Go wild! Where to eat wild game in Calgary

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.

Cilantro

1
338 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0A8

When Cilantro first opened its doors in 1988, it featured Alberta’s first wood-burning pizza oven, imported from Italy. The fire in Cilantro’s pizza oven is still going strong, churning out unique pizzas topped with pulled elk and wild boar sausage. In addition to pizzas, the Fourth Street and 17th Avenue Southwest eatery serves hearty entrees that include coffee-and-chili-braised bison short ribs with Southwest-style grits and maple bacon baked beans.

Lake House

2
747 Lake Bonavista Dr SE, Calgary, AB T2J 0N2

Like Cilantro, The Lake House is owned by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, but the ambiance is more upscale, with a beautiful view overlooking Lake Bonavista. Like its sister restaurant, it features bison and wild boar on the menu, but it’s also one of the few places in Calgary that serves caribou. Try the bison-and-caribou game burger, or roasted caribou Denver leg with cheese pie and pickled vegetable salad.

River Cafe

3
25 Prince's Island Pk, Calgary, AB T2P 0R1

A well known Calgary institution located in picturesque Prince’s Island Park, River Cafe prides itself on its environmentally sustainable practices. The menu is constantly changing to utilize seasonal ingredients and flavours, highlighting the surprisingly diverse meat and produce grown by local farmers. No matter the season, you will often find local game, especially bison, featured on charcuterie plates and in appetizer dishes and entrees.

Open Range

4
1114 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E 3K4

Open Range is not your typical steakhouse. While the Edmonton Trail restaurant is known for its signature 24-ounce, grass-fed Alberta beef porterhouse steak, the menu offers much more, from enchiladas and tacos to a goat cheesecake for dessert. For wild game fans, kick off the meal with a charcuterie platter or buffalo bresaola and enjoy an elk ribeye rather than the usual beef steak.

Bears Den

5
254028 Bearspaw Rd, Calgary, AB T3L 2P7

Located just west of the city in the community of Bearspaw, Bears Den features a cozy, friendly atmosphere with a menu that focuses mostly on meat. The restaurant’s venison tenderloin, served on top of creamy polenta and drizzled with a sweet blackcurrant demi-glace, is definitely recommended.

Notable The Restaurant

6
133-4611 Bowness Rd NW, Calgary, AB T3B 0B2

One of the first restaurants in Calgary to bring upscale dining to the suburbs, NOtaBLE is known for its daily creations cooked on a large rotisserie and hot, hardwood grill. These include Alberta bison flank steak with sun-dried cherry and brown butter jus. The elk carpaccio is another must-try – though thinly sliced, the savoury elk meat pairs well with the strong flavours of white wine mustard, Parmesan aioli, watercress salad and grated Parmesan that top the dish.

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant

7
15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE, Calgary, AB T2J 7A7

Located in the historical Hull residence in Fish Creek Park, the Bow Valley Ranche is a popular spot in the summer months. The restaurant is not just a pretty piece of architecture – its menu features creative preparations of mostly local, sustainable ingredients. For example, the baby romaine Caesar salad is a unique Asian-inspired appetizer that features spicy elk salami and wild boar belly.

Burger Inn

You don’t need to go to a hoity-toity, sit-down restaurant to eat wild game – inspired by classic ’50s diners, the Burger Inn is a casual spot where in addition to the typical single, double and triple burgers, you can try specialty wild game patties including bison, elk or wild boar.

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