When a craving for comfort cuisine hits, Calgary should be your go-to destination. This food obsessed city in Western Canada has way more than steak on the menu, with a smorgasbord of “must try” comfort food restaurants to savour. From fancy doughnuts to Southern fried chicken to gourmet hot dogs, start the food journey at these buzz-worthy restaurants.
Native Tongues Taqueria
Native Tongues makes one mean taco. It’s serious business in this popular taqueria: the corn tortillas are ground, kneaded and pressed by hand in the kitchen daily. Feast on warm tortillas, heaping with braised meats, vegetables, grilled fish, homemade salsas and other tasty toppings, and don’t miss trying the menu of tacos served family-style that are grilled over charcoal. Save room for glazed donuts that diners say are “famous for a reason.”
Considered one of Calgary’s top restaurants, Model Milk is the city’s “go to” spot for Southern comfort cuisine with a twist. Pick from an ever-evolving menu of “wholesome goodness,” featuring delicious dishes like crispy Southern fried chicken or the “OMG” BBQ Alberta Brisket that feeds two people. A slice of M.M. Apple Pie is a must – rich and decadent, the white cheddar and butter mixture is topped with a crumbly crust and served with house-churned ice cream.
Embark on a pie pilgrimage at Pie Junkie – a bakery dedicated to making sweet and savoury pies “the way your grandmother did.” There are over 25 pies to choose from, ranging from apple with salted caramel to key lime, as well as an assortment of mini pies and hand pies. Patrons rave about the Aussie beef pie that’s wonderfully moist and flaky, but the warm and comforting butter chicken is also a best-seller.
The bun can barely contain the meat at Tubby Dog – a restaurant that makes wacky gourmet hot dogs using all sorts of weird and wonderful toppings, like peanut butter, homemade chili, potato chips and wasabi. Featured on You Gotta Eat Here, choose one of nine signature dogs, or build your own masterpiece with an array of toppings. The ultimate indulgence is the Sherm’s Ultimate Gripper – a bacon-wrapped wiener that’s deep fried and topped with ham, chili, cheese, mustard, bacon, hot peppers, onions and a fried egg.
No need to travel to Italy to embark on a pizza pilgrimage. Azzurri Pizzeria makes a “to-die-for” Napolitano-style thin-crust pizza that Calgarians call “legit.” Chewy and warm, the dough is hand-stretched, tossed and cooked in a brick oven straight from Naples, and topped with San Marzano sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil, and other real deal Italian ingredients. This pizzeria deserves all the stars!
Cluck n' Cleaver
Chef Nicole Gomes has ruled the Calgary roost for eons, but this Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner is creating a stir with Cluck n’ Cleaver – a take-out joint serving Southern fried and rotisserie chicken that Calgarians call “the bomb.” Order a 4 lbs whole bird, or get a three-piece meal with sides like fluffy buttermilk biscuits, fresh cut fries and rotisserie potatoes. The spicy Mother Clucker Sandwich gets a thumbs up from fans, as does the Rotisserie Chicken Poutine.
Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus
Featured on You Gotta Eat Here, Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus is famed for their Dutch-style “Pannenkoek” – a thin, crepe-like pancake with savoury or sweet toppings cooked right into the batter. Pick from more than 40 different combos on the menu, build your own, or follow John Catucci’s example and go for the Philly Cheese Steak – a pannenkoek stuffed with flank steak, peppers, onions, mushrooms and mozzarella.
Anju Restaurant and Lounge
The chicken wings are boss at Anju Restaurant and Lounge, a Korean tapas eatery that’s been voted one of Calgary’s best restaurants. Each meaty wing is breaded in rice flour, deep-fried and marinated with flavours such as gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), Buffalo gochujang (a seriously spicy sauce), Kabayaki (a sweet glaze that crispens the skin) or ginger lime. Save some appetite for barbecued meats and seafood, rice and noodles, and assorted “spicy, salty drinking food” best paired with soju (Korean spirits).