As you may know from previous posts, one of my favorite parts about visiting a new place is trying new food. I especially love trying cultural foods in new countries. So as you can imagine, I was super excited to see what delicious food Canada had to offer. Recently my boyfriend and I took a little road trip through Alberta Canada, stopping in Calgary, Banff, and Jasper. Now, normally when I travel somewhere I try to make a whole post about each city, but we were constantly on the go and only stayed each place for about two days, so I figured I’d combine it all into one post. Plus, if you decide to go to Alberta, its pretty likely that you’ll visit all of these places on your trip too! Sidenote: I’m thinking of writing a separate post about our itinerary for the trip for anyone who may be thinking about going there as well. Anyways, on to the food!
I originally stumbled upon this place because I was in search of some good Poutine. Poutine was honestly the food I was most excited to try, and it definitely did not disappoint. Niana’s Kitchen is located kind of on the outskirts of downtown Calgary (at least thats what it felt like as a foreigner walking there). Its distance from the center of downtown meant is wasn’t super crowded and it wasn’t super overpriced, which were both welcomed surprises. What Niana’s specializes in is actually stuffed burgers. In fact, they won an award for the best burger in Canada, and are going to compete in a competition in the States soon. So even though I came for the poutine, I couldn’t pass up a good burger. I ended up going with the Jalapeño Popper Burger (stuffed with cream cheese, fresh jalapeños, and fried jalapeños, topped with ranch dressing) and Sam of course went with the Bacon Mac n Cheese burger (stuffed with, obviously, bacon and mac n cheese). The burgers come with fries, but you can make your fries poutine for a small fee. Man, this meal did not disappoint. Firstly I’ve discovered I love poutine! The burger was juicy and extremely flavorful as well. As you might guess I didn’t even come close to finishing this meal, but it was amazing nonetheless and I’d definitely suggest it if you’re ever in Calgary.
Besides Poutine, the only other really Canadian thing I was looking forward to trying was Tim Horton’s. I’m putting this under Calgary just because that was the first time we tried it, but I think we ended up getting Tim Horton’s about four times. It’s basically just like a Dunkin Donuts, but with really good and affordable food. I tried a bagel, Tim Bits (donut holes), a bagel sandwich, and an english muffin sandwich, and they were all pretty good. This was our go-to if we didn’t have breakfast planned for the morning and pretty much always came in under $10 or $15 (CAD).
Bear Street Tavern
Our first meal in Banff was at Bear Street Tavern. We wanted something that wasn’t super expensive, but was still kind of nice. We found Bear Street Tavern, which is one block off of the main street in Downtown Banff. This place has kind of a cool, young, hipster type feel and provides some truly delicious pizzas. Sam ended up getting The Big Bird (chicken, bacon, spinach, onions, goat cheese, mozzarella, pesto, and pizza sauce), which hit the spot. I wasn’t really in the mood for pizza so I went with the Pulled Pork Nachos, which were amazing. One thing I really appreciated was that they were kind of double layered nachos. All of the toppings weren’t just on the top of the chips, they were in the middle too, so you could really get a good bite with every chip. We also got a Baked Rosaline because it was the daily special and we were curious. It ended up being kind of like a different take on lasagna: homemade noodles rolled into a spiral with cheese, pesto, and ham. I really enjoyed our meal here, but if we go back I think we would just split a pizza because I ended up having half of my nachos left over.
St. Jame’s Gate Olde Irish Pub
For our second night in Banff it was a little rainy and I really just wanted some soup and poutine to warm me up. It’s a good thing we found St. Jame’s Irish Pub because they had exactly what I needed. The pub is also just a block off of the main drag of downtown and has that laid back atmosphere you want in a pub. It’s also pretty reasonably priced compared to most things in Banff. I ended up getting an order of Poutine and cup of Guinness Crab and Asparagus Soup. I was a little nervous about the soup but I ended up loving it, it was nice and creamy and didn’t have an overwhelming flavor of crab or asparagus. Sam got the a chicken sandwich with fries, which he also really enjoyed. We both liked St. Jame’s so much that we went back again for dinner while we were in Lake Louise later in the week. This time I got the Chicken Pot Pie which really hit the spot.
Squish Sandwich Cellar
We packed PB&J most days for lunch, but we decided to go out for lunch one day while we were in Banff. On this day we happened upon Squish Sandwich Cellar, a shop located in a basement on the main drag. It was a chilly day and I was in the mood for soup, so I ended up getting the Soup of the Day with bread. On this day it happened to be a beef and vegetable soup, which I really enjoyed. They gave me a huge bowl of it along with like 6 pieces of good bread. Sam got the Triple Decker Sandwich, which looked delicious. It was a little expensive for a sandwich, but we quickly learned food in Canada is not cheap.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
Our final meal in Banff was actually our final meal of the trip. We were in the mood for Italian but also didn’t want to spend a lot of money, since most of our meals had been more expensive than we’d planned. We found the Old Spaghetti Factory, which is actually a chain in Canada, but its really well priced. The restaurant was really large, so we didn’t have to wait to eat at all. I went with the Spicy Chorizo Penne Al Fresco, which was pretty good. It wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped, but I still enjoyed it. Sam had the Chorizo Cannelloni (can you tell we like chorizo), which were kind of like Manicotti but with chorizo. What made this place super affordable though, was that with each pasta dish you got bread, a salad, ice cream, and tea or coffee included in the price. The bread was delicious and came with garlic butter and the salad was good as well. I also got some vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio ice cream at the end of the meal. Overall it was pretty good, and you definitely get your money’s worth.
At Wit’s End B&B
Ok I’m kind of cheating here because this isn’t a restaurant, but I just have to mention it. We had the pleasure of staying at At Wit’s End Bed & Breakfast during our stay in Banff. The B&B itself was lovely, but what really stood out was the breakfast. Our host, April, made the most amazing breakfasts I’ve ever had (no exaggeration). The first morning she made us bagel sandwiches with eggs, tomato, cheese, and ham on a cheese bagel. She also made us adorable little parfaits. The second morning (pictured above) she made an amazing spread of sausage, eggs, potatoes, and fresh tomatoes, as well as a little parfait to start. Sam & I were dreaming about her breakfasts for the remainder of the trip. So if you make a trip to Banff, I would highly suggest trying to stay here.
Our first night in Jasper we tried Cafe Mondo, a coffee shop by day, taco shop by night. I was a little surprised when we walked in and there were only two other parties in the restaurant, but we went in nonetheless. I was disappointed to find out it wasn’t the kind of taco shop I wanted. I was in the mood for some a la carte tacos, but this was more like a regular kind of Tex Mex restaurant. Our appetizer of Choriqueso was delicious, queso baked in cheese, served with flour tortillas. I then convinced the waitress to let me get some a la carte tacos and went with one chicken and one pork taco. They were alright, but nothing special. This was really the only disappointing meal of our trip, and I don’t think I’d go back.
North Face Pizza
On our final night in Jasper we wanted something affordable and easy. North Face Pizza fit those requirements exactly. North Face is surprisingly affordable, and you can build your own pizza. I got an 8-inch build your own pizza with a pesto sauce base, sausage, and pepperoni. It was the perfect size for me, and it was only $9.75 (CAD)! You really can’t beat that in Alberta. Sam got the medium size pizza, but it was still only $13.50 (CAD). We got our pizzas to go and took them back to our B&B and watched some Narcos and had a relaxing night. North Face also had poutine, as well as sandwiches and salads.
And that is everything I ate during my road trip through Alberta. I hope this is helpful for anyone planning a visit!