Article featured image
Photo: Cheryle Battrum
Visiting these beautiful Canadian national parks? Don't miss these great eats.

Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies – located roughly 80 miles from the Calgary International Airport – is a year-round tourist destination for real outdoor lovers. There’s skiing, snowshoeing and dogsledding in the colder months, and camping, kayaking and endless hiking trails to wander under its bright summer sun. With so many outdoor opportunities to obsess over, it would be easy for locals to neglect their food scene. Not so! Between ski runs and nature hikes, there’s a wide array of restaurants, breweries, bakeries and tea houses to sate the hunger of even the most discerning diner. Here are eight places that justify foregoing outdoor adventure for a few hours of focusing on the repast.

1. Nourish
In the heart of Banff is a vegetarian restaurant focused on tapas-style dining in a relaxed setting that aptly reflects the town’s easygoing spirit. There are enough raw food, gluten-free or vegan free options to comply with even the strictest diet, but the menu is creative enough to satisfy ominivores, too. Consider the mac and cheese, comprised of quinoa noodles slathered in a creamy coconut and smoked paprika sauce, and the ravioli stuffed with wild mushrooms and topped with a lavender, roasted red pepper sauce. Sip from local ciders and beer on tap, or try the hempola hangover smoothie, made with almond milk, banana, maple and hemp oil. 211 Bear Street, Banff,

2. The Banff Ave Brewing Co.
The second brewery from Jasper-based Bear Hill Brewing features a menu to rival its enticing beer selection. Some dishes even sample from the suds-making. Check out the poached pear, arugula and brie sandwich, slathered in brewing beer jelly. Beer also finds its way into the cocktails, such as the grown-up cream soda with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Meukow vanilla liqueur, soda and stout. Most beers are brewed on-site in the warm space, featuring tree trunk tables and a pool table. On Monday nights, walk-ins are invited to join the “beer club” to discuss the art of brewing (and drinking) beer. 110 Banff Avenue, Banff,

The Bison features locally sourced meats and fish, including dishes like short ribs skillet. 

3. The Bison
Rustic yet elegant at the same time, The Bison, located in the heart of town, invites guests to linger on its large outdoor terrace, where a fireplace rages in the winter and the mountains loom in the background. The open, copper-topped kitchen is helmed by chef Liz Gagnon, whose menu spotlights local ingredients such as Alberta bison and salmon from British Columbia. Weekend brunch items like hot off-the-iron waffles with Nutella, peanut butter and bananas are an ideal morning-after remedy for an evening amid the vibrant Banff nightlife. 211 Bear Street, Banff,

4. Samurai Sushi
The Fairmont’s Banff Springs Hotel hovers over Banff like the Scottish Castles that inspired it more than 125 years ago. Its candlelit corridors lead to a variety of restaurants serving steaks and lamb fit for royalty. For those seeking something lighter and less stately, there’s Samurai Sushi, slicing up uni, mirugai, anago and kani as if it were a sacred quest. There’s no knightly round table to speak of, but the open sushi bar would merit a visit even if it wasn’t nestled inside the Canadian Rockies’ only castle. The Fairmont Banff Springs, 405 Spray Avenue, Banff,

5. Skoki Lodge Lake Louise
Royalty watchers might venture to Skoki for the mere fact that it’s where England’s Prince Will and Dutchess Kate spent their honeymoon. But there’s plenty else to like here, too. Chef Katie Mitzel’s menu includes things like freshly foraged mushrooms and seafood straight from the Pacific. She calls her cuisine “backcountry gourmet” for good reason. To reach Skoki, guests have to hike or ski for 11 miles over two high mountain passes. Or, if you have a pedigree like Kate and Will, you can always take a helicopter instead. The Lake Louise Ski Area, 1 Whitehorn Road, Lake Louise,

6. The Wallisur Stube at Chateau Lake Louise
Lake Louise gleams turquoise in summer but is perhaps most beautiful when coated in winter snow. Either season has a nip in the air, making it an ideal time for fondue all year round. The Fairmont’s regal Chateau Lake Louise was founded by Swiss mountaineers more than a century ago, and their fondue tradition endures at The Wallisur Stube. Kick off a hearty meal with traditional raclette, gussied up with black truffles and bread cubes, then transition into boiling broth to prepare your own Alberta beef and bison combo. Later, fall into a happy stupor with Toblerone fondue, paired with marshmallows and fresh fruit. 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise,

7. The Post Hotel
For one of the most robust wine selections in Canada, visit this Relais and Chateaux property, which houses some 25,500 bottles in its cellar and more than 2,000 selections ready for pouring. Un verre de vin is the ideal accompaniment to the restaurant’s traditional French cuisine. Settle in next to the fieldstone fireplace in the pine dining room and linger for a while before retiring to your room where downy comforters and exposed wood ceilings await. From May 29 to June 1, the hotel plays host to the Wine Summit, one of the most dynamic gatherings for oenophiles in North America. 200 Pipestone Road, Lake Louise,

8. Lake Agnes Tea House 
Situated on the edge of Lake Agnes, this amply stocked tea house, offering hundreds of varieties from Rooibosan to African red bush to Kyoto cherry rose, is well worth the 11 kilometer hike from Lake Louise. An on-site baker makes homemade oatmeal brown bread for sandwiches, carrot cookies, date squares and apple crumble daily to accompany the tomato and vegetable barley soup. Be judicious with your waste at the tea house, as the staff must schlep it out each week. Lake Agnes, Lake Louise,

Read more Great Outdoors stories on Food Republic: