The Best (and worst) of Calgary

The people have spoken.

They’re the best places for a picnic, the best blogs, the most embarrassing Calgarians and the best spots to pick up a deli sandwich. That’s according to Fast Forward Weekly readers, who, for the 14th year, went online and voted in this year’s Best of Calgary poll.

Whether you’ve been chosen as the Best New Bar (Club Sapien), boast the Sexiest Clientele (Local 510) or run the Best Hair Salon (Hedkandi), take a bow. The people have spoken. You are at the top of your game.

So, check out the winners and the hoards of stories written about those who made the list. You’ll see that our esteemed prime minister didn’t fare too well (surprise, surprise!), and that a certain pizza restaurant wiped up in several categories.

Read on, and remember, feedback is welcome — always!






Best new trend

  1. Cycling / Bike commuting
  2. Mayor Naheed Nenshi
  3. Civic engagement

Worst new trend

  1. Jeggings
  2. Hipsters
  3. Dubstep

Best kept Calgary secret

  1. Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage
  2. Inglewood
  3. Sandy Beach

Scariest crosswalk

  1. Kensington Road at 10th Street N.W.
  2. Macleod Trail at Glenmore Trail
  3. Edmonton Trail at Memorial Drive

Worst construction zone

  1. Bow Trail / West LRT
  2. Elbow Drive
  3. 6th Avenue S. (The Bow)

Most livable neighbourhood

  1. Hillhurst / Sunnyside
  2. Mission
  3. Marda Loop

Best off-the-beaten-path day trip

  1. Bragg Creek
  2. Elbow Falls
  3. Drumheller

Best place to take kids

  1. Calgary Zoo
  2. Telus World of Science
  3. Prince's Island Park

Best place to waste an entire day

  1. Prince's Island Park
  2. 17th Avenue S.W.
  3. The Ship & Anchor

Best place to snag Stampede breakfast

  1. Community Natural Foods
  2. Chinook Centre
  3. Olympic Plaza

Best place to go for a picnic

  1. Prince's Island Park
  2. Bowness Park
  3. Sandy Beach

Best place to get wet

  1. Elbow River
  2. Bow River
  3. Sandy Beach

Best place to pick up someone of the opposite sex

  1. The Ship & Anchor
  2. Local 510
  3. Broken City

Best place to pick up someone of the same sex

  1. Club Sapien
  2. Twisted Element
  3. The Ship & Anchor

Best public place to "do it"

  1. Nose Hill Park
  2. Prince's Island Park
  3. Fish Creek Provincial Park

Best place to people-watch

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

Best local not-for-profit

  1. The Mustard Seed
  2. Inn From The Cold
  3. Calgary Food Bank

Calgary's claim to shame

  1. Stephen Harper
  2. The Calgary Stampede
  3. Urban sprawl

Best use of local tax dollars

  1. Public transit
  2. Parks
  3. New roads

Worst use of local tax dollars

  1. Peace Bridge
  2. New roads
  3. Public buildings

Best hikers’ trail

  1. Douglas Fir Trail
  2. Edworthy Park
  3. Nose Hill Park






Best radio station

  1. CJSW 90.9 FM
  2. X92.9 FM
  3. CBC Radio One

Best art gallery

  1. Glenbow Museum
  2. Art Gallery of Calgary
  3. TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary

Best dance company

  1. Alberta Ballet
  2. Decidedly Jazz Danceworks
  3. Dancers' Studio West

Best theatre company

  1. One Yellow Rabbit
  2. Alberta Theatre Projects
  3. Theatre Calgary

Best arthouse cinema

  1. The Plaza Theatre
  2. The Uptown Stage & Screen
  3. The Globe Cinema

Best area ski hill

  1. Lake Louise Ski Area
  2. Sunshine Village
  3. Fernie Alpine Resort

Best valued golf course

  1. Shaganappi Point Golf Course
  2. Kananaskis Country Golf Course
  3. Confederation Park Golf Course

Best place to gamble

  1. Stampede Casino
  2. Elbow River Casino
  3. Grey Eagle Casino

Best festival

  1. Calgary Folk Music Festival
  2. Sled Island
  3. Lilac Festival

Best film event

  1. Calgary International Film Festival
  2. Calgary Underground Film Festival
  3. Fairytales Film Festival

Best free event

  1. Lilac Festival
  2. Stampede breakfasts
  3. Sun and Salsa Festival

Best fund-raising event

  1. The Big Rock Eddies
  2. CJSW Funding Drive
  3. Grave Gala

Best C-train stop

  1. Sunnyside
  2. Crowfoot
  3. Dalhousie

Worst C-train stop

  1. Chinook
  2. Marlborough
  3. Whitehorn

Most beloved Calgarian

  1. Mayor Naheed Nenshi
  2. Jarome Iginla
  3. Lanny McDonald

Most embarrassing Calgarian

  1. Stephen Harper
  2. Rob Anders
  3. Ralph Klein

Most dedicated activist

  1. Paul Hughes
  2. Sharon Stevens
  3. Grant Neufeld

Best local villain

  1. Stephen Harper
  2. Ric McIver
  3. Rob Anders

Hardest working Calgarian

  1. Mayor Naheed Nenshi
  2. Jarome Iginla
  3. Mark Hopkins

Sexiest man

  1. Mayor Naheed Nenshi
  2. Jarome Iginla
  3. Brett Wilson

Sexiest woman

  1. Jill Belland
  2. Barb Higgins
  3. Astrid Kuhn

Favourite local TV personality

  1. Jill Belland
  2. Darrel Janz
  3. David Spence

Favourite local radio personality

  1. Chad Saunders (CJSW)
  2. Jim Brown (CBC)
  3. Carly Meyers (X92.9)

Best local blog


Best local Twitter personality

  1. nenshi
  2. kellyoxford
  3. myownbiggestfan

Best journalist/columnist

  1. Jeremy Klaszus
  2. Don Braid
  3. Trevor Scott Howell

Best local actor/actress

  1. Rebecca Northan
  2. Ellen Close
  3. Christopher Hunt

Best local band

  1. The Dudes
  2. Zoo Lion
  3. Braids / Woodpigeon (tie)

Best singer/songwriter

  1. Chad VanGaalen
  2. Samantha Savage Smith
  3. Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

Best visual artist

  1. David Brunning (TheKidBelo)
  2. Chris Cran
  3. Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton

Best local poet or author

  1. Cathy Ostiere
  2. Sheri-D Wilson
  3. Eugene Stickland

Best local filmmaker

  1. Gary Burns
  2. Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi
  3. Michal Lavi






Best shopping district

  1. 17th Avenue S.W.
  2. The Core
  3. Kensington

Best corner store

  1. Kalamata Grocery
  2. Jimmy's A&A Deli
  3. Mary's Corner Store

Best outdoor/sports gear shop

  1. Mountain Equipment Co-op
  2. Campers Village
  3. Wholesale Sports

Best skateboard shop

  1. Mission Snow and Skate
  2. The Source Snowboard and Skateboard Shop
  3. Group Seven Skateboarding

Best ski/snowboard shop

  1. Mission Snow and Skate
  2. The Source Snowboard and Skateboard Shop
  3. Ski Cellar

Best bike shop

  1. Bow Cycle
  2. The Good Life Community Bike Shop
  3. The Bike Shop

Best place to buy music

  1. Sloth Records
  2. Hot Wax
  3. Recordland

Best musical instrument store

  1. Long & McQuade
  2. Axe Music
  3. Guitarworks

Best place to buy a book

  1. Fair's Fair
  2. Pages on Kensington
  3. Books on 4th

Best comics store

  1. Phoenix Comics
  2. Another Dimension
  3. Redd Skull Comics

Best video store

  1. Casablanca Video
  2. Bird Dog Video
  3. DVD Experts

Best hemp store/head shop

  1. Hemporium
  2. Grassroots
  3. Bongs & Such

Most stylish furniture store

  1. Kit Interior Objects
  2. Domicile Interiors
  3. Kilian International Design

Best men's clothing store

  1. Henry
  2. The Gallery
  3. Purr

Best women's clothing store

  1. Purr
  2. Blame Betty
  3. Kismet

Best lingerie

  1. SHE Apparel
  2. The Cat's Pyjamas
  3. Knickers 'n Lace

Best place to buy a sex toy

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

Best consignment/vintage clothing

  1. Divine
  2. Trend
  3. Rewind

Best shoe store

  1. Gravity Pope
  2. Arnold Churgin
  3. Sole To Soul

Best place to find cool jewelry

  1. Rubaiyat
  2. Purr
  3. ACAD

Best optical

  1. The Brass Monocle
  2. Eyeclectic Eyewear
  3. Blink Eyewear

Best flower shop

  1. Twigs & Company
  2. Purple Orchid
  3. Peaseblossoms Flowers & Stuff

Best international food store

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

Best place to buy organic food

  1. Community Natural Foods
  2. Calgary Farmers' Market
  3. Planet Organic Market

Best bakery

  1. Glamorgan Bakery
  2. Rustic Sourdough Bakery
  3. Urban Baker

Best farmers' market

  1. Calgary Farmers' Market
  2. Crossroads Market
  3. Kingsland Farmers' Market

Best deli sandwich

  1. Spolumbo's Fine Foods & Deli
  2. Peppino
  3. Lina's Italian Market

Best ice cream/gelato

  1. My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe
  2. Amato Gelato Cafe
  3. Fiasco Gelato

Best wine shop

  1. Kensington Wine Market
  2. Willow Park Wines & Spirits
  3. Bin 905 Wine and Spirits






Best fitness facility

  1. Talisman Centre
  2. Eau Claire YMCA
  3. Mount Royal University

Best place for yoga

  1. Hot Yoga on 17th
  2. Bodhi Tree
  3. Yoga Passage

Best boot camp

  1. Bikini Bootcamp
  2. Survivor Bootcamp
  3. Evolve Fitness Bootcamp

Best hair salon

  1. Hedkandi
  2. The Ginger Group
  3. SwizzleSticks SalonSpa

Best spa

  1. Oasis Wellness Centre & Spa
  2. Stillwater Spa
  3. SwizzleSticks SalonSpa

Best tattoo shop

  1. Bushido
  2. Smilin' Buddha
  3. Immaculate Concept

Best place to spoil your pet

  1. Bon A-Pet-Treat! Pet Bakery
  2. Tail Blazers
  3. Urban Dog Market






Best new bar

  1. Club Sapien
  2. West
  3. The Blues Can

Best cocktail bar

  1. Milk Tiger Lounge
  2. Ming
  3. Vicious Circle

Best neighbourhood pub

  1. The Ship & Anchor
  2. The Kensington Pub
  3. Hop In Brew

Coolest hole-in-the wall

  1. Milk Tiger Lounge
  2. Hop In Brew
  3. Bear & Kilt Freehouse

Best brewpub

  1. Wild Rose Brewery & Taproom
  2. Amsterdam Rhino
  3. Brewsters Brewing Company

Best gay/lesbian hangout

  1. Twisted Element
  2. Club Sapien
  3. The Back Lot

Sexiest clientele

  1. Local 510
  2. The Ship & Anchor
  3. The Hifi Club

Best redneck bar

  1. Ranchman's
  2. Stockyards Saloon
  3. Lil Big Horn Saloon

Best place to watch sports

  1. Flames Central
  2. Melrose Cafe & Bar
  3. Schanks Athletic Club

Best place to shoot pool

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

Best place for comedy

  1. Yuk Yuk's
  2. The Laugh Shop
  3. The Comedy Cave

Best DJ night

  1. Dub at the Pub (The Drum & Monkey)
  2. Hai Karate (The Hifi Club)
  3. Modern Math (The Marquee Room)

Best place for karaoke

  1. Ducky's Pub
  2. Twisted Element
  3. Nanta

Best place to dance

  1. The Hifi Club
  2. Twisted Element
  3. Bamboo Tiki Room

Best live rock music club

  1. Broken City
  2. Republik
  3. The Palomino

Best live jazz/blues club

  1. Beatniq
  2. Mikey's Juke Joint & Eatery
  3. The Shamrock

Best live country/folk club

  1. Ironwood Stage & Grill
  2. Ranchman's
  3. Local 522

Best all ages venue

  1. Local Library (Central United Church)
  2. The New Black Centre
  3. Comrad Sound

Best concert venue (500+)

  1. Jack Singer Concert Hall
  2. MacEwan Ballroom
  3. Flames Central

Best open jam / open mic

  1. The Ship & Anchor
  2. Mikey's Juke Joint & Eatery
  3. Cafe Koi

Best bartender

  1. Keon (Twisted Element)
  2. Adam (Broken City)
  3. Devin (The Drum & Monkey)

Sexiest staff

  1. The Ship & Anchor
  2. Local 510
  3. Ceili's Irish Pub

Surliest staff

  1. The Ship & Anchor
  2. The Palomino
  3. Club Sapien

Best patio

  1. The Ship & Anchor
  2. Broken City
  3. The River Cafe

Most creative cocktail menu

  1. Milk Tiger Lounge
  2. Ming
  3. Vicious Circle

Best beer selection

  1. Bottlescrew Bill's Old English Pub
  2. 1410 World Bier Haus
  3. The Ship & Anchor

Most intoxicating wine list

  1. Una Pizza
  2. Winebar Kensington
  3. Vin Room






Best new restaurant

  1. Charcut Roast House
  2. NOtaBLE
  3. Boxwood

Best restaurant for a first date

  1. Una Pizza
  2. Tubby Dog
  3. The Coup

Best restaurant when someone else is paying

  1. River Cafe
  2. Teatro Ristorante
  3. Rouge Restaurant

Best service

  1. Una Pizza
  2. The Coup
  3. River Café

Best overall restaurant

  1. Una Pizza
  2. River Café
  3. Charcut Roast House

Best late-night (after 1 am)

  1. Tubby Dog
  2. Blackfoot Diner
  3. Singapore Sam's

Best cheap eats

  1. Tubby Dog
  2. Thi Thi Vietnamese Subs
  3. Burger Inn

Best breakfast

  1. Dairy Lane Cafe
  2. Diner Deluxe
  3. Galaxie Diner

Best pizza

  1. Una Pizza
  2. Pulcinella
  3. Inglewood Pizza

Best wings

  1. Regal Beagle Pub
  2. District
  3. The Drum & Monkey

Best burger

  1. Peters' Drive-In
  2. Boogie's Burgers
  3. The Ship & Anchor

Best veggie burger

  1. The Coup
  2. The Ship & Anchor
  3. Broken City

Best fries/poutine

  1. Big Cheese Poutinerie
  2. The Ship & Anchor
  3. Laurier Lounge

Best Middle Eastern

  1. Aida's
  2. Jimmy's A&A Deli
  3. Falafel King

Best sushi

  1. Globefish Sushi and Izakaya
  2. Kinjo Sushi & Grill
  3. Hana Sushi

Best Vietnamese

  1. Co Do
  2. Saigon Y2K
  3. Bagolac Saigon

Best Chinese

  1. Silver Dragon
  2. Golden Inn
  3. Peking Dragon

Best dim sum

  1. Silver Dragon
  2. The Regency Palace
  3. Forbidden City

Best Indian

  1. Moti Mahal
  2. Tandoori Hut
  3. Mango Shiva

Best Italian

  1. Mercato
  2. Chianti Cafe & Restaurant
  3. Buon Giorno

Best Thai

  1. The King & I
  2. Chili Club Thai House
  3. Thai Sa-On

Best French

  1. Fleur de Sel
  2. La Chaumiere
  3. Laurier Lounge

Best Greek

  1. Broken Plate
  2. Mykonos Greek Restaurant
  3. Spiros Pizza on 17th

Best Mexican

  1. Salt & Pepper
  2. Los Chilitos
  3. El Sombrero

Best vegetarian

  1. The Coup
  2. Cafe Koi
  3. Buddha's Fusion

Best steak

  1. Caesar's Steak House
  2. Charcut Roast House
  3. Smuggler's Inn

Best BBQ

  1. The Palomino
  2. Big T's BBQ
  3. Holy Smoke

Best place for seafood

  1. Catch Restaurant & Oyster Bar
  2. Big Fish Oyster Bar and Lounge
  3. Bookers BBQ Grill & Crab Shack

Best coffeehouse

  1. Caffe Beano
  2. Higher Ground Café
  3. Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

Best place to feed a sweet tooth

  1. Crave Cookies & Cakes
  2. Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut
  3. The Chocolate Bar



Comments: 8

donc wrote:

This list highlights a big void in Calgary's quest to be a great place to live: where is the best brunch? Am I right that the city has a serious lack of brunch venues, or is this too secret for the best kept secret category? Buffalo Cafe, you remain my only place for grease and coffee just before noon.

on Jun 9th, 2011 at 9:39am Report Abuse

Subvertisement wrote:

So you've never heard of/been to the Diner Deluxe, Galaxie Diner, Dim Sum in Chinatown, Dairy Lane Café, Overeasy Breakfast, Vendome Café, or Avenue Diner? There's tons others I haven't mentioned here. Just because it's not on FFWD's best of list doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

on Jun 9th, 2011 at 4:04pm Report Abuse

igpykin wrote:

Wait. Things exist outside of FFWD's best of list?

on Jun 10th, 2011 at 8:53am Report Abuse

Subvertisement wrote:

I know. Shocking isn't it!? Considering the contenders tend to be the same ol' each year, not only does it makes me question the "best of"'s relevance, but it also makes for a whole lotta "best-kept secrets", which I prefer to keep that way. Who knows, maybe that's the point?

on Jun 10th, 2011 at 3:40pm Report Abuse

aendrew wrote:

"Hipsters" and "Dubstep" are new trends?


Noun: A general direction in which something is developing or changing.

"Hipster" is just a term artsy people use to denote other artsy people they don't like. They have existed ever since that first caveman who gave a pretentious critique of another caveman's "self-absorbed wall scribbling." They are neither "new," nor a "direction in which something is developing or changing."

"Dubstep" is a genre of music that has existed since 2002 and has been more-or-less mainstream since 2008. This alone disqualifies it as a "new" trend. But regardless, isn't it the most unsophisticated kind of analysis to say a genre of music is merely a trend? "Rock'n'roll" is merely a "trend" as well, using this definition...

That these were chosen for a "worst" category kind of confirms every single bias I have against this city...

on Jun 11th, 2011 at 4:44pm Report Abuse

Subvertisement wrote:

So true!

on Jun 16th, 2011 at 7:39am Report Abuse

ILikeMusic wrote:

How does Peter's Drive-In rate even a mention. It's just bad. For me it invalidates the entire list. Have the people who voted for it not ever eaten a good Burger? Even the usual Macdonald's. Burge King, Wendy's burgers rate higher. Try someplace good, like, Most Pub's, Boogies, Burger Bus, et al, and compare the difference.

on Nov 26th, 2011 at 4:26pm Report Abuse

ILikeMusic wrote:

If you like the standard Bacon, Ham, Sausage and Eggs,breakfast try the Parkside Cafe in Bowness Park. It is not open in the Winter. The Breakfast is $6.50, for 2 of, Bacon, Ham, and Sausage, 2 eggs, fruit, and toast. Their Coffee is excellent as well. It's a cool place to eat outdoor's on nice day's and inside is low key, with cool tunes playing. The foods the best, and it's priced well.

on Nov 26th, 2011 at 4:31pm Report Abuse

Post comment: (Login or Register)

Content © Fast Forward Weekly | Great West Newspapers LP | Glacier Community Media

About Us Contact Us Careers Privacy Policy Terms of Use