Whistler, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, is one of my favourite holiday destinations, not only for its close proximity to my home town of Vancouver, but also because it offers so much more than incredible powder and world-class skiing. There’s plenty to do all year round, from white water rafting, zip lining, mountain biking, golfing and ATVing during the sunny summer months to the bounty of winter sports during the iconic Canadian winters. And this ultimate snow destination excels in something that is paramount to all foodies: après-ski. Whistler perfects the art of understated sophistication; guests can get toasty beside giant stone fireplaces in luxurious multi-million-dollar chalets whilst lounging in low-key fleeces and Roots sweatshirts. The food shares an equal ethos of sophistication without the ridiculous pomp, and a bevy of both gourmet and casual restaurants vie to satisfy the appetites of hungry skiers and boarders.
4222 Village Square, Whistler, +604 932 4540
Situated at the heart of the village, Araxi is often considered the culinary centrepiece of Whistler. An early pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, Executive Chef James Walt crafts meticulous dishes that accentuate the true essence of his choice locally sourced ingredients. This critically acclaimed establishment has collected its fair share of prestigious accolades, receiving praise from respected peers such as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. The Araxi cookbook is well known globally for its innovative cooking techniques. We swooned over the buttery sablefish and beautifully marbled Canadian Triple A tenderloin. Freshly shucked oysters from the raw bar made for delightful palate cleansers.
4121 Village Green, Whistler, +604 932 3433
Don’t let the name fool you – there is nothing rustic or folksy about this culinary gem, tucked away from Main Street in Whistler Village. Award-winning Executive Chef Melissa Craig runs this magnificent restaurant with plenty of class, from an underground wine cellar boasting more than 20,000 bottles of renowned vintages to the coldest vodka ice room in the world. Begin your dinner by savouring a bottle of Dom (a French tradition dating back to Napoleonic times) or sip from a selection of 50 prized vodkas in the –32°C Belvedere ice room. And, yes, parkas are provided in-house! We loved the freshness and simplicity of the seared charr and were entertained by the billowing liquid-nitrogen smoke as we watched our ice cream being prepared tableside.
4319 Main Street, Whistler, +604 932 2582
Alta’s culinary ethos encapsulates the words that are sexy in modern cooking: sustainability, local and ethically sourced. But these are not just great words for marketing purposes – the team at Alta stand firmly behind their claims, crafting beautiful dishes that are both socially responsible and supportive of local businesses. They even have organic compost in the back to turn leftovers into nutrient-rich soil. Under the helm of Executive Chef Nick Cassettari, Alta has earned plenty of praise for its imaginative yet unpretentious dishes. Interesting menu items like elk tartare, pork cheeks braised in apple cider and pink peppercorn semifreddo are sure to entice any adventurous foodie’s appetite.
Longhorn Saloon & Grill
Carleton Lodge, 4284 Mountain Square, Whistler, +604 932 5999
The Longhorn is easily the most popular bar in Whistler and has been pulling plenty of beers for thirsty skiers and snowboarders over the past 25 years. Conveniently located at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas, it’s the ideal place to grab a pint and some good grub before heading back up the mountain for the fine pow. The atmosphere is always euphoric, with speakers booming out the latest beats whilst hungry snowboarders devour juicy burgers and gooey nachos. It’s the perfect location to meet up with friends for a midday catch up, trading stories about the amazing tracks you’ve just carved on the slopes.
Whistler Cooks Catering
Suite 4, 1345 Alpha Lake Road, Whistler, +604 938 8835
For those days when you’ve had plenty of adventure and just want to sit back and relax, Whistler Cooks Catering has you covered. Operated by owners Grant and Hilarie Cousar, this local catering company has been serving up delicious meals since 1999. They offer a selection of services, from fine dining at home, accompanied by a team of service staff and a personal chef, to more casual family-style buffets. All ingredients are locally sourced and beautifully prepared. Last year, we summered with a group of eight friends and hired Whistler Cooks to prepare a delicious BBQ feast. The in-house smoked beef brisket was gorgeously tender, and the selection of healthy sides, such as quinoa salad, was exquisite.
Cows Ice Cream
4295 Blackcomb Way #102, Whistler, +604 938 9822
For me, Cows Ice Cream is synonymous with wonderful childhood memories spent in Whistler Village. The ice creamery is hard to miss – just follow your nose towards the intoxicating scent of freshly made waffle cones and you’ll spot the massive queue outside. This wholesome Canadian brand has been churning out irresistibly quirky flavours since 1983, and it enjoys somewhat of a cult following. The secret to its success is the high-quality ingredients; only fresh cream with a whopping 16 per cent butterfat content is used, along with unprocessed natural ingredients. Each batch is slowly churned in order to minimise the air content so that each scoop of creamy, high-density ice cream melts slowly to maximise taste. With quirky flavours like Gooey Mooey, Sea Salt Toffee and Moo York Cheesecake, it’s easy to see why Cows brings out the inner child in all of us. My favourite flavour? Well, it has to be Chocolate Mud!
- For the steak aficionado, decadent Sidecut at Four Seasons Resort Whistler is guaranteed to satisfy. Each cut of Canadian prime steak comes with a selection of about a dozen rubs, with funky names like Edison’s Medicine, Lemon Buddha and Herbal Ember. The cuts are seared to perfection on an 1,800-degree infrared grill for that prefect char.
- Dispel those winter chills with a cosy fondue dinner at The Chalet at The Fairmont. The signature black truffle fondue, capped off with a luxurious chocolate fondue, is the perfect apres-ski re-energiser. Complete the “winter wonderland” experience with a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the great outdoors.
- If you’re in the mood for quality, laid-back food, check out Avalanche Pizza. Their organic pizza dough is made fresh each morning, and mouth-watering flavours like beef and blue cheese ensure happy days for the taste buds. Or, on the way back from the gondolas, stop by either Zogs Dogs for some juicy hot dogs and Canadian poutine or Beaver Tails next door for cinnamon-sugar-dusted fried pastries.