Words by Tamara Elliott | Posted August 30, 2016
While Banff’s claim to fame is its epic mountain vistas, the town at the centre of one of Canada’s best outdoor playgrounds is no shrinking violet when it comes to food either. From farm-to-table concepts to award-winning eateries that double as late-night spots, here are some of the best spots to grab a bite in Banff.
Always a favourite with both locals and day-trippers, The Bison draws inspiration from the surrounding region to serve up mouth-watering specialties such as their signature braised bison short ribs, and the juicy Angus sirloin that Alberta is famous for. The Bison’s farm-to-table concept means menus change with the season, but expect to find the likes of gnocchi poutine with braised elk, venison striploin accompanied with beetroot and Saskatoon berries, and pork chops drizzled with maple whisky glaze.
Bonus: Drop in for brunch and start the day off with a sparkling mimosa, before digging in to a frittata served up in a sizzling cast iron skillet or an Eggs Benedict topped with smoked salmon, brie and asparagus.
Address: 211 Bear Street
Phone: (403) 762-5550
Buffalo Mountain Lodge
It doesn’t get more Canadian than the Rocky Mountain Charcuterie Platter, which you’ll find at the cozy Buffalo Mountain Lodge at the top of Tunnel Mountain. The house specialty includes smoked air dried buffalo, prosciutto, gouda, game pate, smoked pepper duck and elk salami, which is a fantastic way to sample Alberta’s game meats. Even better, you can enjoy it in the lodge’s rustic lounge in front of the roaring stone fireplace, under a chandelier fashioned out of antlers.
Alternatively, head in to the Sleeping Buffalo restaurant and dine on crispy duck confit, seared scallops with carrot ginger puree, wild boar sausage and even caribou, all expertly paired with award-winning wines.
Address: 700 Tunnel Mountain Road
Voted as one of Canada’s best new restaurants of 2015, Park Distillery has been raking in the accolades ever since thanks to campfire cuisine combined with its in-house distillery which stocks bar shelves around the Bow Valley. Menu favourites like its Twenty Five Dollar Burger and Millionaire Hamburger Helper are infused with smokey flavours, and are perfect for pairing with their Housemade Booze Flights which showcase their in-house liquors—distilled with glacier water straight from the surrounding Rockies, natch.
Bonus: Come early for a free distillery tour, at 2 pm and 3:30 pm daily.
Address: 219 Banff Avenue
Phone: (403) 762-5114
1888 Chop House
Located in the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel which has earned the moniker “Castle in the Rockies,” 1888 Chop House is a luxe spot specializing in locally raised wild game, sustainable seafood and farm fresh greens, with everything made in-house. Start off with beef tartare or warm crab salad to gear up for the main event: a AAA filet mignon paired with valbella bacon, a 10 oz elk ribeye, or perhaps a 12 oz aged New York striploin grilled to perfection. Be sure to save room for dessert—the dark chocolate pâté with its coconut crisp is sure to send you into a cocoa coma.
Address: 405 Spray Avenue
Phone: (403) 762-2211
Sometimes you’re just craving a slice of pizza dripping with cheese, and that’s OK. We all deserve a cheat day, especially when you can combine it with a fun night out at one of the most nostalgic places around—a bowling alley. High Rollers opened in the heart of Banff in 2016 and was an instant hit, thanks to its retro decor, six bowling lanes and bocce courts. Add to that 50 craft beers on tap and classic pizzas combined with zany picks like the Mac n’ Cheese which is topped with hot dogs, and you’ll be channelling your inner 17-year-old in no time.
Address: 110 Banff Avenue
Phone: (403) 760-5300