Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gluten Free in Banff, Alberta

For over 2 years, I lived in a park. Filled with wild animals, bears, elk, moose, coyotes, cougars and many more.





More Elk

Big-Horned Sheep


I lived in Banff National Park in the town of Banff. It was here that I discovered that I could no longer eat wheat, rye, barley and oats. This didn't mean that my days of eating out were over though. There were still many places that I could go.

Elk and Oarsman - The Elk has always been one of my favourite places to go. It's the perfect apres-ski/sports watching kind of place. Extremely popular on Tuesdays for Steak Sandwich night, they also have other nightly themes every day. Recently, they published their Gluten Free menu with a few items on it and as well, their main menu also lists that they have gluten free bread for sandwiches as well as gluten free pizza. Quite of a few of their other items can be served with rice crackers as you can see on their Gluten Free Menu . They seem to have a good solid staff that doesn't have an extremely high turnover rate as in some restaurants in Banff.  My favourite here has always been the Tin Plate Nachos.

St James Gate - Normal Menu - Located on Wolf Street across from Cascade Plaza. St James Gate has always been a favourite for after work drinks as well. My favourite here - again,  the Nachos.

I see a pattern here. I eat a lot of Nachos.

Keg Steakhouse Gluten Free Menu - The Keg Steakhouse is a Canadian chain that is extremely popular. They are located inside the Banff Caribou Lodge. They have always had a strong fantastic serving staff who know their stuff. They have nachos. BUT, I also get other items!

Recently, they have published a gluten free menu online which is fantastic. Many choices here. They serve the table a big loaf of bread and butter but you can push that to the side obviously or watch as your fellow diners enjoy. I think for this reason, the garlic cheese shrimp that I usually have ordered is not on the GF menu. It comes with a side of bread to put the shrimp on. I've always just had the shrimp on it's own without the bread but perhaps this requires a little more research now.

My other appetizer of choice is the bacon wrapped scallops.
I also enjoy their prime rib and baked potato or garlic mashed ( no au jus) or the steaks are also fantastic.
And in the summer, it's LOBSTERFEST!

Somehow I ended up with 3 butters!! Life is good!
The Grizzly House - Normal Menu - The Grizzly House is a Banff legend with a very interesting history. It's fondue! Gator and elk and kangaroo, oh and chicken and beef as well. You can also choose to do a hot rock instead of fondue. We usually do the full meal which is salad ( I don't think it comes with croutons, but check), the veggie fondue for me and the cheese and bread for my friends since they are built for 2 people so we get one of each with the full meal.

Veggie Fondue

Then we also get either the fondue or the hot rock with whatever meat choice we've opted for. Be warned: At this restaurant, the cooking smell will permeate into your clothes so don't wear anything too nice!
Hot Rock - Chicken, Beef, Lobster with Garlic Butter
Magpie and Stump Another favourite is the Mexican restaurant, the Magpie and Stump. Home to a peanut-covered floor, this eatery on Caribou street serves a mean margarita and lots of tequila. They have a gluten free menu and I often have the fajitas with corn tortillas. When I visited in the summer, I parked the rental car, visited my friend at work and went to meet another friend at the Magpie, which meant I had a margarita within 10 minutes of parking the car. Nice.

Boston Pizza Gluten Free Menu - Boston Pizza has recently rolled out a new line of GF pizza which is based on Kinnikinnick pizza crusts. Check with your server to ensure they will be making it in a proper GF area.

Nourish Gluten Free Menu - This is a small restaurant in the Bear Street Mall which features Vegan, Raw and Gluten Free/Wheat Free menu items.

Edo Japan - This was my lunch spot in the Cascade Mall Food Court. They saw me coming and they would start to clean the grill. Chicken Teriyaki, no sauce, no mushrooms. They would scrape down the hot flattop grill, and pour water on the hot surface which helps to steam it clean. Keep in mind:
Q – Are any of your meals gluten free?
A – As our signature teriyaki sauce contains a wheat based soy sauce, none of our meals prepared to recipe can be considered gluten free. Keep in mind however, you can always request your meal be specially prepared with no teriyaki sauce or soy sauce, hence eliminating gluten.

As a general rule, this does not eliminate the trace gluten on the grill. They got fresh chicken and fresh utensils for me and I never had any issues. Rice, broccoli, carrots and cabbage. Yum! I did however have a bottle of soy sauce in my big purse whenever I went for lunch.

Wild Flour Bakery - They have a few items at this artisan bakery on Bear Street. Website is under construction at this time.
Banff Ski Lounge - This is also a new place. The website says they have gluten-free cupcakes. I'm not sure if they come from the Wild Flour Bakery or not since I never saw GF cupcakes there.

There is another bakery in town who does do cupcakes and cakes. We ordered a cake for a birthday and it was utterly amazing. Chocolate, caramel filling. Delicious. The next month, we ordered another. But it wasn't gluten free. Malabsorption issues galore. I starved for 2 weeks. Couldn't get enough food to rid my stomach of that empty feeling. Lunch was steak, chicken, pork, sausage and potatoes. Second lunch was a repeat of that even though it was supposed to be the next's days food. And so on.


Iron Goat - In Canmore, up in the Benchlands, there is the Iron Goat Restaurant named after the train that used to travel through. They have a number of items that can be made GF. I ordered their pizza and they brought out a wheat one by mistake. It looked too good to be true. They took it back and made me a new one. They made the dough from scratch and only one bake with the toppings on which meant  parts of it were not quite done when they brought it out. Par-bake!!! Freeze!! It would have been great if it was was done like that.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company Nutter's Bulk and Natural Foods - If you are looking to stock up on treats like cookies, granola bars, and other items, check out Nutter's.

As always, these are subject to change. There are certainly hotels such as the Hidden Ridge Resort with kitchen facilities to prepare your own meals. There is always an inherent risk in dining out.

One other note: If you are travelling from the USA, you're in luck. While the US has malt-based coolers such as Mike's Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice etc, the Canadian version is made with vodka. Which means..... You get to drink it!!!!!!!!!!   We also have a lot of ciders in different flavours such as pear, raspberry, peach, apple etc!!
My favourite lake  - Moraine Lake

A favourite backyard meal

Sunrise on the ski slopes

The view driving towards Banff

The other lift said there were wolf tracks.

The Banff Springs Hotel on a snowy day

Me. On a mountain.

Sunset one night walking home.

Mount Rundle - reflected in Two Jack Lake

Hiking at Sunshine Meadows


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  1. Hi Kathleen!

    I'm so happy I found this post of your's! We're headed to Banff for about 4 days in August and I'm looking forward to some of these lovely gluten free options you've provided here! Any suggestions on day hikes to take? Or good grocery stores that carry some gluten free goodies and fresh produce? We'll be driving to Banff from our home in Seattle, so we'll bring some items with us, but it would be nice to have a good spot to go if we need something else!

  2. Thanks for all the great info. ! and you have some amazing photos there ! wow!!