Each year when the Calgary Stampede thunders into town, stadiums radiate with the footsteps of thousands of patrons cheering on their favorite event. The first Calgary Stampede dates back to 1912 and has become a 10-day shared passion for Canada’s rich agricultural history and western culture. Complete with bucking broncos, youth platforms that encourage education, and volunteerism, Canada’s overarching spirit of community flows between the land and the proud stewards of it.
In addition to the rodeo, chuckwagon races, music, shows, and Midway riding, Calgary regales visitors with world-class cuisine and cocktails. During the 2018 Calgary Stampede taking place from July 6-15, visitors will flood local restaurants for a taste at the vibrant eateries located throughout town. Because Alberta, Canada is home to dedicated ranchers and producers, Calgary is a protein and garnish paradise for carnivores.
The Calgary Stampede event is billed as “the greatest outdoor show on earth,” but OpenTable’s eager gastronomes may find Calgary’s biggest showstoppers on their plates. Here are a few top restaurants for Calgary Stampede that are perfect for meat lovers.
The Lake House
A little steak goes a long way at The Lake House in Southwest Calgary near Lake Bonavista. It’s one thing to have a notable steak supplier and another to source protein from your own game ranch. Representing some of the most flavorful examples of Rocky Mountain cuisine, The Lake House is part of Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, which raises bison and elk on pasture without added hormones or antibiotics just a half-hour from The Lake House. Here patrons nosh on dishes like grilled Angus beef ribeye with Yukon gold potato, tempura onion rings, and peppercorn sauce, and bison striploin with lobster and pea rice pilaf. Aside from the tempting vittles, The Lake House just feels right for a tableful of succulent meats, between the elk antler chandeliers, striking fireplace, and repurposed Montana mercantile store bar circa the 1800s. Make a reservation at The Lake House Calgary.
Vintage Chophouse & Tavern
More than 600 wines give stampede-goers plenty of reasons to stomp their feet at Vintage Steakhouse in Victoria Park, but here the beef is still the star of the show. For a special treat, order the bountiful butcher’s block chef’s cut, and expect a hard time trying to choose between the equally filling bone-in Canada prime rib chop, New York strip, and braised short rib with garlic jus. Just be sure to save room for a few sharing items, most notably the chicken fried lobster and Vintage bacon pork belly with house barbecue sauce. Make a reservation at Vintage Chophouse & Tavern.
About 10 minutes from the Calgary Stampede grounds, Cilantro fires up a menu of dishes straight from Alberta’s first wood-burning pizza oven delivered from Italy in the 1980s. In this lovely space with a patio enveloped in white lights and greenery, diners begin the evening with sharing platters of pork-fried almonds and striploin carpaccio garnished with horseradish root and gaufrette potato. Savory starters like salt-roasted beets and bison tartare are the perfect entry to main course items like braised bison short rib, a cola-braised, fall-off-the-bone protein served with parsnip puree and brown butter carrots with a cola and wine reduction. The Alberta lamb entrée gets a Hunan barbecue glaze and scallion mashed potato. Make a reservation at Cilantro.
Come hungry, leave satisfied. Buffo Ristorante is one of Calgary’s most popular Italian restaurants for handmade pastas, but steak-loving couples tromp through the door for the bistecca for two. This 28-ounce roasted, aromatic porterhouse steak seduces diners before it hits the table seasoned with a blend of rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic with dressed greens and polenta. Beef carpaccio is hugely popular in Canadian fine dining restaurants, and Buffo Ristorante’s signature is prepared with shaved organic beef tenderloin, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romanesco, and salty capers. Make a reservation at Buffo Ristorante.
All of the beef, game, and fowl are locally sourced for this historic Hudson’s Bay locale in downtown Calgary. Fine butchery and charcoal roasting define The Guild, where the Korean barbecue ribs and maple-glazed, house-smoked Beretta Farms beef brisket are as good as it gets in town. Start with the steak tartare and try at least one of the big-ticket items, like the tomahawk rib steak or bone-in strip loin. For the adventuresome stampede attendees, consider the slow-roasted pig’s head with apple, turnip, and cabbage choucroute and Dirty Bird mustard. Don’t leave without a sampling of The Guild’s bacon, crafted in-house. Make a reservation at The Guild.
Two Penny Chinese
When it comes to marrying Asian flavors with beef, Two Penny Chinese is the place to beat in Calgary. This relatively new restaurant is quickly becoming a crave-worthy destination with items like Wagyu brisket Shanghai noodles. Two Penny’s ginger beef is a refreshing take on slow-cooked short ribs, beyond tender with a sauce brimming with a punch of ginger and garlic. The deceptively simple beef and broccoli in a smoked oyster sauce is prepared with striploin and grilled gai lan. Make a reservation at Two Penny Chinese.
The Nash may be famous for its happy chickens wood-fired on the rotisserie, but during the nearby festivities, herds of imbibers take in the special stampede-only cocktail, Bats in the Belfry. This feel-good concoction features chocolate marshmallows, banana beignets, and cold brew. Since this cocktail is on the sweet side, diners often indulge in The Nash’s more savory options beforehand. Some of them include the restaurant’s famed charcuterie board with cured meats, terrine, and Nash mustard with three rotating cheeses. The hearty entrées are worth every calorie – try the Alberta beef tenderloin with thyme soubise, broccolini, and mushroom brandy café au lait, the lamb shoulder ‘pot roast’ with farro, sundried tomato, and olive relish, or rotisserie chicken with buttermilk mash and black garlic. Make a reservation at The Nash.
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