From a tourist perspective, Brooks is best known for its location on the Trans-Canada Highway, between Calgary and Medicine Hat, and for its proximity to Dinosaur Provincial Park, a World Heritage Site famed for its dinosaur beds and badlands. In recent years, Brooks has grown from a southeast Alberta farm town into a small city (population 14,000), with a considerable workforce from sub-Saharan Africa at a large meatpacking plant. The city’s cuisine has also expanded to include reputable Thai and sushi restaurants.
But I’m in the mood for the old-time hotel bar scene that Alberta’s small towns are famous for. And the Brooks Hotel (“Established since 1909”) doesn’t disappoint. The wood paneling’s dark, the lighting dim, with the only glow coming from a row of automated gambling machines. Early-afternoon patrons are nursing bottles of Bud, Miller and Kokanee and digging into mountainous sandwiches. Which is what I’m here for. The waitress rattles off half a dozen varieties, and I pick a loaded roast beef, stuffed between two ridiculously thick slices of fresh, soft French bread. It’s $6 for a pound of food, $1.25 more if I add soup. While I’m waiting for my takeout, she asks if I want a glass of ice water or soda: “Slice of lime or lemon with that?” Unpretentious, friendly, incredible value and the kind of roast beef sandwich your mother used to make. What’s not to like?
111 1 Street West, Brooks
Daily 10 am-2 am, except 1:30 am Sunday