Best of Calgary 2009 Winners

Fast Forward readers pick the finest places, spaces and faces
Riley Brandt

Fast Forward Weekly asked our readers to vote for their favourite local places, spaces and people for the 12th year, and you responded in droves. The following is a list of the best places to eat and drink, the best places to shop and people watch, Calgary’s claim to shame and its most embrassing and beloved citizens, not to mention the ever-popular best public places to “do it.” Whatever your inclination, fetish, mode of tranportation or political leaning, we’ve got you covered.

There are some familiar faces amongst this year’s winners — River Cafe and Ship & Anchor Pub continue to dominate, with several wins. Newcomers such as Milk Tiger Lounge and Farm earned their first wins, while Prince’s Island and Nose Hill continue to be the favourite haunts of public sex afficianados.

So, whether you’re new to the city, or an old hand, this list will help get your summer started off on the right foot.





Best new trend

1. Curbside recycling
2. Biking

Worst new trend

1. Skinny jeans on men
2. Twitter

Best kept Calgary secret

1. Wild Rose Brewery & Taproom
2. Bowness Park

Best historic structure

1. Fort Calgary
2. The Lougheed House

Scariest intersection

1. 16th Avenue & Deerfoot Trail NE
2. MacLeod Trail & Glenmore Drive

Best place to tie the knot

1. The Calgary Zoo
2. Prince's Island Park

Most livable neighbourhood

1. Kensington
2. Marda Loop

Best day trip

1. Banff National Park
2. Kananaskis Country

Best place to take kids

1. The Calgary Zoo
2. Telus World of Science

Best place to waste an entire day

1. 17th Avenue S.W.
2. Prince's Island Park

Best place to snag Stampede breakfast

1. Community Natural Foods
2. Chinook Centre

Best place to go for a picnic

1. Prince's Island Park
2. Bowness Park

Best place to get wet

1. The Elbow River
2. The Bow River

Best place to pick up someone of the opposite sex

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. Cowboy's Dance Hall

Best place to pick up someone of the same sex

1. Twisted Element
2. The Ship & Anchor

Best public place to "do it"

1. Prince's Island Park
2. Nose Hill Park

Best place to people-watch

1. 17th Avenue S.W.
2. Stephen Avenue Walk

Best local charity

1. The Mustard Seed
2. Women In Need

Calgary's claim to shame

1. Urban sprawl
2. The Calgary Stampede

Best use of local tax dollars

1. Public Transit
2. Parks

Worst use of local tax dollars

1. Public buildings
2. New roads

Best area to hike

1. Kananaskis Country
2. Banff National Park

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Best radio station

1. CJSW 90.9 FM
2. X92.9 FM

Best television station

1. Global TV
2. City TV

Best art gallery

1. Glenbow Museum
2. Art Central

Best dance company

1. Decidedly Jazz Danceworks
2. Alberta Ballet

Best theatre company

1. One Yellow Rabbit
2. Alberta Theatre Projects

Best arthouse cinema

1. The Uptown Stage & Screen
2. The Plaza

Best area ski hill

1. Lake Louise
2. Sunshine Village

Best public golf course

1. Shaganappi
2. Confederation Park

Best place to gamble

1. Stampede Casino
2. Elbow River Casino

Best festival

1. Calgary Folk Music Festival
2. Lilac Festival

Best free event

1. Lilac Festival
2. Stampede Breakfasts

Best fund-raising event

1. The Big Rock Eddies
2. CJSW Funding Drive

Swankiest washroom

1. Earl's Bankers' Hall
2. Cactus Club Café

Skankiest washroom

1. The Back Alley
2. The Warehouse

Most beloved Calgarian

1. Jarome Iginla
2. Feist

Most embarrassing Calgarian

1. Mayor Dave Bronconnier
2. Ralph Klein

Most dedicated activist

1. Grant Neufeld
2. Dr. David Swann

Best local villain

1. Mayor Dave Bronconnier
2. Paul Vickers

Hardest working Calgarian

1. Mayor Dave Bronconnier
2. Jarome Iginla

Sexiest man

1. Dave Kelly
2. Jarome Iginla

Sexiest woman

1. Jill Belland
2. Susanne Fox

Favourite local TV personality

1. Dave Kelly
2. Barb Higgins

Favourite local radio personality

1. Chad Saunders
2. Gerry Forbes

Best journalist/columnist

1. Chris Turner
2. Jeremy Klaszus

Best local actor/actress

1. Joyce Doolittle
2. Christopher Hunt

Best local band

1. The Dudes
2. The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir

Best singer/songwriter

1. Chad VanGaalen
2. Kris Demeanor

Best visual artist

1. Chris Cran
2. Keith Murray

Best local poet or author

1. Sheri-D Wilson
2. William Neil Scott

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Best shopping district

1. 17th Avenue S.W.
2. Kensington

Best corner store

1. Kalamata Grocery
2. Jimmy's A&A Deli

Best outdoor/sports gear shop

1. Mountain Equipment Co-op
2. Campers Village

Best skateboard shop

1. Mission Snow and Skate
2. The Source

Best ski/snowboard shop

1. Mission Snow and Skate
2. The Source

Best bike shop

1. Bow Cycle
2. The Bike Shop

Best CD store

1. Megatunes
2. Sloth Records

Best place to buy vinyl

1. Hot Wax Records
2. Recordland

Best musical instrument store

1. Long & McQuade
2. Axe Music

Best place to buy a book

1. Fair's Fair
2. Pages Books On Kensington

Best comics store

1. Phoenix Comics
2. Another Dimension

Best video store

1. Casablanca Video
2. Bird Dog Video

Best place to buy porn

1. A Little More Interesting
2. Priape

Most stylish furniture store

1. Kit Interior Objects
2. Soho & Nada

Best men's clothing store

1. Henry
2. Brooklyn Clothing

Best women's clothing store

1. Purr
2. Blame Betty

Best lingerie

1. SHE Apparel
2. The Cat's Pyjamas

Best place to buy a sex toy

1. Little Shop of Pleasures
2. A Little More Interesting

Best consignment/vintage clothing

1. Divine
2. Cat's Eye

Best shoe store

1. Gravity Pope
2. Arnold Churgin

Best place to find cool jewelry

1. Art Central
2. Rubaiyat

Best optical

1. The Brass Monocle
2. Eyeclectic Eyewear

Best flower shop

1. Purple Orchid
2. Twigs & Company

Best international food store

1. Lina's Italian Market
2. T&T Supermarket

Best place to buy organic food

1. Community Natural Foods
2. Planet Organic Market

Best farmers' market

1. Calgary Farmers' Market
2. Crossroads Market

Best deli sandwich

1. Spolumbo's Fine Foods & Deli
2. Peppino

Best bakery

1. Glamorgan Bakery
2. Urban Baker

Best ice cream/gelato

1. My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe
2. Fiasco Gelato

Best wine shop

1. Kensington Wine Market
2. Willow Park Wines & Spirits

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Best fitness facility

1. Talisman Centre
2. Eau Claire YMCA

Best place for yoga

1. Bodhi Tree
2. Hot Yoga on 17th

Best place for a haircut (male)

1. Chrome
2. Hedkandi Salon

Best hair salon (female)

1. SwizzleSticks SalonSpa
2. The Ginger Group

Best spa

1. Oasis Wellness Centre & Spa
2. Stillwater Spa

Best tattoo shop

1. Bushido
2. Smilin' Buddha

Best place to spoil your pet

1. Petland
2. The Cat House

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Best new bar

1. Milk Tiger Lounge
2. Habitat

Best cocktail bar

1. Ming
2. Vicious Circle

Best neighbourhood pub

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. The Kensington Pub

Coolest hole-in-the wall

1. Milk Tiger Lounge
2. Hop In Brew

Best brewpub

1. Wild Rose Brewery & Taproom
2. Amsterdam Rhino

Best gay/lesbian hangout

1. Twisted Element
2. Money Pennies

Sexiest clientele

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. The Hifi Club

Best redneck bar

1. Ranchman's
2. Cowboy's Dance Hall

Best place to watch sports

1. Flames Central
2. Schanks Athletic Club

Best place to shoot pool

1. Schanks Athletic Club
2. The Garage Sports & Billiards

Best DJ night

1. Dub at the Pub (Drum & Monkey)
2. Hai Karate (The Hifi Club)

Best place for karaoke

1. Ducky's Pub
2. Broken City

Best place to dance

1. The Hifi Club
2. Broken City

Best live rock music club

1. Broken City
2. The Palomino

Best live jazz/blues club

1. Beat Niq Jazz & Social Club
2. The Shamrock

Best live country/folk club

1. Ironwood Stage & Grill
2. Ranchman's

Best concert venue (500+)

1. Jack Singer Concert Hall
2. MacEwan Hall

Best open jam

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. Broken City

Best bartender

1. Christine (Palomino)
2. Nolan (The Ship & Anchor)

Sexiest staff

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. Cowboy's Dance Hall

Surliest staff

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. Cowboy's Dance Hall

Best patio

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. Broken City

Best beer selection

1. Bottlescrew Bill's Old English Pub
2. The Ship & Anchor

Most interesting wine list

1. Winebar Kensington
2. Vin Room

Best Martini

1. Ming
2. Vicious Circle

Most interesting cocktail menu

1. Ming
2. Vicious Circle

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Best new restaurant

2. Winebar Kensington

Best restaurant for a first date

1. River Cafe
2. The Coup

Best restaurant when someone else is paying

1. River Cafe
2. Teatro

Best service

1. River Cafe
2. Teatro

Best overall restaurant

1. River Cafe
2. Cilantro

Best late-night (after 1 am)

1. Tubby Dog
2. The Wicked Wedge Pizza Co.

Best cheap eats

1. Tubby Dog
2. Nellie's

Best breakfast

1. Nellie's
2. Diner Deluxe

Best pizza

1. The Wicked Wedge Pizza Co.
2. Pulcinella

Best wings

1. Regal Beagle Pub
2. Kilkenny Pub

Best burger

1. Peters' Drive-In
2. Burger Inn

Best veggie burger

1. The Coup
2. The Ship & Anchor

Best fries

1. The Ship & Anchor
2. Tubby Dog

Best Middle Eastern

1. Aida's
2. Falafel King

Best sushi

1. Globefish
2. Hana Sushi

Best Vietnamese

1. Co Do
2. Oriental Phoenix

Best Chinese

1. Silver Dragon
2. Buddha's Veggie Restaurant

Best dim sum

1. Forbidden City
2. Harbour City

Best Indian

1. Moti Mahal
2. Tandoori Hut

Best Italian

1. Mercato
2. Chianti Cafe & Restaurant

Best Thai

1. The King & I
2. Chili Club Thai House

Best Greek

1. Broken Plate
2. Pegasus Restaurant

Best vegetarian

1. The Coup
2. Buddha's Veggie Restaurant

Best steak

1. Caesar's Steak House
2. Smuggler's Inn

Best place for seafood

1. Catch Restaurant & Oyster Bar
2. Bookers BBQ Grill & Crab Shack

Best coffeehouse

1. Caffe Beano
2. Higher Ground

Best place to feed a sweet tooth

1. Crave Cookies & Cakes
2. Bernard Callebaut

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Comments: 15

Tremaine wrote:

How in the heck did Chianti Cafe & Restaurant even make the list for best Italian, never mind come in second. It's good reliable Italian, but far from the best.

Buon Giorno and La Dolce Vita come to mind immediately as head and shoulders above the rest.

I hereby challenge everyone who voted for it to find at least 3 other Italian restaurants in this city and come back to share your vote next year!

on Jun 11th, 2009 at 6:32am Report Abuse

Doug S wrote:

I would like to propose a name change to Calgary Favourites, since a good portion of this list has little to do with "best". Peter's? Best burger? Come ON. Almost any fast-food chain burger is better than their bland pucks. Their shakes and the size of their large fries are what make that place popular, not good, and certainly nowhere near best. And as much as I realize 'sexiest' is open to individual interpretation, The Ship's staff is on this list because it's an institution, not for their sexiness. It's a great place, but 90% of the bars on 17th have sexier staff. IMO.

on Jun 11th, 2009 at 9:10am Report Abuse

fang wrote:

Doug S - what is your proposed name change - or were you hoping we could come up with one for you?

Oooh ... A semantic debate. I love semantics. What criteria did you use to pick the best burger? Taste? Location? Quality of Ingredients? Value? Size? Texture? I went with "most likely to remind me I'm eating a dead cow carcass" combined with the following equation:

best = 0.5 * (taste / dollars) + 0.25 * volume + 0.25 * freshness of veggies

In all seriousness - this isn't an arithmetic quiz where maximums are easy to pick out - it's a subjective preference poll.

About the only thing we (as voters) can do is to invite our friends to vote next year and get them to help us vote up the burger places (or italian restaurants) that we think are better.

on Jun 12th, 2009 at 7:35am Report Abuse

twyze wrote:

I love Peter's drive thru burgers.
Tommy Burger has some great food as well.

on Jun 12th, 2009 at 11:37am Report Abuse

martypants wrote:

Another year, another list of the same winners as last year. So many on this list are only picked because of reputation and because they won before. Anything on 17th Avenue is automatically a front runner regardless. Chianti? Give me a break. Codo used to be one of the best Vietnamese, but has definitely slipped. The fries at the Ship used to rule, last time I was there they were a soggy, greasy mess. Same thing with Wicked Wedge, shite. Dave freakin' Kelly? Do women really like that goofball?

All this yearly ritual does now is show us that FFWD readers probably don't have better taste than anyone else, they're just trendier

on Jun 12th, 2009 at 2:02pm Report Abuse

dejaview wrote:

The Glenbow Museum named "Best Art Gallery?!?!

After sacking the brilliant Jeffery Spalding, who had finally started to affect some much needed change in that dusty conservative bunker?!?!

Wow .... this certainly speaks to limited options in this city.

on Jun 12th, 2009 at 6:45pm Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

I don't think this speaks to the limited options in the city. I think it speaks to the fact that many people don't understand how vibrant the visual arts community is here, and haven't been to any of the other galleries putting on interesting and challenging shows. There's lots out there, people just aren't willing to stop complaining about a lack of venues and creativity, and get out there to see it all.

That being said, Glenbow still manages to surprise from time to time, and if you're a history buff, there's no better in town. It is a great museum, and sometimes a great gallery.

on Jun 12th, 2009 at 9:22pm Report Abuse

Doug S wrote:

fang - I guess you missed my first sentence: "I would like to propose a name change to Calgary Favourites". So, to answer your question, my proposed name change is to Calgary Favourites.

on Jun 14th, 2009 at 6:14pm Report Abuse

fang wrote:

Doug S.

I totally missed it.

I guess I've always assumed that "best" means "favorites" for whomever was the chooser of the "best".

on Jun 14th, 2009 at 8:50pm Report Abuse

dejaview wrote:

Drew, you bring up a good point about the richness of visual arts in the city. I recant that last statement about limited options .... but not my criticism of the Glenbow. Its ousting of Jeffery Spalding, just as the place was starting to become exciting, justifiably drew criticism and anger from across the country.

As a museum it enjoyed has its moments of glory - but I know far too many people who work there, and hear far too many stomach churning stories of its internal machinations to be able to reward it with my respect and attendance any longer.

on Jun 18th, 2009 at 9:05pm Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

Point taken dejaview.

on Jun 19th, 2009 at 1:07pm Report Abuse

bazookajoe wrote:

yaaaay to cafe beano for best coffee shop!!!
only hope they can turn down the cool schtick just long
enough to serve the coffee this year..

on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 11:05am Report Abuse

LauraMae wrote:

"Pulcinella" and "best pizza" should not appear anywhere on the same page as one another, unless the words "does not have" are in between them. For starters it was served cold. And to "top" it off the toppings were not fresh. If I wanted canned mushrooms and waxy cheese I would've ordered take out from Pizza Hut. Bring back Stromboli's pleeeeeease!!!

on Aug 24th, 2009 at 10:06am Report Abuse

Drew Anderson wrote:

Crazy, I've always had great food there. I hope it's not going downhill

on Aug 24th, 2009 at 1:56pm Report Abuse

fang wrote:

Yeah, I've always had great food there too. On one pizza that I ordered they did warn me that they couldn't get their normal mushrooms and that they were canned once. I opted for a different pizza that night.

on Aug 24th, 2009 at 2:24pm Report Abuse

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