The restaurant scene has come a long way in Canmore in the last decade. While you can still get inexpensive bar meals at local pubs, other choices run the gamut, from the lively atmosphere of dining in the front yard of a converted residence to Spanish tapas.
The Rocky Mountain Bagel Company (830 8th St., 403/678-9978, daily 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m.) is a popular early-morning gathering spot. With a central location, it’s always busy but manages to maintain an inviting atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to start the day with a good strong coffee and fruit-filled muffin. Down one block, Beamer’s Coffee Bar (737 7th Ave., 403/609-0111, daily 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m.) is a smaller space with equally good coffee.
Away from downtown, near where Cougar Creek enters Canmore from the Fairholme Range, is the Summit Café (1001 Cougar Creek Dr., 403/609-2120, daily 6:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; kitchen closes at 4 p.m.). It features a health-conscious menu including lots of salads, but many people come just to soak up the sun on the outside deck or relax with the daily paper and a cup of coffee.
Bella Crusta (702 6th Ave., 403/609-3366, Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.) is the purveyor of excellent pizza. Heated slices to go are $6, or pay $14–16 for a family-sized version and heat it yourself on a barbecue as the friendly staff recommends.
Off the top end of Main Street, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. (838 10th St., 403/609-5508; daily 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., $10–16) is a lovely space of natural tones dominated by a clay wood-fired oven in one corner. The oven is also the main attraction when it comes to the food—gourmet flatbread-style pizzas in the $14–20 range. My advice: Start with a bowl of made-from-scratch chicken noodle soup ($6.50), then move on to the chicken, apple, and cheery tomato pizza (the $16.50 size is enough for two people).
Canmore has seen many top-notch restaurants open in the last few years, but one of the originals, Zona’s (710 9th St., 403/609-2000, daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m. but for dinner only outside summer, $13–19), remains popular. The food is great, and so is the restaurant itself—earthy tones, hardwood floors, rustic furniture, bamboo blinds, and kiln-fired clay crockery create an inviting ambience unequaled in Canmore. The menu takes its roots from around the world, with an emphasis on healthy eating and freshly prepared Canadian produce. Choose from dishes such as lamb shepherd’s pie or vegetarian korma. A large deck provides much-needed extra seating in summer.
Crazyweed Kitchen (1600 Railway Ave., 403/609-2530, daily 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and from 5 p.m., $18–38) dishes up creative culinary fare that gets rave reviews from even cultured Calgarians. From the busy, open kitchen, all manner of creative dishes are on offer—beef short ribs in curry, steamed Alaskan cod, and gourmet pizzas. Healthy portions are served at tables inside or out. Also notable is the extensive wine list, with glasses from $8 and bottles from $38.
Wild Orchid Bistro (Silver Creek Lodge, 1818 Mountain Ave., 403/679-2029, daily except Tues. for dinner, call for lunch hours, $15–28) is my favorite Japanese restaurant in the Canadian Rockies. It features all the usual choices, all expertly crafted in the open kitchen, as well as many with a Western twist. Perfect presentation, mountain views, and a large deck add to the appeal.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition