The Best of Calgary

Art Gallery - Best of Calgary
Art Gallery - Best of Calgary
Calgarians’ Choice

The Best of Calgary

Discover the local businesses that have been recognized as the Best of Calgary.

The Best of Calgary highlights the people, places, experiences, and businesses that go above and beyond. They are the best of the best at what they do.

This collection of annual awards celebrates everything that makes Calgary great in just about every category you can imagine. Calgarians nominate and vote in the annual awards to recognize all of the great things to see and do in Calgary. From art galleries and restaurants to food trucks and late night eats, the Best of Calgary is a collection of great things to see and do in the city. Tourism Calgary is a proud partner and supporter of the Best of Calgary.

Here are some of the organizations that are so good, they’ve been honoured by Best of Calgary for at least two years in a row.

Inside the Glenbow Museum

Glenbow Museum 

Glenbow (Art Gallery)

Plan on spending an afternoon at the Glenbow Museum. After all, you will be strolling through 150 years of Canadian history and exploring ancient cultures from around the world. If you assumed that Calgary’s pre-oil history is pretty boring, think again! This is the place to connect with first-hand accounts of the frontier lifestyle, the fur and whiskey trade, and Canada’s involvement in the first and second world wars. Glenbow’s permanent collection of art and artifacts is complemented by visiting exhibitions which represent human creativity in all its forms.

Glenbow was a finalist in 2017 and the winner of Best Art Gallery in 2018.

Esker Foundation (Art Gallery)

Located on the top floor of the Atlantic Avenue Art Block in trendy Inglewood, the privately-funded non-commercial Esker Foundation programs three exhibition changes per year. The foundation’s focus is 100 percent on contemporary art. It set the tone early by showcasing the work of Alberta’s emerging artists – recent grads of the province’s major institutions. During your visit, be sure to check out The Nest and The Lantern (the latter offers a sweeping view of downtown!). After enjoying the main gallery, head down to street level to see what’s happening in the ever-changing Project Space.

Esker Foundation was named the winner of Best Art Gallery in 2017 and was a finalist in 2018.

Breakfast dish at OEB Breakfast Co.

OEB Breakfast Co.

OEB Breakfast Co. (Breakfast)

If you’ve ever tried to go to OEB on the weekends you can probably guess why this is at the top of the list. This quaint breakfast joint is always lined up out the door and for a good reason! Their extensive menu has everything you could ever want and then more. You’ve probably seen their BOX’D breakfasts on your Instagram feed on the weekend. Almost like a healthy breakfast poutine, their combination of crisp potatoes, cheese curds and poached eggs will make you want to get up early. If you have more of a sweet tooth try any of their french toast. Good luck choosing between their “Sweet Dreams are Made Of These” stuffed with New York style cheesecake and their French toast trifle. Now with two locations in the city, if you haven’t been to OEB yet you have no excuse.

OEB Breakfast Co. was the winner of the Best Breakfast category in both 2017 and 2018.

Diner Deluxe (Breakfast)

Diner Deluxe is the perfect comfort food for Sunday mornings. Bigger than most of Calgary’s boutique breakfast spots it’s easier to grab a table here, though you still might have to wait a few minutes during the brunch hour rush. Diner Deluxe’s Maple Fried Oatmeal was even featured on Food Network Canada’s “You Gotta Eat Here” and that’s because it’s the best way to still feel a little healthy while indulging yourself. Served in a hot skillet nothing is more comforting than cutting into the fried oatmeal while the lemon curd and vanilla bean cream drip down onto your spoon. They’re also partnered with Fiasco Gelato so if you’re still feeling hungry after your breakfast you can stop by their gelato display and pick up gelato for your ride home.

Diner Deluxe was named a finalist in the Best Breakfast category in both 2017 and 2018.

Boogies Burger (Burger)

This is burger experimentation at its finest. If you’re jonesing for something that will make you go ‘I can put what on my burger?’ this is the place to go. Boogie’s has fifteen burgers on their menu with a very fun list of things you can add on top, like pineapple rings or Doritos. Their patties are juicy and aren’t so thick that they take over the entire burger. Whatever burger you choose, it will hit the spot, especially if you get one of their milkshakes along with it. Boogies is down on Edmonton Trail, so check them out, have a burger, and play some of their vintage arcade games!

Bookies Burger was the winner of the Best Burger category in both 2017 and 2018.

Re:Grub (Burger)

You’ve probably seen photos of RE:GRUB’s milkshakes and burgers on Instagram. If you haven’t, it’s imperative that you go check them out. These are works of art, and they taste like it too. RE:GRUB has thick, juicy beef patties (and vegetarian option) with so many choices for toppings. Their buns aren’t dry or so big that all you’re eating is bread. Seriously, this is down to a science and RE:GRUB has perfected it. They have monthly experimental burgers too, so there’s always something new to try. They’re found on 11th Avenue.

Re:Grub was named a finalist in the Best Burger category in both 2017 and 2018.

Beakerhead event

Beakerhead

Beakerhead (Free Event)

Beakerhead is an amazing mashup of art, science, technology and engineering. Beakerhead runs for five days and hosts over sixty events throughout the city in September every year. You’ll find public art installations, classes to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, live workshops and so much more. Prepare to have your mind blown for five full days. My most memorable Beakerhead memories are having a fabulous meal made by Top Chef Canada contestant, Nicole Gomes – while riding a Ferris Wheel, watching a play while blindfolded, and climbing the world’s first self-supporting climbable social sculpture. Last year, we were all pleasantly perplexed watching people in banana suits fly smiling, cloud-shaped balloons. Beakerhead wraps up with a huge one-night event called Beakernight featuring art & science installations, performances and a massive dance party.

Beakerhead was a finalist in 2017 and named Best Free Event in 2018.

Canada Day (Free Event)

Canada Day festivities are the perfect way to celebrate everything that is Calgarian and Canadian. Events are scattered throughout the city: Pancake breakfasts, multicultural performances, Canadian musicians and a fireworks show at Centre Street Bridge. Calgary knows how to throw a big birthday bash with style. This year, we will be commemorating Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and the celebrations are bound to be bigger and better than ever.

Canada Day in Calgary was named a finalist in the Best Free Event category in both 2017 and 2018.

Lilac Festival (Free Event)

Named after the flowers that are in full bloom in June, the Lilac Festival is a kick-off to Calgary’s festival season. Festivities start with a 10:00am parade, and the day-long festival runs along 4th Street SW. It attracts over 100,000 people with 500 vendors participating in the street market. 4th Street is lined with entertainment stages, food trucks, beer gardens, game booths, business stalls, and so much delicious food. Shop for handmade jewellery, enjoy live music, indulge in treats made by local eateries, or find a spot on a patio and people watch. Lilac Festival is all about going green - vendors stopped using Styrofoam containers last year. This all-ages event reflects who and what makes up Calgary. It’s a place where local talents showcase their merchandise, food and art, and where Calgarians get to mingle and connect with their neighbours.

Lilac Festival was the winner of Best Free Event in 2017 and named a finalist in 2018.

Understudy (Men's Clothing)

A comforting pleasure should set in on the true individual as they enter this tranquil abode, knowing that they are in the right place. This carefully curated selection offers the pieces that one might be looking for to put together that unique get-up not found elsewhere. Understudy also caters to the sustainably aware shopper with many hemp-based fabrics and items designed and produced in North America. Excellent selection of Adidas products including some supported by Adidas sustainable product program, utilizing recycled fabrics. YYC is fortunate to have a purveyor such as this who works hard to provide an exceptional offering and service.

Understudy was a finalist in the Best Men’s Clothing category in both 2017 and 2018.

Lougheed House (Historic Building

Step back in time at Lougheed House, a National Historic Site of Canada located in the Beltline. Built in 1891 as a luxurious home for Senator Lougheed’s family, it was a hub of Calgary’s social scene. Lady Isabella‘s parties were worthy of the society pages in the newspapers. Nowadays, things are much quieter at Lougheed House. Bring along a picnic lunch and a jug of local kombucha to enjoy in Beaulieu Gardens, the landscaped grounds that surround the sandstone mansion. As a bonus, you will enjoy a luxury the Lougheeds never got to experience: free Wi-Fi.

Lougheed House was the winner of Best Historic Building in 2017 and named a finalist in 2018.

Simmons building

Simmons Building 

Simmons Building (Historic Building)

This former manufacturing building on the banks of the Bow River has been reborn as one of Calgary’s hottest culinary destinations. Located on RiverWalk in the revitalized East Village, the Simmons Building is a cooperative home for three diverse food businesses: Charbar, Sidewalk Citizen and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. On weekend mornings, the open concept interior (which retains the original hardwood floors, brick walls and solid pine pillars) is bustling with brunchers. The rooftop patio and the ground level terrace on the north side of the building are prime seating areas on sunny summer days.

Simmons Building was named a finalist in the Best Historic Building category in both 2017 and 2018.

Tubby Dog

Tubby Dog

Tubby Dog (Late Night Eats)

A Calgary classic over on 17th Ave, Tubby Dog has been the go-to late night eats for locals since it opened in 2005. Whether you are a classic A-Bomb fan or more adventurous and go for the Sherm’s Ultimate Gripper, there is the perfect combination of dog and bun for everyone. If you’re going up on a Tuesday, they serve their Tubby Tacos until late, and who can say no to tacos? They are open “really late” on the weekend, making it the perfect place to head to when you’re looking for a delicious late night eat. 

Tubby Dog was the winner of the Best Late Night Eats category in both 2017 and 2018.

Golden Inn (Late Night Eats)

You can always count on the Golden Inn for authentic Chinese food, just when you need it – after leaving the party. The restaurant has been serving late night dumplings and ginger beef for more than 35 years in the heart of Chinatown. They have lots of tables to bring your whole crew, and all the new friends you met at the bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, they are open until 4am so there is no excuse not to stop by on the way home.

Golden Inn was named a finalist in the Best Late Night Eats category in both 2017 and 2018.

Stu Connor at Oak Tree Tavern (Bartender)

The quaint bar in Kensington packs a major punch when it comes to culture and ambiance. There is always something happening there, whether it’s live bands, traditional Irish music or a comedy show you can always count on a good time. Stu Connor owns and runs the space (as well as PRLR and Night Owl) and is the man behind the carefully-crafted cocktails. Serving up Oak Tree Pints, Stu offers a warm and neighbourly exchange to anyone sitting across the bar.

Stu Connor at Oak Tree Tavern was a finalist in the Best Bartender category in both 2017 and 2018.

Perogy Boyz (Food Truck)

With an array of comfort food to choose from the Perogy Boyz are sure to make you happy, offering a mouthful of savoury and sweet perogies. You can chow down on Traditional perogies with toppings such as sour cream, chives and dill or venture into a new kind of perogy such as the Nacho perogies made with jalapeño cheese for an extra kick. If you still have room then I suggest venturing into the Decadent Chocolate Perogies with that deep-fried goodness we all crave. There is a funky upbeat vibe to coincide with your perogy madness as you are served by the interactive and lively group of boyz making sure your day is one to remember!

Perogy Boyz was the winner of the Best Food Truck category in both 2017 and 2018.

Taiko Taco (Food Truck)

This is not just a food truck it is a Pan-Asian Taqueria. As you bite into your first taco at Taiko Taco the flavours come alive. The bao bun slathered in coconut dressing is a perfect combination of traditional with nouveau Asian street food. Their menu items often change to keep you guessing but if you have a chance I would suggest trying the pork belly tacos. Pork belly can be a difficult thing to cook but they get it just right. The offbeat vibes of the Taiko Fries make this a unique food truck experience. If you’re looking for something sweet, the Asian Mini Donuts are unlike any mini donuts I’ve had before but I will leave it to you to taste this happy surprise.

Taiko Taco was named a finalist in the Best Food Truck category in both 2017 and 2018.

Waffles & Chix (Food Truck)

The instant you taste the waffles at Waffles & Chix you know they are made with love. The fried chicken and waffles idea of the South is brought alive along with these perfect Belgian cooked waffles. The sweetness of the waffle with the maple syrup combines wonderfully with the savoury, crunchy and perfectly tender fried chicken. If it’s fries you’re craving they have these too, offering yummy Parmesan & Herb Fries. The dessert waffle with Fresh Strawberries & Whipped Cream is one of the best desserts any food truck has to offer and be sure to try the Cheezy Waffle Sandwich. The cheesy goodness is soooo delicious it leaves me craving more each time I go.

Waffles & Chix was named a finalist in the Best Food Truck category in both 2017 and 2018.

Dish at Ten Foot Henry

Ten Foot Henry 

Ten Foot Henry (Overall Restaurant)

Vegans rejoice! Few and far between are the really great vegetarian places in town, but this one is outstanding. Although the vegetarian spread is delicious at Ten Foot Henry, the carnivorous options are also available in this bright, refreshing environment. The friendly service makes this the perfect place to meet up with family and friends for an enjoyable brunch, and must mention, probably one of the better cups of coffee in Calgary. It can get busy so for a large group a call ahead might not hurt.

Ten Foot Henry was the winner of Best Overall Restaurant in both 2017 and 2018.

Recordland

Recordland in Inglewood 

Inglewood (Neighbourhood)

Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood in the Southeast quadrant takes spot number two. Inglewood is the vibrant art district of our city and is a hub for live music. The neighbourhood is scattered with art galleries, vintage shopping and fabulous dining. Historic Inglewood is the scene for anyone who’s a culture buff. The neighbourhood puts on a night market in the summer, and hosts various festivals like Sunfest and the Fringe Festival. This is the place for art lovers, fashionistas and foodies. And it’s also home to several nature preserves including the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

Inglewood was a finalist in 2017 and the winner of the Best Neighbourhood category in 2018.

Kensington (Neighbourhood)

You can spend all day in this neighbourhood - Kensington has it all. Grab brunch at Vendome with their Instagram worthy dishes and cute décor. Get a facial at Skoah or a mani & pedi at Victoria Nails. Browse an assortment of teas and old school treats at Red Bush Tea & The Candy Kid. Higher Ground is the perfect date spot and you can go get sweat on at YYC Cycle. The Plaza Theater which originally built as an automobile garage in the 1920s is Calgary’s oldest theater and plays alternative films. There are a dozen boutiques scattered throughout the neighbourhood and the restaurants are nothing less than fabulous. Peasant with its delectable cheeses and pates, Shwarma King for a delicious, quick and cheap lunch, Crave with their iconic cupcakes and Vero never ceases to amaze. Kensington is the perfect place to take a stroll with your family or hang out on a patio and people watch with a date.

Kensington was a finalist in the Best Neighbourhood category in both 2017 and 2018.

Proof cocktail bar

Proof (Photo credit: Travel Alberta)

Proof (Cocktails)

It’s in the… pudding? (Sorry.) Alright, but seriously. Proof is possibly the most comfortable, most comprehensive, and most devastatingly attractive place to have a cocktail this side of Havana. As their menu, graced by hybrid creatures, suggests: each time you visit is an opportunity to learn something new. Browsing through the “library of libations” (as their cocktails are organized by spirit), leaves this lady bewitched and befuddled – struck by the vast geography and history of this craft that I don’t know. Proof’s bartenders, though, are clear experts, and if for some reason the 40+ (!) menu cocktails don’t interest you, they’ll happily whip you up something special. There is simply no reason not to visit this bar, and we’re very pleased to see it win the gold. Oh, and don’t forget to Instagram your drink, duh. @proofyyc

Proof was the winner of the Best Cocktails category in both 2017 and 2018.

Cannibale (Cocktails)

Somehow, Bridgeland’s Cannibale is a cozy neighbourhood gathering spot, a modish barbershop and a sophisticated cocktail bar all at the same time. The leather-bound menu offers a historically-organized cocktail list, featuring liquors and mixers you’ve never heard of. Never fear, though, the bar staff are both friendly and knowledgeable, even bringing over a few bottles to study when I didn’t understand an ingredient. My “Banish the Ghosts” had a noticeable boozy backbone, but went down sweet and easy thanks to the “Falernum,” a Caribbean, almond-y syrup. Next time I’ll order a “Haitian Divorce” and a “Pencil Thin Mustache” both because their ingredients sound intriguing, and because I want to say the sentence: “I want to have a Mustache and then get a Divorce.” (Noticing a facial hair theme here? Me too. Sorry about that. Let’s move on.)

Cannibale was named a finalist in the Best Cocktails category in both 2017 and 2018.

The Big Cheese Poutinerie (Poutine)

Someone told the Big Cheese Poutinerie that other restaurants had innovative, and well-rounded poutine menus, and the BCP was like, “Hold my beer.” Big Cheese has the biggest, most comprehensive, most ridiculous poutine menu you’ll ever see in all the land. There are options for vegetarians, traditionalists, the totally wild-at-heart, and even you yam-fry lovers out there. The Holiday Poutine comes with cranberry sauce and baby greens, while the Oktoberfest Poutine features sauerkraut and real German sausage. Ordering a large means you may not have to eat again for several days, and, when in doubt: go for the classic, because if it ain’t broke, well, you know what they say.

The Big Cheese Poutinerie was a finalist in 2017 and the winner of the Best Poutine category in 2018.

Poutine at Clive Burger 

Poutine at Clive Burger 

Clive Burger (Poutine)

Not only does Clive Burger offer poutine so insane with gravy you might as well bring your water wings, their cute, cartoon menu buddies are sure to brighten your day. But wait – we’re here to talk about the fries. The fries at Clive are crispy, golden, and served hot – everything you want out of a burger joint. They do come salted, so if you’re not into that just let the staff know – but personally I say go for it, because salt is one of the best things ever. If you’re into this kinda thing, add a “Boozy Shake” to your order, and float away in sugary, gravy-y paradise. 

Clive Burger was the winner of the Best Poutine category in 2017 and a finalist in 2018.

Vegetarian dish at The Coup restaurant

The Coup 

Drink at The Coup

The Coup

The Coup (Vegetarian)

Every single time you go to The Coup, you’re going to eat an amazing meal. Full stop, that’s it, we’re done here, goodnight. Not only do owner Dalia Kohen and partner Ian Armitage source all of their ingredients to the highest organic, local and made-from-scratch standards, The Coup uses exclusively recyclable products, plants 36 trees a month to off-set their waste, and gives a percentage of their earnings back to the community. Oh, right, and the food is out-of-this-world delicious. If you can’t decide, have the “beach-front hot pot,” or the “upstream burger.” Or just literally one of everything because all your dollars are going toward good causes. Last but not least: try the cocktails. No – for real. DO IT.

The Coup was named the winner of the Best Vegetarian category in both 2017 and 2018.

Hearts Choices Thai (Vegetarian)

This tiny spot – lovingly described as a “hole-in-the-wall” by its patrons – offers completely vegan dishes (and a few vegetarian ones) for dine-in or take-out. Vegans, veggies and carnivores alike praise the delicious pad Thai and larb salad, but perhaps what’s especially noteworthy about this place is its super friendly, knowledgeable staff. Grabbing a bite from Hearts Choice Thai feels like dropping in on your favourite aunt who always has some piping hot spiced soup and hearty skewers ready to warm your soul. On your way out, grab a curry for later, and let the locally-sourced, sustainable eating love wash over you.

Hearts Choices Thai was a finalist in the Best Vegetarian category in both 2017 and 2018.

The Best of Calgary’s team of writers includes Christopher Boyse, Kennedy Enns, Jenna Tytgat, Amanda Bains, Dylan K. Callaghan, Rachel Antony, and Monica Sommerville.

The Best of Calgary awards are voted for by Calgarians and awarded to deserving people, places, experiences, and businesses each spring.