Calgary's Best Restaurants 2014: 10 Hidden Gems Worth Finding



Photo by Mike Heywood

Variety is truly the spice of life, so get out of your dining rut and go for a taste of these 10 hidden gems. Then you can say you knew them before they were as hugely popular as they surely will become.

Apna Desi Meat Masala

Punjabi men take grilling and the spice mixes (or masalas) they use to flavour their meats seriously. Owner Baldev Gill is famous for the meat masalas at this busy butchery and, as you work your way through the chicken, lamb, goat and fish (no pork or beef here) offerings, you’ll develop a sincere admiration for his secret recipes. Catering is available.

(734, 5075 Falconridge Blvd. N.E., 403-568-4455)

Cornerstone Music Café

My friend Penny told me about this place. She loves to check out the daily special and catch a concert or just soak up the vibe of this music-centric Deer Run neighbourhood gem.

(14919 Deer Ridge Dr. S.E., 403-278-3070, cornerstonemusic.ca)

Guy’s Café and Bakery in Cochrane

The great soup that’s homemade here is always interesting and, while that might not be incentive enough to drive to a strip mall in Cochrane to have lunch, if you happen to be out that way, it’s always lively and packed with locals.

(6, 201 Grande Blvd. W., Cochrane, 403-851-9955, guyscafe.ca)

The Italian Store 

Skyline Way N.E. is tricky to find, but it’s worth the trip for the incredible selection and prices on all your favourite Italian staples. Stay for a panini, cappuccino and gelato and you’ll leave saying bene, molto bene.

(5140 Skyline Way N.E., 403-275-8222)

Itza Bakeshop

Follow your nose down the halls of The Devenish in the heart of the Red Mile to this Vienoissiere bakery and its delectable almond croissants and pastries. Watch for challah on Fridays, or snag some baguette halves and pizza dough for your next meal at home.

(908 17 Ave. S.W., 403-228-0044, itzabakeshop.com)

Korean Village Restaurant

Don’t be put off by sometimes-rude servers telling you, “You won’t like this, you’re not Korean.” Stand by your chopsticks and insist on the barbecued mackerel, the L.A. galbi ribs (tip: use the scissors that come to cut portions for all) and the delicious bibimbap.

(1324 10 Ave. S.W., 403-228-1120)

Menyatai Japanese Noodles

The kimchi ramen with a side of sesame spinach alone would be enough to keep a person coming back, but there’s lots to explore on the menu of this cozy new ramen café in Kensington.

(24 12 St. N.W., 403-263-3666)

Stromboli Inn

Yes, it’s open again. This time, it’s a tiny 24-seat operation in a cozy house in Bridgeland. Peter Tudda is whipping up the Calabrese style of pizzas that his mom, Teresa, made famous back in their Kensington locale (now Pulcinella). Order the No. 23.

(614 1 Ave. N.E., 403-265-8680, stromboliinn.com)

Tea and Other Things

Kelly Joyner, the owner of this tea room and gift shop in Cochrane, has created a cozy enclave for tea lovers to shop and then to enjoy a perfectly steeped pot of tea and the homemade pies and scones she’s famous for. I love the pumpkin mince meat.

(110 2 Ave. W., Cochrane, 403-932-7988)

A Touch of India 

This kiosk in Kingsland Farmers’ Market sells positively addictive butter chicken with just the right amount of Kasoori Methi (fenugreek grown in the town of Kasoori, India). If you probe a bit deeper, you’ll find a full-fledged takeout and catering operation in its small, but mighty Glendale outlet. Try all the daal — it’s delish. 

(2835 37 St. S.W., 403-293-7635, atouchofindia.com)

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