Neighbourhood Guide, Calgary: Marda Loop

Once the edge of our fair city, the neighbourhood of Marda Loop took its name from both the landmark Marda Theatre and a former route of Calgary’s historic municipal streetcar (going south past 33 Ave. and 20 St. and “looping” back towards the downtown core). Since 1984, when the Marda Loop BRZ was established, the area has continually taken centre-stage, with a growing reputation as the place in Calgary for fine dining, boutique shopping, and social interaction.

“A strong sense of community” is one of the benefits any competent Marda Loop condominium salesman will pitch. That’s because of places like the area’s celebrated Farmer’s Market. A congenial place to breathe in the vibrancy of the community, the CFM features more than 80 vendors, selling fresh (mostly organic) produce, meats, dairy products and baked goods.

Marda Loop is also home to Calgary’s most significant shrine of Canadian Forces achievement: The Military Museums. This 107,000 sq. ft. space consists of seven museums, collectively displaying a huge collection of Canadian army, navy and air force artifacts. Notable features include the de rigueur array of real combat tanks, and an admittedly eerie walk-through replica of a First World War trench. But, really, everything at these Military Museums is done with class; even the virtual tour is a first-rate affair.

More than 100 shops and boutiques call Marda Loop home, so, you can likely find what you’re looking for (or stumble on a solid impulse buy) in this merchant-heavy neighbourhood. The Inner Sleeve is a lesser-known Calgary record shop, but its emphasis on providing customers with a ’70s-style groovy experience and the chance of finding a second-hand audio treasure makes it worth a visit. With ears supremely satisfied, head down to the Marda Loop Barber Shop for a haircut or hot towel shave (by appointment). The Shop’s rec room atmosphere allows a man to relax and watch big screen TVs, while being expertly groomed. Marda Loop is also home to the second location of bespoke tailor shop Henry’s Tailoring, which provides every imaginable garment service from alterations and repairs to suit-from-scratch construction.

Food and Drink
Whether it’s the expansion of treasured Calgary franchises or the latest praised upstart, The Loop is a multi-cultural haven of culinary delight. Starting with the most important meal of the day, The Loop Breakfast House is a busy brunch spot specializing in home-cooked fare, and (if you can get a table, the place is usually packed) its cozy atmosphere and friendly staff will make you feel right at home. Closer to lunchtime, try the Rasoi Kitchen, now open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and specializing in Indian-inspired dishes like grilled paneer (stuffed with mashed potatoes, raisins, wrapped in zucchini, with spinach, curry and roasted cashews). Finally, Globefish Sushi & Izakaya has some of the best rolls in town. And if you’re a big fan of Japanese cuisine, its massive sushi combo plates, sashimi, tempura, and noodle udon, make deciding on dinner a simple task: just point at the menu and eat whatever comes out of the kitchen.

Image courtesy of Lenny.

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