The Best Restaurants in Banff and Jasper National Parks
Just because you’re in a national park, doesn’t mean you have to eat freeze-dried meals. No how. No way. Both Banff and Jasper National Parks have restaurants that range from high-end to full-on quirky. Whether you go for a traditional meal of Alberta beef or a vegetarian meal (something slightly newer to the area) at Nourish Bistro, you’ll head off to sleep satisfied and ready to take on another day of fun.
200 Pipestone Rd, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada
The Post Hotel & Spa is set in the heart of the pristine Banff National Park, surrounded by the Canadian Rocky Mountains and overlooking Lake Louise. The original log-walled lodge—opened in 1942 as the Lake Louise Ski Lodge—has stone fireplaces and a cheery red alpine roof, and the numerous add-ons, extensions, and renovations over the years have preserved and accentuated this rustic design. This is further enhanced by the hotel’s interior color palette of burgundy and neutrals, and set off by luxurious touches such as overstuffed couches and Egyptian-cotton sheets. The accommodations include intimate cabins for two and a 3,000-square-foot mountain chalet ideal for groups and families. Just minutes away from one of Canada’s largest ski areas and blessed with an abundance of perfect powder each season, the Post Hotel & Spa is popular with skiers and boarders from across North America; in summer it attracts outdoor enthusiasts keen to explore the myriad treasures of the national park. It has been a Relais & Châteaux property since 1990.
203 Caribou Street, Banff, Alberta, Canada
Step through Magpie & Stump’s swinging doors, and you’ll hear the sound of peanut shells crunching beneath your feet. The rowdy pub’s saloon decor is an interesting choice, considering its menu is all Tex-Mex: Think spicy pork tacos, nacho plates big enough to feed a football team, and gooey-hot queso. With daily especiales running Sundays through Thursdays, you can stuff yourself silly at this local favorite and still have plenty of money left over for drinks with friends. Try the Bulldog, a lime margarita served with an upside-down Corona.
608-B Patricia Street, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Coco’s Cafe in Jasper is a shrine to everything that’s wonderful about the first meal of the day. Java snobs will love the Phil & Sebastian Coffee, and health-conscious guests are always impressed with its locally sourced, organic ingredients. The all-day breakfast menu features a wonder wheel of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, but omnivores need not worry: There are delicious Montreal smoked meats available here, too. The restaurant is probably best known for Coco’s Breakfast Wrap, a curry-infused treat with plenty of fuel for a big day spent hiking in the mountains. If you plan to enjoy a lazy morning repast, arrive early or be prepared to wait in line with the locals.
211 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1A1, Canada
With tasty specials available most days throughout the off-season months, the Bear Street Tavern has a loyal clientele of locals year-round, giving it a genuinely homey and down-to-earth ambience. The menu, however, consists of more than just regular pub fare. Try the gourmet pizzas, thin-crust pies served with chili-infused oil and honey—a combination so magical it will convert even the pickiest of eaters. The Wheeler Hut pizza, with wild mushrooms, pesto, and truffle oil, is also a favorite. On sunny days, snag a seat on the patio and be prepared to stay longer than you intended.
86 Connaught Drive, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Originally opened in 2006 by chef David Husereau, known for his appearance on Chopped Canada, Evil Dave’s Grill may have since changed ownership, but the menu remains prime-time ready. Try the Cowboy Sushi, the Luscious Lollipop Shrimp, or the Malevolent Meatloaf (best name ever), which is made with 100 percent lean ground bison and wild-boar bacon. Dinner dishes range in price from $23 to $40, and they offer more quality and creativity than most other comparably priced restaurants in town. Pair your meal with a cocktail from the elixirs menu—popular ones include the Karma Police, made from Malibu Mango rum, Hpnotiq liqueur, a mandarin wedge, and ginger ale.
110, 211 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta, Canada
Vegetarians and veggie lovers alike can sometimes get overlooked in Alberta, a region prized for its beef. Enter Nourish Bistro! This farm-to-table restaurant is the place to go if you’re craving a little more green in your diet. The staff prides itself on using organic, seasonal ingredients, but it’s the creative combos of sweet and savory that really impress diners. The ravioli with lavender-infused cream sauce will blow your mind, and even the sides are special, like the Blazed Carrots with maple, garlic smoke, and heather flower, or the Love Buttons, beets with a hemp-herb-citrus sauce. Nourish also features a great selection of organic wines, spirits, and microbrews that are hard to find anywhere else in Banff. Note: Many dishes are extra-large, as they are meant to be shared family style.
201-5 Banff Ave, Banff, Alberta, Canada
You can find a respectable beer selection at most Banff Avenue restaurants, but a well-crafted cocktail requires a little more intel. For a fabulous mixed drink, head to Block Kitchen + Bar on Caribou Street, an intimate venue specializing in all things shaken and stirred. With concoctions like the Gin Beetroot Sour and the Coffee & Artichoke Negroni, you’ll be glad you ventured off the main drag. You can grab tapas and gourmet sandwiches here too, like the Red Devil Calamari appetizer with spicy Thai sauce or the Kuterra Salmon on ciabatta bread. Keep in mind this teeny spot has limited seating, so arrive early or roll in fashionably late to get a seat.
203 Village Road, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Reasonably priced food is somewhat hard to come by in the upscale hamlet of Lake Louise, which is why Bill Peyto’s Café is such a find. Located in the HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre hostel and within walking distance of the Samson Mall, Peyto’s has a sizable dining room and an outdoor patio that’s perfect for relaxing on warm, sunny days. The menu is almost as vast as a classic Greek diner’s, including everything from a Thai stir-fry to a traditional poutine, but its dishes are executed flawlessly. (If you’re looking for standard pub fare, you can choose from plenty of burger options.) Servings are generous and cheap, meaning you’ll want to arrive early to lock down a table—especially in the summer.
207 Banff Ave, Banff, Alberta, Canada
Dining at the Grizzly House is an experience. As soon as you walk in, it’s obvious the place hasn’t changed much since it first opened decades ago. The interior is dark, and the wood-paneled wall is lined with taxidermy trophies. But the novelty of cooking at your own table makes up for it all. The food ranges from decadently simple—cheese, oil, and chocolate fondues—to exotic, like rattlesnake or alligator meat. The only thing more novel than preparing your own food is the rumors of the restaurant’s history as a swingers’ joint. Whether the stories are urban legend or not is hard to say, but telephones at each table that allow you to call any diner in the room seem to suggest there’s some truth to the gossip.
211 Bear Street # 213, Banff, Alberta, Canada
Best known by locals for its stunning views of the Canadian Rockies (nab a seat by the giant windows to make other diners jealous!), the Bison’s best-kept secret is its addictive dinner and Sunday brunch menus. Chefs Liz and Kirk are geniuses at creating special dishes that show off the region’s bounty, like bison carpaccio, venison striploin with maple parsnip purée, and a bison breakfast sandwich with bison sausage, fried egg, and foie gras butter. Ask the servers for help pairing the perfect regional beer or national wine with your order—they know their stuff.