One of my favorite things to do while traveling is finding a great cocktail and amazing food. I guess as you get older these are the fun things to look forward to. I mean who doesn’t love a good meal, drink and fun setting for a night with your friends.
There are honestly endless options for bars and restaurants within all price ranges. It’s very hard to narrow down. We were lucky our friends had been there before, so they already had some ideas on the radar. Majority of the restaurants are on Opentable which was so convenient. We did book all of our reservations a month before we left. I would recommend doing that as some of the most popular restaurants will be booked if you wait till you get there.
Without further ado, here are the places we visited….
Rundle Lounge – Fairmont Banff Springs
We had drinks here several times and I even had a little lunch one day while the rest of the crew skied. They have a variety of cocktails, wines, beer and small plates. If you are getting something to eat you have to get the meatballs. OMG amazing!!! One of the things I loved about Rundles is seating areas. They were all unique to what you would be looking for, high top tables, low top tables,couches and wing back chairs. It reminded me of lounging in a fancy living room.The staff was great and super friendly (in fact everyone in Canada is super friendly). Almost forgot, there are amazing views anywhere you sit and on the weekends they have live music.
The Vermillion Room – Fairmont Banff Springs
We all really enjoyed our meal here and it was a beautiful restaurant. We started with escargot, French onion soup and their fresh baked bread. My girlfriends said the French onion soup was some of the best they’d ever had. The main meals consisted of duck, bison stew, steak fritz and an order of truffle fries. We of course love trying what everyone else gets, so out of these I’d have to say the duck was the best with the bison stew coming in a close second. Honestly the truffle fries really beat everything. They were so good and the aioli that came with it was to die for. I don’t know what they do different, but Canada sure knows how to make French fries.
1888 Chop House – Fairmont Banff Springs
I’d have to say this was my favorite meal of the trip. If this is on your list, make that reservation early. I would also dress a little nicer for this restaurant. The guys wore sports coats and the ladies of course dressed up leggings with heels/booties. After you get settled your server wheels over a champagne cart, so classy. They have a great menu of wine, best wine choices from everywhere we had been. The bread was AMAZING and the butter was delicious. Our friends went in together and got the Tomahawk. It was 60 oz of rib-eye – dry aged 55 days, served on a cutting board and sliced at the table ( I have no idea how two people could possibly eat all of this, perfect for 4). I of course had a bite and it was delicious. My husband ordered the filet wrapped with boar bacon, need to I say more! I was really hoping for Elk on the menu but their game special for the night was venison filet with a berry sauce. I was a happy girl. It was exactly what I was looking for and cooked perfect. We really wanted to get dessert, but we of course ate too much at dinner.
Grapes – Fairmont Banff Springs
Grapes is an adorable charcuterie, bar and seller. I really enjoyed everything about this place. It’s very small, so make a reservation on Opentable if you’d like to go. We all got some wine and the Chef’s Medley Board. It came with 4 meats and cheeses, sauces and breads. It was so good, but of course will change daily with the Chef. The favorites off our board were the Elk salami, speck, Avondale cheddar and the lalberte’ cheese. There were so many other things I wanted to go back and try, but we ran out of time.
Sky Bistro – Mountain Top Dining @ Banff Gondola
We had a reservation for this restaurant for an apps and happy hour, but decided to try lunch out. I am so glad we went during the day because the view was amazing and we had a perfect clear day. You do need to take the gondola up to get there. It’s around $65 CAD per person, but it really is worth it. The decor in the restaurant was modern but mountain/cabin like at the same time. It was really cozy. You cannot beat the view of the mountains from your table. Doesn’t matter where you sit. The favorites from the lunch menu were the French dip, French fries of course and the hamburger (portions are quite large so you can share). I would like to go back for dinner, however you wouldn’t get to see the view at night.
Maple Leaf – Downtown Banff
I was so excited for this restaurant. The menu looked amazing and I loved the setting of the restaurant. However, it was my least favorite of the trip. I am sure it could have been an off night, but the food was average for the price and the service was sub-par. We were there for 3 hours which should have been more like an hour and a half meal. We couldn’t believe how long it was taking to get out food or drinks. I am hoping it was just the night, because this place definitely has potential.
Park Distillery – Downtown Banff
The overall setting and vibe of this restaurant was probably my favorite. Decor was on point and how can you not love a restaurant that gives you a buffalo plaid blanket if you are cold. They are a restaurant and a distillery. They have their own gin, vodka and rye. They do tours daily, something I would like to do during another visit. Their drink menu was outstanding. We all had such a hard time deciding what to get. They were ALL amazing and made with their own liquor. Our drink favorites were the Sawback, Bow Hut and The Three Sisters. So many good menu items. My favorite item was the cornbread with maple butter, ah! The rotisserie chicken was very good and the table favorite was the rigatoni (I heard, “The best I’ve ever had”). You’ll enjoy this restaurant for a drink or a meal, loved it.
Block – Downtown Banff
This was a very small, quaint bar and restaurant. We were just coming in for drinks. Our friends tried getting into Block when they were there in August and they said the line to get in was down the street. We got lucky and some seats at the bar. We loved our bar tender. He was from Australia (which oddly enough a lot of people we met were from there) and had just returned from a holiday there. We really enjoyed watching him make their unique cocktails. The menu is very different and everyone loved their drink or two. They also serve dinner which looked awesome. Seemed to have a little Japanese/sushi flare to the menu. I’d like to go back to try the food. Fun place to go and make sure you sit at the bar for a fun experience.
The Grisly House – Downtown Banff
Now this is an interesting place, but everyone should experience. It’s known for it’s awesome fondue and being a swingers restaurant in the 70s. Yes, you read that correctly. When you go in, you will notice there is a phone at every table. I don’t want to ruin the fun, so ask your server what it is there for. This is another place to get your reservations for at least a month in advance for a dinner. We were only able to get in there for lunch. It still has a 70s feel and that’s the only music you will hear. If you love cheese fondue and cooking meat off a hot rock, this is the place for you.
Lakeview Lounge – Fairmont Lake Louise
We only went up to Lake Louise for a quick trip and the views. After venturing out on the frozen lake to get some fun pictures and take in the breath taking views, we were all freezing. This bar was so inviting and had the most picturesque view. We smelled hot wine mulling when we walked in to the hotel, so we were all wanting some at this point. We found a comfy couch area to sit, thaw and drink that mulled wine. It was delicious and again took me back to Germany. You’d smell this while walking through the holiday markets. My mom would also make this at home, so it was a nice cozy comfort drink after being out in the cold. Lots of other drink options if you’re not into hot wine. The hubs got a nice spiked hot chocolate.
There were lots of other places we wanted to try, but just did not have the time. The Waldhaus at Fairmont Banff Springs was at the top of my list to eat. They have fondue and a wonderful German fare. Unfortunately they have been closed for renovations and did not open before we left. Looking at the menu, it’s a must for sure!
I hope this has given you a few ideas of places to tryout while you are in Banff. Good luck on deciding, it is a hard one if you are a foodie. If you want anymore information on our dining or cock-tailing experiences, do not hesitate to reach out!