Reviews

What the critics say

"Not many fine-dining restaurants have been around for 24 years, let alone weathered two natural disasters (floods), as well as consistently being rated as one of the best eateries in the city. Founder and owner Sal Howell was a true trend setter when it came to supporting the farm-to-table movement and sustainability awareness in Calgary, and her dedication to this mandate has only grown over the years."

Dan Clapson—Avenue Magazine Weekender March 2015

"Prince's Island's premiere restaurant is always guaranteed to serve a stellar meal, regardless of the time of day. Try River Café on the weekend for breakfast with the foraged chanterelle quiche or brioche French toast. You can walk off the calories in the park afterwards."

Dan Clapson—Avenue Magazine Weekender March 5, 2013

"The verdant Prince’s Island Park setting is unbeatable, and the lodge-like building is a charming place to introduce visitors to the city, whether in winter or summer. (But summer has the advantage of you being able to sit on the patio.) With its sunny, woody decor and seasonal Canadian fare, River Café creates an atmosphere of relaxed celebration and of being on the cutting edge of Canadian cuisine, but far from esoteric."

Avenue Magazine Restaurant Awards 2011: BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT OF TOWN GUESTS

"If we could go to only one Calgary Restaurant for the rest of our lives, it would be the River Café on Prince’s Island. You must walk to it, over the little bridge ... It's Magical."

Mary Bailey & Judy Schultz—The Food Lover’s Trail Guide to Alberta (2003)

"Everything about it works—from the arrival across Prince’s Island to the sun-washed deck and the house-grown herbs, to the food, wine, service, the fireplace and an owner who cares relentlessly—Sal Howell. It’s a destination for locals and visitors alike and sets standards for how other restaurants should be."

John Gilchrist

"Inspired by the natural surroundings of Prince's Island Park, on Bow River, this restaurant has the look of a fishing lodge. The exquisite regional Canadian cuisine includes Northwest Territories caribou, British Columbia oysters and Pacific salmon, Alberta Black Angus beef, and Alberta lamb. The wine list has earned Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence since 1997."

Fodors.com, 2016

"The only prairie-region restaurant to make the (1001 Restaurants to Experience Before You Die) list, River Café is a laudable addition. From the gorgeous Prince’s Island location to the hyper-regional cuisine of chef Andrew Winfield, River Cafe is a fine representative of our city."

John GilchristCalgary Herald, April 2015

"I spent a magical evening at Calgary’s legendary River Café. Tucked into the lush greenery of Prince’s Island Park, this rustic wood-and-glass charmer overlooks the lagoon where the Bow River passes through downtown Calgary."

Alexandra GillThe Globe & Mail, July 5 2013

"A getaway in the middle of the city, River Café, located in Prince’s Island Park, is a favourite among Calgarians. Supporting regional and local purveyors, farmers and coastal fishermen, it has always been at the forefront of the local food movement – one of the most thorough champions of it."

Dine 2010

"Sal Howell’s wonderful River Cafe is another of the city’s best restaurants offering well-thought-out Canadian cuisine…Dining within the cozy Café’s hexagonal wood-clad room in January, by its burning fireplace and long wooden bar must be even more special than it was when I ate there, at the height of the colours of fall, though I suspect the River Café is truly a spot for all seasons."

Noah RichlerThe Toronto Star, November 12 2010

"Sal Howell, proprietor of Calgary hotspots River Café and Boxwood, paints a vibrant picture of award-winning hospitality at her restaurants every day…"

Brianne BinelliHotelier Magazine, December 2010

"The River Café has, hands down, Calgary's prettiest location. The food is adventurous without being pretentious, confident without being complacent. And outstandingly Canadian. River Café has achieved a cuisine that is a tribute to its surroundings and is worth these prices. I think they have become one of Calgary's very best restaurants."

John Gilchrist—CBC Radio Restaurant Critic My Favorite Restaurants in Calgary and Banff