If you’re getting a little sleepy behind the wheel on your Canadian road trip, pull over and stop at one of these hidden gems for a bite and a rest — you’ll be happy you did.
Barley Brothers (Winnipeg, MB)
For those of you not driving, make sure to take advantage of Barley Brothers’ draught taps that pour tons of different beers, local (I’d recommend trying something from Fort Garry or Half Pints), imports and of course the mass-produced classics. In terms of menu, the food is what you’d expect from a gastropub; tasty burgers, flatbreads, chicken wings, etc.
The Curry Bowl (Fernie, BC)
In the winter, pull over and get your fix of spicy Bombay chicken or beef curry bowls in this quaint little mountain town (they’ve got great skiing here, too). When the snow melts away, The Curry Bowl can be equally appealing with fresh-tasting Asian dishes like salad rolls, agedashi tofu and more.
The Donut Mill (Red Deer, AB)
Unlike the many Tim Hortons that populate a lot of major highways in the country, The Donut Mill makes their doughnuts fresh every morning. On the savoury side, there’s a long list of sandwiches like tuna, turkey or roast beef, as well as hearty soups and chili to fuel you up before you get back on the road.
Flint House (Fort Frances, ON)
In late November, I made my first trip to this small town for the opening of Flint House. Right on the downtown strip, walk in and you’ll find a surprisingly contemporary experience; a gorgeous interior featuring exposed brick walls, central fireplace and open kitchen. For lunch you’ll find gourmet sandwiches like smoked beef brisket with mango salsa and pan seared scallops, and grilled vegetable triple decker.
Larry’s Chip Stand and The Riv Chip Stand (Sturgeon Falls, ON)
If you find yourself wheeling through Sturgeon Falls, make sure to take a break and visit Larry’s and Riv for a poutine stand-off. Located across the street from one another, these two French fry stands pride themselves on making amazing poutine. Locals are often split when it comes to which one they like better, so you might as well order from each and debate for yourself!
Masstown Market (Masstown, NS)
If you can’t find something to eat here, your taste buds might be a little too picky. Masstown is a full-service grocery store that includes a bakery, coffee counter, deli (where you can pick up Nova Scotia’s famous Brothers pepperon) and a café where you can get a quality plate of fish and chips or fried scallops. Just steps away from the main building, you’ll see a lighthouse that houses a fish market full of Atlantic lobster (of course!).
Red Barn (Moosomin, SK)
Anyone who’s trekked between Saskatchewan and Manitoba has probably driven by this bright red joint in Moosomin, a short drive from the provincial border. There’s nothing fancy here, just down home, honest food and service that embodies that small town charm.
Star Cafe and Grill (Maple Creek, SK)
If you’re enroute from Saskatoon or Regina heading southwest to Montana or Alberta, head off the main highway and into Maple Creek for a quality meal at Star Cafe. The menu offers an interesting mix of dishes, from coconut tempura shrimp to curries, pastas and even prime rib. The space is pretty cozy, too.
Starlite Diner Car (Bowden, AB)
Built out of an old train car with a red and Airstream silver exterior, Starlite definitely feels like something straight out of the 1940s. Step inside to the narrow space with classic diner booths and a long bar, and grab a burger or simple grilled cheese sandwich while the waitress offers you endless refills on that cup of coffee.
Webers (Orillia, ON)
At a respectable 53 years old, Webers is one of the province’s most famous roadside spots, mainly due to their greasy-good burgers and creamy, cool milkshakes. The brand became so well known, in fact, that in the mid-2000s, Webers signature hamburger patties were distributed in Loblaws locations across Ontario.