10 incredible BIPOC-owned restaurants keeping me full during the pandemic
By Karina Zapata, Publishing Editor
I’ll be honest — I have become best friends with the Skip the Dishes app since the pandemic started.
This is partly because I’m determined to support local restaurants during this unprecedented time. But also, with little motivation to cook homemade meals, something needs to keep me full, and nothing satisfies me more than these restaurants.
Here are 10 incredible BIPOC-owned restaurants that have kept me full during the pandemic. From sushi to jerk chicken, you’ll be sure to get your cravings satisfied.
1. Yenny Delights
This is one of the first restaurants I discovered after provincial guidelines said to stay home as much as possible, and I am so grateful I did. This Afro-Carribean restaurant, led by Executive Chef Toyin Adepoju, ensures to give you the perfect kick of flavour. Their jollof rice and jerk chicken, paired with their perfectly cooked plantain, had me dreaming about Yenny Delights for days.
2. Midori Japanese Cafe
Midori Japanese Cafe is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated sushi restaurants in Calgary — and that’s coming from someone whose favourite food, ever, is sushi. Located on 17th Avenue, their menu is filled with authentic Japanese and Korean dishes. My favourite roll of all time is their Crunch Midori Roll, but you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.
If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food — including breakfast food — Fresh-adilla is the restaurant for you. They’re only open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday but Sunday, which leaves you plenty of time to get in your quesadillas fix for lunch. If I can promise you one thing, it’s that their tortillas are always fresh and the flavour always punches.
I recently discovered this bubble tea shop, and now I know exactly where to go when I’m craving milk tea in southwest Calgary. Their drink menu is huge, meaning there are options for everybody, and their food menu is better than many other bubble tea shops I’ve seen in the city. They even have stuffable bubble waffles — the perfect snack to have with your boba.
5. Redheads Japa Cafe
I was trying to satisfy my onigiri (Japanese rice ball) craving when I found Redheads Japa Cafe. When I first saw their menu, I knew there was no way I couldn’t order more. From sushi rice burgers to katsu curry, this restaurant will hit your Japanese food craving hard. They even have brunch, if that’s what you’re looking for.
6. Marina Dosa & Tandoori Grill
I am convinced that Marina Dosa & Tandoori Grill has the best butter chicken of all time. There are a number of these restaurants scattered around northeast Calgary — where the best ethnic food comes from, in my opinion. The next time you’re craving Indian food, order from here and you will not be disappointed. They have traditional dosas, curry dishes and other delicious traditional Indian entrees.
When people ask me where the best poke is in the city, I always direct them to Po-ke. This Hawaiian dish can be a hit or miss, but Po-ke gets it just right. They offer customizable poke bowls, signature poke bowls, and even sushi burritos. To follow more modern dishes, they also have poke hot dogs and Spam musubi.
8. Ke Charcoal Grill & Sushi
The first time I went to Ke Charcoal Grill & Sushi, I went again just a couple days after. It’s that good. This contemporary yakitori restaurant, run by Chef Terry, has the goal of making you feel like you’re in the heart of Shinjuku — and they fulfill that goal. From sushi to ramen to grill items to yakitori, it’s clear that they only use the freshest ingredients at this restaurant. Their Signature Truffle Prawn Roll is to die for.
9. Shawarma Palace
Everyone has their favourite shawarma spot that they think is the absolute best, and this is it for me. This family-owned and operated restaurant, stemming from the origins of Mediterranean cuisine, has been open since 2009 and has four locations — three in Calgary and one in Airdrie. Their food is comforting and flavourful, and you really get a bang for your buck here. Their Chicken Platter, which comes with sides of rice, salad, garlic potatoes and pita bread is incredible.
10. Heaven Restaurant
This Venezuelan restaurant is always my go-to when I’m looking for something to eat with someone who’s gluten-free, but it’s amazing even if you aren’t. Their menu — which is entirely gluten-free — consists of traditional Venezuelan foods like arepas, empanadas, pabellón criollo and more. If you like arepas, their stuffed arepas are some of the best in the city. It’ll be hard for you to choose your order because truly everything is worth it.