and maybe I also found it by googling ‘how to quit your job and go travel’ . then I saw you on a random repeat of house hunters international. NOW, I move from Ottawa to Edmonton, and here you are visiting Calgary/the rockies! cant wait to hear about your impression of canmore/Banff/lake louise 🙂 I fell in love with them

    • Liz March 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      hahahahaH I love that

  12. Fariha March 5, 2016 at 5:36 am #

    I’ve never been to Canada before, but I feel like I really need to visit Calgary now! I love your blog. I feel like I need to add a lot more places to visit on my travel list 🙂

    • Liz March 6, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

      yay! makes me happy to hear 🙂

  13. Izy berry March 7, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    I love the food it seems delicious and I really like the decoration of the restaurant very unique and different

    • Liz March 14, 2016 at 6:45 am #

      it’s beautiful!

  14. Maggie March 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    Beautiful pictures!!! It looks like an amazing place to escape from busy world for a holiday trip…wish to visit this place soon….

    • Liz March 14, 2016 at 6:48 am #

      It’s a great escape!

  15. motherof4 March 9, 2016 at 4:33 am #

    I was almost impressed to see yourself call wildy successful. It means you’re almost brilliant, have thick skin or fucking nuts! I almost admire you for being so fucking delusional, just the fact that your most popular blogs are about hate, and you KNOW THAT, and you keep getting some sort of validation from that

    How do you get away with being so arrogant? Does it really not affect you at all? Do people like you and make friends with you? How do you manage to travel so much and remain so blind to other cultures?

    I know you saw Essena O’Neil’s video. I almost believed there, for a second, that you were going to stop whoring yourself out for money and get actually real but old habits die hard.

    Your blog is worth nothing. I couldn’t be more bored reading about some narcisst traveling.

    You are drifting, not having adventures. Do you even know who you are anymore? Behind bullshit, and saying SHITON of things you don’t even feel, who are you?

    If you consider people doing Bravo reality shows successful, then sure. You get a lot of hate mail. You say hateful things yourself. You are depressed and disconnected. You still have no community. If that’s success, you are definitely wildly successful. FOX news is successful or

    The Real Housewives level of successful.

    Logical argument is that if someone doesn’t like your blog, they can fuck right off, it’s just that it seems you’d rather have negative attention and make hate mail blogs, then no attention and get your shit together.

    Rename this blog, quick, how to sell your soul for a quick buck RIGHT?????? You fucking stupid whore

  16. Suze - Luxury Columnist March 9, 2016 at 5:49 am #

    I have a friend who is from Calgary but lives in London, so it was really nice to read this. The brunch at Charbar sounds like a real treat

    • Liz March 14, 2016 at 7:03 am #

      it is trust me!

  17. Jennifer March 11, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

    All that food looks amazing, and the size of the breakfast burrito – wow! The snow looks awesome too 🙂

    • Liz March 14, 2016 at 7:06 am #

      It was delicious!!

  18. Lauren March 12, 2016 at 6:07 am #

    I mostly ate fast food in Canada (poutine and beavertails), so I missed out on the nice restaurants. Now I’m jealous.

    • Liz March 14, 2016 at 7:08 am #

      haha next time!

  19. Rafting In Rishikesh March 12, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    Nice talk guys keep it up cheers!

    • Liz March 14, 2016 at 7:08 am #

      thanks!

  20. Brie March 15, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    I love this! I’ve never been to Calgary and like you, for sure wouldn’t have thought they would have a bumpin’ food scene. Will keep this in mind for when I eventually make my way out there!

    • Liz March 16, 2016 at 5:22 am #

      It’s surprisingly awesome!

  21. Kelly March 15, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    I would have never had thought but this food looks incredible!

    xx Kelly

    • Liz March 16, 2016 at 5:22 am #

      Thanks!

  22. Madi | The Restless Worker March 16, 2016 at 5:06 am #

    Okay this is embarrassing but as a Canadian I have never travelled West. My best friend lived in Calgary for almost two years and the stars never aligned for me to visit. HOWEVER, Calgary and Banff are very high on my list and I plan on getting out there to visit ASAP! Thanks for sharing, good to know great places to grab a bite 🙂

    • Liz March 16, 2016 at 5:23 am #

      You have the perfect excuse to go!!

  23. Laura March 17, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    Calgary seems totally worth exploring… though I would prefer to do it during summer… maybe next summer. 🙂

    • Liz March 19, 2016 at 4:33 am #

      I imagine it’s pretty awesome in summer 🙂

  24. Cest La Vibe March 19, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    Great post. It’s always amazing to find out about an amazing food scene in a city that I would have never expected.

    • Liz March 21, 2016 at 5:42 am #

      It’s awesome!!!

  25. Katie @ Katie Wanders March 24, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    Food posts are always my favorite. Besides the gorgeous sights, I love to experience the culture of a new place through its food. Now all I can think about is a brunch at Charbar.

    • Liz March 28, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      It was AMAZING!!

  26. Eva April 10, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    Thank you for this great article ! I live and work in Calgary and I usually don’t venture to this side of town. This area used to be pretty bad. Thanks to our new mayor and (maybe) the flood in 2013 everything is changing, for the better. My daughter sent me this blog. She grew up in Calgary but lives in central Europe now. Last night I was looking for a place to eat and thanks to this article ended up at Charbar. Had a very nice meal and a nice walk after along the well-lit pathway by the river and the new bridge. River is no longer frozen and it’s relatively warm now. Who knew that Calgary can be so beautiful. Sometimes it’s good to see something familiar through the eyes of a visitor.
    Thank you, Eva

    • Liz April 11, 2016 at 10:19 am #

      Thanks!

  27. Dan Hagen April 15, 2016 at 6:21 am #

    Ah crap, I wish I found something like this when I went there last summer. I got there just as the Stampede was getting started, which was kind of a shit show, and then I was Jasper bound on my bike. You would seriously love the Chicago food scene. It’s where I first learned that eating can be a hobby.

    • Liz April 15, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

      Just have to head back haha

  28. lindsay April 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    I haven’t been to Calgary since I was a kid (pathetic, since I live in Edmonton) but now I’m convinced I need to take a weekend trip there solely to stuff my face. I didn’t realize Calgary was full of tasty places, but I am excited to try out these ones! Also, come visit Edmonton, won’t ya? We have so. many. glorious. diverse. restaurants. I promise you will leave 10 pounds heavier (and that right there should be the qualifier for good food). Plus, we have 683259748 festivals.

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      one day!!

  29. Stina December 7, 2016 at 2:09 am #

    I hope you get to go to Model Milk (my favorite restaurant in yyc) next time you’re in Calgary. Their food is AMAZING!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Calgary’s epic foodie scene | SortStyle.com - February 29, 2016

    […] By Liz […]

  2. Dogsledding in Alberta, Canada - Insord - November 12, 2016

    […] a few days hanging out and eating my way through Calgary, I was ready to finally see that pure Canadian wilderness for myself. Driving straight to Canmore […]

Leave a Reply

Pinterest
Email