One of the contestants in this mouth-watering competition. Photo: 80th and Ivy.
It’s time to settle a question that’s near and dear to this beef-lovin’ town: who has what it takes to eliminate the competition and claim the glorious title of Best Burger in Calgary?
Sixteen local restaurants put everything on the line for YYC Burger Week, May 3 to 10 during which time each will serve a special $15 competition burger. Diners sample burgers and vote for their favourite online.
The Fine Diner’s entry. Courtesy: The Fine Diner in Inglewood.
Naturally, these are not run-of-the-mill burgers. Participating restaurants include Where to Dine Asian award-winner Anju Restaurant & Lounge, gourmet burger bar Loungeburger and NOtaBLE, a stylish spot well known for its contemporary Canadian cuisine.
The Ship & Anchor Pub is serving the Phat Duck, a prime rib burger patty served on fried chicken-liver paté topped with pulled hickory duck and loaded with sauteed scallions, mushrooms, bacon, Edam cheese and arugula. But the contest is not merely an exercise in gluttony—$1 from each burger sold will go to support local and national charities including Honens, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society, ConnecTeen Distress Centre, Kids Cancer Care and others.
To sample the burgers, visit participating establishments from May 3 to 10 and order their YYC Burger Week special. Once you’ve tried one or all of them, visit yycburgerweek.com to cast your vote online.
- Rachael Frey
Ahi tuna tartar at Cafe Pacifica
At Cafe Pacifica, it’s impossible to decide which is more stunning, the ocean view or the artfully presented food. Fortunately, there’s time to admire both as you sample appetizers such as porcini-dusted scallops with truffle-scented celeriac puree, or ahi tuna tartar with sweet soya, yuzu pearls and a blend of sauces (pictured), and entrees such as braised oxtail ragout with egg noodle fettuccini, or seared Lois Lake steelhead served on top of crushed potatoes blended with West Coast Dungeness crab. Consider it a feast for all the senses.—Sheri Radford
Meat & Bread photo by KK Law
There’s no need to eat alone in a town in love with communal tables—and, often as not, family-style fare to go along.
- Meat & Bread Go for the acclaimed fresh sandwiches prepared à la minute from the carvery. Two locations, one word: porchetta (pictured).
- Yew This giant table carved from a single slab of maple is a popular hang-out to sample Four Seasons chef Ned Bell’s stylish seafood.
- Two Chefs and a Table This unlikely tucked-away-but-worthy cafe in Railtown often hosts winemaker dinners.
- The Irish Heather Check into their long-table evenings and you’ll be eating like a local in no time, drinking Guinness and possibly telling tall tales.
- The Refinery Find creative cocktails, artisan cheese and charcuterie, tapas, and tasty share platters in a funky, almost-all-recycled, cozy upstairs setting.—Tim Pawsey
Don’t-miss dish: “canned” tuna. Photo by KK Law
It was barely a couple of days before Top Chef Canada finalist Trevor Bird’s revival of a shuttered Kitsilano spot into vibrant farm-focused Fable Kitchen became a Vancouver hotspot. What makes it tick? Short answer: just about everything, from Bird’s concise but varied menu of responsibly sourced ingredients to the well-drilled team in the open kitchen and beyond. Our faves range from “canned” tuna to potato-crusted chicken to a show-stopping cooked-rare tender duck breast to flat-iron steak with black pepper jam—plus sidekick Curtis Luk’s superb desserts. Best place to take in the action? The end seat at the open kitchen bar—right where the chef assembles and checks each plate before it goes to the table, calls for service and generally runs the show. And even finds time to chat.—Tim Pawsey
Braised pork belly with roasted shallots and crispy baby potatoes. Photo by KK Law
In a twist from more BC-inclined locales, Portland Craft unabashedly celebrates Oregon’s brewing scene, which kick-started the craft beer revival. Drop by this friendly Mount Pleasant room for stalwarts such as Deschutes, Pyramid, Rogue, Hopworks and more, all properly poured and easily paired with a daily pizza, house-built burger or perfectly crunchy pork belly slices with fingerling potatoes. Also not to be missed: the stout chocolate lava cake.—Tim Pawsey
Spicy tuna prawn rolls (front), seared salmon sashimi (middle) and alpha rolls (back), at Alpha Global Sushi. Photo by KK Law
Uncover some of the city’s best eating at a myriad of unsung Asian rooms. Alpha Global Sushi sports fresh rolls, inventive izakaya and smart drinks in a cozy laidback setting. Robson’s Gyoza King eschews sushi for affordable home-style fare such as piping-hot prawn gyoza (dumplings), bowls of steaming ramen, robata and more. Fast but not fancy, Lin makes for a perfect quick bite of northern Chinese, including the celebrated handmade soup-filled Shanghai pork dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)—vowed by serious XLB hounds to be the best this side of the Pacific.—Tim Pawsey
Chef Chris Whittaker with Fraser Valley beets (front), Pacific Provider salmon (middle) and apple pie (back), at Forage. Photo by KK Law
Newly unveiled Forage on Robson Street is the city’s most sustainable room, both on and off the menu. Chef Chris Whittaker’s creations highlight local ingredients, not only seasonal but also gathered and preserved year round. The feel is more contemporary gastropub than hotel dining room, with well-picked pints plus BC wines on tap. Tastes wander from crunchy pork-rind popcorn to seared albacore tuna with blackberry-and-fir jelly, not to mention a silky smooth spot prawn chowder that swept the field at the Vancouver Aquarium’s hotly contested Chowder Chowdown. Looking for more ways to balance calories with carbon credits? Check out casual and hip Commune Cafe or regional trailblazer Raincity Grill.—Tim Pawsey
Diva at the Met photo by KK Law
January 18 to February 3
Attention, foodies: the largest restaurant festival in Canada, Dine Out Vancouver, celebrates its 11th year with cabaret dinners, food and cocktail tours, street food markets and prix fixe menus with optional wine or beer pairings at hundreds of eateries, from humble bistros to casual favourites to Vancouver’s most elegant dining establishments. Click here for details, and get ready to delight your taste buds.—Sheri Radford
The Fisherman’s Catch, tossed tableside at The Fish Shack. Photo by KK Law
Straight-ahead seafood, fresh and simply prepared, is the mantra at the aptly named, no-nonsense, high-energy Fish Shack, downtown on Granville Street. Regulars go for The Fisherman’s Catch, a cornucopian haul of Dungeness and snow crab, mussels, prawns and more, landed tableside in a net. The giant blackboard beneath a soaring ceiling proclaims a wide variety of fish ’n’ chips, from halibut, salmon and lingcod to red snapper, oysters and prawns, while Sundays pay homage to crustaceans with $19.95 whole lobster and crab specials.—Tim Pawsey
Gorilla Food: Living and Eating Organic, Vegan, and Raw by Aaron Ash
What do Katie Holmes, Woody Harrelson and André 3000 have in common? They’ve all dined at Gorilla Food. Chef Aaron Ash, founder of this palate-pleasing eatery, has written Gorilla Food: Living and Eating Organic, Vegan, and Raw (Arsenal Pulp Press; $24.95). Find recipes for lasagne, pizzas, soups, crêpes, breakfast burritos, chocolate desserts and more, all raw—and delicious. The cornucopia of colourful photos will have you seeing healthy foods in a whole new light. At local bookstores.—Sheri Radford
Taste Resto-Lounge lives up to its name with an array of bespoke cocktails and mouth-watering menu items, such as the handcrafted bacon chutney, pear and brie stack or the spiced-cornmeal-encrusted soft shell crab. Paying attention to both palate and palette, the restaurant features a rotating assortment of eye-catching Canadian artwork on the walls. You just might find a new favourite dish and a new favourite artist.—Sheri Radford
La Terrazza photo by KK Law
A short walk from Yaletown or BC Place, La Terrazza welcomes with detail-driven cuisine in an elegant, sensual setting. Specialties range from the decadent Alberta beef tenderloin with taleggio cream and red-onion marmalade to seared yellowfin tuna with roasted-red-pepper coulis. The wine list (by no means solely Italian) is superlative, and there are few better private dining rooms in town than the well-named Enoteca, lined with lust-worthy bottles.—Tim Pawsey