This trip to Banff was about adventure. It was about hiking, amazing scenery, nice weather and beautiful mountains. I never once expected good food or coffee. Boy, was I wrong. I had bison, duck, some of the best ahi tuna I’ve ever had, a ridiculously good piece of housemade multi-grain bread slathered in chunky peanut butter. Even the grocery store sandwiches were drool-worthy. I’d like to apologize to the town of Banff for my doubtful thoughts. You sure proved me wrong, and here I am sharing fourteen restaurants to try – because I couldn’t choose a single digit.
breakfast & coffee
Touloulou’s Bistro & Bar
Touloulou’s is a great option because it’s in the heart of Banff Town. Their menu had a wide variety of options, from yogurt to pancakes to egg breakfasts. I opted for the vanilla yogurt with berries and multi-grain toast, while my family went the salty route: eggs, bacon, potatoes, oh and a side of giant french toast.
Georgetown Inn – Canmore
Canmore is a small town just outside of Banff. On our way to the Grassi Lakes Trail, we stopped into the Georgetown Inn for a big, hearty, hike-fueling breakfast. The restaurant was older, so it had a lot of character. It resembled a Cracker Barrel, except all of the antiques and decorations were real.
Please excuse the quality of these photos. Many times I did not have my camera with me, so I resorted to my iPhone.
As we were eating dinner one night, my dad noticed a woman in the bakery a couple doors down (diagonal, we could see into the window) busting her butt baking at 9PM for the next days customers. Impressed by her hard work, we figured we’d pop in the bakery the next morning for breakfast. Wild Flour, on Bear St., is a great pick for a quick breakfast. They offer pastries, breads, sandwiches, granola, even granola bars – everything made in-house. We ended up going twice – I first chose their housemade multi-grain bread with chunky peanut butter (also made in-house), then a cranberry oat muffin (with notes of orange zest).
A clever name, eh? Melissa’s Missteak, also known as Mel’s by locals, is a good option for a hearty breakfast. While I had been having stomach troubles for just about the entire trip (womp womp), my family went in on some eggs, bacon, hash browns, the whole nine. I’m pretty sure Christian ate Canadian bacon at every meal. Which, by the way, is NOTHING like the “Canadian bacon” we have in the states, which is basically a slice of ham.
There was almost never anyone in the restaurants because we were visiting Banff during their shoulder season. It was great – never a wait!
Something I noticed was that whenever I ordered fruit with breakfast, I received fresh fruit, like bananas, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, blueberries… not the usual, stale combination of honeydew and cantaloupe I am so used to getting in the U.S. I mean… I live in Florida – ‘sup with that?
One of my favorite coffee shops in Banff, Evelyn’s quickly became our reliable caffeine source. While our hotel had a cafe downstairs, our long days led us to more than one coffee situation per day – which I was very happy to oblige. Evenlyn’s also has bagels, pastries, croissants and more to keep your stomach happy, too. I enjoyed a cappuccino with skim milk each time I went, while my parents had coffee and Christian his usual latte.
This photo makes it look like a ghost town, but it really wasn’t that empty.
Whitebark was a cafe referred to us by a local, and it did not disappoint. My almond milk cappuccino was excellent, and their carrot cake was to die for. After a long hike, it was the perfect pick-me-up. There’s also nothing like enjoying a hot coffee on a cool [cold] day with the Canadian Rockies as your backdrop.
Second Cup, while a chain in Canada (over 345 cafes across the country), it is new to me and anyone visiting from the U.S. or overseas. Although this may be like someone including Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts in their list of coffee shops to try, it was foreign to us and I really enjoyed my cup of joe! This place is good for a quick, consistent and convenient cup of coffee. I had their flat white with skim milk – one and a half shots of espresso with steamed milk (less milk than a cappuccino).
That’s right – a grocery store is on my list of restaurants to try. That’s because, we ordered sandwiches from the Safeway in Banff to take on our hiking trip, and they did not disappoint. If you’re from Florida, you’ll understand this statement: these sandwiches were better than Publix subs. That’s right, I said it. I had a chicken, avocado and pesto sandwich with garlic aioli on focaccia bread. If you saw my post on things to do in Banff, or follow me on Instagram, you saw where we enjoyed these sandwiches.
Okay, this type of restaurant isn’t usually my cup of tea… country music humming through the speakers, tacky Wild West theme, you get the picture. But I can’t deny the deliciousness that was this chicken sandwich. And yes, we ate a lot of sandwiches. Go to Wild Bill’s for a bison burger, too. Their menu was satisfying for everyone; my mom enjoyed a bowl of soup, Christian and my dad had their bison burgers – we were all happy, especially because we were satiated after a long hike!
Trailhead Cafe – Lake Louise
After our walk along Lake Louise, our stomachs were rumbling. Thankfully, not far from the lake and Chateau, was the Lake Louise Information Center, which sat right next to the Trailhead Cafe and a few other shops and bakeries (and public restrooms). I ordered a chicken wrap with avocado (clearly a trend in my diet) and mango chutney, while my family ordered sandwiches and wraps, as well. I also had a shot of espresso, which was excellent and much needed at that point.
We were all tired, and hungry, as I said, so the bakery in the visitors center caught our eye. Christian asked if we wanted a cookie, and of course we said yes before he could finish his sentence. #fuel?
The second chain restaurant on my list, some of you may be familiar with this one. With restaurants in Canada and the U.S., The Keg defied my views of chain restaurants with their excellent food. I enjoyed a baked sea bass dish with a quinoa salad and steamed asparagus. The sea bass was delicate and cooked to perfection – there’s nothing worse than a restaurant that overcooks fish; this was juicy and flakey, just the way I like it!
Christians steak, cooked rare, with mashed potato in a potato skin. Excellent.
My favorite meal. And by meal, I mean I had my own food and ate a little bit of everyone else’s. That’s what family is for, right? Saltlik is a steakhouse with locations in Banff and Calgary. Their menu was very straight forward and simple, but included prominent, stand-out flavors, like chorizo stuffed dates. I’m still kicking myself for not ordering those.
See those little tacos up there? Those were mini duck tacos in wonton shells and I am still dreaming about them. If you’re in Banff (or Calgary) make sure to stop into Saltlik.
The Bison was the swankier of the restaurants we enjoyed in Banff. It had menu appearances of escargot and gnocchi poutine (you’ll see a lot of poutine in Canada, as you could have guessed), with remixes of classics like bison braised short ribs and a venison striploin. My stomach hates me so I stayed lowkey this night with a zucchini cake, accompanied by peruvian potatoes, white bean purée, cauliflower, and fried chickpeas. Even though this wasn’t exactly the choice I would’ve made if I had an iron stomach, it was excellent nonetheless.
Horrible lighting, if you can’t tell.
The Bear Street Tavern
The Bear Street Tavern is a hip bar and restaurant connected to The Bison (same owner). It serves as sort of a more casual counterpart to The Bison, with a menu containing pizza, burgers, beer and general pub fare. We enjoyed the baked cheese and artichoke dip with fresh pita and tortilla chips before our meal. When I say enjoyed, I mean when we ran out of chips we were eating the dip with our forks and then spreading it on our pizza. Seriously. My mom and I shared The Donair pizza: housemade bison donair, onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, mozzarella, garlic sweet sauce, and pizza sauce. I’m not one for shredded lettuce atop a pizza, but the extra *crunch* was great. This pizza was nothing short of epic. These heinous photos do not do this meal justice.
The food scene in Banff was an unexpected surprise. As a food blogger, I search high and low for good food, especially when traveling. I have to admit, assuming that I wouldn’t be wowed by the food in Banff sort of put a damper on the excitement I had leading up to the trip. While the hiking, scenery and accommodations were amazing and made the trip worthwhile regardless of food, I was blown away by the culinary experiences we encountered.