John Gilchrist's best new restaurants in Calgary this year

John Gilchrist reveals his annual list of the best new eateries in the city for 2015.

Restaurant reviewer says economic downturn has not affected the appetite of Calgarians

John Gilchrist is the restaurant reviewer for the Calgary Eyeopener. (CBC)

The drop in oil prices has not changed the way Calgarians feel about food. At least not yet.

"Smaller restaurants have done remarkably well because I think we become habituated to going out," says restaurant critic John Gilchrist. "It's what we do with our social time."

"Maybe we don't have a bottle of wine, we have a glass," he added. "Maybe we don't go for the top entree, we go mid-range. But people are still going out and dining."

The Calgary Eyeopener restaurant reviewer says he had a hard time narrowing down his top picks for restaurants that opened in 2015.

He couldn't decide on an overall winner, so there is a three-way tie for first place this year.

"They are my three equal favourites and are listed in alphabetical order," he says.

10) Las Canarias

Gilchrist says this place is "run by a couple of guys from the Canary Islands" — hence the name, Las Canrias. He says this Spanish style restaurant has a lovely atmosphere and excellent food in Royal Oak.

8888 Country Hills Blvd. N.W., 403-475-4165

9) Native Tongues Taqueria

This place does "nixtamalization" — which Gilchrist describes as "hard-core taco making." They bring in dried corn from Mexico, soak it to remove the hull and grind the corn into flour to make their own tortillas. Gilchrist also likes that their bar focuses on mezcal. 

235 12 Ave. S.W., 403-263-9444

8) Cannibale

Gilchist says chef Jarod Traxel whips up some of the best sandwiches in Calgary. 

814 First Ave. N.E., 403-515-0065

7) Ikemen Ramen Bar

Also a favourite amongst the crew of the Calgary Eyeopener at CBC Radio.

217 10 St. N.W., 403-452-2148

6) Parc Bistro

The owners of the Bonterra, Cibo and Scopa scooped up this restaurant, formerly Borgo, and renovated it to look just like a French bistro. 

​818 16 Ave. S.W., 403-454-2700

5) Suzette Bistro

Crepes galore at this new Mission restaurant — the brainchild of the team behind Cassis Bistro, which was one of Gilchrist's top restaurants a few years ago.

2210 Fourth St. S.W., 403-802-0036

4) Food Truck — PD3 

"You're going to have to wait about five months for this one," says Gilchrist. Only open during Canmore's high season (the summer), this unique eatery serves both fast food and dining from a retired, double-decker British Leyland bus (the PD3). It's parked in an empty lot on Canmore's Main Street.

806 Main St., Canmore, 403-675-3663

T-1) Whitehall

Modern British food? Yes, it really does exist. And Gilchrist says this new restaurant in Bridgeland is knocking it out of the ballpark with dishes like torched and confit mackerel fillet and bison leg cottage pie. 

24  Fourth St. N.E., 587-349-9008

Calgary's Pigeonhole restaurant was named best new restaurant in Canada by enRoute magazine. It's also one of John Gilchrist's top picks. (@pigeonholeyyc)

T-1) Pigeonhole

"Very eclectic menu. It's more small plates, sharing style ... Food is front and centre here," says Gilchrist.

306 17 Ave. S.W., 403-452-4694

T-1) Charbar

From the owners of Charcut, this Argentinian restaurant dishes up ultra dry-aged porterhouse and three styles of chimichurri in the historic and newly renovated Simmons Building.

618 Confluence Way S.E., 403-452-3115

Charbar executive chef Jessica Pelland grills up some authentic Argentinian food at the 7K Panorama Ranch. (Julie Van Rosendaal)