Honourable Mentions | Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2024

Avenue’s 2024 Best Restaurants judges sound off on places they love and feel are deserving of special recognition.

änkôr

Excellence in dining outside the zone of consideration

Scallop with rayu, orange pearls and fermented burdock at änkôr. Photo courtesy of änkôr.

Located on a quiet street in Canmore, änkôr merits the drive to the mountains. Chef-owner Danny Beaulieu and his team are known for exacting standards, skillful technique, balanced flavours and artfully presented dishes. While diners have the option to order á la carte, menu items such as an appetizer of decadent foie gras served with a grape and cardamon gel, or a main of dry-aged duck breast and leg confit, accompanied by fermented plums, beets, demi, plum gel and pistachio, set the precedent for an outstanding tasting menu: six courses, all sensible portions, not one to be missed, for a reasonable $115 (excluding wine pairings, which are an additional $60 to $65). The finely tuned wine list curated by sommelier Julie Hélie sets änkôr apart as the only restaurant in Canmore awarded a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2023. Even if it’s not in our city, änkôr deserves to be part of the conversation for Calgary diners. —Karen Ashbee

Unit 103, 1430 2 Ave., Canmore, 403-675-2424, ankorcanmore.com, @ankorcanmore

 

Alloy

Best service/hospitality

Alloy co-owner Uri Heilik. Photo by Jared Sych.

Now in its 17th year, Alloy has set the bar for great service. Co-owners Uri Heilik and chef Rogelio Herrera are known to walk the room of their Manchester-district restaurant, greeting longtime customers by name, while many of the staff have been with Alloy for more than a decade, sticking with the restaurant even through the trials of the pandemic. It’s no secret that the kind of menu consistency that attracts and retains a loyal clientele is often in opposition with the demands of a certain breed of foodie-adventurer set on documenting their findings. Alloy is decidedly Camp A, less concerned with catering to trend-hunters than to the clientele that comes back time and time again for weddings, business gatherings or anniversary parties, or to just lounge amongst the comfort of friends. This approachability with the staff, and with Heilik and Hererra themselves, is what makes Alloy the hospitality star that it is. —Gabriel Hall

220 42 Ave. S.E.,403-287-9255, alloydining.com, @alloydining

 

Dandy Brewing

Best accessible taproom

Dandy Brewing. Photo by Jared Sych.

This craft brewery earned an honourable mention from the Best Accessible Restaurants judging panel for its considerate design. Calgary firm Included By Design advised on the 2018 rebuild of the former industrial space in Ramsay to help eliminate barriers with features such as a split-height bar. Judges commended how the entire indoor space can be navigated via wheelchair and appreciated the dog-friendly, stair-free patio. (It goes without saying the craft beers and New York-style pizza are pretty darn good). —Ashley King

2003 11 St. S.E., thedandybrewingcompany.com, @dandybrewing

 

Clos de la Oyster Barre

Best in the grey area between permanent and pop-up

Seafood reigns supreme at Clos de la Oyster Barre. Photo by John Gauthier.

In 2021, when most of Teatro’s private-event bookings had evaporated, the team came up with the idea for a seafood-forward pop-up to utilize the vacant Opera Room. The casual-dining experience with candlelit ambience and an old-school hip-hop soundtrack was an instant hit, evolving into a monthly, and then bi-weekly, occurrence, before finding a forever home across the river at Vendome. Since taking up residence there, Clos de la Oyster Barre has introduced rotating menu features that allow the chefs to flex their creative freedom and leverage seasonal ingredients. It has the best of both worlds — the agility of a pop-up and the permanency of a restaurant, with a consistent team to deliver top-quality service and a well-curated list of wines from Teatro’s legendary cellar. Whether you consider Clos a pop-up or a restaurant, it is inarguably a one-of-a-kind, unpretentious, yet elevated dining experience. —Patricia Lau

940 2 Ave. N.W., @closbarre

 

Mari Bakeshop

A bakeshop with the goods

Mari Bakeshop. Photo by Chris Landry.

This bakery-café is a destination for anyone who appreciates extraordinary skill and delicious things to eat. A passion project from Doug Gregory and Lauren Ahn, Mari initially earned local curiosity thanks to the couple’s prestigious baking experience (they both used to work at The French Laundry, while Gregory’s resume includes The Waterside Inn, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in the U.K.). But, it has since settled into its own thing: a bakeshop that matches the quality of our city’s very best restaurants. In 2022, Mari moved from its original East Village space to a larger location in Bridgeland, where Gregory could outfit his kitchen with top-of-the-line Viennoiserie equipment. This newer version pumps out perfect croissants and other pastries, along with the now-famous roll cakes and bite-sized choux. Mari also does lunch, offering sausage Danish, ham-and-cheese pain Suisse, and sandwiches on house-made baguettes. Watch Mari’s Instagram for daily specials — Ahn and Gregory think big and are always coming up with inventive flavour combinations. —Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

103 St. Matthew Square N.E., maribakeshop.ca, @maribakeshop

 

Maven

Brunch that goes beyond

Maven Chef Mish Lee Hobbs. Photo by Jared Sych.

Since opening in January 2022, Maven has held its position as one of the best brunch spots in Calgary. Its success is owed to an ongoing commitment to quality and to its house-made almost-everything, from house-churned butter, to the ever-evolving kitchen jams, mustard, pickles, artisan bread and 72-hour cured salmon gravlax. The menu reads like a collection of memories from chef Mish Lee Hobbs’s life growing up around Asia and Europe, while respecting her father’s Alberta roots.On any given service, you’ll see everyone from millennials enjoying a mushroom Benny on grilled bannock to young families feasting on buttermilk pancakes and kaya French toast. (My own go-to is the Tembeling Road noodles that include two kinds of tofu, a scallion-egg pancake, Chinese greens, hot chili pickle and house-made kecap manis, an Indonesian sweet soy sauce). Maven also does unique beverages that incorporate the exotic and tropical, with guava, lychee and coconut hand-mixed with fresh, cold-brewed tea. —Liz Middleton

1006 17 Ave. S.W., mavenyyc.ca, @maven_yyc

[Note: An earlier version of this story featured an incorrect caption for änkôr’s scallop dish.]

This article appears in the March 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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