Even for North America’s greatest ski resort, Whistler punches far above its weight as a winter getaway. The identical close by coast that brings limitless powder to Whistler’s peaks additionally provides recent seafood and retains neighboring farms lush with crisp, clear mountain water. The city additionally attracts world-class cooks and restaurateurs — from Vancouver, simply 90 minutes away — who like having the ability to shred on their days off.
This 12 months, a brand new 10-person high-speed gondola and six-person high-speed carry will shorten wait occasions for skiers and snowboarders. And whereas Vail Resorts poured hundreds of thousands into upgrading the chairs, vaunted native restaurateurs are working equally exhausting to make their very own seats simply as enticing. There are additionally new arrivals to get enthusiastic about, together with a long-awaited Thai restaurant and a collaboration between veterans of the native scene. “Whistler has a tremendous, well-educated clientele,” says Neil Henderson, who has labored in Whistler eating places for 25 years and lately opened Wild Blue. “They know meals, they know service, they know their wines, and so they have excessive expectations.”
Whistler sits in a major location within the culinarily blessed Pacific Northwest. Seafood suppliers swoop up the Sea-to-Sky Freeway with the native top-quality catch. Menus brim with callouts to potatoes from the neighboring Pemberton Valley (seemingly among the world’s greatest), oysters from British Columbia’s Fanny Bay and Desolation Sound, and wines from across the province. Many eating places serve a kind of upscale mountain delicacies, seasonal and native substances utilized in dishes hearty sufficient to gas out of doors adventures, mixed with a decidedly informal setting and repair.
Whistler skilled a increase in Japanese tourism within the ’80s, and although the teams in matching neon outfits headed again to Japan within the early ’90s after the decline of the yen, they left behind a normal of excellence within the city’s sushi eating places, which have solely multiplied since. The famed Sushi Village nonetheless leads the pack, and represents one other think about Whistler’s robust meals scene: cooks and restaurateurs who arrange store right here to maximise their time on the ski hill and bike trails.
What to Know Earlier than You Go
Toptable Group: Jack Evrensel moved to Whistler from Montreal, able to ski all day and serve meals at night time, debuting Araxi (see under) in Whistler Village in 1981 — only a 12 months after Blackcomb Mountain opened for snowboarding, when solely about 1,300 folks lived there on the time (the present inhabitants is about 10 occasions that). He created and ran the Toptable Group, which now owns a couple of different locations in Whistler and among the high eating places in close by Vancouver, together with Blue Water Cafe, CinCin, and Thierry. Evrensel bought Toptable in 2014, however the group continues to set the usual for high-end eating in Whistler. They’ve carried on the superb Araxi, expanded with the acquisition of Il Caminetto, and opened (and now transformed) Bar Oso.
Breakfast: Condos and home leases make up just below half of Whistler’s lodging, and lots of the greatest motels on the town provide apartment-style set ups, so there’s not a lot alternative for going out for breakfast. Most guests and locals seize their morning meals at house, shoving a couple of bites of their mouths as they race to beat the crowds for first tracks. If it’s essential to choose up some espresso and snacks, flip to Whistler’s exceptionally robust pastry scene.
Lodges: On the hill, the principle lodges on every mountain (the Roundhouse, the Rendezvous) provide surprisingly good and various meals, each when it comes to conventional ski lodge eats resembling chili and burgers, in addition to customized burritos and udon noodles. Costs are excessive and contours are inclined to get lengthy, although. Keep away from the crowds by consuming early or late, and/or hitting one of many smaller snack spots that dot the hill.
Ski season: Winter sports activities run late right here, normally starting round mid-November and really fizzling out in early Might, with the busiest occasions falling the week between Christmas and New Yr’s, the January lengthy weekend with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the February lengthy weekend of Presidents Day within the U.S. and Household Day in British Columbia. If you wish to dine out throughout these occasions, make reservations as early as doable, or plan to attend; even the strains on the grocery retailer get interminably lengthy. (You gained’t escape the crowds in summer time both. Mountain bike season begins in Might, and Whistler now pulls in additional guests in summer time than in winter, with the most important crowds throughout August’s Crankworx Pageant.)
Shoulder season: Shoulder season barely exists anymore, however through the temporary lull of Might and most of fall (and customarily early in any week), the highest eating places battle for the few diners by providing unbelievable offers and reductions. Examine the adverts within the native paper or social media to search out three- or four-course meals at locations like Alta Bistro and Araxi for lower than $50 Canadian, about the identical as a high-season entree.
The place to eat
2022 introduced Whistler its greatest restaurant opening in years — each metaphorically and bodily: Wild Blue, a high-end, 150-seat Pacific Northwest seafood home outfitted with turquoise velvet seats and infused with robust native restaurant business DNA. For the venture, Evrensel tapped Henderson, tasks director at Toptable, and Alex Chen, the chef at Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, the ninth-best restaurant within the nation, per Canada’s 100 Greatest. Chen’s menu takes cues from French and Italian coastal delicacies, however makes use of native substances to construct chilled seafood towers and different dishes. Appetizers embrace snap peas with sea forest kelp and fish soup Provencal, whereas bigger plates embrace Dungeness crab spaghettini, halibut T-bone, and salmon with summer time squash and chanterelle mushrooms.
Jatuporn Nuttamarn and Chanidaporn Sriwanta labored within the kitchen of Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental earlier than taking their abilities to Vancouver and finally the village of Mount Currie, the place they opened Barn Nork, which implies “Village Home,” in 2016. Throughout the starting of the pandemic, after a 12 months of limbo between places, the restaurant efficiently made the bounce over to Whistler. The small menu of northern Thai classics incorporates loads of native produce, as within the massaman curry made with Pemberton potatoes, and the occasional bit of caprice, as within the house-made coconut pandan ice cream and Thai tea lime sorbet. With solely 4 tables inside (plus a couple of outdoors, climate allowing), the easiest way to get your palms on the restaurant’s coveted hand-rolled spring rolls and pork stomach in garlic oyster sauce is to choose up an order to go.
Toptable’s tapas and charcuterie spot (which mixes among the city’s greatest cocktails, too), Bar Oso closed for remodels in January 2021. It reopens this winter, with the half-U bar now a whole horseshoe, doubling its beforehand tiny capability. It returns with house-made charcuterie, conventional tapas, and menu of gin and tonics.
The unique Toptable spot instructions a hefty value, however delivers impeccable skilled service and a menu of eclectic influences and fashionable dishes woven by means of with native substances. If not for the picture-perfect setting and clean circulation, Québec foie gras parfait, sea buckthorn-marinated scallop crudo, and house-made mentaiko bucatini won’t make sense. Someway, Toptable’s culinary director, James Walt, makes all of it work. However doubters can begin with comfortable hour, which pairs discounted drinks with oyster offers in the summertime and fondue within the winter.
Co-owner Eric Griffith is among the few restaurateurs born and raised on the town, so he’s acquired a watch for what Whistler needs in a restaurant. Native cheeses and cured meats open meals of elk tartare, smoked mushroom tartine, and braised beef cheeks with Korean barbecue glaze and beef fats cornbread.
Since 1985, Sushi Village has served impeccable fish, inventive rolls, and conventional Japanese dishes to the hungry hordes. Even after many years of untamed recognition — as evidenced by the wall of signed superstar pictures (hello, Val Kilmer?) — it retains its refined quirkiness and sense of enjoyable. Attempt as they may, few prospects can resist a giggle on the “triple black diamond” signal marking the lengthy trek to the washrooms. The massive menu consists of unique creations just like the Tremendous Hiro Roll, sushi-snob-pleasing uni and tuna otoro, and cooked gadgets like spinach gomae, tempura, udon soups, and teriyaki dinners. Through the years, different sushi eating places matched the standard or the menu at numerous factors (Sachi and Nagomi each stay glorious), however no one else can fairly seize the strawberry sake margarita-fueled spirit of Sushi Village. It’s no secret, although, so waits get very lengthy, beginning earlier than they open. Teams of six or extra can reserve the tatami rooms forward of time.
In 2018, Toptable took over and refreshed this practically 30-year-old restaurant. The delicacies is Italy-meets-Canada, together with 30-month-aged prosciutto di Parma, Pemberton beets with burrata, Nova Scotia lobster, and saffron linguine, all at a barely extra cheap price ticket than Araxi.
When you’re staying close to Whistler’s Creekside Base, pop into Bred for baked items by Brit Ed Tatton, who moved to Whistler to snowboard in 2013, bringing alongside his sourdough starter and expertise in tremendous eating kitchens around the globe. He created the bread program at Alta Bistro and ran a weekly bread service earlier than he and spouse Natasha opened their very own plant-based bakery and occasional store in 2019. Utilizing primarily native substances, they bake a wide range of sourdough breads every day, together with cinnamon rolls, cookies, and brownies, plus a savory focaccia. The couple additionally provide some snacky menu gadgets for patrons occupying the few seats, together with hummus and olives.
Purebread opened its first location in Operate Junction in 2010, adopted by a extra central Olympic Plaza location, and now the small chain stretches to Vancouver. It nonetheless wows all people with a powerful array of baked items, like significantly flaky croissants and whoopie pies. Little butter tarts, large meringues, kid-luring rainbow sprinkle cookies, and stylish coconut passionfruit cake maintain down the candy facet, whereas savories embrace bacon and egg brioche, vegetarian sausage rolls, and cheddar jalapeno scones. The store additionally sells a slate of breads and occasional to go, plus a couple of items and specialty meals. The road stretching out the door strikes shortly.
At Blackcomb’s base, the informal counter service cafe contained in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler serves sizzling meals all day, principally a reasonably customary menu of eggs, breakfast sandwiches, and waffles within the morning, adopted by sandwiches and barbecue within the afternoon. However locals know to skip the strains and head to the second part, the place the espresso counter additionally harbors a small collection of recent fruit Danishes, colourful croissants, and inventive doughnuts.
The place to après-ski
Merlin’s Bar and Grill
At Blackcomb’s Higher Village Base, Merlin’s packs within the crowds with its informal and traditional ski-town-bar really feel. Most tables start with an order of the epically huge nachos; inside a couple of rounds they’re swaying to the acquainted tunes that legendary native band the Hairfarmers bang out on the stage. Dusty’s Bar & BBQ presents Creekside’s model of the identical, and the Garibaldi Raise Co. (GLC) holds down the scene within the Village.
Those who must step away from the traditional rock covers at Merlin’s ought to go for Handlebar, which makes a speciality of craft beer. Together with 9 faucets, the bar carries a couple of cans and bottles, plus a wide variety of whiskey. Most significantly, after 5 years serving German beer hall-type meals, in 2021 it began serving impressively good New York type pizza, by the slice or by the pie.
Additional down the Higher Village, “Whistler’s coziest pub” waters the non-après crowd: the oldsters who simply wish to chill with a very good beer or glass of bourbon. The Fitz is ideal, no notes. (If anyone studying this tries to carry Whistler Village-style “each night time is a bachelor get together” vitality into this gem of a spot and messes up my Yahtzee sport, I’ll huff proper out of my purple Adirondack chair on the patio.)
If $19 poutine on the GLC busts your beer price range, head throughout the plaza to Whistler’s greatest place for fast and inexpensive meals. You possibly can odor the onions frying from the bottom of the gondolas; nothing will heat you up (and soak up pints) fairly like Zog’s sizzling canines, poutine, and burgers. Hours range by season, however throughout busy occasions, it usually presents among the solely late-night meals round.
The place to buy
Guests can provide their home leases at a slew of markets across the space. Nesters Market carries the highest quality substances, together with a wide variety of native fruit in-season and good cheeses. Recent St. Market in Whistler Market is larger and has a bigger, although much less curated, choice. Whistler Grocery presents the comfort of being within the Village and simply throughout the corridor from the liquor retailer. However you may get a bit extra selection by heading across the nook to Fuji Market, the small Japanese grocery retailer sibling to Ohyama Ramen. For added selection in your menu, Whistler additionally has a Filipino mini-market, Cebu De Oro, out by the previous Olympic Village, and a delivery-only cheese service: French’eese.
The place to sleep
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
This 12 months, the grand dame of Whistler motels completed a five-year transforming venture that included upgraded loos, including a high-end boutique hotel-within-a-hotel referred to as Fairmont Gold, and utterly renovated the indoor/out of doors pool space. With a plum location just some steps from the Blackcomb Gondola and a traditional magnificence that belies its Nineteen Eighties heritage, “The Chateau” stays Whistler’s most splurge-worthy keep. Peak season room charges begin at $649 CAD ($488 USD).
Nita Lake Lodge
Although handy for under Whistler’s Creekside base, simply throughout the freeway, this contemporary tackle the ski lodge presents facilities that negate the necessity to go away the resort. The comfy foyer sports activities a restaurant, restaurant, and bar, with fireplaces for winter and out of doors seating overlooking the lake for summer time. Rooms function heated rest room flooring, fuel fireplaces, and rain showers or outsized bathtubs. And, in case you do someway want to go away the room, the resort runs a free shuttle to the Village for visitors. Peak winter season room charges begin at $400 CAD ($300 USD).
Aava Whistler Lodge
With a major location just some minutes stroll from the Village and gondola entry to each Whistler and Blackcomb, the Aava presents fairly priced comfort. Easy rooms maintain the deal with the out of doors sports activities, with a motorcycle valet, ski lockers, and free boot drying to assist keep away from gear hassles. Till lately, the most important criticism from visitors was the shortage of an on-site restaurant, however the opening of Wild Blue erases that challenge. Peak winter season room charges begin from $399 to $799 CAD ($300 to 600 USD) for a Deluxe Studio room.
A condo-style choice makes touring as a gaggle or household straightforward, particularly on the slopeside Aspens. Although furnishings range by proprietor, every rental has a full kitchen, and the actual draw right here comes within the capability to pop off your skis, hand them off to the ski valet, and hit the out of doors heated pool that everybody on the carry overhead envies. Models hire individually, so charges range by proprietor.
The Delta Lodges Whistler Village Suites
This hybrid spot combines the seamless ease of a resort (and main resort model) with the house of a trip house. The walkable location (to the Village and base of each mountains) and kitchenettes in every room make up for the shortage of persona within the corporate-style flats. Some rooms additionally embrace a washer and dryer and fuel hearth. Rooms begin at $650 CAD ($484 USD).
When you’ve learn this far, you’re all set for a scrumptious journey to Whistler. Simply don’t overlook crucial mouthful on the town: face pictures of powder on seventh Heaven.
Award-winning author Naomi Tomky, the writer of The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook, explores the world with a hungry eye, digging into the intersections of meals, tradition, and journey.