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Lilac Fest On 17th Ave

Calgary’s favourite summer festival is back and better than ever! Lilac Fest returns to 4th  Street on June 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the first time since 2019, and this year, the event will also extend down 17th Ave between 5th Street SW and 2nd Street SW. As one of Calgary’s most diverse shopping and dining districts, 17th Ave is the perfect destination to visit during this one-day event, whether you’re checking out all the different vendors, grabbing a patio beer, or stopping into your favourite local boutique. Come down for the day and enjoy all this summer event has to offer and be sure to check out these below 17th Ave spots while you’re at it!  

 

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National on 17th

National has been a 17th Ave staple for more than 10 years, and Calgarians come from every corner of the city to enjoy their lengthy list of local and national beers, bar snacks, and weekend brunch. Stop in during Lilac Fest to cool down with an on-tap brew and dig into dishes like their ricotta pancakes, crispy chicken sandwich or Bee’s cheese pizza.  

550 17 Ave SW, ntnl.ca

 

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Ship & Anchor

A sunny afternoon in June just doesn’t feel complete without a patio beer at the Ship. This local go-to’s central patio makes it the perfect pit stop during Lilac Fest. Whether you’re looking to crush a couple pints or dig into their menu — go for the weekend brunch or split an appy  between friends — this iconic community hub has it all.

534 17 Ave SW, shipandanchor.com

 

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Café Med

Located in the heart of the action on 17 Ave, Café Med offers a unique Middle Eastern experience in Calgary, complete with more than 25 unique flavours of Shisha, authentic Mediterranean dishes such as fatoush, chicken shawarma and shish tawook, along with drinks like Arabic coffee and Sahlab.  

529 17 Ave SW, cafemed.ca

 

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Lonely Mouth

Lonely Mouth may be one of 17th Ave’s newest residents, but they have quickly (and deservedly) become a local favourite thanks to their sleek interior, curated sake list and dishes like their homemade udon noodles and bluefin tuna tartare. This inventive Japanese cuisine is the perfect palate cleanser in between patio beers.  

528 17 Ave SW, lonelymouthbar.com 

 

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Gringo Street

Gringo Street is back and better than ever with a brand-new look and menu! After their winter renovation, this 17th Ave eatery is once again serving up their unconventional take on Latin American favourites like Arepa tacos, empanaditas and anticuchos. Wash down your meal with inventive cocktails such as the Papichulo, made with Grants 12-year scotch, blue curacao, maple syrup, passionfruit syrup, lemon, agave and egg whites. Oh, and don’t forget their famous margaritas and epic happy hour, happening 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.  

524 17 Ave SW unit 101, gringost.com

 

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Cleaver

17th Ave is known for its diverse collection of restaurants, boutiques and businesses alike, and this Irish-inspired cocktail joint is no exception. Cleaver’s extensive list of cocktails contains original favourites like the Mighty Craic or Stickey Wicket, featuring unique ingredients such as mango punch, yuzu and torched marshmallows, but they also have go-to classics such as a double barrel old fashioned. These bold and inventive cocktails are accompanied by a selection of Irish Fare ranging from bar snacks and meat-heavy entrees to their famous sliders and pizettes.  

524 17 Ave SW Unit 102, cleavercalgary.com

The Living Room

After the hustle and bustle of Lilac Fest, treat yourself to a night of intimate dining and delicious shared plates at the Living Room on 17th Ave. With a thoughtfully curated wine list, cozy interior and elevated eats such as fresh oysters, beef tartare, and their famous cheese fondue, this romantic date night spot is an excellent way to wrap up your weekend.  

514 17th Ave SW, livingroomrestaurant.ca

 

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One Night Stans

As a self-proclaimed ‘divery,’ there is certainly no shortage of fun within the walls of this Red Mile hot spot. Most Calgarians have found themselves at One Night Stan’s at some point or other, sharing a round of shots under their neon lighting, or hanging out on their pooch-friendly patio. It only makes sense that on a day as exciting as Lilac Fest, you stop into Stan’s for their ‘shotgun series,’ jello shots or ‘Stan’s shafts’ to really get your day going.  

520 17 Ave SW, onenightstans.ca

 

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Lulu Bar

Lulu Bar may have only opened a few short years ago, but it has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best restaurants in the city and has even earned recognition nationally from ‘Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants’ in 2020 and 2022. This local-favourite is known for its tiki cocktails and pacific-inspired dishes like their house spam or coal roasted halibut, and It is modern interior complete with garage-style doors that open up onto 17th Ave. It’s the perfect spot for a pre or post-lilac fest cocktail with friends.  

510 17 Ave SW, lulubar.ca 

Lorenzo’s Pizzeria

Lilac Fest involves a lot of walking, so if you’re looking to refuel, head to Lorenzo’s Pizzeria, located at 515 17 Ave SW. This 17th Ave pizza joint serves up authentic Italian meals ranging from appetizers like caprese salad and beef meat balls served with focaccia to a variety of pizzas, pastas, subs and calzones. They have tons of pickup and delivery specials as well, so be sure to check out their website before you stop in!  

515 17 Ave SW #140, lorenzopizzeria.ca

European Bakery & Deli

Tucked away under an apartment complex on 17th Ave in-between 4th and 5th Street SW, this family-owned bakery serves authentic Balkan–style baked goods, ‘just like mom used to make.’ Owner Shaqir Duraj moved to Calgary from Kosovo in 2006, and brought along with him recipes for bread, pastries and the famous Burek, all passed down from his father. In this charming 17th Ave bakery, you can find essentials such as pastries, bread and cheesecake alongside assorted bureks and chevaps. Whether you’re craving sweet or savoury, these fresh baked goods are sure to hit the spot.  

#160- 515 17th Ave, eurobakerydeli.com 

 

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King of Donair

This East Coast transplant brings a taste of Nova Scotia to the Red Mile with menu items including donairs, pizza, garlic fingers, fry plates and of course, their famous sweet sauce, created by King of Donair founder, Peter Gamoulakos. These hearty donairs make the perfect on-the-go meal as you make your way down 17th Ave and 4th Street for this year’s Lilac fest. 

503 17 Ave SW, kingofdonair.ca 

 

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Pin Bar

The nostalgia of the retro arcade games and walls lined with Pinball machines is more than enough incentive to pop into this beloved 17th Ave spot, however the long list of tap beers, fishbowl drinks and food menu complete with pizzas, wings, bar snacks and brunch is sure to keep you coming back for more. Plus, they’re in the ideal location to explore both 17th Ave and 4th Street during this year’s Lilac Fest.  

501 17 Ave SW, pinbaryyc.com 

Mix Grill Shawarma

Mix Grill Shawarma is located in the heart of Lilac Fest on 17th Ave, just meters away from the 4th Street intersection, making it a prime option for a midday meal during this annual event. They serve traditional Mediterranean eats like Shawarma, kofta kobabs, samosas, baklava and more!  

502 17 Ave SW, https://mix-grill-shawarma

 

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Element Café

Caffeine is essential on long summer days, especially ones filled with as much excitement and activity as Lilac Fest. Element Café is located east of 4th Street on 17th Ave, and its Instagram-worthy aesthetic along with a mix of hot and cold bevvies, and an excellent assortment of homemade pastries and sandwiches makes it one of the go-to coffee spots on the Red Mile. Dig into savoury pastries like their vegan pizza roll or turkey sausage roll while sipping on their famous Summer-only affogato.  

331 17 Ave SW, elementcafe.ca

Grinning Goat

Lilac Fest puts everyone in the mood for a little shopping and local love, so while you’re down on 4th Street and 17th Ave for this summer event, stop into Grinning Goat, 17th Ave’s only vegan boutique. Grinning Goat sells everything from men’s and women’s clothing items including accessories and shoes to beauty and wellness items, home décor and more. In addition to their unique and sustainable inventory, they also donate 1% of every purchase to the Alice Sanctuary, a local farm that provides care and healing for surrendered and abandoned farm animals.  

323 17 Ave SW #101, grinninggoat.ca

Zaafran Lounge

Experience Arabic and continental cuisine paired with nearly 30 flavours of Hookah at Zaafran Lounge, one of Calgary’s favourite hookah joints. This 17th Ave spot has an extensive menu with American favourites such as wings and nachos, while also highlighting a mix of Arabic and Mediterranean cuisine such as butter chicken curry, lamb chops and shawarma. Find them east of 4th Street on 17th Ave! 

#311 17th Ave SW, zaafran.ca

Calcutta Cricket Club

Round out your Lilac Fest with dinner at Calcutta Cricket Club, the highly revered Indian eatery on 17th Ave just east of 4th Street. Since their 2018 opening, they have racked up award after award, ranging from Avenue Magazine’s best new restaurant to Canada’s 100 best restaurants, as well as Canada’s 100 best designed restaurants. Their swanky interior paired with inventive, Indian-inspired dishes such as tandoor spiced chicken kati rolls, shortrib pepper fry and their famous crushable gin & tonic, makes for a special end to a special day.  

340 17 Ave SW, calcuttacricketclub.com 

Texas Lounge

While Lilac fest wraps up at 6 p.m., the party is just beginning at Texas Lounge, 17th Ave’s go-to gay bar. This Red Mile spot is located behind Model Milk, and offers a fun and safe environment for all to let loose, have a little fun and have some bevvies while you’re at it.  

308b 17 Ave SW, texasloungeyyc.ca 

 

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Model Milk

From large plates such as the famous Model Milk hot fried chicken to sharables like wagyu beef tartare, east coast oysters and hand-rolled ricotta cavatelli, Model Milk’s menu checks all the boxes. You’ve got hearty comfort food and modern, fine dining dishes that are sure to satisfy any palate. Pair that with inventive cocktails and an expertly crafted wine list and you’ve got yourself quite the evening.  

308 17 Ave SW, modelmilk.ca

 

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Pigeonhole

Stop in for a spectacular weekend brunch, or a post-festival cocktail — whatever you decide, Pigeonhole is always a good idea when down on 17th Ave. Located east of 4th Street beside Model Milk, Pigeonhole serves up an extensive list of cocktails and wine alongside shared plates such as their mushroom croquettes and foi gras parfait. Brunch includes the likes of savoury french toast and souffled$ pancakes, and all the fuel you need for your Lilac fest shopping.  

306 17th Ave SW, pigeonholeyyc.ca

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