Model Milk | Calgary’s 20 Best Restaurants 2019

This restaurant that serves eclectic comfort food in a space that was once a dairy has been a favourite since it opened in 2011.

Line-caught Atlantic cod. Photograph by Jared Sych.


FOOD | Elevated Canadian comfort food designed for sharing.
VIBE | Hip, airy and chatty.
DECOR | Industrial-chic with a touch of nostalgia, including a vintage bathtub full of wine bottles.
DISH | Line-caught Atlantic cod.
TIP | Model Milk throws away the menu once a week for a family-style Sunday supper, served from 5 to 9:45 p.m.


An instant winner when it opened in 2011, chef-partner Justin Leboe’s 17th Avenue S.W. labour of love has become a Calgary institution. At Model Milk, the food is inventive and the service impeccable, but you can show up in jeans without feeling weird about it.

Model Milk’s multi-level space was once a 1930s dairy (Leboe kept the name), and today diners sit in a high-ceilinged, multi-level room that once housed pasteurizing tanks. The restaurant, designed by Frank Architecture & Interiors, honours the building’s industrial history with exposed brick walls, a concrete floor and steel beams, as well as playful touches like chandeliers made from milk bottles, massive barn pendant lights and an open kitchen that’s elevated like a stage.

The Model Milk menu is a selection of clever dishes that apply international techniques to local, seasonal produce. The result is accomplished, eclectic comfort food that’s as fun to share as it is to eat. The restaurant is famous for its fried chicken, but subtler dishes, such as roasted cauliflower with white miso and barbecue duck bun with fermented black bean, feed Model Milk’s reputation for flawless creativity with a menu that is always evolving.

Since it opened, Model Milk has added Model Citizen, an upstairs cocktail lounge with a speakeasy vibe that can accommodate up to 50 people seated, or 80 people standing.

308 17 Ave. S.W., 403-265-7343,

Back to Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2019

This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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