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?

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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. 

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69 Comments on “Calgary’s epic foodie scene

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

  4. 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!

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