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Now is a great time of year to get out and enjoy the awesome dining options Calgary has to offer. Two that top my list are NOtaBLE and The Nash – one a consistent standout and one a brand new option creating fresh buzz in the YYC dining scene.

It's no accident they share a common bond in the guiding hand of chef and restauranteur Michael Noble, who leads the ownership group and design for both. NOtaBLE features consistently outstanding gourmet comfort food in a classy, casual setting. While The Nash, featuring a meat-centric menu and a charcoal-burning Jasper oven, is predicted by food critic John Gilchrist to seen become "Calgary's next hotter-than-hot" restaurant.

Both of these restaurants were have been featured in critics’ top 10 lists such as those from Avenue magazine.

More top picks

For their 2016 Best Restaurants list, Avenue magazine focuses on two categories: Best Tried and True Restaurants and Best New Restaurants.

I have tried many of these and would agree there are some strong picks.

Avenue’s Best Tried and True

1. Rouge

2. Anju

3. Bonterra Trattoria

4. Raw Bar

5. Model Milk

6. Catch and the Oyster Bar

7. River Café

8. Blink

9. Alloy

10. Mercato

Sam’s take: Among these, one that really stands out for me is Anju. It is consistently excellent with an innovative Korean-fusion mix featuring small plates and craft cocktails in a stylish atmosphere. Examples of featured menu options include sunworks chicken wings (breaded in rice flour with flavor options such as gochujang – Korean hot pepper paste), crisply tofu and baked west coast oysters.

Avenue’s Best New

1. Pigeonhole

2. Charbar

3. Native Tongues

4. Suzette Brittany Bistro

5. Parc Café and Brasserie

6. Carino Riserva

7. Proof

8. The Nash

9. One18 Empire

10. Modern Steak

Sam’s take: I can’t argue with Pigeonhole at the top. Unique is a word that comes to mind. Lots of interesting dishes to try from charred cabbage and nori crumpets to rabbit and bacon pate and poached halibut cheek. The atmosphere is interesting as well, with design touches including exposed brick and psychedelic art. The Nash, as mentioned, is a winner. Tough to go wrong with any of these picks. Nice to see Calgary’s dining scene continuing strong with these fresh options.

What do you think? What are your top picks? Keep the conversation going and share on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

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