It can be hard finding suitable indoor actives for our brood during these long, dreary winter days. When you’ve had your fill of indoor play spaces, consider trotting the troops over to the Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market.
Situated between Canyon Meadows and Lake Bonavista neighbourhoods in south Calgary, this food emporium is ideal for busy families.
Avenida is Calgary’s first food hall – a concept that’s been going strong in Europe for several centuries but has only picked up steam in North America in recent years. Essentially, food halls are like food trucks, except the tiny concept restaurants are all under one roof, so you don’t have to hunt them down. Part farmers market, part eatery, you’ll be able to snap up groceries from vendors inside Avenida’s 22,000 sq ft space.
Attracting young families and retirees from the surrounding community, this food hall is home to more than 40 vendors, including 25 unique restaurants, as well as many local artisans, makers and growers. Parking is free and it’s less than a 10-minute walk from the Canyon Meadows LRT station.
Interestingly enough, the market has specific transparency requirements for all its vendors, so we buyers know where our food, ingredients and products are coming from. Not everything is local, but each product’s origins are disclosed, and if they claim to be organic, certificates must be on display.
The interior vibes like a Southern California bistro with modern touches such as pendant lighting and floor to ceiling windows that flood the space with natural light. Intertwined among the eateries is communal dining space (like a food court).
Caregivers love it for its multi-tasking options, but there’s also a small indoor play space to let littles burn off energy. Families can watch vendors like Bigoli Pasta handmaking pasta, or Project 196 Ice Cream making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Additionally, ExPat Asia offers complimentary cooking lessons every Thursday and Friday.
So, where should you eat? Takori serves up Asian/Mexican fusion by famed local chef, Duncan Ly. ExPat Asia has flavourful dishes, such as Babi Kecap an Indonesian pork curry that packs the heat. If your children have never tried spongey injera bread, they’ll be in for a treat at Teff n’ Greens, an Ethiopian vegan restaurant. And who doesn’t love popping pupusas? These handmade corn tortillas filled with meat and cheese can be found at Salvador. For sweets, Wild Rhubarb + Buck is a Mennonite bakery and mercantile, dishing out so many samples of creampies, you’ll find it hard not to indulge.
Beyond the restaurant options, you’ll be able to visit the kind of vendors you’d typically find in a more traditional farmers’ market. There’s fresh produce (both local and sourced from California and Mexico), butchers, bakers, and a boutique florist. Hit up Irving’s Farm for extremely thick cut bacon and traditional English sausages. It’s also one of the few places in Calgary that makes black pudding, should you be so inclined.
With our dry climate, you’ll also want to suss out Herbal Healing, a traditional apothecary for salves, oils, tinctures and teas (all are natural, most are organic). Of note is their fragrance-free body butter, diaper rash salve, baby wash and lotion. They make a certified organic raspberry leaf tea for pregnancy and nursing teas, too.
Open Thursday to Sunday, from 11 am to 8 pm, Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market is a choice spot for lunch, after-school snacks or even a dinner date. Liquor licensing is in progress but isn’t yet approved, so you know we’ll be coming back!
Avenida Village Shopping Centre
12445 Lake Fraser Drive SE.