By Derek Baker
Calgary’s entertainment district on 17th Ave. has great restaurants, pubs and stores and is walkable from the train. For lunch, grab a burger at Clive Burger (736 17 Ave. SW) and sit down in Tomkins Park. Or try Una (618 17 Ave. SW) for the best — though slightly pricey — pizza in the city.
If owning music on vinyl is your thing, Sloth Records (736 17 Ave. SW) sells a variety of albums. Tubby Dog (1022 17 Ave. SW) makes a mean hotdog and is the venue for some great all-ages concerts. The Ship & Anchor Pub (534 17 Ave. SW) is a local favourite and hosts Punk Rock Bingo on Tuesday nights.
If the Calgary Flames make the playoffs, the bars fill and the road is blocked off to facilitate safe shenanigans, turning the avenue into the infamous “Red Mile.”
Beyond Fort Calgary and across the Elbow River lies Inglewood. Its distance from the CTrain line makes Inglewood somewhat harder to get to than it’s sister-street Kensington, but you won’t regret going out of your way to visit. Here you’ll find petite shops and cozy hideaways that reflect a locally-focused philosophy.
A good bet is to head to the top of 9th Ave. and work your way down the street and back up again on the other side, wandering into vintage shops at your leisure. One notable location is Fair’s Fair (907 9 Ave. SE), a used bookstore in an older building that houses every book you could dream of. This is the go-to spot for English majors and rare book collectors — I’ve hunted down many a first-edition copy of Stephen King here, and the service is impeccable.
Schedule a stop at Gravity (909 10 St. SE) for the best coffee shop experience in town. This cozy café features rustic vibes and live music in the evenings, so make sure you check out their website beforehand to catch the best indie and folk acts Calgary has to offer.
For a fine dining experience, try Rouge (1240 8 Ave. SE), one of Calgary’s top restaurants located within a converted 1890’s house. It’s pricey for a meal, but the restaurant’s garden and support of local producers makes their fresh dishes worth every penny.
Though the part just below the downtown core is mostly home to Calgary’s nightlife, there are still a few restaurants to grab a bite at and stores to splurge in during the day. Brunch at the Beltliner (243 12 Ave. SW) is always a good choice. If you have a chance to go explore the great outdoors, Mountain Equipment Co-op (830 10 Ave. SW) will supply most outdoor equipment needs. But the area really wakes up at night. The close proximity of Craft Beer Market (345 10 Ave. SW), National on 10th (341 10 Ave. SW) and the Hifi Club (219 10 Ave. SW) make it a common crawl.
If you want to dance, Commonwealth Bar & Stage (733 10 Ave. SW) boasts two separate floors — the upper usually spins more contemporary bangers, while the lower floor has a smoother vibe. Catch a live show at Broken City (613 11 Ave. SW) or enjoy their comedy night on Monday evenings. The number of hubs make this area perfect for a night out.
Conveniently situated by the CTrain off Sunnyside station, Kensington — one of Calgary’s most vibrant communities — deserves a full day of urban exploration. The area is home to many eating establishments and shops that cater to a more alternative scene.
Grab some friends and go for brunch at the newspaper-themed diner The Daily (1126 Kensington Rd. NW), then read a comic from Another Dimension in Riley Park (424 10 St. NW).
Other notable favourites include Oolong Tea House (110 10 St NW) and the most popular coffee shop in Calgary, Higher Ground (also 1126 Kensington Rd NW). As the evening hits, stop by the quaint Kensington Pub (207 10a St. NW).
If you’re up for something really peculiar, try Julio’s Barrio (1110 Memorial Drive NW) — the food is mediocre, but drinking a Bulldog in the famously-bastardized Mexican ambiance is a critical first-year experience you should not miss out on.