Calgary, Oh Calgary, When Did You Get So Fabulous: Food Edition Friday January 13, 2012

A couple of years ago, when I departed to Washington, Calgary had a pretty decent and growing food culture. There were the obvious staples such as Tubby Dog, Crave Cupcakes, Peter’s Drive In, Muse, The Ship Burger and of course a few other well established places. But over the past two years, the city’s food culture has really… well… matured.

Alright, matured is an odd word, but it really is the best word I can think of. (I’m honestly not trying to be condescending)

And let me preface this post by saying, that I in no way consider myself a professional foodie. I also understand that Calgary still has a way to go to rival a Philadelphia (which I’m told is the foodie place on the eastern seaboard) or even elements of DC (albeit, I’ll take a Tubby Dog over the average dogs in DC). But since leaving my beloved hometown, I’ve had the opportunity to watch and marvel at the city’s food culture from a distance.

There’s a bunch of different factors that have probably ignited this change. Obviously, one of the most overstated initiatives was the Mayor’s move to get The Food Truck concept off the ground. But a dramatic change in demographics, with a younger population benefiting from above average levels of disposable income has to be one of the strongest reasons for this growth. But what I’ve noticed is that over the past few years the number of must see eating establishments in the city has tripled. Clearly a city as young and as vibrant as Calgary is ripe for an influx of innovative new restaurants. Something that hasn’t been lost on the city’s entrepreneurs.

Since coming back in mid-December, I’ve spent most of my time back in Calgary seeking out some of the new places that I’ve heard so much about. Which is in stark contrast to last year’s trip, which was more of a reunion tour than a exploration tour.

Since arriving back home, my wife and I have had the pleasure of devouring heaps of heaven at Diner Deluxe (which I understand is really only new to me) and gorging on delicious Gluten-Free wings at the newly renovated VooDoo Lounge. During my own work-related trips into the core, I’ve had the pleasure of sampling some of Calgary’s freshly minted Food Trucks with Charcut’s Alley Burger and Perogy Boyz Food Trucks. I’ve also spent far too much time sharing conversations with old friends and downing far too many cups of divine coffee at the various Phil & Sebastian locations. Not to mention spending far too much time salivating and stocking up at the racks of spices at the Silk Road.

And the worst part about this trip back, is that I haven’t even had the chance to check out some of the other places on my predetermined hit list. Such as the donuts at Jelly Modern, the Bavarian sausage platters at WURST, the thin crust pizza at UNA or even the gluten-free menu at Milk Tiger Lounge. And that of course doesn’t even cover some of the legendary staples like the A-Bomb at Tubby Dawg (Albeit, I did have the Yukon Cornelius with my niece), the buckets of maple bacon at The District, a chocolate-orange milk shake at Peter’s or the currys that I grew up on at The Radjoot. Hell, I could go on and on and on about all the places I love in this so-called redneck town.

As I said earlier, I’m definitely no foodie. I’m more of a what’s going to clog my arteries connoisseur. If you want a real foodie’s opinion of Calgary’s scene, check out Ugonnaeatthat.com or Avenue’s Food Blog. But what I do have is the pleasure of a) distance b) separation and c) a limited time.

There’s nothing in the world more motivating than a list of places you want to try and a tight time line. (Yes, I acknowledge a month seams long, but it really isn’t). Calgary’s food scene has grown leaps and bounds in the two years I’ve been away – this trip really confirmed it. There are dozens of places that are really intriguing in this city. But what this specific trip back to Calgary has taught me, is that rather than spending time just trying to relieve old memories, it’s better to take advantage of the growing food culture in the city. Sure there are mandatory staples, but there is some far more interesting place to eat popping up in this city. It really seams like each up and coming area of the city sprouts even more unique and enjoyable treasures.

For all of you living in this fair city, take some time to enjoy some of the places hidden in the different regions of the city. You’ll be surprised what’s lingering in your back yard.

Categories: The-Calgary-Vibe, The-Food,

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