• Erin Boukall

When You Can’t All Agree on Where to Eat, I Know Just the Place to Go…

Updated: Feb 10

A fairly recent addition to the thriving Calgarian food scene, the First Street Market offers diners the convenience of a food court and the chance to support local chefs. Located in Victoria Park, this fresh concept boasts nine different locally owned restaurants conveniently located under one roof. The space itself has windows from floor to ceiling, filling the space with natural light. Sleek and modern, this space functions as an open-concept dining hall for people to gather. There is an assortment of places to sit, from booths, to high-top stools, and even bar seating. The venue’s bar also allows customers to imbibe in some adult bevvies. The true challenge here is deciding which spot to test out first. I highly recommend getting a little taste from as many places as possible. This sharing is part of what makes this unique spot so fun to explore with friends and family. Be sure to check the opening hours of the individual restaurants ahead of time if you have your heart set on something in particular, as the hours vary between vendors. On our first visit, we were able to try quite a few dishes from different restaurants, but we can’t wait to go back and test out even more!

Saffron Street 11am-8pm daily If I had to recommend just one place to eat at, this would be it. Of all the things we sampled and shared, I have to say that many of my favourite dishes came from Saffron Street. Chefs and owners, Rahul Kanojia & Jesse Mann have created a menu that evokes the flavours of Indian street food, with a refined twist. Jesse's grandparents were from the Punjab region of Indian and his parents from Kenya. His family started the Moti Mahal restaurant in 1988 and Jesse assumed management of the iconic Indian restaurant in 2010. Saffron Street's menu centralizes around the food that Rahul grew up eating in Mumbai, which explains its authentic flavours. In terms of the menu, there were so many things we wanted to try. I am a sucker for dosas and their Masala Dosa did not disappoint! A giant crispy Indian “crepe” filled with a flavourful potato filling, and served with a variety of intriguing dips to experiment with. Other dishes that we really enjoyed from here included the Samosa Chaat (a giant vegetable samosa smothered in a spiced chickpea curry) and the Dahi Puri (individual bite sized “pockets” filled with the fresh flavours of yogurt, chutneys, pomegranate, and more). Everything was washed down with a refreshing mango lassi. Actually Pretty Good Sun-Wed 11am-9pm Thurs-Sat 11am-10pm Like the name alludes, this spot specializes in some "actually pretty good" pizza. Grab a pie and share with your table-mates. I know I have my eye on the charred brussels sprout pizza next time, or maybe the “Buffalo Chicken”. I also appreciate Actually Pretty Good highlighting ingredients from local producers on their menu where possible. Alforno 7am-7pm daily A Calgary classic! Alforno (a part of the Teatro group) has always been a go-to spot for coffee aficionados and the perfect meet-up spot. They offer fresh baking and gorgeous pastries, delicious sandwiches, locally roasted coffee, and so much more. Friends with Benedicts 8am-2pm daily The name rings true, with their multitude of amped up breakfast classics. They serve a variety of breakfast sandwiches and creative takes on eggs benedict. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with anything covered in tangy hollandaise sauce… Hi5 11am-9pm daily Upscale burgers (with vegan options), buttermilk fried chicken, fries, and milkshakes (also with vegan options), and more… Did I mention the vegan options?!

La Mano 11am-9pm daily With hand-made pasta and iconic Italian dishes, La Mano focuses on fine Italian comfort food. They feature pasta classics like Pomodoro (the quintessential tomato sauce) and Cacio e Pepe (cheesy and peppery goodness), appetizers like crispy fried provolone sticks, hearty mains like Veal Picatta, fresh salads, and more.

Moose & Poncho Sun-Wed 11am-9pm Thurs-Sat 11am-10pm Moose & Poncho has been making authentic Mexican cuisine since opening their first spot in Calgary’s China Town in 2019. The chef (born in Mexico City) brings undeniable authenticity to their dishes. Everything is made in-house and they focus on using local product in their food. Moose & Poncho serves authentic street tacos, fresh churros, house made salsas, traditional beverages, and more. Pure Vietnamese 11am-7pm daily I first checked out Pure Vietnamese for their famed wing night, at their main restaurant. I have been a fan ever since! The menu features modern spins on classical Vietnamese cuisine. Do yourself a favour and order the chili lime nuoc cham wings! Another gem from the menu is the savoury sesame donut filled with char sui pork, but you really can’t go wrong with anything. I also highly recommend hitting their wing night at their first location (restrictions permitting). Raw by Robyn Mon-Fri 8am-7pm Sat-Sun 10am-7pm Come here for next-level smoothies and dishes that will have your inner-self thanking you for making healthy choices!

So there you have it! Next time you and a group are struggling on picking a place to keep everyone happy, consider the First Street Market. You will be glad you did.

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