Dining with a difference: Unique Calgary restaurants

Despite the flood of restaurants joining Calgary’s booming food scene, there are some restaurants that have managed to remain one-of-a-kind, whether it’s a specific cuisine or a specialty dish. Pay these eateries a visit the next time you’re looking for something a little different.

Jonas Restaurant & Bar

937 6 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0V7

The only Hungarian restaurant in Calgary, local Hungarians go out of their way to gather at Jonas for some home-style cooking, strong coffee (or liquor) and conversation. Expect rich, comforting dishes like goulash and paprikash.

Mimo Restaurant & Lounge

203-4909 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0V5

Located on busy International Avenue in Forest Lawn, Mimo serves up Portuguese cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood dishes, most of which are prepared on a charcoal grill. You must try their paella, which is loaded with clams, mussels, squid, crab legs, lobsters, shrimp, chicken and beef in a saffron-sweet pepper sauce.

Wiener Schnitzel Haus

Got a hankering for schnitzel? Wiener Schnitzel Haus has you covered, with many different traditional (breaded) schnitzels and grilled schnitzels to suit a variety of tastes. Other classic Austrian favourites, like spätzle, goulasch and braised red cabbage, are also available. Wash it all down with your favourite Bavarian brew.

Flavours Cuisine & Catering

4129 4 St NW, Calgary, AB T2K 1A3

Flavours Restaurant joins only a handful of restaurants in Calgary serving cuisine from African countries, specializing in Nigerian dishes. Grilled meats and fish covered in aromatic spices feature heavily on the menu, with flavoured rice, fried plantain and sautéed vegetables as sides. Flavours has been known to make beautiful cakes for catering events, but for an everyday meal, finish it off with Puff Puffs, or what the owner affectionately refers to as “Nigerian Timbits”.

The Himalayan Ltd

2-3218 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T3E 0B3

Tucked away in a Killarney strip mall on 17 Ave SW, Himalayan has such a huge following that a reservation is a must if you are planning to dine in. Nepalese cuisine is inspired by its Chinese and Indian neighbours, so expect to find meaty dumplings (momo) and fried noodles next to saucy curries and dal on the menu. Himalayan has many vegetarian options available, including several dishes prepared with cottage cheese as a protein source.

Szechuan Restaurant

320 16 Ave NW, Calgary, AB T2M 0H6

There are several restaurants serving Sichuan cuisine in Calgary, but none do it quite like Szechuan Restaurant, where the dishes are authentic, the flavours are bold and they are heavy-handed on the spice! Even the “mild” can leave some people sweating.

Nainas Kitchen

121 17 Ave Se, Calgary, AB T2G 1H3

Naina’s Kitchen is hidden near the industrial part of Ogden, but its recent successes in YYC Burger Week and Alberta BurgerFest have made it a foodie destination for those who are looking for over-the-top burgers, poutine, macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. Naina’s is best known for its made-to-order stuffed burgers – ½ pound patties are stuffed with your choice of topping, whether its veggies, cheese, pulled pork, or even bacon mac and cheese – before being grilled.

Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus

2439 54 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T3E 1M4

Every Calgarian has probably been to a Stampede pancake breakfast, but have you ever tried a Dutch pancake? Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus offers over 40 varieties of sweet and savoury pancakes on their menu, including the option to build your own. Unlike traditional pancakes, pannenkoeken are thin and wide (about 12” in diameter), and the filling is cooked right into a batter, like an omelette. Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus is open from morning to night, so you can enjoy your pancakes at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Game meats, such as venison, bison and elk, are gaining popularity, partly due to their unique taste, and the fact that they are generally leaner than farmed meats such as beef and pork. You don’t need to dress in camp or carry a gun to sample wild game – just head down to one of these local restaurants. Image credit: iStock.com/Brzozowska.
In the past, salads were often labelled “diet food” and served as an afterthought on restaurant menus. For better or worse, restaurant salads are now often sizeable meals, and can sometimes contain more calories than a burger and fries! For those trying to eat healthier, salad bars can help take back some of that control – making your salad as green or as calorie-laden as you’d like. Image credit: iStock/MelanieMaya.
For those who are new to sushi, the thought of eating raw fish on rice can be a little intimidating. Sushi rolls are a great “gateway” to more traditional nigiri, and thanks to some of the whimsical and creative dishes prepared by local sushi chefs, they are becoming a cuisine unto itself.
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