Set snugly amongst the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a city that owes much of its personality, pastimes, and manic weather to the snow-capped mountains nearby. For many, Calgary is the perfect starting place to explore world-class skiing, but there’s more to Calgary. See what our new friends had to say about food, travel, sports, and Calgary’s best-kept secrets.
Angel Guerra and Angela Dione are the founders of Calgary’s Market Collective — an independent pop-up market that showcases local artists, artisans, designers, and musicians.
Market Collective began in 2008, inspired by the duo’s respective passions. Angela wanted to help fellow artists earn a sustainable living, instead of surrendering 50% of their profits to retail stores. Angel loved the idea of community building, sharing ideas, and live music. “We just meshed our ideas together and formulated one larger idea,” says Angel, “and that’s how Market Collective was born. Almost a decade later, the market is as much a part of Calgary as they are.
An avid skier when the market isn’t running, Angel describes Calgary as being the best of two worlds. An urban center with a strong creative industry and a growing creative class, with “lots of adventure right at its doorstep” thanks to the nearby Rocky Mountains. Over the years, Angela has tried moving to other cities and provinces, but returned every time. “I always come back for the community. It’s just a family of friends.”
That sense of community begins in Sunnyside, the quiet but active neighborhood she calls home, just northwest of downtown, across the 10th Street bridge. For a stellar meal nearby, Angela recommends Dairy Lane and the Sunnyside Organic Market. For Alberta beef, you’ll need to go a little further. Angela thinks Bridgeland’s Blue Star Diner has the best burgers in town, and for unbeatable steak, head to Charbar in the East Village.
Meanwhile, Angel is a regular at Bridgeland’s popular Shiki Menya, where the city’s best ramen has a cult following, and is only served until the day’s supply has run out. But when friends visit from out of town, Angel takes them to straight to Ten Foot Henry, a new “vegetable-forward” restaurant downtown.
And despite all of the creative and culinary opportunities Calgary serves up, both find time to be active.
In the warmer months, Angel rides the city’s vast network of bike paths. “I think Calgary has such phenomenal pathways. Going from Bowness to downtown, through Edworthy Park. That whole system is so beautiful.”
Angela suggests running the stairs at McHugh Bluff, or a trip to Nose Hill — an 11-square kilometer natural area in the middle of the city, with hiking trails and ample wildlife. “I really love Nose Hill. It’s just a beautiful spot. You can pick wild sage and rose hip. There are deer. It’s just really nice to have such a vast, open, beautiful space in an urban setting.”
So what is Calgary's best kept secret? Angela points to the Kalamata Grocery Store, for the best olives and feta in town. Angel tethers her suggestion to the success and support they’ve enjoyed running Market Collective.
“I think the other best kept secret is that if you have an idea, you can make it happen in Calgary."