Impeccable plating at Eden (photo: Rimrock Hotel Resort)

Community Watch: Best Bites in Banff

By Meghan J. Ward

In the heart of Canada’s first national park, Banff is a small town with a cosmopolitan vibe. Its mountain scenery is a feast for the eyes, while its burgeoning dining scene offers a literal feast—for locals and visitors alike.

Breakfast: If the smell of fresh coffee doesn’t lure you straight into Wild Flour Artisan Bakery Café, its house-made pastries, muffins, and warm-from-the-oven breads certainly will. Start your morning right with the breakfast frittata sandwich—a local favourite. 101–211 Bear St.

Lunch: Block Kitchen + Bar might be modest in size, but its menu is mighty. The wildly popular eatery is reliably packed with patrons digging into fresh, creative, globally inspired dishes. Order multiple tapas-style small plates to ensure a good sampling. 5–201 Banff Ave.

Dinner: The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is rich in history and taste, boasting some of the best dining rooms in the region. Indulge in both by participating in an Eat the Castle Tour. The guided culinary experience visits four restaurants in the hotel. 405 Spray Ave.

Dessert: Named after Banff’s backcountry region, Skoki’s is a top-your-own frozen yogurt joint to satisfy your sweet tooth—even in winter. Hankering for something warmer? Fresh crêpes and loaded waffles add heft to the decadent menu. 109 Banff Ave.

More treats: A visit to Banff Sweet Shoppe feels like a journey back in time, complete with old-fashioned goodies, licorice strings and PEZ. You’ll have a hard time choosing amongst all the retro candies, house-made fudge and maple products. 12–201 Banff Ave.

banff dining drinking park distillery
The bar at Park Distillery (photo: Orange Girl Photos)

Banff is known for its natural splendour as well as its welcoming spirit. Park Distillery, Restaurant + Bar (219 Banff Ave.) perfectly embodies both. It recently earned Banff’s first ever Zero Waste Hero Hospitality Award for diverting 85 percent of its food waste from landfill. Co-founder and Banff native Yannis Karlos is an expert on making the most of your time in town.

What was it like growing up in a national park?
I think I took it for granted. When I moved away for university, I realized how special Banff is. It had this magnetic draw to bring me back because of all the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that are available here—from hiking and climbing to all the different ways you can bike and ski.

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And what about Banff’s restaurant scene?
There’s an incredible amount of diversity for a town of this size. No matter what kind of food or style of dining you’re looking for, there’s a restaurant that’s going to satisfy your cravings.

Why is it important for Park Distillery to be a green business?
Since we’re located in a national park, there’s an obligation to be a leader in environmental sustainability and to set an example for other businesses—to demonstrate that it is possible to divert waste and be energy efficient while also generating revenue.

What’s the best way for visitors to enjoy Banff?
Get out of your car, use your feet and the wonderful transit system, which runs in town and goes to many park attractions. Just breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the views.

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The majestic view at Three Ravens restaurant

Elevate your experience at these very fine dining rooms

• Serving French fare at its best, Eden is western Canada’s only CAA/AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant. Splurge on the six-course chef’s tasting menu or the 10-course grand dégustation and marvel at the artistry on every plate. Rimrock Resort Hotel, 300 Mountain Ave.

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• Tucked beneath the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the Waldhaus Restaurant looks like a fairy-tale cottage in the woods. The Bavarian-inspired menu highlights upmarket comfort classics including schnitzel and cheese fondues. 405 Spray Ave.

• Climb the three storeys to the glass-enclosed Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar: You’ll feel like you’re dining en plein air, complete with summit views. Pair that natural ambience with inventive, seasonal cuisine and it becomes clear why the elegant restaurant is a big draw. 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr.