Mountain Meals: Where to eat in Banff and Canmore

Photo: Sky Bistro Instagram 

Most visitors to Banff and Canmore know about the attractions that await in the mountains, be it the hiking trails and ski hills or the famous Banff Hot Springs, but the Bow Valley is also a great place to eat. There are so many restaurants calling out to visitors it can be hard to make a choice, but these spots offer some of the best meals in the mountains:

Chuck’s Steakhouse 
101 Banff Ave, Banff

Photo: Chuck's Steakhouse Website 

Unless they happen to be vegetarians, visitors to Alberta usually want to try some local steak. Chuck’s is definitely one of the best places in Banff to sample a local cut. The room has a relaxed Western vibe to it, but everyone takes the steaks very seriously — servers are trained to walk diners through the differences in the menu’s vast selection of ranch specific beef. For those who can’t decide between wagyu, prime, or grass-fed, Chuck’s also offers platters so you can try a bit of everything.

Instagram: Chuck's Steakhouse 

Crazyweed Kitchen 
1600 Railway Ave, Canmore

Photo: Crazyweed Website 

One of Canmore’s most beloved and long-running restaurants, Crazyweed has been a favourite of locals and out-of-towners for over 20 years. The food is innovative and always skillfully prepared, but the room itself is small and homey, making for what the restaurant itself calls a “fancy not-so-fancy” dining experience. Expect fresh and plates of seafood, pasta, steaks and salad, all drawing on seasonal ingredients and globally-inspired flavours.

Instagram: Crazyweed Kitchen 

300 Mountain Ave, Banff

Photo: Eden Restaurant Instagram 

Many of Banff’s restaurants are fancy, but none quite so much as Eden, the Rimrock Resort’s premier restaurant. The holder of the rare AAA/CAA 5-Diamond award, Eden offers the very best in white table cloth-style fine dining — this is the kind of place that is worth getting dressed up for. The house specialties are the multi-course tasting menus; for a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience, go for the 10-course Grand Degustation with wine pairings.

Instagram: Eden Restaurant 

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel 
405 Spray Ave, Banff

The Banff Springs isn’t a restaurant — it’s a hotel that is home to nearly a dozen different culinary experiences, all of which live up to Fairmont’s famously high standards. The restaurants include fine dining at the 1888 Chop House, charcuterie and wine at Grapes, the Vermillion Room French brasserie and Bavarian bar food at the Walhaus Pub. Executive Chef Robert Ash runs a unique program that emphasizes doing everything in house, from butchery and sausage making to chocolates and other sweets.

Instagram: Fairmont Banff Springs

Park Distillery 
219 Banff Ave, Banff

Photo: Park Distillery Instagram 

As the only distillery in a national park, Park Distillery already has a lot going for it, but in addition to its award-winning spirits, Park also operates one of Banff’s best casual restaurants. The campfire-themed menu is full of bar appropriate appetizers, charcuterie, burgers and ranch-style entrées, all of which wash down nicely with a cocktail made with one of Park’s signature products.

Instagram: Park Distillery

Ramen Arashi 
3rd floor #213 Sundance Mall, 215 Banff Ave, Banff 

It’s a relatively well-kept secret, but Banff is home to what just may be the best little ramen place in all of Alberta. Ramen Arashi is in a cramped space in a mall, but even if it’s busy, it’s worth waiting in line for this incredibly flavourful Japanese noodle soup. The ramen is all made with hand-crafted slow-cooked broth, with different toppings and proteins available to suit the tastes of any ramen lover. The restaurant also serves a tasty selection of Japanese rice bowls and appetizers.

Instagram: Ramen Arashi

Sage Bistro

1712 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore

Photo: Sage Bistro Website

This cozy restaurant is a Canmore classic: it’s located in a little log cabin, but the eclectic French-inspired food is hardly rustic. The room is nice and cozy and the food exceeds expectations with dishes like a fragrant Thai red curry seafood bowl and a red wine and rosemary-braised lamb shank. Upstairs Sage runs a wine lounge (open Wednesday through Sunday) with a separate small plates menu and a list of hard-to-find wines offered by the glass or the flight.

Instagram: Sage Bistro

Sky Bistro
100 Mountain Ave, Banff

Photo: Sky Bistro Instagram

It’s not often to find a restaurant that sits at 7,510 feet and it’s even rarer to find an excellent restaurant tied to a major tourist attraction, but the Sky Bistro at the top of the Banff Gondola manages to tick both those boxes. Chef Scott Hergott’s food is informed by local ingredients: he likes to call it “farm to summit” cooking. The restaurant also serves Canadian wines and beers and, of course, offers the best view in the entire Bow Valley.

Instagram: Sky Bistro

The Bison
211 Bear St # 213, Banff

Photo: The Bison Instagram

With a name like the Bison, it’s not surprising that this downtown Banff restaurant specializes in refined Canadiana cuisine. The Bison works closely with local farms to create regional farm-to-table dishes. Bison and beef both figure heavily on the menu, alongside carefully prepared sides and salads.

Instagram: The Bison

The Sensory
101-300 Old Canmore Rd, Canmore

Photo: The Sensory Instagram

One of Canmore’s newer spots to eat, the dishes at this restaurant reflect the flavours of the mountains, with ingredients like wild game, birch syrup, and saskatoon berries. Upstairs, you’ll find a fine dining restaurant, while the ground floor is home to the Wit Bar, a more relaxed version of the Sensory that serves sandwiches, bar snacks, and casual meals. Both halves of the business offer a thoughtful wine list and a selection of incredibly creative cocktails.

Instagram: The Sensory

Three Ravens
107 Tunnel Mountain Dr, Banff

Photo: Banff Centre Website

The Banff Centre is known for its events and artist programs, but many people don’t realize that it also has a top-notch onsite restaurant. Three Ravens Restaurant and Wine Bar is a modern fine-dining space that offers dishes worthy of the Centre that it’s a part of. Like many Banff restaurants, local proteins (including game) is on the menu, along with a good selection of Ocean Wise seafood.

Instagram: Banff Centre

Article by: Calgary Herald