by Dan Leahul
Nestled in of one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods, Victoria Park, 1st St SW has been a focal point for the area’s recent business revitalization efforts. What was once boarded-up shops and vacant lots, now house sumptuous delis, bustling markets, art studios, eclectic boutiques, and a variety of sophisticated, yet affordable, eateries—and that’s without mention of the nightlife scene. For a night on the town, from pubs to clubs, 1 St SW has it all.
For a self-guided pub-crawl, start at Bottlescrew Bill’s, Calgary’s essential brew house. For 31 years the pub has offered a large selection of ales and lagers, over 200 at last count, with seasonal specialty brews and their very own Buzzard’s Breath Ale, always on tap (140 – 10 Ave SW). The Drum & Monkey, part of the historic Radio Block, is a casual, modern-style British pub with a loyal following. Out of the kitchen is a constant stream of pub favourites, including bangers and mash and U.K.-style curries. (1201 – 1 St SW). St. James Corner, named after St. James Gate in Dublin, home of Guinness beer, is a quaint slice of the Emerald Isle, boasting a huge mahogany bar and comfortable seating ideal for intimate conversation. The pub prides itself on its Irish heritage and serves authentic cuisine out of the kitchen, including boxty, a traditional Irish potato pancake cooked on the griddle with sliced chicken breast in a creamy bacon and leek sauce (1219 – 1 St SW).
With a compelling Italian-market vibe, Giuseppe’s has a busy, noisy, and lively ambiance and offers handcrafted dishes next to an exquisite wine selection. Their pizza, cooked to perfection in their massive wood-burning oven, should not be missed. Downstairs is a market and deli offering homemade sausages and meatballs among a selection of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, pasta and sauces (1207 – 1 St SW).
Sprawling over two separate locations across 1 St SW, O’Connor’s is Calgary’s pre-eminent and largest independent fine menswear store, with an ample women’s section as well. For men, there are custom tailored suits from Canali and Pal Zileri to Samuelsohn and Ted Baker. For women, there’s an extensive selection of clothing and accessories, from brands Zanella, A Priori, and Iris, as well as footwear from Cole Haan and Stuart Weitzman (1420 & 1415 – 1 St SW). Originally founded as a men’s hat shop in 1948, Formans has evolved into one of Calgary’s foremost clothing boutiques, offering two distinct lines, Homme for men, and Femme for women, which feature designers from the world’s runways, such as Hugo Boss, Paul & Shark, Lida Baday and Georges Rech (1202 – 1 St SW).
Comprising over 2,800 square feet of open space in a former dance studio, Endeavour Arts is a contemporary and eclectic gallery carrying artwork by local artists. Almost half of the gallery’s available space is used specifically for digital exhibitions, with eight high quality digital screens displaying rotating artwork. The front half of the space displays mixed media or other types of “innovative” artwork, avoiding the traditional paint on canvas variety (200, 1209 – 1 St SW).
If you’re lucky, try to grab a table at cozy Taste. Head chef Shawn Greenwood’s menu is constantly evolving to reflect seasonal ingredients, with an emphasis on small, sharing plates, like the duck fat popcorn, or tuna tartare, served on a wasabi cookie. At the bar, sommelier Brad Royale builds an entirely new wine list each month embracing a region, theme or varietal, always at an affordable price (1210 – 1 St SW).