Unique dining experiences in Vancouver, Whistler and the Canadian Rockies
March 12, 2018
Travel from Seattle up toward Vancouver , and you might spot an old slogan on signs and license plates, uncharacteristically bold for Canada: Welcome to British Columbia, “The Best Place on Earth.” You may disagree, but you have to acknowledge that the province does have a strong case.
Although Western Canada is officially comprised of four provinces, the image many people have in their minds of this area is that of the Canadian Rockies, those jagged, craggy bursts of granite, limestone and glaciers along the border of Alberta and British Columbia. People come to play among the spectacular rainforests, mountain landscapes, glacial lakes, vineyards, and coastal islands; they come for the rugged yet cosmopolitan Pacific Northwest culture; and, of course, they come to eat. But not just any food will do. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this part of the world, here are six unique dining experiences that all foodies should experience.
Vancouver, British Columbia: Dine on Fresh Fare, Shop at Local Boutiques, and Drink Craft Beer on Granville Island
This poppin’ little peninsula, tucked into False Creek beneath the Granville Bridge, is Vancouver’s answer to Seattle’s Pike Place Market: a tourist favorite that locals also adore. At the public market, you’ll find every stripe of food stall imaginable, serving up fresh fish, produce, cheeses, sausages, breads, chocolate, honey, and on and on. Grab some fish and chips from the Go Fish stand on the west side and then amble around this unique shopping district. Peruse a wide variety of local artisans’ wares — everything from fancy sake and small-batch spirits to handmade toys, wood carvings, blown glass, leather goods, hats, the works — before finding your way to the Granville Island Brewing taproom. You can indulge in Granville brews at other places in Vancouver, but there’s nothing like knocking back a Maple Shack Cream Ale right from the source.
Whistler, British Columbia: Saber the Top off a Bottle of Champagne at Bearfoot Bistro
You can eat like a sultan in Vancouver, with its fusion restaurants, farmer’s markets that feature sweet stone fruits and local produce, craft breweries, plus the ubiquity of cheap, delicious Asian food, including the freshest of sushi. Eventually, though, adventurers will want to go further afield to try the unparalleled skiing, snowboarding, hiking or mountain biking around the Whistler Blackcomb resort. And as if world-class outdoor experiences aren’t enough, Whistler also offers you a unique chance to lop off the top of a bottle of Dom Perignon with a sabre.
Technically, you can do this in your backyard, if you have a sabre handy. But it’s only at Bearfoot Bistro that you can behead your bottle under supervision by some of the best sword-slinging restaurant staff anywhere. The restaurant’s founder, André Saint-Jacques, in 2005 set a world record by sabering 21 bottles of champagne in one minute. You'll need to lop just one bottleneck, at whatever pace you please, to feel like a sparkling-wine ninja.
Banff, Alberta: Ride a Gondola to Lunch or Dinner at Sky Bistro
Along North America's approximately 3,000 miles of Rocky Mountains, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more dizzying display of peaks than what you'll find in Banff, the most-visited national park in Canada. Steep, shear, and jagged, the peaks of this park draw millions of visitors a year. But the key stat here isn’t that you’ll be sitting 7,486 feet above sea level after taking the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain. It’s that you’ll spend your meal time perched nearly 3,000 feet above Banff itself, affording you an eagle’s-eye view of not one, but SIX Canadian Rocky mountain ranges as you enjoy a bison tenderloin or sustainably caught salmon. If you’re an avid hiker and would rather work up an appetite, you can always take the vigorous hike up the mountain for a couple of hours and opt to take the gondola back down after your meal.
Jasper, Alberta: Have a Beer and a Bite at Jasper Brewing Company
Further north from Banff is Jasper Jasper, the main town within Jasper National Park (which itself is actually larger than Banff National Park). With great skiing, iridescent blue lakes, and infinitely dark night skies, Jasper is the sort of place where you’re going to get a workout any time of year. There’s no better place in the park to carb-load the night before doing so than at the Jasper Brewing Co., a brew pub and restaurant where you can go for a straight-ahead classic (6-ounce Alberta beef burger and a pilsner) or a few degrees more exotic (like an elk meatloaf with a blueberry vanilla ale).
Lake Louise, Alberta: Eat Traditional Swiss Fare at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
No one does alpines like the Swiss, but even they would be challenged to find better mountain views than the ones that will greet you in Lake Louise, Alberta, at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The hotel, which overlooks the famous glacier-fed and turquoise-blue lake, is home to a number of restaurants, perhaps none more fitting to the views of peaks and glaciers than the Walliser Stube, where you can wind down your day the Alpine way: over beers, with an authentic Swiss fondue, sharing it all with friends.
Dine in Western Canada's most remarkable moving restaurant
Our luxury rail vacations offer you another unforgettable dining experience, as well as one of the most relaxing ways for you to travel between Vancouver and the iconic Canadian Rockies towns of Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. Travel on our luxury train and get unique views of the majestic mountain peaks of the Canadian Rockies as you make your way through straight-up stunning forested mountains, past glistening lakes, the interior valleys of British Columbia. Enjoy the views from our GoldLeaf Service bi-level dome coaches, which have a dining room below and outdoor viewing platforms. Or choose SilverLeaf Service , with its single-level dome coach with oversized windows and delectable meals plated at your seat. Both levels of service feature elegant, three-course meals prepared with ingredients inspired by the local regions the train passes through, plus complimentary local, Okanagan wines. Enjoy the impeccable service, good food, and stories of the areas as told by our hosts as Western Canada’s scenic spectacle unfolds around you.