River Café | Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2024

River Café has been a cornerstone of Calgary’s culinary scene since it opened in the idyllic Prince’s Island Park back in 1991.

Kyuquot Sound smoked sablefish (main) with salt-baked celery root and birch glaze; and Fogo Island scallops with cauliflower and hazelnut tortellini, soubise and black garlic. Photo by Jared Sych.

Who’s Behind It
Founder/Proprietor Sal Howell, Executive Chef Scott MacKenzie.

What’s on the Menu
Upscale Canadian regional cuisine.

Why We Love This Place
River Café has been a cornerstone of Calgary’s culinary scene since it opened in the heart of the city’s idyllic Prince’s Island Park back in 1991. This beloved institution started off as a small, outdoor, full-service café at a time when restaurant patios were few and far between. In 1995, proprietor Sal Howell rebuilt it into the iconic restaurant as we know it today, with its wood, stone and brick interior featuring a fieldstone fireplace and an open-concept kitchen, complete with a wood-fire oven and grill.

Not only was Howell a visionary when she transformed the seasonal café into a year-round culinary landmark that has maintained a timeless appeal, but she was also a pioneer and champion of the local and sustainable food movement long before it was fashionable. For more than three decades, River Café has been offering top-tier Canadian cuisine made with the best-tasting local and regional ingredients that are in season. This leadership, hard work and commitment to sustainability and supporting regional and local purveyors, farmers and fishermen has not gone unnoticed — River Café has received many accolades and is a fixture of the Canada’s 100 Best restaurants rankings.

Since joining River Café in 2021, executive chef Scott MacKenzie’s passion for sustainability and local organic products is evident in his impeccably prepared tasting menus and crave-worthy à la carte dishes, exemplified by the seasonal Kyuquot Sound smoked sablefish with Amiable Organics salt-baked celery root and birch glaze.

25 Prince’s Island, 403-261-7670, river-cafe.com, @rivercafeyyc


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

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