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Whistler — Dining

 

For years locals have recommended the Rimrock Cafe and Oyster Bar (604-932-5565; $$$–$$$$) in Highland Lodge as the best restaurant in town. It’s at Whistler Creek, about a half-mile south of the village. Entrees like blue marlin and roasted northern musk ox loin grace the menu, complemented by an extensive wine list. Leave room for the exquisite desserts. Le Gros (604-932-4611; $$$; reservations) is another local favorite for the best in modern European fare with a decidedly French twist. It’s about a mile south in Twin Lakes Village, serves dinner only (seven nights a week) and is not usually listed in restaurant guides.

Bearfoot Bistro (604-932-3433; $$$–$$$$), next to the Best Western Listel Whistler Hotel, is a high-end French restaurant offering a fixed-priced gourmet chef’s menu that begins with 1,600 wines and a French tradition called “sabering.” Guests can “saber” a bottle of champagne in a celebratory ceremony by running a sword along the seam of a champagne bottle and blow the cork against a distant wall to cheers of other diners. There is no menu per se but trust the chef with a multicourse dinner of oysters with Nashi pear, bronzed sea scallops, black cod, Ontario squab, loin of wild Arctic caribou, sorbet and soups, petit fours, all courses accompanied by friendly wines from the huge cellar. Where else could you get Dom Perignon by the glass? There’s a less formal (and less expensive) wine bar adjacent to the restaurant with the same kitchen and a simpler bistro menu.

Fifty Two 80 Bistro (604-935-3400; $$–$$$$) at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler specializes in seafood and fun comfort foods such as shapely potatoes and massaged chicken. Whether you’re in the mood for the seafood bar or a delectable five-course meal, all are accompanied by exemplary service, an atmosphere of elegant informality and a very nice selection of local wines. The name signifies Blackcomb’s vertical drop: 5,280 feet.

Aubergine Grill (604-935-4344; $$$) at The Westin features magnificent views and specialty seafood menus from their executive chef. If you’re into beef, don’t miss the classic Hy’s Steakhouse (604-905-5555; $$–$$$; reservations recommended), on the corner of Village Gate and Northlands boulevards, near the entrance to the village off Hwy. 99. Its slogan is “tender steaks and stiff drinks” and they’re not kidding. Val d’Isere (604-932-4666; $$–$$$), in the Town Plaza and open for dinner only, features fine French cuisine and has a strong local reputation.

Umberto Menghi, a flamboyant Italian chef whose TV cooking show was popular in Canada (locals call Umberto “our Emeril”), is well known for his restaurants in Vancouver and two in Whistler. Trattoria Di Umberto (604-932-5858; $$), inside the Mountainside Lodge, offers elegant and traditional Italian fare in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Il Caminetto Di Umberto (604-932-4442; $$$; above), open for dinner only, features more formal Italian Tuscan cuisine. Take home his private-label olive oil and Bambolo wines from Tuscany. Reservations recommended at both.

Mario Enero, once Umberto’s longtime head chef, owns La Rua (604-932-5011; $$$–$$$$; dinner only, reservations recommended; below left) in Le Chamois Hotel, one of the top-rated spots in all of Whistler. This fine Italian restaurant features great food and elegant service. If you like extensive wine lists and a sommalier to make recommendations for each course, then you’ll enjoy Araxi Restaurant & Bar (604-932-4540; $$$–$$$$; reservations recommended), which specializes in West Coast fare and serves creative fish, meat, vegetarian and pasta dishes. The chef uses local and organically grown food to create a menu that’s innovative and wide ranging—from superb elk to Spaghettini and Venison Bolognese. Save room for dessert: We dare you to resist the “Study of Pear” or the “Gateau of Organic Chocolate.” It’s the hip place to dine and, since it’s on the village square, it’s a great place to people-watch.

Quattro at Whistler (604-905-4844; $$–$$$$), in the Pinnacle Hotel, is one of the most popular (and well-deservedly so) Italian/Mediterranean restaurants in Village North. It has an innovative kitchen and a 600-plus wine list. Especially notable are the antipasti—which includes sausage, prawns, and broiled wrapped cheese—and house-made pastas. Also notable is their offering of endangered Chilean seabass, which has become a bit politically incorrect however beautifully prepared. The pressed cornish game hen is an exquisite dish. Edgewater Lodge (604-932-0688; $$$) requires reservations for a high-end dining experience from escargot to schnitzel to lamb to venison…and everything in between. The lakeside setting is stunning, especially at sunset.

When eating at Wildflower (604-938-2033; $$$), in The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, start with an icewine martini, then delve into the innovative regional cuisine that is the specialty of this award-winning restaurant. Don’t forget to check out their wine room.

Get a taste of Austria at Bavaria (604-932-7518; $$$), where schnitzels and fondues rule. Delivering excellent service, the menu is primarily German with a touch of French. The food is good, but not necessarily exceptional; selections include a full range of Schnitzels, Spaetzle, Prawns Savoyarele and Oscar Veal; the fondues are excellent. The atmosphere in a rich wood interior is warm, welcoming and somewhat sophisticated-but you can still order a burger for your kid. It’s at Alpenglow across from 7-11 on Main Street.

Elements Tapas Lounge (604-932-5569; $$), attached to The Kimpton-owned Summit Lodge in Village North is an intimate 40-seat room with a warm atmosphere and the stunning culinary quality that a Kimpton property always provides. The tapas menu offers exotic cold and warm plates of salad, seafood, meats and veggies as well as sweets, all at reasonable prices. The hotel holds its complementary wine-tasting here each evening.

Visiting Japanese tourists means excellent Japanese restaurants. Sushi Village (604-932-3330; $$–$$$) on the second floor of the Sundial Hotel at the Whistler Blackcomb gondola base is legion. We found the service excellent, the sushi fresh and the prices reasonable. A good introduction to sushi is the combo A plate, with salmon, cucumber and tuna maki rolls; split that and a bowl of noodle soup and you’ve got a meal for two for less than C$20. Tempura and noodle soups are also on the menu. For steaks cooked Japanese steakhouse-style, it’s Teppan Village (604-932-2223; $$–$$$) in the Delta Resort at the Whistler Blackcomb base or the very popular Sushi-Ya (604-905-0155; $$–$$$) in the Marketplace area above McDonald’s. They do take-out as well. Zen (604-932-3667; $$$), in First Tracks Lodge at Creekside, serves sushi in a sleek, modern atmosphere.

For good food at a good price, head to The Brew House (604-905-2739; $$). It’s signature is its wood-fired pizza oven and rotisserie, yet also delivers a surprisingly wide menu of other well-prepared foods. Entrees range from bad-ass beef ribs (you better be really, really hungry) to Shanghai noodle bowl to cedar-planked salmon. It’s a casual place, a bit loud, but with good service and, of course, excellent brews made on the premises.

At the streetside entrance to the Le Chamois Hotel is a locals’ favorite Thai restaurant, Thai One On (604-932-4822; $$), featuring nicely priced dishes for eat-in or take-out. Zeuski’s Taverna (604-932-6009; $$), in the Whistler Town Plaza, has moderately priced Greek food. They also do take-out.

On some travelers’ top-10 list you’ll find the Splitz Grill (604-938-9300; $$) in the Alpenglow Building. It features burgerzburgerzbergerz: chicken, salmon, Italian sausage, lentil, veggie, smokies and whatever else you can dream up. It also has a great kids menu and a variety of ice cream banana “splitz.”

Caramba Restaurant (604-938-1879; $–$$), in Town Plaza, is a favorite of our staff Whistler experts. It is “Mediterreaneanish,” with a great putanesca pasta, wood-fired pizzas and a Caramba salad (chicken, butter lettuce, peanut sauce), all at very reasonable prices. It’s a busy, noisy and happenin’ place. It’s pub-fare-plus with a casual flare. Don’t miss a visit to Kypriaki Norte (604-932-0600; $–$$) for traditional Greek food including moussaka, souvlaki, spanakopita and saganaki. They also offer roast lamb, wild boar, paella and fish and salmon entrees.

Cinnamon Bear Bar (604-966-5060; $), near the Hilton, serves typical bar fare, burgers, pizzas and salads from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. The Keg (604-932-5151; $–$$) at Whistler Village Inns and Suites has good steaks, seafood and basic Canadian/American food. Hoz’s Pub & Sports Bar (604-932-5940; $–$$), in Whistler Creekside, is big on the typical snacks, burgers, fish and chips menu. They also feature stir fry, chicken, steak and pasta options.

Four’ (N) Twenty (604-935-1743; $–$$), above the Royal Bank in the village, serves good value for the Whistler dollar. Known as the home of savory meat and veggie pies, soups and sweets, this Brit establishment offers comfort food for a reasonable price. Portobello Market and Fresh Bakery 604-(938-2040; $$, ) on the ground floor of The Fairmont Hotel, has a la carte dining at tables where you order from a menu, but also has an extensive deli counter where you can eat-in or take-out, breakfast and lunch only.

Get great Kung Pao chicken at Earl’s (604-935-3222; $–$$) and watch hockey in the country that claims the sport. The desserts are massive. Milestones (604-938-4648; $–$$) near the Delta Whistler Village Suites has a huge family- and casual-style menu, plus the Palomino Bar ($$).


In the Pan Pacific Mountainside Lodge, Dubh Linn Gate Old Irish Pub (604-905-4047; $$), an authentic Irish pub, has a country feel with offerings of stews, steak & kidney pie, fish & chips and the best draft beer selection in Whistler. Choose from 50 whiskies and 16 beers on tap while you dig the live music. Crêpe Montagne (604-905-4444; $$) at Market Pavillion serves French everything: music, language and savory crepes. Fondue and raclette are also available. Both are cozy gathering spots for breakfast as well. The Amsterdam Cafe (604-932-8334; $$) is a primo people-watching spot, facing Whistler Village Square, the heartbeat of Whistler.

A Whistler favorite of youth and those looking for a quick but tasty bite is Zogs Dogs (604-938-6644; $), an outdoor fast food stand in Mountain Square in front of Showcase, the snowboard retail store. Zogs features chili and cheese hot dogs, various flavored Beavertails (a Canadian fried pastry) and French fries with gravy and other fixings. Outdoor and heated seating are provided.

Ric’s Grill (604-932-7427; $) in the Crystal Lodge is one of Whistler’s lower-priced restaurants that locals and families patronize. Fare includes ribs, salads, stir fry, and various barbeque specialties with steak fries or foot-high onion rings. Pizza is available in either Chicago deep dish or thin crust.

Auntie Em’s Kitchen (604-932-1163; $), in the Village North Marketplace, is a way-above-average deli with a deep menu featuring monster vegetarian sandwiches, matzo-ball soup, breakfast all day, and good breads and sweets, especially the cranberry-date bar. For a simple, cozy meal, sneak into Gone Bakery & Soup Co. (604-905-4663; $), just off the main Village Square behind the best bookstore in the village (Armchair Books) and right on the square. It has a reader board of daily deli specials where you can order at the counter and either take out or park yourself in their comfy chairs. Moderate prices and great food.

Ciao-Thyme Bistro (604-932-7051; $), in the Upper Village across from The Fairmont Chateau is known for its decadent cinnamon pecan buns. The cafe is tiny so it’s a good place to order a fabulous breakfast to go. Locals say this bistro is the best breakfast in Whistler. Creative sandwiches and main dish offerings for lunch are also a specialty. Ingrid’s Village Cafe (604-932-7000; $) on Skier’s Approach near Village Square, is a local legend in Whistler, in business since 1986. Enjoy a huge, best-in-Whistler breakfast for cheap in their cozy deli. Open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. so you can get more than breakfast. Dubh Linn Gate (604-905-4047; $–$$) serves large portions of pancakes, porridge, eggs and omelettes. Perfect, unless the thought of eating breakfast in a bar makes your head spin. Evergreens (604-932-7346; $–$$) in the Hilton Whistler Resort has a fine daily buffet breakfast for less than C$20.

Riverside Junction Cafe & Internet (604-905-1199; $), 2.5 km north of the village at the Riverside Campground, offers all-day breakfast or lunch for a great value. It’s open 7 a.m.–9 p.m. with licensed premises and offers hard-wired and wireless Internet connection. Other Internet cafes in the village include Cyber Web Internet Cafe, Hot Box Coffee and Internet and The Hub.

Sleigh Ride Dining

Enjoy a sleigh ride under the evening stars and then a fondue dinner in The Chalet (604-932-0647) at The Fairmont Chateau Golf Club. Reservations required.

Whistler Outdoor Experience (604-932-3389) offers a number of sleigh rides and dinner combinations in the Whistler area.

On-mountain Dining

There’s good food on the mountains as well. Two unique dining experiences that shouldn’t be missed: Waffles at The Crystal Hut on Blackcomb and ribs at Dusty’s Bar & BBQ at Creekside. The Crystal Hut ($–$$) on Blackcomb Mountain is fit for a king—or at least a prince. England’s Prince Charles brunched on its signature homemade waffles and so should you. It’s on the ridge just above the Crystal Chair. On a clear morning, the views vie with the waffles for the blue-ribbon prize. Canadian Snowmobile Adventures offers a Mountaintop Fondue Ride to the Crystal Hut, where you’ll indulge in a candlelit cheese and broth fondue, as well as refreshments, dessert and live entertainment. Dusty’s (604-905-2171; $–$$), at Creekside, has awesome buckets of ribs and great apres-ski. Don’t miss this legendary establishment.

For fine Alpine dining, stop for lunch at Christine’s (604-938-7437; $$–$$$) in Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb. Choose from excellent salads and entrees including salmon and creative tapas. The portions are small but tasty, perfect in the middle of the day so you can ski or ride afterward without hitting the post-lunch wall. Reservations are a good idea.

At the Glacier Creek Lodge on Blackcomb, choose from market-style fare at the International Plaza ($–$$) or grab a taste of West Coast specialties at the BC Eatery ($–$$).

The Roundhouse Lodge at the almost-top of Whistler boasts four restaurants (all 604-905-2373) including Pika’s ($–$$), perfect for families craving burgers and fries or gourmet baked potatoes and home-made soup. Try Steeps Grill ($–$$) for a simple menu of signature seafood chowder, salads and entrees. Mountain Market ($–$$) offers open market-style dining with your pick of Thai, wraps, fish & chips, salads and deli sandwiches. Paloma’s ($–$$) features Italian fare including pastas and pizza.

For those with more adventurous tastes, the Mountain Top Fondue Dinner starts with an exhilarating snowmobile ride at 1,828 m (6,000 ft) on Blackcomb Mountain, followed by dinner and live entertainment at the cozy Crystal Hut.

Chic Pea ($) at the top of the Garbanzo Express on Whistler is a neat midmountain natural wood cabin where you can get creative pizzas whole or by the slice, scrumptious freshly made subs and ooey-gooey cinnamon buns.

Eager skiers and riders can board the Whistler Village Gondola at 7:15 a.m. for Fresh Tracks buffet breakfast ($$, lift ticket extra; through mid-April) at the Roundhouse Lodge and first rights to the runs. Locals hail this as the best breakfast in town, but we’re not sure why since it’s a basic buffet—what you’re really getting is early access to the slopes.

Condo renters

The Grocery Store in the village will deliver groceries to your condo for your arrival. Prices are higher than your local grocery store, but reasonable. Call 604-932-3628 with a grocery list. Other options for groceries: Food Plus (604-932-6193), open 24 hours, is in Creekside; Marketplace IGA (604-938-2850) in the Marketplace; and Nester’s Market & Pharmacy (932-3545) 1 km. north of the village—”Where the locals shop.” Nester’s will also deliver for a C$75 order or more.

Dining Legend (C$): $$$$–Entrees $30+; $$$–$20–$30; $$–$10–$20; $–less than $10