The Perfect Day: Chef Justin Leboe’s Guide to Calgary

Passing through Calgary on your way to ski Banff, or planning a trip to the city in the summer for Stampede? Chef Justin Leboe walks us through a perfect day in Cowtown. Owner of Model Milk, which has been serving gourmet comfort food since 2011, Leboe is also working on two new restaurants, P.D.R and PigeonHole, both slated to open in 2015. And he was named chef of the year in 2014 by Calgary lifestyle magazine Avenue. All this to say, we trust his restaurant recommendations and then some. 

Start your morning at Analog or Phil & Sebastian “For coffee head to either of these two places. Analog serves locally roasted Fratello coffee. Phil & Sebastian serves its own locally roasted beans. Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb, both from Calgary, actually go the farms themselves and pick the beans and bring them back to Calgary. They put a ton of care into their coffee.”

Walk to Lougheed Park “After grabbing a cuppa, stroll to Lougheed Park, home of the historical Lougheed House, now a city museum. It’s a beautiful park in Calgary’s Beltline, and a great place to chill out and soak up some sun.”

Grab some gear at Understudy “Calgary is blessed to have some really great men’s boutique stores. Understudy, a few blocks from the park, brings in international brands that the department stores don’t carry. Three Calgarians own Understudy: Aaron Ellard, Reid Pollack and Liam Rodgers. They specialize in street wear, but focus on the product and not necessarily the brand. They look for the best quality. Some of the brands they carry are Stussy Deluxe, Norse Projects and APC Denim.”

Shiki Menya is a great place to get a bowl of ramen. They only produce 150 bowls per day. Once they run out… they run out

Lunch at Shiki Menya “Hop in a cab and head to Shiki Menya, located in Bridgeland. This is a great place to get a bowl of ramen in Calgary. They only produce 150 bowls per day. Once they run out… they run out. I love this place because it’s quick, easy and serves out-of-this-world ramen.”

Stock up at Knifewear “After lunch, I do my usual rounds to stock up for the restaurant. If you love kitchen gear, you’ll love Knifewear in Inglewood. Owned by local Kevin Kent, Knifewear has the best selection of Japanese knives and the best shaving products. They also sharpen knives here.”

Wine tasting at MetroVino “Calgarian Richard Harvey owns this wine store in the Beltline. I come here to stock Model Milk’s vintages, but usually pick up a few bottles for my personal collection, too. Metrovino brings in an eclectic mix of wine that no other store in Calgary carries. Richard personally picks out the wine himself. Drop in to either grab a few bottles or just chat with Ruby or Richard about their favourite bottles and they usually start to hand out tasters.”

Turn pages at Shelf Life Books “I’m an avid collector of cookbooks — new and old, and visit Shelf Life Books often. They carry a great variety of underground books.”

Music hunting Melodiya Records “Because we only play music for the restaurant through a record player, I stop by Melodiya Records every week to stock up. Ask for Eddy, tell him what you’re looking for, and he’ll send you home with 10 records. If you don’t like any of them, bring them back. I’ve never returned one of Eddy’s suggestions.”

Dinner at Una Pizza & Wine “I love to stop here for dinner on my way home from work, especially because it’s open until 1 a.m. every night. Owned by locals Kelly Black and Jayme MacFayden, Una Pizza also has a great artist-in-residence program. Each month a new artist paints the walls of Una with a new mural, and keeps the place looking fresh.”

A nightcap at Ox and Angela “Kelly and Jayme also own this Spanish tapas bar just a few doors down from Una on 17th Avenue. It’s known for its small plates and traditional Spanish menu, but has a killer cocktail list. My go-to is a traditional Old Fashioned, but try The Angela if you want something light and refreshing.”

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