By IAN DOIG
James Moore, comedian and host of Comedy Monday Night at Broken City (Photo: Marnie Persaud)
Some of the biggest laughs happen in small clubs, and Calgary features a handful of such intimate comedy venues. In fact, the longest-running (almost nine years) open-mic comedy show in Western Canada takes place once a week in what happens to be one of the city’s coolest music clubs. A collection of bar stools and booths surrounds the dance floor and stage at Broken City. Here, on Comedy Monday Night, you’ll find funny-man host James Moore and his comic guests surrounded by a semi-circle of laughter.
The show has a reputation among stand-up comics: Zach Galifianakis and Bob Odenkirk have both dropped by. Why is that?
They’re comics, and they like to get out and try new stuff. We have a reputation for putting on a show, and that probably draws them in. Galifianakis absolutely destroyed the place. Odenkirk had some great new bits he was trying out, equating his kids to living with the worst roommate ever.
By RACHAEL FREY
Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)
When the sun sets, the sound of live music and laughter escapes the historic Garry Theatre just east of downtown Calgary. The comfortably worn-in brick heritage building that’s home to the Ironwood Stage & Grill, a music club featuring live performances every night of the week, with two shows daily on weekends. It seats 140 yet maintains a cozy, intimate vibe.
By SARAH SUSSMAN
The 962,000 sq ft shopping centre contains more than 180 stores (Photo: courtesy Southcentre)
Located in the city’s southeast, Southcentre has been renovated over the past few years to make way for new independent retailers and emerging businesses. While the mall still features department stores and franchises, it also includes many independent and niche stores as well as the flagship locations of several local retailers.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
This gourmet chocolate shop carries a sumptuous selection of handmade fudge (including rocky road and peanut butter), brittle, caramel apples and individual chocolates, as well as Kookaburra red licorice from Australia.
• Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 403-265-1950, www.rmcf.com
Blu’s Womens Wear & Shoes
Alberta-based Blu’s features high-end designer women’s wear and shoes at reduced prices by brands such as Hugo Boss Woman, Eileen Fisher, Ellen Tracey Company, Teen Flo and Blu’s own namesake private label.
• Blue’s Womens Wear & Shoes, 403-225-8315, www.blus.com
By ANGELA NEUFELD
Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)
When you’re out for dinner and drinks in Calgary, consider requesting a seat at the bar. Bartender banter, cocktail clatter and the sociable setting of a communal elbow rest deliver an instant dose of nightlife. Also on the plus side, most venues’ dinner menus can be enjoyed at the bar sans (typically) reservations. Below is a guide to a varied assortment of great restaurant bars.
The Bar: Bright and contemporary, its blonde wood backbar and red bar seats are a fun and modern twist to this French bistro.
The Appeal: You can cozy up to your dinner date at this intimate six-seater. The rustic French food far exceeds its price tag.
The Feel: Refined yet happily casual.
Specials: Occasional weekend special: homemade ice cream sandwiches, seafood du jour.
Bar Reservations: Call ahead on Fri and Sat.
Recommends: Steak frites with béarnaise and aioli paired with a fine French red. Or the Drink French Fluently cocktail made with St. Germain liqueur and Champagne.
Hours: Mon – Thu, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 10 pm; Fri, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sun, closed
• Avec Bistro, 105, 550 – 11 Ave SW, 587-352-0964, www.avecbistro.com
• Map and reviews
By ERIN LEGERE
The CORE features 160 stores, including flagships Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen (Photo: courtesy The CORE)
Calgary’s largest downtown shopping centre boasts four levels lined with designer shops, unique boutiques and local retailers, and its recently renovated Devonian Gardens is a lush shopping-spree rest stop. For the third installment in our Best of Calgary Shopping Centres series, here are five of The CORE’s top shops.
This upscale department store specializes in men’s and women’s designer apparel and accessories, featuring three floors of international fashion, shoes, designer handbags, cosmetics and fragrances. Boutiques include Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Hermès.
• 403-269-7341, www.holtrenfrew.com
A Canadian high-end retailer of men’s designer fashion, Harry Rosen carries formal attire, sportswear, casual apparel and accessories. Exclusive in-stores boutiques include Tom Ford, Canali, Ermenegildo Zegna and Armani Collezioni.
• 403-294-0992, www.harryrosen.com
The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo spans more than 418,000 sq. ft. of space, packed with programming, vendors, artists and special guests. (Photo: courtesy Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo)
As the snow melts, the city’s festival season kicks off. April is also jam-packed with concerts and cultural events, particularly the last weekend. Check out our roster of can’t-miss dates for this month.
The Calgary Spoken Word Festival
April 1 – 6
Devoted to literary expression, this festival features a plethora of poetry performances, workshops and panel discussions by Canadian and international artists. Highlighting the week is the energetic Ink Spot Poetry Collective slam competition, in which writers have three minutes to recite their work in front of a rowdy audience.
Kings of Leon
After a three-year hiatus, rockers Kings of Leon are back on tour following the release of their sixth album, Mechanical Bull. While the band has matured, their trademark gritty Southern blues sound remains.
By SARAH SUSSMAN
Market Mall is located in the northwest, near the University of Calgary (Photo: courtesy Market Mall)
Located in the city’s northwest, Market Mall features over 200 retailers, including numerous big-name fashion labels and lifestyle brands, upscale houseware stores and various independent boutiques. For the second installment in our Best of Calgary Shopping Centres series, here are five top Market Mall shops.
A specialty boutique carrying ethical, eco-friendly bath and body products in a variety of sumptuous scents. The intimate store is packed to the brim with products—think of it as a candy store for the bath-obsessed.
• 403-288-5870, www.lush.ca
Good Taste of Britain
This family-owned boutique specializes in British novelties, sports attire and newspapers. It also carries specialty foodstuffs, such as Irn-Bru soda pop and Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars, that will activate a keen sense of nostalgia for British expats, like.
• 403-247-4739, www.goodtasteofbritain.com
By IAN DOIG
Rush Ocean Prime’s Seafood Tower (Photo: courtesy Rush Ocean Prime)
Soon after opening in 2008, Rush was declared one of the country’s top restaurants, and according to Wine Spectator, the contemporary, upscale eatery also maintains one of its best wine lists. It was also certainly one of the city’s most beautiful rooms, featuring lux seating, glass dividers and a visible wine cellar. Despite its glowing critical reputation, the trend-setting eatery has undergone a major reinvention that even includes a new name: Rush Ocean Prime.
Pat Soul, vice president, premium brands, of Vintage Group, which owns Rush, says the critical acclaim didn’t always resonate with patrons. Two and a half years in the planning, it has been given a major renovation as well as new lunch and dinner menus. This carefully planned evolution, Soul says, retains its fine-dining ambitions but is simply more approachable.
“You can expect a less pretentious, more relaxed vibe,” he says. “An open, upbeat atmosphere in the lounge and that same luxurious dining room. Like the new model year of a great car, it’s just a revised, better version.”
By SARAH SUSSMAN
CrossIron Mills is a large shopping centre located just north of Calgary city limits (Photo: courtesy CrossIron Mills)
Located about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) north of Calgary city limits in the hamlet of Balzac, Alberta’s newest enclosed shopping centre features over 200 shops including many outlet stores. The centre also houses a movie theatre, several casual restaurants and a food court. To kick off our Best of Calgary Shopping Centres series of posts, here are our top five picks for places to shop at CrossIron Mills.
Michael Kors Outlet
Known for chic, modern American women’s fashion, this outlet store for the luxury designer label features discounted pricing on the brand’s apparel, accessories and footwear.
• 403-730-5677, www.michaelkors.com
Levi’s is one of the most popular and recognized denim brands in the world, and this outlet store for the label features discounted prices on a wide variety of styles for men, women and children.
• 403-275-6655, www.levistrauss.com
By RACHAEL FREY
Kate W. Mak is a yoga instructor at Yoga Santosha in Calgary (Photo: Jason Dziver)
Whether it’s business or pleasure, travel can leave you tired, sore and stressed. Yoga, however, soothes nerves and muscles while abroad. For the novice, vacation time is an ideal opportunity to try yoga at a drop-in class.
Kate W. Mak teaches yoga at retreats from Bali and Costa Rica. She’s also an instructor at Yoga Santosha (see list), a bright, airy studio in Calgary’s 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment District. She has a few simple yoga tips for both the yoga veteran and the newly initiated.
By IAN DOIG
Chili goma ramen at Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi (Photo: Jason Dziver)
Beat the late-winter chill at one of Calgary’s warm and wonderful noodle houses.
Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi
Chili goma ramen is the top-selling noodle bowl at this cozy Japanese restaurant. Served piping hot, it features ground pork, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms in a spicy, golden sesame broth topped with peanuts and green onion.
• Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi, 1608 Centre St NE, shikiji.ca
• Map and reviews
King & I Noodle House
Located inside The King I Thai Cuisine, this casually elegant room serves pan-Asian noodle bowls. The succulent house-made wonton soup features a light broth with lettuce. Also try the spicy udon seafood noodle soup with shrimp, squid and crab sticks in a sour-and-spicy broth.
• King & I Noodle House, 822 – 11 Ave SW, www.kingandi.ca
• Map and reviews
There are countless reasons to love Calgary, even in the dead of winter—but, we’re still pretty excited to move on to spring. Here are 30 things we absolutely adore about Calgary in March and April.
1: WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park (Photo: courtesy Tourism Calgary)
1 Skiing and snowboarding as late as mid-April at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
2 Slurping up a bowl of spicy chili goma ramen at Shikiji Japanese Noodles & Sushi.
3 Canada’s Queen of Improv, Rebecca Northan, whose off-the-cuff comedy Legend Has It is part of the Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays.