As one of North America’s swankiest ski resorts, Whistler boasts numerous upscale dining options. But look beyond the white tablecloths and there are a handful of cute bistros, artisan sandwich shops and bakeries perfect for visitors who don’t have a platinum credit card. Here are our 5 best bets for the budget traveller. Photos by Remy Scalza except where otherwise indicated.
Lift Coffee Company
Skip the fancy hotel breakfast and start your day at Lift Coffee Company, an independently run café in the heart of Whistler Village. Known for its exceptional drip coffee, Lift serves a big selection of freshly made pastries, muffins and breakfast specials. Don’t miss the unique Lift Bennie: two poached eggs and cured wild salmon with salsa verde, on a buttermilk biscuit ($10).
Breakast on the run: Lift Coffee Company offers fresh muffins, eggs bennie and exceptional coffee.
Budget lunches can be tricky in Whistler. If you’re on the mountain, expect to pay a premium for the convenience of dining slope-side. A better bet is to trek back to the village, where options are more plentiful.
Tucked away on the lower floor of the ritzy Fairmont Chateau Whistler is Portobello, a made-to-order sandwich shop. Ingredients and service are five-star, but not the price ($13.75 for the soup and sandwich special!).
Head to Portobello in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for a quick, surprisingly cheap lunch on the run. Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler.
Another great option for a quick bite is the local favourite, Ingrid’s Café. A tiny spot always bustling with Whistler residents, Ingrid’s serves sandwiches and German specialty foods like chicken schnitzel and bratwurst. My pick: the succulent chicken pesto on toasted ciabatta ($7.50).
Ingrid’s Café specializes in vegetarian options and German delicacies.
After a full day skiing or biking Whistler’s epic slopes, a hearty dinner is a must. While destination restaurants like Araxi and Bearfoot Bistro ably cater to holidaymakers with deep pockets, several new eateries offer exquisite cuisine at bargain prices.
This intimate French restaurant serves set, three-course meals, with the focus is on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. On a recent night at Alta Bistro, I started with a winter salad with Granny Smith apples and sweet onions, before moving on to fresh goat cheese and buttermilk mousse and, finally, a lamb neck and orange ragout. The price: $29! (Reservations are essential, as the 43-seat space fills up nightly with local foodies.)
Alta Bistro offers an intimate French dining experience without breaking the bank. Photo by Rich Emmerson, courtesy of Tourism Whistler.
Another alternative nearby is Pasta Lupino, a cozy, family-run Italian restaurant that often has a line stretching out the door. Dine in on freshly made pasta or ravioli (starting from $12.50) or choose from the discounted take-out menu and enjoy a meal back at your room. Space is tight — expect to be elbow-to-elbow with the next table — but it’s hard to top Lupino’s panko-breaded chicken parmigiana for $16.95.
Are you a budget diner? Let us know what are your own bargain favourites in Whistler.
Remy Scalza is a food and travel writer whose work appears in The Washington Post, Wine Spectator, National Geographic Traveler and other outlets. He blogs about his adventures in Canada and elsewhere at RemyScalza.com and Inside Vancouver.