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Where to Dine Calgary

Breakfast in the ‘Burbs

By JAMES YOUNG

When that craving for eggs and waffles strikes, there’s no need to trek in to downtown Calgary — check out these five delicious places for breakfast or brunch in the ‘burbs.

BreakfastBurbsMap_large

The Bro’Kin Yolk
This friendly neighbourhood breakfast joint has become a favourite in north Calgary. Bro’Kin Yolk has the look and feel of a cool inner city restaurant but is located right in the middle of the suburbs and its bright atmosphere has made it a hit with families. But after all, who doesn’t love waffles, bacon, and eggs Benedict made from local ingredients?
130, 12580 Symons Valley Rd NW, 587-317-5743, www.brokinyolk.ca

Starbelly Open Kitchen & Lounge
Grab brunch at Starbelly Lounge where urban living meets the ‘burbs. This restaurant has a great modern atmosphere with an even better menu. Brunch on Sundays is “market style” — guests fill their plates from different stations set up around the restaurant. Snag a waffle, sausages, potatoes, eggs, mac and cheese, and many other options from 10 am – 3 pm every Sunday!
220, 19489 Seton Cr SE, 403-570-0133, starbelly.ca

Bennys Breakfast Bar

Bennys Breakfast Bar

Bennys Breakfast Bar
Hit up this one-of-a-kind diner with the family and indulge in everything brunch! The menu runs deep with over 10 kinds of eggs Benedict to choose from, along with other classic breakfast and lunch dishes and some more unusual options. The restaurant is designed like a classic ’50s diner and the décor is definitely the cat’s pajamas.
7007 – 11 St SE, 403-252-3443, bennysbreakfastbar.ca

Diner Deluxe (Aspen Landing)
This perpetually busy brunch hotspot is a hit with Calgarians living in the west end, so be sure to get there early or plan ahead and make reservations because there will be a line on the weekend! Try the breakfast poutine topped with your choice of double-smoked bacon, barbecue pulled pork, maple chicken sausage, or chorizo.
350 Aspen Glen Landing SW, 403-457-3000, www.dinerdeluxe.com

Cafe Le Matin
This small neighbourhood diner is the perfect place for a laid-back breakfast or brunch any day of the week. Fresh ingredients, great menu, warm atmosphere — there’s nothing not to like about this little gem. Dine cafeteria-style on comfort food like French toast, eggs Benedict with house-made hollandaise, and tasty soup and sandwich specials.
5720 Silver Springs Blvd NW, 403-247-6647

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Where to Dine Awards: Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2016

Whitehall (Photo: Neil Zeller)

Whitehall (Photo: Neil Zeller)

It’s no secret that Calgary spent much of the past year in a recession, but that didn’t slow down the creative efforts in Calgary’s restaurant scene. Diners were hungry (pun definitely intended) for new and diverse offerings, and restaurants new and old responded. Here we present the top three restaurants in 24 categories as voted by our readers*. Cheers!

By Breanna Mroczek
(more…)

Sunrise Sour at Añejo Restaurant

Sunrise Sour at Añejo Restaurant. (Photo: Amanda Zelichowski, courtesy Añejo)

Sunrise Sour at Añejo Restaurant. (Photo: Amanda Zelichowski, courtesy Añejo)

(Photo: Amanda Zelichowski, courtesy Añejo)

(Photo: Amanda Zelichowski, courtesy Añejo)

Raise a glass of this piquant cocktail to the dearly departed on Día de Muertos. Inspired by a classic New York Sour, bourbon is replaced by Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo tequila — which is an ideal substitute for bourbon-based drinks as it undergoes a similar aging process in deep charred oak barrels — and mixed with orange juice, a splash of lemon juice, egg white, and agave, then finished with a Cabernet Sauvignon float and a couple bourbon-soaked cherries.

♦ Añejo Restaurant, 2116 – 4 St SW 
   587-353-2656, anejo.ca

Recipe for Sunrise Sour:

1.5 oz Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo
1.5 oz Orange Juice
0.5 oz Lemon Juice
0.25 oz Agave
Egg White
0.5 oz Cabernet Sauvignon

Add the Hornitos Black Barrel, orange juice, lemon juice, agave, and egg white into a Boston shaker. Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Pour over fresh ice into a double rocks glass, and using a bar spoon, float the Cabernet Sauvignon on top. Garnish with bourbon-soaked cherries and enjoy!

5 Delectable Cheese Plates in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

The Lake House (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The Cheese Plate at The Lake House Restaurant in Calgary, AB (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Cheese is produced all over the world in hundreds of different varieties. It’s also one of the most deliciously indulgent foods, particularly when it’s made under the watchful eye of an artisan cheesemaker. Here are some of the best places in Calgary to sample rich, creamy (or crumbly) cheeses from around the globe.

The Lake House
Perched over the serene waters of Lake Bonavista in Calgary’s southeast, The Lake House is a rustically elegant restaurant focused on showcasing the regional flavours of western Canada. Appropriately, almost everything on the cheese list is produced in Canada and three are from within the province: a semi-hard, medium sharp gouda from Vital Green Farms in Picture Butte, Alberta; a firm, slightly salty goat cheese from Fairwinds Farm in Fort Macleod, Alberta; and an extra aged gouda with a rich, nutty taste from Sylvan Star Cheese in Red Deer, Alberta.
• 747 Lake Bonavista Dr SE, 403-225-3939, lakehousecalgary.com

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro
Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro occupies a sandstone building on the busy, historic Stephen Avenue. Well known for an excellent wine list, Divino boasts an equally impressive cheese list with varieties from all over Europe and Canada, from the soft, ripe, buttery L’ Extra Triple Crème of Longueuil, Quebec to the pungent, creamy Stinking Bishop of Glouchestershire, England.
• 113 – 8 Avenue SW, 403-410-5555, www.crmr.com/divino

Blink Restaurant
A focus on the best local products and unexpectedly delicious flavour pairings are two of the reasons Blink won Restaurant of the Year in Where Calgary’s 2014 Where to Dine Awards. While the cheese plate doesn’t come with a list of options, it does feature some interesting tastes such as Etorki, a hard, smooth-textured sheep cheese from France with a subtle burnt caramel taste, and Cambazola, a triple cream blue cheese similar in style to a brie. There’s also an extra little treat on the plate—a piece of real honeycomb from Okotoks, Alberta.
• 111 – 8 Ave SW, 403-263-5330, blinkcalgary.com

Farm Restaurant
Expert cheesemonger Janice Beaton opened Farm to complement her next-door shop, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. Though there’s more to the locally sourced menu than just cheese, Farm serves as a tasting room for the shop’s most delightful cheese and charcuterie selections. While the list is always evolving, it’s very robust and cheese lovers of all stripes are sure to find their hole-y grail here.
• 1006 – 17 Ave SW, 403-245-2276, farm-restaurant.com

Boxwood
Tucked away in the beautiful, historic Central Memorial Park in Calgary’s Beltline, Boxwood is the little sister of the renowned Teatro. Local, sustainable foods and mouth-watering rotisserie meats take centre stage here, but there’s also a Canadian cheese plate featuring Baluchon, an organic, semi-soft cheese with a taste of hazelnut from Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Quebec, and St. Benoit Blue, a semi-soft blue cheese with a creamy, slightly salty flavour made by monks at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Quebec.
• 340 – 13 Ave SW, 403-265-4006, www.boxwoodcafe.ca

Where To Dine Awards Calgary 2014

Blink Restaurant (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Blink Restaurant (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Every year, some of the city’s top food critics convene to decide who deserves top honours in Calgary’s dining scene. Here are Where Calgary’s selections for 2014.

THE PANELLISTS

John Gilchrist is a Calgary restaurant critic, food writer, Where Calgary “Hot Dining” columnist, and author of Calgary and area restaurant review books My Favourite Restaurants and My Favourite Cheap Eats.

Julie Van Rosendaal is a best-selling cookbook author, the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One, and a columnist and freelancer for several publications across Canada.

A. Warren Downs is the Gold Manager and Chef Concierge at the Fairmont Palliser, and the Regional Vice Director of Les Clefs d’Or Canada.

Diana Ng is a digital media strategist by day, and hungry, hungry hippo/food writer by night. She is the co-founder of Eat North, and has written for Culinaire, WestJet’s Up!, and Avenue, as well as other publications like Canadian Living and Fodor’s travel guides.

Dan Clapson is a food writer and columnist in Calgary who helps to chronicle the Canadian food scene for media outlets like Avenue magazine, Food Network Canada, enRoute magazine, and more. He loves London Fogs when it’s minus five or colder.

A CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC
Where Calgary’s Restaurant of the Year is Blink
No gimmicks, no trends, no themes, no features: Blink Restaurant is just simply good. “Year after year, Blink proves that you don’t need to latch onto what’s “cool” to be one of the top dining destinations in the city,” Clapson says. “The wine list is one of the best you’ll find and Chef Chris Dewling’s menu is all local and all delicious.”

WTD_blink1

Blink Restaurant (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Blink opened in 2009 and ever since have served up dishes that do an outstanding job of showcasing local ingredients with delicious—and sometimes unexpected—flavour pairings. “One of the best qualities in a good restaurant is consistency,” Van Rosendaal says, “Blink serves a consistently fantastic menu in a beautiful, historic setting.” This is not to say that consistency, where Blink is concerned, is tired or outdated or frumpy—it’s inviting, contemporary, and unpretentious. Blink is just an enjoyable place to be. The exposed brick walls and soft lighting create an ambiance that’s pleasant for any sort of dining experience—date, business lunch, drinks, group get-together—without being distracting. Memorable meals are what Blink serves up, because you’ll remember everything about it from the presentation to the complimentary flavours to how upset you felt when you got to the last morsel on the plate (good thing there’s always dessert). There’s a sugar pumpkin soup with spiced crème that I’d like to have until it disappears from the menu.

FAMILIAR FAVOURITES: RUNNERS UP
Raw Bar by Duncan Ly
“Raw Bar has always been one of Calgary’s hot spots, a superbly designed room with a unique Vietmodern menu by Executive Chef Duncan Ly and Chef de Cuisine Jinhee Lee, and some of the best cocktails in the city created by mixologist Christina Mah,” Van Rosendaal says. “If there’s a bar to be set in terms of Modern Vietnamese cooking, then Chef Duncan Ly has certainly set it. The plates of food here as beautiful to look at as they are to eat,” Clapson says. “Raw Bar pleases both fans of traditional Asian cuisine as well as people who may not be familiar with Asian food, with chefs Duncan Ly’s and Jinhee Lee’s expert hands at combining Asian flavours and ingredients with solid cooking techniques,” Ng says.

Rouge Restaurant
“Rouge is that charming and rare union between sophistication, casualness, polish, and homegrown,” Ng says. The ingredients are as local as possible, and the techniques and style of the food is timeless, all done in a cozy and historical setting.”
You can’t get more local than a place that grows its own produce in the garden just outside the restaurant and sources everything else from Calgary area producers. “Rouge has become a Calgary icon with skilled chefs, a dedication to local ingredients, and attention to detail—not to mention the best garden party venue in the city” Van Rosendaal says.

YEAR OF THE PIG
Calgary’s Best New Restaurant of 2014 is Black Pig Bistro
It was an easy, unanimous decision to award Black Pig Bistro this title: “I’m always hard-pressed to find something wrong with this place,” Clapson says. “Impeccable service, great-looking room, and the food—those pork and beans are one of my favourite dishes in this province.” Pork and beans? Yes! This dish of savoury porchetta topped with green beans, broad beans, and edemame beans is the restaurant’s most popular, co-owner Larry Scammell says. “Black Pig Bistro offers up an inspiring menu with a Spanish edge and dedication to the pig, but they’re far from one-dimensional” says Van Rosendaal. “It’s worth a visit for their small plates, interesting cocktails, and fantastic desserts, all served in a comfortably current space.” Chefs Allison and John Bieber and owners Denise and Larry Scammel opened the restaurant in April 2014, inspired by Allison and John’s travels to Spain.

Black Pig Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Black Pig Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The restaurant name refers to the Black Iberian Pig, indigenous to Spain and Portugal, known for its high caliber of flavour. Here, they source their pork from Broek Pork Acres, a family run farm in Coalhurst, AB that raises grain-fed and pasture-dwelling pigs without antibiotics. Beyond tapas and typical pork dishes, the menu at Black Pig Bistro is truly innovative with resulting dishes that will satisfy hungry eaters and don’t just look pretty on the plate (though they do that, too.)

NEW AND NOTABLE: RUNNERS UP
Workshop Kitchen + Culture
Good theatre and good food have always gone together to form the perfect night out. That combination resides under one roof at The Grand, a historic entertainment building that is now home to the contemporary performance company Theatre Junction and the restaurant Workshop Kitchen + Culture. Named for the building’s original theatre group, Workshop 14, the restaurant matches the performances in contemporary innovation with dishes such as gin and juniper cured trout or roasted duck breast with a coriander and espresso glaze. Three, five, and seven course “improv” tasting menus are also available. Workshop even makes its own sodas in flavours such as vanilla maple cream and blackberry cardamom. “Workshop is a little bit of fresh air in a predictable downtown dining scene,” Clapson says. “There’s a lot on the menu here, but it’s all enticing.”

Scopa Neighbourhood Italian
Casual, neighbourhood Italian is the vibe here—and the food is deliciously suited to it. “The setting is part farm house, part Italian rumpus room, and the service is bright and the prices are right,” Gilchrist says. Perfect for families, dates, and friends, Scopa serves up crisp, crusty pizzas, creamy pastas, and authentic Italian desserts. “If you’re looking for a great Italian meal and good drinks without a crowd of hipsters standing in your way at the door, then this is the spot for you,” Clapson says. “Scopa’s inspired take on Italian (especially their polenta bread with pancetta and honey) is worth coming back for again and again.”

MAISON BIRKS SILVER SPOON AWARD
Centini Restaurant and Lounge

“All of our hotels have received many great comments back from our guests about the little things the staff at Centini have done to create a memorable dining experience for them; they will hand out cannoli as they are leaving, or let them in on a family recipe. As well as the excellent food, impeccable service, and consistency, they do their best to accommodate our guests when we call in to make a reservation.”
— Cindy Stewart, Chef Concierge Westin Hotel, Les Clefs d’Or Regional Secretary

BEST OF THE REST
Our judges’ picks for the top three restaurants in 22 dining categories

BEST FOR BEER
National
Craft Beer Market
Beer Revolution

BEST BRUNCH
Grumans Catering and Delicatessen
Yellow Door Bistro
Monki breakfastclub & bistro

BEST BURGERS
Naina’s Kitchen
Buchanan’s Chop House & Whisky Bar
Burger 320

BEST FOR BUSINESS LUNCH
Blink Restaurant
CHARCUT Roast House
Catch & the Oyster Bar

BEST CAFE/COFFEE SHOP
Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar
Caffe Rosso
Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters

BEST MULTI-LOCATION RESTAURANT
Redwater Rustic Grille
Earls Kitchen + Bar
Original Joe’s Restaurant & Bar

BEST COCKTAILS
Model Milk
Milk Tiger Lounge
Raw Bar by Duncan Ly

BEST DESSERT (RESTAURANT)
Yellow Door Bistro
Blink Restaurant
La Chaumiere Restaurant

BEST DESSERT (TO GO)
Yann Haute Patisserie
Brûlée Patisserie
Jelly Modern Doughnuts

BEST EAST ASIAN
White Elephant Thai Cuisine
Thai Sa-on Royal Thai Cuisine
The Himalayan

BEST EUROPEAN
Avec Bistro
Wurst Überkitchen
Cassis Bistro

BEST FAMILY DINING
Diner Deluxe
Cibo
Kinjo Sushi & Grill

BEST INDIAN
Namskar Restaurant
Clay Oven
Moti Mahal

BEST ITALIAN
Bonterra Trattoria
Il Sogno
Scopa Neighbourhood Italian

BEST FOR LOCAL INGREDIENTS
Rouge Restaurant
River Café
downtownfood

BEST PIZZA
Posto Pizzeria & Bar
Double Zero
Without Papers Pizza

BEST STEAK
Vintage Chophouse & Tavern
Wellington’s of Calgary
Rush Ocean Prime

BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD
The Coup
Boxwood Café
Namskar Restaurant

BEST FOR WINE
Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro
Vin Room
Wine-Ohs

*Note: Only restaurants that opened prior to November 1, 2014 were considered in all categories. Choices were voted on and discussed by the judges, with consideration for the visitor and local markets, which are Where Calgary‘s audience.

You Gotta Eat Here in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Comedian John Catucci hosts Food Network's You Gotta Eat Here. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

Comedian John Catucci hosts Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

From posh urban eateries to down-home country diners, Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here showcases beloved Canadian restaurants, with host John Catucci sampling the most outrageous and mouth-watering dishes the nation’s chefs can concoct.

Fans of the show don’t have to just sit at home and drool, though. Head over to one of the 17 Calgary restaurants featured on the show’s four seasons and eat what John ate, or discover a hidden gem on the menu. You Gotta Eat Here airs Fridays at 7 pm on the Food Network.

BOOKERS BBQ GRILL + CRAB SHACK (Episode airs March 27)
This casual barbecue and seafood restaurant is serving up Southern classics like smokehouse brisket, crab legs by the bucket, blackened catfish, jambalaya, and smoked chicken wings. The rustic warehouse interior is the perfect backdrop for a button-popping feast—piles of all-you-can-eat crab legs and BBQ ribs are on the menu every Sunday.
What John Ate: We’ve heard he was forced to choose between crab legs and BBQ ribs—we’re definitely curious to see how many he was able to pack away!
316 – 3 St SE, 403-264-6419, www.bookersbbq.com

NAINA’S KITCHEN (Episode airs March 13)
Don’t let the size of the place fool you—this tiny family restaurant is making some of the best burgers in the city. The patties are stuffed with your choice of ingredients, from blue cheese to fresh jalapenos. The Nainalicious, which is stuffed with pulled pork, aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and Granny Smith apple, comes highly recommended.
What John Ate: We won’t know for sure until the episode airs, but frankly it would be weird if he didn’t try a stuffed burger. We’re guessing the Nainalicious was the star of the show.
2808 Ogden Rd SE, 403-263-6355, nainaskitchen.com

BEER REVOLUTION
Premium beer and wood-fired, thin crust pizza are served at this unpretentious rock ’n’ roll bar. The 24 draft lines change several times per week with a focus on breweries outside the mainstream. Try the Blazing Saddle Pizza with blackened steak, banana peppers, white cheddar, mozzarella, crispy onions, cajun remoulade, seasoned arugula and horseradish aioli.
What John Ate: Pizza Spring Rolls — crispy, deep-fried rolls filled with pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, basil, mozzarella and spicy marinara sauce.
1080 – 8 St SW, 403-264-2739, beerrevolution.ca

GRUMANS CATERING AND DELICATESSEN
This little Jewish deli and catering in Victoria Park features matzo ball soup, potato knishes and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, just a couple blocks away from the Stampede grounds. They are now serving weekend brunch, including Lox Eggs Benedict served on potato latkes and breakfast poutine with smoked meat, cheese curds, poached eggs and hollandaise.
What John Ate: Smoked Meat Shepherd’s Pie — Montreal smoked meat, sautéed onions, carrots and corn under a mashed potato crust, with a side of veal gravy.
• 2310 – 11 Ave SE, 403-261-9003, grumans.ca

THE FINE DINER
Located in Calgary’s historic community of Inglewood, The Fine Diner serves modern American-classic cuisine with locally sourced ingredients in a good ol’ fashioned ’40s style diner. A private room is available for social events and corporate functions. Try the Breakfast Burger with a homemade patty, caramelized onions, bacon and a sunnyside-up egg.
What John Ate: Meatloaf Sandwich — Homemade, juicy Angus beef meatloaf wrapped in bacon, served with house salad, duck fat fries, soup or honey roasted potatoes.
• 4, 1420 – 9 Ave SE, 403-234-8885, www.finedinercalgary.com

UNA PIZZA + WINE
This is 17th Avenue’s top stop for gourmet thin-crust pizza and Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, as evidenced by the line out the door. Try the popular veal and pork meatballs cooked in tomato sauce as well as pizza with prosciutto, ricotta and fresh arugula. Gluten-free pizza crust is available, and the kitchen is open until 1 am.
What John Ate: Mushroom Pizza — Roasted mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, grana padana cheese, arugula and truffle oil on UNA’s famous crust.
• 618 17 Ave SW, 403-453 -1183, unapizzeria.com

BIG FISH SEAFOOD RESTAURANT & OYSTER BAR 
A member of Vancouver Aquarium’s Oceanwise program, Big Fish is a cozy, creative restaurant devoted to sustainable seafood choices. Sample the Canadian oyster bar, which features six premium varieties of East and West Coast oysters. The wine list and after dinner drink menu are well worth checking out too, including the Dark & Stormy Float made with Legendario Cuban rum, spicy ginger beer and cinnamon ice cream.
What John Ate: Soft Shell Crab Club Sandwich — An entire succulent, deep-fried soft shell crab topped with wild boar bacon and organic tomatoes.
• 1112 Edmonton Tr NE, 403-277-3403, big-fish.ca

BIG T’s BBQ & SMOKEHOUSE
True Southern barbecue with slow-smoked barbecue ribs, chicken, pulled pork and more, served with tasty homemade sides such as cornbread, hush puppies and deep-fried pickles. Meals are meant to be eaten family-style, with everyone digging in to the same dishes. Big T’s has a casual vibe and a great bourbon selection.
What John Ate: The Elvis Platter — A massive pile of meat with smoked brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, half chicken, rib ends, Andouille sausage, coleslaw, beans, fries, gravy, cornbread and buns.
• 2138 Crowchild Tr NW, 403-284-5959, www.bigtsbbq.com

You Gotta Eat Here airs Fridays at 7 pm on the Food Network. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

You Gotta Eat Here airs Fridays at 7 pm on the Food Network. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

BOOGIE’S BURGERS
An impressive selection of burgers are available at Boogie’s, including the Deep Fried Mac-n-Cheese Burger with one patty, cheddar and three deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese wedges. June’s Jerk Chicken Burger is also highly recommended. Sides include regular fries, spicy fries, yam fries, yam chips and onion rings.
What John Ate: Doug’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” Burger — Four beef patties, four slices of bacon, a butterflied wiener, cheddar, a fried egg, Boogie’s signature red sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion, topped with a mini corndog.
• 908 Edmonton Tr NE, 403-230-7070, boogiesburgers.com

BOXWOOD
Local, seasonal and sustainable cuisine is what’s for lunch at Boxwood, the little sister of the renowned River Café. Located in the historic Central Memorial Park, the café offers inventive dishes like organic citrus chili popcorn and chickpea fritters alongside the stars of the show, juicy rotisserie meats such as roast lamb and organic chicken. Take home warm oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
What John Ate: Spragg Farm Roasted Porchetta Sandwich — Rotisserie porchetta topped with cilantro salsa verde, arugula and pork cracklings.
• 340 – 12 Ave SW, 403-265-4006, www.boxwoodcafe.ca

HOLY GRILL
A small, casual café with style located in the heart of Calgary’s Beltline, the specialty is gourmet burgers with toppings such as blue cheese, avocado and red onion. Try the Californian, a vegetarian panini made with sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, artichoke hearts, marinated eggplant, banana peppers and tomatoes.
What John Ate: South Beach Bennies — Two poached eggs, Roma tomato, avocado and hollandaise on an English muffin, served with a side of smashbrowns.
• 827 – 10 Ave SW, 403-261-9759, holygrill.ca

DINER DELUXE
This brightly-lit diner with a funky, retro vibe serves all-day breakfast as well as contemporary takes on comfort foods. Expect it to be busy, especially on weekend mornings, but the wait is worth it for dishes like Huevos Rancheros with over easy eggs, jalapeño-lime chicken, roasted red peppers, salsa verde and cilantro sour cream over corn tortillas.
What John Ate: Maple Fried Oatmeal — A slab of oatmeal with dried cranberries fried in maple syrup, then drenched in vanilla bean cream and lemon curd.
• 804 Edmonton Tr NE, 403-276-5499, www.dinerdeluxe.com

FAT CITY FRANKS
A diner in Mission serving hot dogs with creative toppings, like the Ukrainian Dog with potato and cheddar perogy filling, sautéed onions, bacon bits and sour cream or the traditional Chicago Dog with a pickle, tomato, onions, cucumber, celery salt and hot pepper. Classic sides like potato salad and coleslaw as well as vintage malted milkshakes and old-fashioned sodas are also available.
What John Ate: Breakfast Dog — A classic hot dog topped with cream cheese and chive scrambled eggs, cheddar and real bacon bits.
• 2015 – 4 St SW, 403-229-3641, www.fatcityfranks.com

JELLY MODERN DOUGHNUTS
This gourmet doughnut bakery and café offers a sophisticated update on the classic Canadian treat. The tantalizing options include a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cinnamon marscapone glaze, or Nenshi’s Salted Caramel dipped in caramel ganache with maple butter drizzle and a sprinkle of sea salt. They also have sandwiches on plain doughnuts.
What John Ate: Maple Bacon Doughnut — A Canadian favourite, this sticky treat is dipped in brown maple glaze and topped with crumbled Valbella bacon.
• 1414 – 8 St SW, 403-453-2053, jellymoderndoughnuts.com

PFANNTASTIC PANNENKOEK HAUS 
This homey Dutch eatery turns pancakes into meals. More like a thick crepe than a typical Canadian pancake, there’s dozens to choose from including the savoury favourite of potato, onion, bacon and cheese, or the popular Black Forest (Zwarte Woud) with warm cherries, ice cream, whipped cream and orange liqueur in a chocolate cup.
What John Ate: Philly Cheese (Steak Met Smeerkaas) Pannenkoek — Steak, peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese cooked into a pancake, with a side of barbecue sauce.
• 2439 – 54 Ave SW, 403-243-7757, www.dutchpancakes.ca

TUBBY DOG
A hip diner specializing in large hot dogs with unusual toppings, like the PBJ topped with peanut butter, grape jelly and Cap’n Crunch or the Sumo Dog with wasabi mayo, seaweed, pickled ginger and sesame seeds. The décor is almost as interesting as the menu, with a quirky retro vibe that pays homage to Saturday morning cartoons and arcade video games.
What John Ate: Sherm’s Ultimate Gripper — A bacon-wrapped dog on a bed of chili, topped with mustard, banana peppers, sautéed onions, grilled ham, a fried egg and nacho cheese.
• 1022 – 17 Ave SW, 403-244-0694, www.facebook.com/Tubby.Dog.Hot.Dogs

DINING IN CALGARY? CHECK OUT:
• Perfect Patios: Where to Dine Outdoors in Calgary
• Calgary’s Best Eats: Where to Dine Awards 2013
• 10 Calgary Restaurants for Gluten-Free Diners