Dig into the Mediterranean diet right here in Calgary

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Research has shown that following the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, healthy fats from olive oil and fish, and of course, a daily glass of red wine, can help prevent certain chronic diseases. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to Greece, Italy or the Middle East for better health. There are many restaurants right here in Calgary that will give you a taste of the Mediterranean.

Aida's Mediterranean Bistro

1
2208 4 St SW, Calgary AB T2S 1W9

Located in the heart of Mission, Aida’s is a well-known spot for authentic Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine, whether you’re looking for a quick sandwich for lunch or a multi-course dinner. There are many sampler dishes on the menu, so you can gather a couple of friends and have the chance to try a bit of everything. The mouhammara, a red pepper, walnut and pomegranate dip, is a must-try.

Escoba

2
624 8 Ave SW, Calgary AB T2P 1G4

A popular venue for corporate functions, Escoba is a great place to stop in for dinner or drinks and appies after work. Their diverse menu draws from many global influences, like their Moroccan-spiced roast chicken and scallops, which are served with potato lentil pakoras. Wine pairings are listed next to most of the menu items, to ensure a perfectly delicious meal.

Atlas Specialty Supermarket & Persian Cuisine

3
100-1000 9 Ave SW, Calgary AB T2P 2Y6

Established in 1997, Atlas is one of the longest running Persian restaurants in Calgary. Keen to introduce Calgarians to the cuisine, their menu includes a pronunciation guide as well as many combos allowing diners to mix-and-match their favourite appetizers, dips, kabobs, and stews. After dinner, take the time to scan the shelves of their small grocery for some specialty ingredients to take home.

Aioli Kitchen and Bar

4
159-1829 Ranchlands Blvd NW, Calgary AB T3G 2A7

Tucked away in a strip mall in Ranchlands, Aioli serves up dishes from Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Portugal (for those of you keeping score at home, four of those are considered Mediterranean.) Their menu is meant to be shared, so you can enjoy a pan-European meal, and for those who need it, there are many gluten-free options available.

Cafe Mediterranean

5
1009 1 Street SW, Calgary AB T2R 0T8

Come for the shisha, stay for the food! While you might be satisfied simply trying the many different shisha flavours that Café Med has on offer, you’ll be missing out if you don’t order drinks or food when you go. Don’t miss the opportunity to try their Greek veggie pizza or their fresh tabbouleh.

Calypso Greek Taverna

6
2101 Centre St NW, Calgary AB T2E 2T2

Calypso’s serves up all the classic Greek dishes, from calamari and saganaki to souvlaki and spanakopita, in a cozy environment. There are plenty of dishes so you can try something new every time, but I can’t help but gravitate toward the kleftiko – roasted leg of lamb that is fall-off the bone tender, served with rice, vegetables and lemony roast potatoes.

Jimmy's A & A Deli

7
1401 20 Ave NW, Calgary AB T2M 1G6

Technically, Jimmy’s only offers takeout and delivery – though during the summer months you might be able to snag a chair outside – but it’s such a popular spot that it has to be included on this list. It’s no wonder why people love Jimmy’s – the portion sizes are generous, and it’s kind of fun watching your pita get put together at lightning speed before your eyes. If pitas aren’t your things, there is also a selection of salads, dips, samosas, olives and cheese that are just as delicious.

Mazaj Mediterranean Cuisine

8
230 7 Ave SW, Calgary AB T2P 0W6

Oft considered a hidden gem, once you find Mazaj, a hole-in-the-wall on 7th Ave SW underneath the Bow Parkade, you will be rewarded with generously portioned shawarma and rice platters with flavourful meats and fresh vegetables at a reasonable price.

Game meats, such as venison, bison and elk, are gaining popularity, partly due to their unique taste, and the fact that they are generally leaner than farmed meats such as beef and pork. You don’t need to dress in camp or carry a gun to sample wild game – just head down to one of these local restaurants. Image credit: iStock.com/Brzozowska.
In the past, salads were often labelled “diet food” and served as an afterthought on restaurant menus. For better or worse, restaurant salads are now often sizeable meals, and can sometimes contain more calories than a burger and fries! For those trying to eat healthier, salad bars can help take back some of that control – making your salad as green or as calorie-laden as you’d like. Image credit: iStock/MelanieMaya.
For those who are new to sushi, the thought of eating raw fish on rice can be a little intimidating. Sushi rolls are a great “gateway” to more traditional nigiri, and thanks to some of the whimsical and creative dishes prepared by local sushi chefs, they are becoming a cuisine unto itself.
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