Calgary's affluence has meant a restaurant boom that encompasses nearly every worldwide cuisine, so eating out in Calgary can include a range of experiences. The city's specialty is Alberta beef, generally acknowledged to be some of the best in the world. But expect to see elk or bison on the menu as well. There are a range of great international options as well, from sushi and Asian to French and Italian cuisine.
The best Calgary restaurants are generally located within easy distance of the city centre and are concentrated in three areas: the Eau Claire district on Prince's Island, the chic 4th Street and 17th Avenue Mission district, and the downtown area that includes Chinatown and the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall.
All restaurants in Calgary are smoke-free, even outdoor dining areas. Nearly all restaurants will accept credit cards and Canadian cash, although some will take American dollars at their own discretion. The exchange rate is never in your favour, though. A service gratuity of 10 to 15 percent is expected for good service and is not included in the bill.
Shopping in Calgary reflects the moneyed population that has grown wealthy with oil booms and big business. You'll find all the major luxury brands represented alongside most western franchises and chain stores at the numerous shopping centres and outlet malls.
The most popular Calgary souvenirs are cowboy hats and other Wild West paraphernalia, easily found at most shopping centres. You'll find more one of a kind items at the Eau Claire Festival Market on Barclay Parade, including fresh produce, independent boutiques, art galleries, and a variety of entertainment options like restaurants, movie theatres, and an arcade.
The Mission District also has eclectic and interesting boutiques and vintage stores, and is the best place to go for Calgary fashion. Nearly every shop in Calgary will accept major credit cards and Canadian money. Most stores will also accept US dollars, but at exorbitant exchange rates.
Calgary's nightlife is thriving, which is no surprise considering more than half of its population is under 30 years old. The most popular nightlife areas are in the city centre, including the lounges, pubs, and restaurants in the Mission district, focusing at the intersection of 4th Street and 17th Avenue. Stephen Avenue is bustling in the early evening as young professionals empty their offices downtown, and you'll find quite a few clubs, pubs, and live music venues there.
There are a number of live music venues, including the Ironwood Stage and Grill in 9th Avenue, which hosts country, blues, and folk bands, while there are establishments catering to the varied tastes of Mount Royal College's students.
Calgary's dance clubs are as varied as its live music, so you'll find offbeat places, which play everything from retro funk to breakbeat, alongside more mainstream entertainment venues. For those who enjoy live comedy, you can visit the Comedy Cave in MacLeod Trail, or the Laugh Shop Comedy Club at the Blackfoot Inn in Blackfoot Trail.