How Calgary’s Innovative Past is Inspiring its Culinary Future

Photo provided by Eighty-Eight Brewing Company.

Story by Christina Wong

Calgary’s food scene is constantly evolving, with new restaurant concepts bringing international tastes to entice the palate and wow the senses. Flavours and innovations from Argentina, India, Italy, and Japan have all made a splash in recent years, but some of the best concepts are home grown and inspired by Calgary’s innovative past. Here are our top three Calgary inventions and the restaurants where you can connect with those innovations today.

The Beltliner, The Bloody Caesar

Photo by Erin Maguire.

Let’s start with Calgary’s most famous food innovation: the Bloody Caesar. Since its proclamation as Canada’s National Cocktail by Parliament in 2010, the drink has seen a renaissance in Calgary’s food scene. While many restaurants offer wild twists on the 1969 Clamato concoction, The Beltliner takes this piece of history to another level. Named after a streetcar that used to run down 12 Ave. in the early 1900s, The Beltliner pays homage to Calgary’s history with their name and decor, including a series of photographs from the Glenbow Archives documenting how the Beltline area has changed throughout the years. “We love to celebrate the past and attempt to keep those memories alive as the neighbourhood continues to evolve and change into the dynamic and buzzing community it has become,” says Brendan Bankowsi, owner of The Beltliner. To really enjoy a Bloody Caesar with a side of Calgary heritage, check out The Beltliner’s Weekend Caesar Bar, where you can personalize your Bloody Caesar with a wild array of toppings.

Workshop Kitchen + Culture, Theatresports

For those interested in performance art, it might be surprising to know that Theatresports, a style of improv theatre, was created in this city in 1977. While the concept of a tasting menu is not new to the Calgary food scene, there are few that combine this love of food, theatre, and improv in the same way as Workshop Kitchen + Culture. Located in the historic Theatre Junction Grand building, Workshop Kitchen + Culture offers a nightly Improv Dinner, where the guests are given the opportunity to enjoy the kitchen at its finest. For those wanting a taste of improv without having to commit to a full three courses, Workshop also offers Improv Cocktails, including the “Yes Let’s,” where you can simply be delighted by what the bartender creates just for you.

Eighty-Eight Brewing Company, The 1988 Winter Olympic Games

Photo provided by Eighty-Eight Brewing Company. 

The 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary were the first time a Canadian city hosted the winter games. It was an important time for our city and the Eighty-Eight Brewing Company. “When we started the brewery and were selecting our name, we wanted something that was synonymous with Calgary, but also something that conjured up feelings of nostalgia,” says Stu Valentini, co-founder of Eighty-Eight Brewing. “With all of the founders being raised in Calgary, it just stuck as such a great way to salute our city and it also worked as summation of what we at the brewery are about: celebration, fun, and inclusivity.” This connection with the games has helped define the brewery and build a community around it. “Almost daily we have people reaching out to us to share a story or a piece of memorabilia of what was clearly an important part of their lives. That has been a totally welcome but unintended reaction to our name and one that gives us even more inspiration to keep spreading good vibes to Calgary and the brewery community.” To enjoy what Eighty-Eight Brewing has to offer, be sure to visit on Friday or Saturday evenings, when the kitchen hosts Noble Pie, combining house crafted beers with New York-inspired pizza.