Five Restaurants to Check Out this Winter

By Liz Middleton

I love Calgary, and there are so many great dining options in this city. Whether you’re spending time with family, entertaining clients, or visiting with friends, here are my top picks for dinner and drinks before or after a matinee or evening concert with your Calgary Phil. 

A great place to eat before Sounds of the Season at the Rocky Ridge YMCA on 7 December is Flores & Pine in the northwest. They have a fantastic wood-fired grill which makes rotisserie chickens, racks of lamb, and Tomahawk steaks. Their grazing board of game meats and cheeses is totally shareable. For those gluten-free and vegan, there are some great options, including their herb pistou roasted cauliflower or wild mushroom risotto.  

Before taking in Traditional Christmas at the beautiful Grace Presbyterian Church on 13 + 14 December, check out LuLu Bar a favourite in the Beltline. Escape the winter in this Hawaiian-themed restaurant with beautiful cocktails and dishes like fried coconut squid and crispy duck. They have many vegan-friendly dishes too, like crispy rice salad, King Oyster mushroom skewers, and grilled zucchini with XO emulsion. I must also mention their signature dessert, the baked Hula – a very generous-sized ice cream cake smothered in fired meringue. 

Just a few steps from the beautiful Jack Singer Concert Hall, Teatro is pure elegance and consistently excellent food and service that any serious foodie or global traveller would be impressed with. Their beef tartare, grilled octopus, burrata panzanella, and handmade pastas which can also go vegan, are out of this world. My main plate go-to’s are roasted chicken or seared scallops with pork belly. They also have a five-course tasting menu for $135. 

I’m especially looking forward to Late Night at The GRAND: Professor Bad Trip on 3 March with Associate Conductor Karl Hirzer. For restaurants near The GRAND, at the top of my list is Major Tom. Must-do foods there: potato doughnuts with fresh cheese and aged balsamic, crab and shrimp roll, Endive Waldorf salad, tomato and brioche salad, all the pastas, and their seriously good beef program. It can book out months ahead, so definitely plan if you can, or they also always leave space for some walk-ins. 

For families, I adore Sorella Trattoria, a new restaurant on Centre Street north, and very easy to get downtown or to Jubilee Auditorium from there. I really enjoy their octopus with lentils and tartare with chickpea crisps. Their signature dish of cauliflower cacio e pepe is a must-do, as well is their lemon spaghetti which is very close to the same pasta I had in Sardinia. Kid-friendly beef ragu and croquettes with tomato jam would make any young child happy. 

Elizabeth Middleton is a Calgary Phil Board Director since September 2019. She is a dedicated community builder and purveyor of travel, fashion, and food experiences. Born in Vietnam, she has lived in New York City, Italy, West Africa, Melbourne, and now Calgary since 2013. You can find all her favourites on Instagram @wherelizis and blog, This Calgary Life.