It’s easy to get a good, or even great, meal at a Jasper restaurant. Connaught Drive and Patricia Street are lined with cafes and restaurants. Considering this is a national park, menus are reasonably well priced. You should expect hearty fare, with lots of beef, game, and a surprisingly good selection of seafood.
Best Jasper Cafes
You’ll smell the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread even before entering Bear’s Paw Bakery (4 Cedar Ave., 780/852-3233, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, lunches under $10). The European-style breads (the muesli loaf is a delight) are perfect for a picnic lunch, but not as tempting as the cakes and pastries. The freshly brewed coffee and oversized scones help make this my favorite Jasper cafe. Operated by the same owners, The Other Paw (610 Connaught Dr., 780/852-2253, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily) has a slightly more contemporary feel, but more of the same great baked goods, as well as delicious salads. With a couple of tables spilling onto the sidewalk, Cafe Mondo (616 Patricia St., 780/852-9676, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, until 9 p.m. in summer, lunches $7.50 to $11) is a popular hangout for locals each morning, but where this place shines is the pizza by the slice and freshly made salads through the day.
Away from the main concentration of Jasper eateries, the Cantonese Restaurant is one of my favoutite places in town for an inexpensive dinner, which I know will arrive quickly and be accompanied by friendly service. The distinctively Chinese menu offers no surprises and portions are generous.
On the same side of town as Jasper Pizza Place Jasper’s oldest restaurant, Papa George’s has been dishing up hearty fare to park visitors since 1925. The setting is old-fashioned, with east-facing windows taking in the panorama of distant mountain peaks.
Miss Italia Ristorante, upstairs in the Patricia Centre Mall, features bright and breezy interior decor with tables also set on a narrow terrace bedecked in pots of colorful flowers. Cooked breakfasts (from 8 a.m.) are $7 to 12. The rest of the day, look for pastas made fresh, baked fillet of Atlantic salmon, and souvlaki with a side of salad and pita bread. Check out the daily specials before ordering–they are taken from the regular menu but discounted a couple of bucks and come with soup or salad.
Pizza lovers congregate at Jasper Pizza Place. It’s a spacious and noisy restaurant with bright furnishings, a concrete floor, exposed heating ducts, and walls lined with photos from Jasper’s earliest days. Regular thick-crust pizzas are available all day, but it’s not until 5 p.m., when the wood-fired oven begins producing thin-crust pizzas with adventurous toppings, that this place really shines.
Fiddle River is a long way from the ocean and not particularly coastal in feel, but it offers a wide variety of seafood. The strikingly rustic decor matches dark polished wood with forest green furnishings, and large windows provide mountain views (reservations are needed for windowside tables). Trout, arctic char, red snapper, ahi tuna, and halibut all make regular appearances on the blackboard menu.
Prime Rib Village has been a longtime Jasper favorite for Alberta beef. Charbroiled steaks and hearty servings of prime rib top out the menu, but the prime rib sandwich ($21), with a plate-load of extras, will fill any carnivorous cravings for a few dollars less. This restaurant also offers a surprisingly good selection of seafood.
Syrahs of Jasper is an elegantly casual eatery offering a wide range of uncomplicated dishes using Canadian game and produce prepared with Swiss-influenced cooking styles. Start with venison sausage strudel, then choose between dishes such as banana- and pinenut-crusted rack of lamb or cheese fondue for two. Syrahs also has one of Jasper’s most impressive wine lists. Also notable at Syrahs is the staff, who seem experienced and knowledgeable.
Walter’s Dining Room is a cut above the typical hotel dining room and is also reasonably priced. Surrounded by the greenery of a four-story atrium, the setting is relaxed but elegant. The menu features contemporary preparations using Canadian ingredients such as Alberta beef and salmon. You could start with the duck terrine with sweet apricots, followed by salmon simmered in a chardonnay and fennel broth, spending a little more than $40 for the two courses. The adjacent lounge has the same pleasant setting and a smaller, less-expensive menu.
Back toward town from Becker’s, on Highway 93A, is the dining room of historic Tekarra Lodge (780/852-4624, 8 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily mid-May to early Oct., $28 to 43). The setting may be mountain-style rustic, but the cooking appeals to modern preferences with combinations like prosciutto-wrapped chicken with pear and smoke gouda.
Jasper’s premier accommodation, across the river from downtown, offers a choice of casual or elegant dining in a variety of restaurants and lounges. Across from the reception area is a dedicated dining reservation desk, staffed 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily in summer, or call 780/852-6052. Reservations are required for the Edith Cavell and Moose’s Nook dining rooms. Families appreciate the fact that children five and under eat free.
Downstairs in the shopping arcade, Meadows Restaurant is a casual room open for a breakfast buffet 7 to 11 a.m. daily (continental $24, full breakfast $32), and then 6 to 9 p.m. Wed. to Sun in the summer only. The turnover of food is quick, meaning everything remains fresh. Request a table away from the buffet for a quieter dining experience. The Emerald Lounge (11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, $22 to 37) takes pride of place in the expansive lobby of the main building. Table settings of various configurations are spread throughout the room while also sprawling out and along the Emerald Outdoor Patio, from where views over picturesque Lac Beauvert to distant mountains are uninterrupted. Both lunch and dinner menus feature imaginative modern Canadian cuisine, but with dinner (from 5:30 p.m.) being decidedly more expensive. At lunch, salads can be made into a full meal by adding extras such as smoked salmon and slices of chicken breast, or stick to mains such as bison burger. The elegantly rustic Moose’s Nook Northern Grill (6 to 9 p.m. daily, $31 to 44) is a good place to enjoy traditional Canadian fare, such as grilled wild boar chops, whiskey-flamed arctic char, or a char-grilled Albertan rib eye steak. Be sure to leave room for dessert–the chestnut-crusted cheesecake smothered in maple syrup is incredible. Cavell’s Restaurant & Terrace (breakfast and dinner daily, $22 to 44) serves up what is generally regarded as the finest food in Jasper. Its stylish wooden furniture contrasts with the white linens and large, bright windows overlooking Lac Beauvert and the mountains beyond. With an emphasis on local produce and Canadian game and seafood, the classic cuisine is served with a European flair. From 7 a.m. throughout the golf season, light breakfasts, drinks, and snacks are served at First Cup, in the golf clubhouse opposite the first tee. Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the smell of sizzling steaks served from a barbecue out front of the clubhouse wafts across the grounds. Expect to pay $7 to 13 for burgers, wraps, and the like.