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.