Dinner and a drive: Restaurant getaways near Calgary

When you just need to escape the city for a few hours, take a drive to one of many small-town restaurants within easy road-trip reach of Calgary. From Cochrane to Canmore, Okotoks to Strathmore and Bragg Creek, the variety of eateries and cuisine styles is surprising.

Strathmore Station Restaurant & Pub

380 Ridge Rd, Strathmore, AB T1P 1B5

A restaurant and pub on the north side of the Trans Canada Highway in the town of Strathmore, this homey eatery serves country comfort food that’s heart warming and stomach filling. Friendly servers offer top-notch rural hospitality and speedy service. The Station’s train-length menu features hearty fare including charbroiled Angus beef-burger plates and pizzas, as well as entrees such as a beef dip sandwich with gouda and caramelized onions, jambalaya and filet mignon with prawns.

Chuckwagon Cafe

105 Sunset Blvd SW, Turner Valley, AB T0L 2A0

Head out to the Chuckwagon Café for a big, satisfying Western diner meal a short drive west of Okotoks. A cattle rancher, owner Terry Myhre raises and processes his own hormone-free beef. Located in a red barn in the town of Turner Valley, his ranchland burger stand has been featured on Food Network Canada’s You Gotta Eat Here. Its House Burger is the stuff of beef-patty legend and is topped with tomatoes, mushrooms, mixed greens and a blend of cheeses. Further meal options include various all-day breakfasts.

Grizzly Paw Brewing Company The

622 Main St, Canmore, AB T1W 2B5

This independent craft brewery features its own Canadian cuisine restaurant just a one-kilometre walk (or short drive) from its impressive wood-and-glass brewing facility. The mountain lodge-style eatery is decked out in rough-hewn blonde wood and features a central bar complete with Grizzly Paw suds on tap. The mountain view from the restaurant, especially its outdoor patio, is unbeatable. Rocky Mountain cuisine includes walleye and chips and the Alberta elk burger. Combine your restaurant meal with a visit to the brewery’s shop and beautifully sunlit tasting room.

Mehtab East Indian Cuisine

2008-120 5th Ave W, Cochrane, AB T4C 0A4

A short drive northwest of Calgary in the foothills town of Cochrane, Mehtab is a well-patronized Indian eatery open seven days a week until 9 pm. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s charming downtown shops, then settle in for dinner. Entrees include a mix of regional Indian favourites from spicy prawn vindaloo and beef roganjosh prepared with tomato and onion gravy, to creamy chicken korma with cashews, cardamom and curry sauce.

Jaipur India Cuisine

114 3 Ave W GD Stn Main, Cochrane, AB T4C 2E9

There’s something about Cochrane and good Indian food. Jaipur proprietors the Anand family learned to cook in England’s renowned Indian restaurants and launched Calgary’s popular Rajdoot. They now operate this cozy small-town Indian spot. Entrees include a selection of chicken, lamb, beef and fish curries, chicken tikka korma and shrimp masala. Phone ahead for a selection of popular Indian dishes (listed online) requiring extra prep time.

Rylie's Cattle Barn Cookhouse & Saloon

263-200 Southridge Dr, Okotoks, AB T1S 0B2

South of Calgary in the sleepy town of Okotoks, restaurants are proliferating. Among them is Rylie’s. Decked out in saloon style, the family-friendly western steak house has a very upbeat atmosphere. It’s also carnivore central. The main menu event – steaks – are all triple-A, Angus beef and include bourbon bacon-wrapped sirloin, blue cheese New York and mushroom-peppered rib eye. Additional meaty dishes include half-pound burgers, barbecue wraps, fajita skillets and meat-topped pasta plates.

Heartland Cafe

46 McRae St, Okotoks, AB T1S 1B2

Housed in a lovely converted church on Olde Towne Okotoks Plaza in (you guessed it) Okotoks, Heartland Café serves rich comfort dishes made with local ingredients. Canadian cuisine with international touches, Heartland appetizers include Cajun fish tacos and Tuscan flatbread and mains such as smoky bacon bison meatloaf, pan-seared salmon and braised ’n’ glazed back ribs. All are served with your choice of soup or salad.

Bistro 1882

52 N Railway St, Okotoks, AB T1S 1J3

Formerly Bistro Provence, Bistro 1882 is located in the handsomely historic Okotoks Post Office building. Sided in pressed-tin, it was constructed in 1882. The menu retains its French flavours with Canadian and Italian twists and the use of local ingredients. Start with escargot, a tomato tart amuse bouche or green salad, and move on to a concise list of mains that includes duck magret, braised lamb shank and beef bourguignon with seasonal veggies. Chocolate fondue? Do!

Powderhorn Saloon

220-7 Balsam Ave, Bragg Creek, AB T0L 0K0

The Powderhorn Saloon is a popular hang out for Bragg Creek and area residents and has all the well-worn charm of a backwoods watering hole. Sitting down to a pint and a sirloin burger, pulled-pork baguette or perogies and sausage, you’ll find the place warm and hospitable. Fridays and Saturdays, an enthusiastic crowd assembles for live country and roots music performances. Also check the venue’s website for scheduled karaoke nights – they’re a Wild West hoot!

The quintessential Mexican meal, tacos are also a relatively scarce commodity in Calgary. However, we’ve done some digging and unearthed the select few restaurants that make truly marvelous versions of these hand-held snacks.
The city’s summer season features a delicious dance card of culinary festivals and events. Many, such as Stampede-time pancake breakfasts, are easy to access the day of, but the various tasting and tippling shindigs listed here can fill up quickly, so purchasing tickets sooner than later for these foodie festivities is recommended. Image credit: iStock.com/kasto80.
The city’s pathway system is one of the longest in North America. Given its lengthy stretches, the occasional rest and snack stop, though few and far between, are a welcome sight when walking, biking and inline skating. Here are a few restaurants, cafés and snack shacks located on or near our scenic cycling system. Image credit: iStock.com/mihailomilovanovic.
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