Tag Archives: Banff National Park

A Blockhead Goes to Banff

Joining the masses, overlooking Banff Avenue in Banff National Park

What am I thinking? Walking into the gaping maw of Banff townsite on a sunny summer Friday. During the height of a historic tourist season.

I do have an excuse, of sorts: doing research for a new edition of my Day Trips From Calgary book (out next year!). And if I’m already there, rubbing shoulders with the hordes, might as well eat.

So I head in late morning to what I call restaurant row: three narrow joints within a span of about 50 feet on Caribou Street. At longstanding Coyotes Southwestern Grill, folks are cutting into slabs of sourdough French toast, dipped in free-range, organic eggs. It looks tempting, but I’m more interested in lunch.

Lining up on restaurant row on Caribou Street

Lining up on restaurant row on Caribou Street

Next door at Tooloulou’s, they have both meals covered, serving big plates of eggs, po’ boys and other Cajun cuisine. But the line is out the door, and I don’t do well with waiting.

Fortunately, a few doors down, tapas-focused Block Kitchen + Bar has just fired up the lunch grill, and other than one occupied outside table, it’s just me, co-owner Andy Burke and the cook. Perfect.

It takes no more than five seconds of menu scanning for my eyes to fix on a winner: a house-roasted pork belly naanwich, with pea shoots, house pickles and tangy mango sauce, plus a mess of fries on the side. This honking big sandwich is delicious and, for a resort town, great value for $15.

The pork belly Naanwich was a delectable, filling meal

The pork belly Naanwich is a delectable, filling meal

Indeed, I nibble on it all afternoon as I drive around the town’s tourist hot spots, before heading up to Lake Louise, where the traffic is so heavy I have to park a kilometre down the road from the fabled lake. What am I thinking?

Block Kitchen + Bar
Corner of Caribou Street and Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta
Daily 11:30 am-2 am
403-985-2887

Backpacking Reward: Hearty Burgers in Lake Louise, Alberta

There's nothing like a week-long backpack into southern Jasper National Park to work up an appetite

There’s nothing like a week-long backpack into southern Jasper National Park to work up an appetite

It’s the end of a week-long backpack in southern Jasper National Park, and the one thing that keeps our feet plodding down the last muddy trail to the car, and civilization, is the mental mantra ham-bur-ger, ham-bur-ger. So it is with stiff legs and famished appetites that we stumble into the Outpost Pub in the darkened bowels of the Post Hotel in Lake Louise, on our way back to Banff. It’s swanky upstairs with a 25,000-bottle wine cellar, but down here—despite the linen napkins and fine European service—they don’t seem to mind my muddy trousers or heavy stubble. And we don’t mind the Lake Louise premium of $15 and up for a burger, especially when it’s six ounces of dense sirloin and a mountain of thin-cut fries, washed down with a pint of Big Rock Traditional. The preliminary basket of chewy, sourdough buns is excellent and somewhat better than the house-made burger bun. But when you’re this hungry, any quibbles are nigh insignificant. For about 10 minutes, the only sound from our table of six is chewing. Or is it inhaling?

Yes, that's a massive sirloin burger behind the mountain of fries at the Outpost Pub in Lake Louise

Yes, that’s a massive sirloin burger behind the mountain of fries at the Outpost Pub in Lake Louise

Outpost Pub in The Post Hotel
200 Pipestone Road, Lake Louise
Monday to Friday 4:30 pm-midnight, weekends noon to midnight
Outpost Pub on Urbanspoon