Just a few blocks from a plateful of fries at Longhorn Saloon & Grill — in spitting distance, really — is one of British Columbia’s finest restaurants, where rabbit is stuffed with pork jowl, and local carrots are roasted, then cannibalized in a sweet carrot puree. That’s Araxi, one of Whistler Village’s founding restaurants. But that’s also Whistler’s dining scene for you, offering everything from loaded nachos to understated seasonal vegetables.
You might head to Whistler, just north of Vancouver, to ski and snowboard. But lately, you might as well head there to eat and drink. The town now revels in some of its first happy hours (thanks to a recently relaxed liquor law that begrudged shifting prices throughout the day until late last year), and a batch of new flavors — from green juiceries to ramen shops — are making an already boisterous scene even more convivial.
Here’s where to après-ski in Whistler, which we should note happens to be just as cool in summer as winter:
Mount Currie Coffee Co.
First things first: coffee. Luckily, one of Mount Currie Coffee Co.’s two locations happens to be in Whistler. The third-wave joint without question crafts Whistler’s best espresso, pulled from beans roasted by Vancouver’s Pallet Coffee Roasters. You might test out the optional “shot” of maple syrup, if you’re so inclined (we know how those alternative sweeteners get discerning coffee drinkers going). 4369 Main St.; 604-962-2288; mountcurriecoffee.com
Once you’ve grabbed your coffee, take a short walk to Purebread. The selection of pastries piled behind the counter looks like the staff is preparing for a feast at Hogwarts: scones, loaves and croissants, savory and sweet, stacked high. Miniature cakes, placed on pedestals (exactly where they should be), are surely meant to be shared. And the toastie carries its weight with a heavy helping of cheese. Olympic Plaza Main St.; 604-962-1182; purebread.ca
The Green Moustache
Of course, you don’t need to start your day off with cream and sugar. At the Green Moustache, you’ll get your health fix with cold-pressed juices and bowls of organic vegetables and grains, all nutrition-forward and with an eye toward detox. Of course, the Superfood Hot Chocolate, made with cashew milk and cayenne, might be Whistler’s most daring cup of cocoa. 122-4340 Lorimer Rd.; 604-962-3727; greenmoustache.com
Christine’s on Blackcomb
Go ahead and call Christine’s on Blackcomb unparalleled: You’ll need a lift ticket and a reservation to reach this restaurant at 6,000 feet. Deep-pocketed snow bunnies gather at this new perch for fancy fare like soy-braised beef short ribs and Keralan fish curry. Don’t overlook its lowest highbrow item: a burger that’s made with grass-fed lamb. And you might not believe it, but this place is farm to gondola to table. 4545 Blackcomb Way; 604-938-7437; whistlerblackcomb.com
Typical ski lodge grub usually peaks at burgers and fries, or veggie burgers and curly fries. But not all ski lodges are helmed by Steve Rame, former sous chef at Hawksworth, one of Vancouver’s highest-end restaurants. Even without a reservation (unlike its neighboring restaurant, Christine’s), mid-ski eats take a bumped-up direction. A whole window is devoted to hot ramen bowls, and another, a taqueria, trumps any hankering for that Chipotle burrito bowl. But it’s the entire window of French-Canadian-style poutine that should entice you the most. Fries and cheese curds topped with barbacoa beef? Bien sûr! 4545 Blackcomb Way; 800-766-0449; whistlerblackcomb.com
Basalt Wine + Salumeria
That Longhorn Saloon & Grill has its merits. It’s the shortest stumble away from the nearest gondola in Whistler Village, ideal for a mid-ski beer. But just around the corner — and worthy of a longer saunter — is the newly opened Basalt Wine + Salumeria. This salumeria is where you’ll share a full bottle of wine on its heated deck, along with some curated charcuterie, too. 4154 Village Green; 604-962-9011; basaltwhistler.com
Wear that outfit you packed “just in case” to match Araxi’s well-suited crowd. The classic joint has stuck around with good reason: The chef, James Walt, kicked off the farm-to-table scene in Whistler long before “farm-fresh fare” had a ring to it. Of course, boozy imports aren’t neglected; there are more than 20 vodkas on the martini list alone. 4222 Village Square; 604-932-4540; araxi.com
Stop by Bar Oso and you just might feel like you stumbled into a spiffy new bar on New York City’s trendy Lower East Side instead of Whistler’s newest restaurant. The contemporary feel is cozied up by spirited chefs who craft Spanish-forward small plates right in front of you. Its house-made charcuterie can’t be missed (a massive, cured pork leg sits on the bar), nor can an order of its Spanish omelette. Share if you can, or get two if you can’t. 4222 Village Square #9; 604-962-4540; baroso.ca
It’s no surprise that a joint with a vodka expert, a resident pianist and a champagne-sabering Guinness World Record holder would also boast a wine cellar with more than 20,000 bottles. Even Bearfoot Bistro’s owner, André Saint-Jacques, alludes to the place’s Vegas-y charm (he does hold a Guinness World Record, after all, so there’s more than enough reason to take it all in with a smile). But it’s the chef, Melissa Craig, who serves the ultimate fare — rabbit loin is wrapped in pancetta, and Atlantic lobster is poached in butter. 4121 Village Green; 604-932-3433; bearfootbistro.com
In the belly of the Four Seasons Whistler, Sidecut happens to serve more than just steak, but you’re in Canada, so pay attention to the Canadian prime steaks, all aged 40 days. And if you’re heading for the sweet spot, skip dessert for a handful of drinkable “Guilty Pleasures,” like a Polar Bear cocktail with crème de cacao, peppermint schnapps, hot chocolate and house-whipped whipped cream. It’s a worthy drink that’s best enjoyed fireside. And if you’re lucky enough to stay at the hotel, the property provides freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a s’mores happy hour and complimentary hot cocoa. Here, life is sweet. 4591 Blackcomb Way; 604-966-5280; sidecutwhistler.com