Two years ago, cooking classes at Mercato, a gourmet Italian market in the Mission district, became so popular the owners expanded it into a restaurant. Sit along the expansive red granite bar and peer into the open kitchen, which churns out dishes like a mixed tomato caprese with pasture-fresh buffalo mozzarella. The best part: Every ingredient is available for purchase just feet away.
Step into Calgary’s answer to Tavern on the Green—sans the roving photographer and cheesy gift shop. River Café resides in an elegant wood and stone cabin in Prince’s Island Park, a woodsy refuge in the middle of the Bow River, just minutes from downtown. A fly-fishing theme (rods, canoes, stuffed fish) plays up the area’s wild heritage, though a 6,000-plus-bottle wine collection and dishes like wild-hog prosciutto prove it’s more than civilized.
Order a whopping cut of Canadian prime beef alongside oil and ranching tycoons at the downtown Vintage Chophouse & Tavern. Though it only opened in 2003, the restaurant’s dark-wood and leather interior and jacketed waiters have old-money written all over them.
Speaking of ostentatious wealth, the decidedly stately Teatro is housed in a turn-of-the-century bank with vaulted ceilings and white marble columns. Dishes like an Alberta-raised venison carpaccio mix prairie flavors with Continental techniques—the hallmark of Calgary’s new cuisine.