Dan Clapson is Calgary’s ultimate foodie. As a local food writer, culinary instructor, founder of the Western Canadian culinary initiative, Start From Scratch, recent co-founder of Canada’s first official national culinary website, Eat North, soon-to-be author of his first book on Calgary’s food landscape, and 660 News Radio’s go-to gourmet, you could say Dan shouldn’t have time to eat.
But when he’s not in the kitchen, Dan’s on the patio at The Ship & Anchor kicking back with a cold one, or restaurant-hopping with family and friends.
We caught up with Dan at Model Milk where he filled us in on where to find Calgary’s best brunch, some of his favourite restaurants on 17th, and the one place he’d eat at for the rest of his life.
What usually brings you down to 17th Ave?
I get a lot of visitors in from Saskatoon, where I’m from, and when they’re in town, I’ll usually take them down to 17th for a stroll along the avenue. We do a little bit of everything when we’re here, especially on weekends: if it’s before noon, we’ll go for brunch somewhere, then pop by for a drink at The Ship & Anchor (534 17 Ave. S.W.) and duck into Purr (601 17 Ave. S.W.) or Dick & Janes (831 17 Ave. S.W.) afterwards to check out what’s in store.
Where are some of your favourite spots on 17th Avenue to grab a bite?
I have more than a few faves! I absolutely love Borgo Trattoria (818 16 Ave. S.W.) – they’re great for their small sharing plates and especially good for groups. I also really like Bar C (340 17 Ave. S.W.). They’ve got an excellent Charcuterie program and the cocktails are out of this world; you can order wine there by the ounce, too, rather than have to choose between a small-pour or big-pour. National on 17 (550 17 Ave. S.W.) is another good place for food. The burger is made in-house and they have Tater Tots on the menu. I love that you can get Tater Tots there! And I’m always a sucker for the rabbit mortadella at Model Milk (308 17 Ave. S.W.). It’s absolutely delicious!
Which restaurants keep you coming back from more?
Market (718 17 Ave. S.W.), for sure. Such an amazing restaurant! If there’s one place I had to eat on 17th Avenue for the rest of my life, it’d be Market. Dave Bohati, the chef at Market, makes some wicked food and does some really cool plates. They change their menu often but I always come back for their duck liver pâté. It’s super beautiful to look at on toast and even more delicious to eat.
What are your favourite shops along the avenue?
I love Purr; I buy a lot of my t-shirts from there. And I always seem to stop into Reid’s (710 17 Ave. S.W.) for their birthday cards and holiday-specific things. They’re the best place for those types of things. And I can’t get enough of their window displays – it’s always so random! Right now they have these giant carrots hanging in the window for easter. It’s so weird but I love it.
Describe your perfect day on 17th?
My perfect day on 17th would definitely start with a well-crafted brunch at Borgo. It’s got to be one of the best Italian-style brunches in the city, hands-down. What I love about Borgo’s brunch is that it’s never too busy, and it’s fancy, but never snotty-fancy, and it’s all very beautifully done. After brunch, I’d definitely stop by The Ship & Anchor for a pint, and if it’s sunny, hang out on the patio for sure. I’d likely pop by Purr and Dick & Janes afterwards, before heading over to National on 17 for some early-evening beers. Then over to Market for a late dinner, some duck liver pâté, followed by many well-crafted cocktails.
Follow Dan Clapson on Twitter: @dansgoodside