I wouldn’t have guessed that Calgary would have a gut-busting restaurant, bar, and bakery scene. This has more to do with my being a dedicated non-foodie (not due to a distaste for eating—I’m just lazy) than with Alberta’s reputation as the “Texas of Canada.” I also happen to be an unimaginative vegetarian who regularly tells people that my favorite food is kale. So much is lost on me.
Cut to a warm day in June in the city where over the course of three hours, I manage to fill up on pizza, and pastries, tapas, and cheese, and cocktails. My spirit guide for the afternoon is Karen Anderson, owner and operator of Calgary Food Tours. As the title would imply she acts as an all-knowing guide, shepherding groups around her city and not only showing off the best eats, but explaining how they tie into the local culture. Some of her picks I’d never find on my own—we dart into a non-descript office building to hit up Itza Bakeshop for hot brown butter tarts, and slip into the kitchen at Ox and Angela to sample churros and chocolate sauce made from a decades old family recipe. (Cue sugar buzz.) Other places I would have simply walked by because I am the sort of dumb that regularly forgets to eat while on vacation. I would have never thought to check if CIBO has the heartiest pizza crust in the city (it does), or ask Bar C to whip me up a strawberry mojito. (They will. An argument for day drinking, followed by day napping if ever there was one.)
Cheers to my new favorite culinary confidant, and city to chow down in. May our waistlines expand ever outward.—Laura Studarus