Discover Your Perfect Meal at Three of Calgary’s Best Restaurants

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These three Calgary chefs love to cook outside the lines. They mix rich local and global histories with incredible Alberta ingredients. Hope you’re hungry.

  • At Calcutta Cricket Club, Indian cuisine is pushed to new potential.
  • Find world-class omakase and unmatched vegan dishes at Nupo.
  • Vegetable-packed share plates meet fine dining at Ten Foot Henry. 
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Unpredictable, unexpected and unapologetic.  

The dining scene in Calgary is as diverse as the people who live here. Three chefs are helping craft the city’s gastronomic identity at some of the best places to eat in Calgary.

Calcutta Cricket Club: Redefining authentic Indian food

“When it comes to what people expect out of Indian food, I can't do that,” says Amit Bangar, executive chef at Calcutta Cricket Club. “I think the only way for us to move forward with this cuisine is to understand the past and to obviously respect it.” 

Growing up, Bangar saw the same dishes at every Indian restaurant. But the more he learned about the vastness of the subcontinent’s cuisine, the more he wanted to push beyond the expected. 

And when you walk into the pastel-blasted Calcutta Cricket Club (it’s Wes Anderson meets Golden Girls meets ’60s Indian social club), you know you’re in for something special.

Vegetable chop is "a very, very classic Bengali snack," says chef Amit Bangar. "Usually using carrots, potatoes, beets, but we're really leaning into that beet flavour."

Local ingredients meet long-loved dishes 

The menu smashes together familiar dishes with Alberta’s seven signature foods 

Bangar has an incredible butter chicken (or paneer for the vegetarians). Then he also has a beet-centric vegetable chop. The fuschia croquette fried in canola oil is his take on the classic Bengali snack. 

The heart of the menu are the kati rolls: Grilled chicken, lamb or paneer is wrapped in a flaky paratha flatbread with hits of chaat masala, lime, onions and chillies. It’s the snack when you’re headed to a Calgary Flames game. 

Bangar says he and his team are going to be "unapologetic" in their pursuit of finding their own definition of authenticity.

A new home, a new menu

Calcutta Cricket Club is moving soon. For Bangar, it’s opening the door for more experimentation.  

While the new menu items aren’t set in stone, one of Bangar’s favourite contenders is an unconventional octopus vindaloo. It comes from a deep dive into vindaloo’s history as a Portuguese dish that could hold up on trips to Goa on India’s west coast. 

“I'm leaning into the sense that being authentic is doing what nobody else is doing and doing what's right for us,” says Bangar.

Nupo: A plant-obsessed sushi restaurant 

“I think Calgary is a very hungry city,” says acclaimed chef Darren MacLean. And he should know. His Japanese restaurants make best-of lists year after year. 

At Nupo, every bite tells a story. Especially for diners who choose the omakase experience. At Nupo, omakase is an intimate journey where you’ve got to trust the chef, who will tell you about every bite you’re taking. 

Some of the bites come from Nupo Farm, where MacLean and his team began growing hard-to-find produce during the pandemic. It was a way to keep his team together and working in a time of no indoor dining. 

Other bites are bluefin tuna that his team butchers in-house and dry ages in ​a first of its kind custom-built chamber. Nupo is one of very few restaurants to bring a whole tuna into the restaurant to age and butcher. This is a large financial commitment that benefits the fisherman and allows Nupo to source quality that is second to none.

Chef Darren MacLean lets the purity of ingredients shine so they can reflect local history. "We look to the different cultures within Canada, we apply those techniques and flavour profiles to our local ingredients, we try to be Albertan," he says.

A menu Mom would love

“The Japanese culinary dictionary, if you will, is so, so deep with vegetables,” says MacLean. He combined that depth with his mom’s love of vegetables when he developed the concept for Nupo. 

The vegetarian half of the menu is just as inspired as the seafood. There's braised eggplant with Sichuan sauce served on miso-fried white beans and a fried tortilla. Then there are Alberta tomatoes fermented in kimchi spices. 

And the wild mushroom roll wraps sauteed matsutake (or whatever’s in season) with tempura parsnips braised in miso. “It's so meaty in its feel, but it's totally vegan,” says MacLean.

Omakase at Nupo is interactive and engaging. Chef Darren MacLean's team butchers 600-pound whole bluefin tuna from Newfoundland, among other ultrafresh seafood offerings.

A ‘raw’ culinary adventure

MacLean says each of his restaurants reflect a different part of himself. If Nupo is the refined grown-up, Shokunin is where the party happens.  

At Shokunin, try the unique yakitori omakase experience. Eat skewers of organic chicken straight off the grill while the chef chats you through it and music blasts.  

And then there’s Eight. The intimate eight-seat restaurant sells out instantly when they release 300 coveted seats each season. The menu is an homage to Canada's people and its ingredients, MacLean says.  

MacLean shone a spotlight on Calgary’s food scene in 2018, when he was a finalist on The Final Table on Netflix, where he cooked against big-name chefs from across the globe. And now, influential chefs come to him.

Through his cultural chef exchange program, MacLean is bringing the best chefs in the world to Alberta. He's hosted more Michelin star and World’s 50 Best chefs than any other Canadian city in the last five years, bringing them to Calgary for a special night of cooking with him at Shokunin and Eight. The chefs are immersed in Canadian culture and ingredients – through wild foraging with Denis Manzer, fishing in remote Alberta destinations with Rockies Heli Canada, and even hunting to procure local ingredients – helping to showcase Canada to the world.

MacLean boldly says Calgary is one of the best places to eat in Canada. “It's because we're raw. We are discovering who we are right now and it is so much fun to dine here.” 

Ten Foot Henry: Eating your veggies is a treat

Spicy cauliflower with major personality. Hauntingly good tomatoes. A transcendent pancake. It all comes together at Ten Foot Henry 

The vegetable-anchored menu comes from head chef and owner Steve Smee’s culinary research trips and his exploration of Canada’s cultural mosaic. 

“We are putting together food that is not only full of flavour and is fun to eat and exciting and delicious, it's also, at the end of the day, good for you,” says Smee. “And you're not going to walk out of the restaurant with the meat sweats.” 

Ten Foot Henry's menu is highly influenced by West Coast dining. It packs in all the flavour, but without the heaviness restaurant dining can sometimes bring.

Family style means more to share

The top dish at Ten Foot Henry is modestly dubbed “tomatoes” on the menu.  

You spread a sumptuous mix of roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs, and whipped feta across grilled red fife sourdough from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. The Alberta red fife wheat “takes the sourdough into the next stratosphere,” says Smee. 

The gochujang-marinated and roasted cauliflower served over a tahini puree will make you rethink what’s in your crisper drawer at home. And the striploin with truffle dijon is an indulgence for the carnivores at the table. 

Plus, brunch is on offer weekends 11 a.m.–2 p.m. in addition to the regular menu.  

The “huge, huge” sourdough pancake is the undisputed champ of the offerings, says Smee. It’s made from a sourdough starter lovingly tended by the restaurant’s pastry chef. Pair it with double-smoked bacon, maple syrup and a dusting of pecorino romano for salty-sweet bliss. 

Chef Steve Smee's culinary journey started young, when he watched his father cook family meals and experiment in the kitchen. Perhaps it's no wonder then that the restaurant is all about family-style dining.

Night cap it off at Major Tom

Named Best Restaurant Bar in all of Canada, Major Tom should top your list of spots to put an exclamation mark on your night out in Calgary.  

The Mad Men-esque hot spot sprawls across the 40th floor, serving up glittering views of downtown alongside their cocktails and food.

How to get around downtown Calgary

Planning a culinary getaway through the core of Calgary leaves you with plenty of transportation options: 

  • Rent a bike at Bow Cycle E-Bikes + Rentals, just blocks from Nupo, and use the downtown bike lanes. 
  • Use Lyft or Uber, or download an app from a local taxi company like Calgary United Cabs 
  • Catch the C-Train. Board at any downtown station along 7th Avenue South for no charge within the downtown free fare zone. 

    Last modified: Apr 8, 2024