Calgary’s nightlife has evolved — we’re definitely a city that likes top-notch nibbles with our libations. The line between haute cuisine and bar scene is blurring, with no shortage of new (and old) spots where it’s as easy to whet your appetite as it is to wet your whistle....
Keep it classy with this French bistro’s short but sweet cocktail menu and stellar wine list. Try the Grounds for Divorce, made with Hennessy Black, Forty Creek Whisky, Peychaud’s bitters, Regan’s orange bitters and sugar. On the side, you may want to sample Avec’s delectable bar snacks, like the white bean purée on toast points, or marinated olives — both a steal at only four bucks a pop. If you’re prepping for a long night out, grab the steak and frites — your body will thank you tomorrow. Avec is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, reservations recommended.
CAFETERIA AT COMMONWEALTH
Whether you go right after work or sidle up for some snacks between cutting rugs, Commonwealth has a great array of bar food. From the Asian-inspired pork sliders and crispy wonton dumplings, to the tangy meatballs and taquitos, the kitchen kicks out tasty dishes that won’t break the bank. The cocktails aren’t too shabby either — try the Apple Shrub featuring Maker’s Mark bourbon, grapefruit bitters, lemon and ginger beer. Cafeteria is open nightly from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. On Friday, it’s open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
This 17th Avenue S.W. darling has one of the best patios in town, plus a great array of casual dishes. Stop in for the chili cheese fries or the always-fresh local salad with apple, Manchego cheese, beets and greens, and quench your thirst with one of the city’s finest mint juleps. This is simple and comforting pub food, done right. Open late, seven days a week.
Located in the gorgeously renovated historic Model Milk building, this bustling space is the perfect spot to try a cool range of drinks like the Bonita Applebaum (made with Calvados apple brandy) or the Campfire Marg (a smoky take on a classic margarita). Not to mention chef Justin Leboe’s delectable food, including the must-try calamari fricassee. Open Monday to Saturday, 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. Sunday, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If it’s an old-school vibe you crave, this is your spot. Featuring a traditional cocktail list (along with some new concoctions), Milk Tiger also serves up a tasty gluten-free menu with dishes like kale chips, savoury cheese platters, and goat cheese-filled dates wrapped in bacon. Open late — Tuesday to Sunday.
The latest addition to 17th Avenue S.W. is already a packed-to-the-rafters hot spot (be prepared to wait). The large, open room features communal seating and an arrival board for beers that lists an impressive 70 brews on tap, with a further 35 in bottles. National’s tasty menu has something for everyone with fun bar snacks like pickled eggs and pretzel bread with cheese spread, a fresh oyster bar (great selection) and a variety of salad bowls, pot pies, rotisserie dishes (try the prime rib sandwich with arugula and onion jam) and several poutines. This spot is sure to be a 17th Avenue staple for years to come. Open late, seven days a week.
OX & ANGELA
Ox & Angela’s 50-seat lounge (Ox) is a snazzy place to unwind with a fun and inventive cocktail menu and wine list. Try the “Angela,” made with gin, lychee liqueur and drops of parfait amour, finished with rose water and an edible flower garnish. Alongside your drinks, you’ll definitely want to explore Ox & Angela’s Latin-American tapas like the Ahi Tuna conserva with chives, capers, tomato and garlic rubbed bread. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Live music and damn fine barbecue. Palomino has long been a fixture in the Calgary scene with a reputation for Southern-style comfort food in a lively, rustic setting. And while they may not have a fancy drink menu, Palomino’s grits, ribs and garlic fries definitely aim to please. Open weekdays until 1 a.m., weekends until 2 a.m. Closed on Sunday.