life in the beltline

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

The digital neighbourhood tour picks up again, this time in the charming area of Beltline. Immediately south of downtown, Beltline is much more residential, while still retaining an air of city life. It's busy but peaceful, built up but beautiful and above all, it's our home. Stretching from Connaught in the west to Victoria Park in the east, Beltline encompasses everything about that 'small town, big city' lifestyle we love so much about Calgary.

When we arrived in Calgary our first job was to find a home. We viewed so many apartments in high rises throughout the city, primarily downtown, before realizing this wasn't quite the city hub we had expected. Downtown tends to die down on the weekends, so we started to venture further south (or at least as far south as 17th Avenue) to find something more our style. We found a quaint three storey walk-up overlooking a park and the rest is history! We consider ourselves lucky to have found a place that suits ours need for space, in the best location imaginable.

No, we did not get a dog. Yes, I wish we did.

We live on the corner of 1st Street SW, which is home to an array of bars and restaurants, some of which have firmly made it into our list of favourites. Ten Foot Henry has been listed as one of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada ever since it opened in 2016, and we can see why. It's beautiful decor and impeccable food (mostly veggie with a few meaty plates) gives it an overwhelming charm and peacefulness that is often difficult to find in a bustling city. Named after the comic strip character, Ten Foot Henry is truly one of the gems of Beltline. Book yourself a table in advance and order the Bucatini Cacio e Pepe for a plate of absolute heaven.

Another Canadian legend is cocktail bar Proof, which is #8 on the list of the best bars in the country. Here you can enjoy a range of inventive cocktails inspired by literary classics, in a cosy setting with one of the most impressive bar inventories we've ever seen. We popped by in the summer to try their famous Pride cocktail, and each Christmas they host the Miracle on 1st Street pop up, with festive drinks galore.

If you ever find yourself strolling down 1st Street be sure to check out other amazing eateries such as Foreign Concept (drool) and Two Penny (even more drool), then proceed to grab a drink in St James Corner, the friendliest Irish bar outside of Ireland.

Beltline neighbourhood is bordered by 17th Avenue to the south, a long stretch of bars, cafes and shops to entertain all who visit. Affectionately known as the 'Red Mile' during the hockey season and dead-ended by Stampede Park to the east, it's become a party zone for anyone going to a Calgary Flames game or during the ten days of the Calgary Stampede in July.

As well as shops such as Purr and Frank + Oak to make you drool for fashion, 17th Avenue also has some of the best places to eat and drink in town. We're huge fans of National, a Calgary based chain of bars with a huge selection of craft beers, and One Night Stan's for dive bar drinks and cheap food. When you're feeling hungry though, there's nothing like a trip to Gringo Street, for tacos with a twist. Straying away from traditional Mexican flavours, their menu includes hoisin duck, Guinness short rib and cauliflower cheese tacos, as well as sizzling bowls of queso adorned with hot Cheetos. The best time to go is their Tuesday happy hour until 7pm where tacos are a toonie ($2 for all you non-Canadians) and the cocktails are cheap.

(What they lack in good lighting they make up for in good ambience, so these Gringo Street images are courtesy of Narcity and YYCnow)

If pizza is more your thing, then you have to hit up UNA. According to our landlord, the chef used to rent our apartment before us, which makes us feel like we're close to divinity. Their pizzas are to die for, especially when drizzled with their amazing truffle honey. It's a tight squeeze once you're in but they play Harry Potter audio books in the loos, which is a highlight in itself. Wash down a few slices with a glass of wine and you'll never want to eat anywhere else.

But there's more to Beltline than just food and drink. We're a block away from Central Memorial Park and the Memorial Park Library. This park really comes to life in the summer, with festivals and movie nights taking place in the gardens. With the new addition of a Sidewalk Citizen (hello coffee and croissants) it's a great place to chill out and enjoy the weather in Canada's sunniest city. Even just taking a stroll along 14th Avenue is enough to make you unwind. Despite being a built up area, Beltline is primarily residential, and the buildings range from bungalows to high rises and everything in between. It's also home to Lougheed House, a national historic site that houses exhibitions based around the history of Calgary. Set in beautiful gardens, it's a pretty break from the apartment buildings on 13th Avenue and 6th Street.

There's so much more we can say about Beltline, but we'll leave you with a quick run down of some more of our favourite spots in the neighbourhood. If you need us, you now know where to find us!

Epiphanie Chocolates

John and Debra are the wonderful owners of this family-run chocolatier. With an abundance of flavours to choose from, you can even get custom chocolates made with an image of your choice. We're obsessed.

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

Possibly our favourite dessert spot in the city (if you can call doughnuts a dessert, I prefer to think of them as a major food group).

Native Tongues Taqueria

If truth be told, the reason we love this small Mexican paradise is for their burrito, which you can only order for takeout. But it's so worth it!

Philosafy Coffee

A hip place to enjoy a coffee with friends, their iced coffees are delicious and they sell bags of coffee named after Greek philosophers. Three guesses as to which one of us nerded out over that last fact....

Steeling Home

The cutest store we ever did see. Our first stop for gifts and home decor, they have a whole section around all things Canada.

Made By Marcus

Controversial we know, but we're definitely Village People (Village Ice Cream that is). These two ice cream joints are constantly being pitted against each other for best in Calgary, but where Village focuses on simple flavours done to perfection, Made by Marcus has some incredible inventions when it comes to taste, with new flavours hitting the menu every month.

Stay tuned for another neighbourhood review, coming in the (not so near, knowing my lack of time management) future!


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