The mother and son team of Margarita and Danny have been in the restaurant industry for over 30 years. Margarita emigrated her family from Ukraine in the early 1970s and finally settled in Calgary in 1982. Here she opened shop downtown on 8th avenue, operating a successful eatery called The Daily Bagel through the 1980s, gaining notice as a purveyor of authentic regional and cultural cuisine. As the excitement of the ’88 Olympics waned, Margarita embarked on what would become a lifelong passion of cooking and serving delicious and highly specialized meals to Calgary’s farmers’ market clientele. First opening in the now-closed Blackfoot market, she was one of the original vendors to invest and build what would become the highly recognizable brand, The Calgary Farmer’ Market. While at the CFM’s original location in the Curry Barrack’s, Margarita’s son Danny joined her. Danny had moved to New York in 1993 to join his cousins in opening a successful coffee shop which would develop into a very busy restaurant called Dishes, with 5 locations currently operating today in midtown Manhattan. Having spent years in the restaurant industry, Danny had developed a keen eye on customer service and quality control. The reunion of mother and son proved to be an ideal fit, merging old world cuisine with a determined focus on excellence.
In the 1980s Margarita began developing the recipes that had been passed down to her by her mother and, to a lesser extent, even her grandmother. All the dishes that she and the rest of her family had grown up on, and which she had nourished her own family for years with, were now being prepared and served to hundreds of people daily, and for the next 30 years. The recipes are composed of only the freshest ingredients, and everything always made from scratch. From the immensely popular Borscht soup to the beef and rice-filled cabbage rolls to a numerous selection of hand made pierogies, Margarita’s customer base quickly grew. In addition, today Margarita’s Dishes serves Schnitzel, potato latkes, knishes, and the award-winning blintzes, just to name a few of the many authentic dishes. To this day, the greatest compliment either Margarita or Danny receive is when they are told by a customer that their meal reminded them of their childhood and their own mother’s and/or grandmother’s cooking. Margarita’s Dishes caters to all dietary restrictions: gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free, and kosher style. As well, it has become a very popular option for large parties and take away ready-made fresh or frozen meals.
A must-have when visiting Margarita’s Dishes are the blintzes, which were included in Avenue Magazine’s top 25 things to eat in Calgary. As well, the Borscht was voted Best Vegetarian Dish at the market. Remember to say hi and spend a few minutes chatting with Margarita and Danny when visiting.