While Banff is most famously known for outdoor adventure, its food scene can’t be ignored. Like many tourist towns, you’ll find loads of places to eat in Banff, but you need to be careful you don’t get sucked into a tourist trap.
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Places to eat in Banff
No matter if you’re looking for brunch, a classic burger or lighter fare, we know the very best places to eat in Banff. During the summer months and ski season, Banff can get quite busy – especially on weekends. If one of these restaurants interests you, be sure to reserve ahead. Bon appetite!
This wood-fired steakhouse rocks a mid-century mountain vibe inside both its restaurant and bar area. Few places in Banff sport a proper lounge, but Bluebird does and you’ll especially want to set yourself up here during Happy Hour that runs daily from 5-6pm and again from 9-11pm. You’ll find lots of Alberta draft options, and pints run $6.50 with cocktail nine dollars and under during happy hour.
Bluebird is known for their prime rib, which is cured and cooked for 24 hours each. (Just do yourself a favour and go for the Bluebird cut.) Their cheesy mashed potatoes are quickly reaching cult status, though their loaded baked potato is also pretty epic. And while we’re talking about potatoes, don’t miss the smoked cheddar potato donuts for an appetizer.
One thing you must do is order the key lime pie immediately with your other courses. They seem to always run out and you definitely don’t want to miss out on this.
The Grizzly House is one of the best-known restaurants in Banff. It’s been around for over 50 years and was originally a disco. Due to liquor laws, they had to provide some sort of sustenance, which is how it ended up being one of the most entertaining spots in Banff.
Nowadays, the Grizzly House specializes in fondue, but they have a lot more going on than your typical fondue menu. Here, you’ll find up 14 different varieties of meat, including buffalo, rattlesnake, lobster and shark in addition to the usual suspects (chicken, beef, etc…) They also have traditional cheese and chocolate fondues for traditionalists.
While it is a pricey place (for locals) to eat at, it’s definitely worth the splurge at least once. Known for its eclectic and odd atmosphere, go ahead and pick up the rotary phone at your table and have a chat with other diners.
Nourish is a vegetarian bistro serving plant-based comfort food, made with farm-to-table ingredients. They have GMO-free, gluten-free, organic and raw options on the menu, making it super accessible to all eaters.
With a calming vibe and healthy options, you won’t regret dining here. For pretty pics, order the nachos sprinkled with edible flowers.
Wild Flour Bakery
Wild Flour Bakery is an independent bakery/cafe that offers organic, nourishing food. Stop by for breakfast or lunch and be prepared to have a hard time deciding between the pastries, hearty sandwiches, soups and salads.
They’re well known for their sourdough bread so it’s worth grabbing a loaf to take home. Ardent fans of chai tea might be disappointed in Wild Flour’s version, but that’s the only thing we’ve found to be sub-par here. Their vegan and gluten-free baked goods keep us coming back.
Block Kitchen + Bar
Block Kitchen + Bar is a tiny bistro boasting big flavours on a side street off Banff’s main drag. Their curries and fried chicken sandwich are both winners, as are their colourful salads and inventive cocktails. Open for both lunch and dinner, Block is one of our go-to spots. Just be sure to get their early as they don’t take reservations and are quite small.
If you’re looking for kitschy Canadiana vibe, take this as your cue to head to Park. What sets this restaurant apart (besides their en point decor) is that they’re also a distillery – the first ever in a National Park. Serving up campfire-style cooking, most of the meat dishes are wood-fired and a smoky-savoury flavour permits most menu items – including some of their cocktails.
If you become enamoured with their small batch spirits, you can pick up a bottle from the distillery shop or book in for an on-site distillery tour to see the process first hand.
The only Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant in Alberta, Eden is nestled within the swish Rimrock Resort. Head here for elegant three and four course meals that showcase the bounty of the Bow Valley.
It’s the kind of spot where diners begin with an amuse bouche, palate cleansing sorbet is served between courses and a champagne trolley is wheeled out to every table. There’s not many spots for fine dining in Banff National Park, but you’ll find it here.
A parlour, lounge and restaurant all rolled into one, The Radiant is one of the swishest spots along Banff Avenue. You can come here for drinks and a drag show (their #Ginstagrams are currently killing it), but if you’re a foodie, you’ll want to tuck in, too. Of note is the Curry’s Curry, a chef-inspired beef curry that changes daily. A Tuna Matata is a spice inflected poke plate that’s an explosion of flavour.
You’ll probably end up eating and drinking too much for dessert, but try not to. Alberta Rose has to be the most romantic dessert in the Rockies. With dollops of rose cream custard, lashings of raspberry sabayon and a raspberry and rose sorbet set alongside a warm, sugared brioche, you’ll swoon over every bite.
Farm + Fire
If you like rotisserie chicken, pimped out corn on the cob and gussied up flatbread, you’ll want to snag a seat at this new restaurant located within Elk + Avenue hotel. And because their opening occurred in the throes of COVID-19, they were able to set up a take away section.
We quite liked their tartare (changes daily, but we had the salmon) and would definitely order their flatbread again. Of note is their children’s menu – one of the best we’ve found in the Rockies in terms of quality and variety.
Not a sit down restaurant, but you can grab fantastic sandwiches, loaves, muffins, cakes and pastries at Uprising, a new craft bakery. (Their BLT is a thing of beauty.) Everything is baked from scratch and if you don’t get there quick, some of your favourites are sure to be sold out. Their sourdough is crafted in the European style with no additives or preservatives.
Pat, the baker is a big deal. He used to work in the bakery at the Four Seasons in Prague under the helm of a Michelin-starred chef. From there, he went onto other notable European restaurants and patisseries.
Brunch is a rite of passage that any weekender ought to indulge in. The Banff brunch scene is definitely growing, but like you’ll find in the city, not all brunches are created equal. We’ve listed our faves below.
Fairmont Banff Springs brunch
The Fairmont Banff Springs brunch is one of the best-known brunches in Banff. Held on Saturday and Sunday from 11-3, the hotel used to offers a fabulous, enormous buffet spread. While COVID has put the brakes on that, you can still tuck into extravagant brunch options in The Vermillion Room.
The Bison offers a farm-to-table Sunday brunch sourced from local ingredients. Food here is thoughtful and artfully presented. And to enhance your meal, an acoustic singer-songwriter performances to accompany your meal. During summer, aim for a spot on the terrace for magnificent mountain views.
This southwestern style restaurant offers brunch, lunch and dinner every day of the week. The brunch menu includes frittatas, huevos, bagels (not exactly southwestern, but OK) and the usual fare of pancakes and french toast. Brunch runs from 8-11:30 every day.
Banff Japanese Restaurants
You don’t have to go far in Banff to find some decent Japanese restaurants. They happen to be pretty small in Banff, so call ahead or be prepared to wait, especially now with COVID restrictions in place.
Open for lunch and dinner, Shoku Izakaya is pretty much nails it in the fun food to have with drinks category – which is exactly what an Izakaya is. If you’ve ever lived in Japan, you’ll be thrilled to find an excellent Agedashi Dofu (tofu in a fab broth) and mentaiko pasta. This pasta (in a cod roe sauce) is so hard to find in Alberta, but it’s here! Also of note is their karage. Despite being fried chicken, the batter is light, but still delectably crunchy and flavourful.
Under the helm of Chef Stephane Prevost (same Chef as Block – which we also love), you’ll also find grilled skewers, noodle dishes and other Asian-influenced dishes. I envision coming back to this spot again and again.
If you like to party, take this as your cue to dine at Hello Sunshine. It’s a pretty jovial (read: loud) spot, especially whenever someone orders a sake bomb and has to do the obligatory chant complete with table fist pounding. You can get skewers here and bao buns and other fun apps, but I was most impressed by their sushi.
The quality of the sushi and sashimi is good – you can tell by the texture. The portion sizes are decent, too. One of the big draws to Hello Sunshine is there karaoke bar. Don’t worry, karaoke is held in separate rooms off the main restaurant.
Ramen Arashi dishes up ramen noodle soup at Sundance Mall. They have quite a large assortment of ramen, including vegan options. Not into noodles? Order a rice bowl, salad or there’s a variety of appetizers to choose from. Eat in or takeout, and if you’re staying in Canmore, they have a location there, too.
Sushi House Banff
The neatest thing about Sushi House Banff is that it has a sushi train to deliver your nibbles to your table. Sushi here is reasonably priced with a picture menu, so you know exactly what you’ll be getting.
Sushi Bistro is a small sushi restaurant with traditional sushi options, as well as tempura, vegetarian and vegan options. Their picture menu also lists the calorie count, for those who are into that sort of thing. This Japanese restaurant has one of the best locations – right on Banff Avenue.
Best steak in Banff
Alberta is pretty proud of their beef, which tastes rich and flavourful. If you’re a steak lover, it’s not hard to find the best steak in Banff depending on the cut you’re after.
Chuck’s Steakhouse is the only restaurant that uses local Alberta beef that’s dry-aged in-house. After being aged, it’s grilled over hardwood and mesquite, before being finished under an 1800-degree broiler.
The steakhouse offers family and ranch-style meals or individual steaks. Best is that they bring the cuts right to your table and you’ll get a bit of an education in the cut, how the marbling affects the taste, etc…
1888 Chop House
An authentic chop house experience with a modern twist, 1888 Chop Steakhouse is located in Fairmont Banff Springs. Pretty much everything here is made in-house (including butter and pasta) and is sourced as much as possible from local farms.
They’re known for their 50 oz Black Angus Tomahawk steak (you’ll want to split that) and classic sides. With several gluten-free and non-beef options, all food preferences can be accommodated.
One of our favourite spots after tackling the Fairmont Banff Springs, Saltlik has major curb appeal with so many blooming flower boxes, you’d almost think you were at a chalet in the Alps. Saltlik serves up Certified Angus beef PRIME Steak – graded the top 2% of all steaks in North America, plus Ocean Wise fish dishes. Their sides are predictably decadent (lobster mashed potatoes, asparagus with truffle hollandaise, etc…), but worth the splurge.
Best coffee in Banff
Whether you’re a morning coffee drinker who relies on a dose of caffeine to get the day started, or looking for a mid-day boost, you’ll definitely want to find the best coffee in Banff to meet your needs.
Whitebark Café is located on Banff Avenue, inside Banff Aspen Lodge. The café serves coffee from a roaster in North Vancouver and tea from the Banff Tea Company. They also serve pastries and light food, with vegan and vegetarian options. With it being of few blocks down from the busy part of Banff Avenue, you may find this cafe less frantic and more of a cozy spot to relax.
If you want hyper local coffee, head here to get a fresh cup brewed up from Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters. While the bakery isn’t flash, this is the spot where local coffee lovers get their java. While you’re there, you can pick up some scones, cinnamon buns or danishes to enhance your morning cup of joe.
Pick up fresh beans from Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters headquartered in Canmore – just across the street from Valbella Deli.
Evelyn’s Coffee Bar
Evelyn’s Coffee Bar is one of Banff’s stable dining options. This café has traditional tea and coffee options, as well as light bites and sandwiches, with vegetarian options. It’s located on Banff Avenue, an ideal location for people-watching on the patio.
STOCK Food and Drink
STOCK Food and Drink is a market-style cafe inside Fairmont Banff Springs. Serving up premium, quality coffee and house-made meals, it’s an efficient spot for nabbing a quick coffee and snack. You can grab a seat in the restaurant, sit on the patio or grab and go.
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for scarfing back a thick and gooey pizza. Sure, lots of restaurants have pizza on their menus, but when you have the craving, these Banff pizza restaurants are where you need to visit.
High Rollers isn’t your typical pizza joint. They dish up pizza, bowls, burritos, fried chicken and bowling! Due to Covid restrictions, you can’t currently bowl and eat, but under normal circumstances, you can grab some pizza and bowl at the same time.
Hill Rollers takes reservations for both the restaurant section and the bowling area, so make sure to book ahead for your lane or table. Minors are welcome until 10 pm, making it a great spot for the family or a date night.
Bear Street Tavern
What’s great about Bear Street Tavern pizzas is that they’re personal sized, so everyone can enjoy their own food and not have to share. There are also non-pizza options for anyone in your party who doesn’t love pizza. Do such people even exist?
The restaurant has vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, plus a local beer menu. In the summer months, you’ll want to sit outside on the courtyard patio. Though tavern means pub, children are welcome, making it a less bland spot for family-friendly dining.
After a long day of hiking, biking, or just wandering around the town, hitting up a Banff patio is the perfect way to cap off your day. This summer, almost every restaurant has a patio due to COVID restrictions and the vehicle restrictions on Banff Avenue. The following are our favourite patios.
Waldhaus Pub and Patio
Waldhaus Pub and Patio is a German-style pub, located in the Fairmont Banff Springs. The patio is located just up from the Bow River Falls and overlooks the Stanley Thompson Golf Course. The restaurant is open for brunch and lunch. It’s one of the best value restaurants at the Fairmont and if you like hearty pub food and quiz nights, you’ll want to check it out.
Juniper Bistro is one of Banff’s best kept secrets. Situated inside The Juniper Hotel, a two-minute drive out of town, it’s super convenient for guests, but is worth the visit even if you’re not overnighting.
Inside the restaurant are wall-to-wall windows, making you feel like you’re a part of the outdoors. They also have a beautiful patio with top notch mountain and wilderness views. The restaurant serves up Canadian cuisine for breakfast, drinks and dinner with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Note: This restaurant is currently closed due to COVID-19.
Located on the top of Magpie and Stump, this open air, rooftop patio lets you bask in the sunshine while noshing on Mexican food and sipping puckery margaritas. The open-air taco bar looks over the heart of Banff, affording stellar views while you eat.
The menu includes burritos, build your own natchos, enchiladas and paletas (Mexican popsicle). They don’t take reservations but say that they’ll fit you in wherever they can.
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What is your favourite place to eat in Banff?
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