Bistro Marcel for lunch in Calgary

Bistro Marcel
Suite 110, 520 – 5th Avenue SW, Calgary, T2P 3R7


If you are near the corner of 5th and 5th in Calgary SW you’ve got to try this place.  The pizza dough is really good, thick and yeasty, just the way I like it.  The Calzones are yummy, and the Souvlaki wraps are great as well.  The chicken satay sub is spicy and deliocious, on the best fresh roll!  I’m not a big fan of their salads, but the price is right on lunch for sure.  The downsides are sometimes you might wait a little longer than you want, the joint is in desperate need of a restaurant makeover so there is almost no seating and pizza oven just sitting in the middle of a restaurant like an old car parked out in someone’s lawn.  The folks that work there are like a sitcom in personalities, which makes the waiting a bit amusing.  The food is great and so are the prices.  Also they cater lunches and the pizza is great. Open for lunch Monday – Friday.   Thanks to John Lee for this suggestion…looking forward to going back soon!

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7 days a week for breakfast and lunch – no reservations accepted

Avenue Diner
105 – 8th Avenue S.W., Calgary


During Stampede I took someone special here and it is a great place for that. I had the Nona’s Benny which was only so so (I found the balsamic too sweet). We also shared a side of pancake it was yummy with real maple syrup…mmmm. Just be careful those are cranberries floating in the water glasses, not grapes! I’ve seen a few people bite with surprise. My favourite dishes here are Dad’s Famous Mac and Cheese, the Ultimate Egg Sandwich, and the Zillion Dollar Benny (which should not be called a Benny because it is made with scrambled eggs, but it is still good). The hash browns are good and so is the sour dough bread. And if you are feeling really festive try out the mimosas. I’ve got a lot of great Calgary moments here. The only thing I might change here is allowing reservations, but I understand why they don’t, and they manage to pack the place so it makes sense. If you can’t wait take a seat a the bar, in the winter you’ll freeze, but they have blankets to keep you warm. But it is the fastest way to get a nibble of Avenue’s yummies. I’m giving Avenue Diner a Very Good.


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“Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!”

Vin Room
2310 4 Street SW, Calgary, T2S 1X2


When Calgary tries to go cosmopolitan I think there is often something lost in translation. And while the Alice in Wonderland meets modern art deco setting of Vin Room is a bit of lost in translation for me, it also serves as a welcome relief to enjoy an intimate wine bar and lounge in Calgary. Even better it appears to have a good appetizer menu as well, although I didn’t indulge the night I was there. The wine and beer selection is excellent and as far as comfortable place to go with a date or a few friends to lounge and chat without the noise and rowdiness of the typical Calgary bar scene, this is a great place. Prices moderate and it is has lots of seating both upstairs and down that is well partitioned to allow for private conversations. The only thing I’d warn against for sure is those crazy low chairs (not a fan) so pick a banquette if you can. Thanks to Valerie for the pick it was perfect for the occasion.


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Happy Birthday Beautiful

Bears Den
254028 Bearspaw Road NW, Calgary


This year my birthday was celebrated in style (finally finishing the bday posts :) . It seemed like when I’d finish one party there was another. From Mexican Martini throw downs, to golf extravaganzas, to an evening in the Bear Den. The Bears Den evening was my actual legit birthday evening and it was an experience to remember. After driving, and driving, and driving from downtown Calgary you drive through the gated parking lot to see a restaurant that while in view of the mountains has surprisingly no windows, not a one. Two beautiful women on their own could not have been more out of place in this dark restaurant with high ceilings and oversized furniture. Reminiscent of a hunting club this place was designed with 50 year old men that smoke cigars in mind. It was a Sunday evening and the restaurant was almost empty. The menu appeals to the locavores with an assortment of Alberta’s finest local game and meat. We started with the Alberta bison & elk crispy spring rolls with organic jalapeño aioli and the bison tartar. Both quite good, but not rock your world style. For our mains filet minion (obviously not mine) and the Alberta Game Trio. Word has it the filet was just so so, but I looved my Alberta game trio. Bison yummy, elk ok, venison yummy… Spätzel okay…but what a taste adventure! To be clear I had a really good main, and I loved the experience here, but against a very competitive bar of restaurants and all factors in including the price point (mains are $35 – $70) I’m going to give Bears Den a Very Ok.

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A little cheese with that wine…

113 – 8th Avenue SW, Calgary


Because I’ve been eating in a lot more these days I haven’t been to Divino in a long time…although it used to be one of my go tos in downtown cow town. Recently I visited again, and I will say this. Divino has delicious Tempura Haricot Vert and Onion Soup Gratinee. I love French onion soup! They also have an excellent selection of wine and assortment of cheese. The cheese plates are good, but I actually enjoy Farm’s cheese plate a bit more because each cheese (or meat) is paired with an accompaniment, where as at Divino all the cheeses are only accompanied by fig jam. And while their main courses are solid, I’ve not once found myself in love with one of them. The atmosphere in the restaurant is fitting for its offerings and the menu is on point with no Calgary confusion fusion. For wine bar I’m giving Divino a Very Good…If I were rating it on food only it would likely only be a Very Okay.


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Kitsch and Comfort

Diner Deluxe
804 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary


Diner Deluxe brought to us by the owners and operators of Big Fish and Open Range is a lovely mix of comfort food with a bold splash of retro diner. From the music to the tables you’ll think you’ve stepped back in time. They serve an all day breakfast, which makes deciding at dinner very difficult, because on the other side of the menu you will be tempted by Macaroni and Cheese and Turkey with stuffing. The turkey was served on a sliced loaf of stuffing, which was a modern twist to this classic. The Mac and Cheese has a touch of pesto, which is one step too modern for me, but it is still quite good. I’d love to go back for breakfast, but the line up is so long I’ve got to go on a day when I’m not starving. I’m going to give Diner Deluxe a Very Okay (but it is very nearly a Very Good) and it probably has one of the best price points in cow town!


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Forget about caviar dreams…Pizza dreams, but I’ve still got champagne wishes!

Ristorante Pulcinella Inc.
1147 Kensington Crescent NW, Calgary

I seriously woke up one morning dreaming about the ripieno calzone (sans salami). The ricotta cheese melts in your mouth and is contrasted perfectly by the texture of the Neapolitan style pizza dough. The wood-burning hearth kisses the pizzas with a charcoal flavor and serves as the primary centerpiece of the dining room. The white walls and decor seem modern yet reminiscent of the Mediterranean to me, perfectly suited for the style of the food. The strength of the food relies heavily on quality of the ingredients presently simply. Nothing too complex or flavors in competition or contradiction to each other. There is good balance in the food, in the menu, and restaurant presentation. Service can be a bit slow, but it always professional. They have a good wine selection. I’ve had a lot of trouble finding good pizza both in Calgary in Vancouver, but Pulcinella is something special, and I’m going to give it a Very Good, but the calzone and their signature pizza both get Very Goods from me. The restaurant is busy and can be a bit noisy when busy, so it is best suited for meeting friends or a date where you aren’t looking for a lot of romance.


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Saddle up on the other side of the tracks

The Palomino
109 – 7th Avenue SW, Calgary


You may think you’ve walked into a smokehouse on the wrong side of the tracks when you cross the 7th avenue train tracks and enter The Palomino. From the street you’d never know you were about to have some of the most mouthwatering beef ribs you’ve ever had with a side of Jack Daniels apples and sweet potato mash. I’ve heard the pork ribs can be a bit dry, just another reason not to eat swine….but the beef ribs are divine ;) The lighting is dark, the furniture is mismatched, and the walls are covered in a tormented looking collage of stickers and objects. We found the service a bit slow and the atmosphere is definitely edgy…but I’d go back for the meat and I’d really like to try their Jack Daniels wings. They also have a breakfast menu, and live music some nights, but I don’t have a point of reference on either… I’m giving The Palomino as Very Good.


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No parking

River Café
200 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, Alberta


The River Café is my most beloved restaurant in Calgary. After being to Rouge, I’m challenged to say it is the best, but for overall the River Café still has my vote. The food quality is reliable, the food philosophy is admirable, and the service is good. The smell of the wood burning oven and wood fired grill permeate the air bringing the rustic details of the cabin ambiance to life. To add to the mystique there is no valet parking (a shock for downtown Calgary), in fact you have to walk through Prince’s Island Park to get there, and I’ve done so happily on rainy, snowy, and sunshiny days alike. Breakfasts are divine, and you must try the smoked trout flatbread (featured in the photo here)…melt in your mouth. I’ve heard two less than positive reviews on their bison as a main course, but I’ve always had good fish and vegetarian meals. My favourite appetizer was the mushroom perogies, I love perogies! The menu changes seasonally so don’t get attached to any one specific dish, but try new things. Sal Howell owner and founder together with Chef Scott Pohorelic have given us an epicurean oasis in downtown cowtown.


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Bowl licking good…

1240 8th Avenue S.E. Calgary, Alberta


If you are going to venture out in minus 20 degrees Celsius it is best that it be to a place as inviting as Rouge. A quaint red house on a corner in Inglewood’s is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, or celebratory dinner with friends. If the best hits menu that we ordered from is any indication, Rouge’s kitchen will not disappoint. The amouse-bouche from the kitchen was yummy spiced pumpkin soup with pecans and chives. A selection of starters all proved to be delicious, with the Rabbit Fois Gras Tourtiere as my favourite. The mains were rich in flavour but well portioned. The details and presentation are excellent, and the service is both amusing and attentive. Our server made excellent and strikingly honest suggestions the most notable of which was to order the sticky toffee pudding, which is among the best desserts I have ever had. It was so good the birthday girl coined it ‘bowl licking good’. One the selections from the enRoute feature which has proven to be helpful, but keep in mind among Calgary’s best restaurants it meets the criteria for a high price point as well. Dinner is likely to be in the 100$ range per person, more depending on courses and beverages.


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