Even for North America’s greatest ski resort, Whistler punches far above its weight as a winter getaway. The identical close by coast that brings limitless powder to Whistler’s peaks additionally provides contemporary seafood and retains neighboring farms lush with crisp, clear mountain water. The city additionally attracts world-class cooks and restaurateurs — from Vancouver, simply 90 minutes away — who like having the ability to shred on their days off.
This 12 months, a brand new 10-person high-speed gondola and six-person high-speed elevate will shorten wait instances for skiers and snowboarders. And whereas Vail Resorts poured hundreds of thousands into upgrading the chairs, vaunted native restaurateurs are working equally exhausting to make their very own seats simply as enticing. There are additionally new arrivals to get enthusiastic about, together with a long-awaited Thai restaurant and a collaboration between veterans of the native scene. “Whistler has an incredible, well-educated clientele,” says Neil Henderson, who has labored in Whistler eating places for 25 years and lately opened Wild Blue. “They know meals, they know service, they know their wines, they usually have excessive expectations.”
Whistler sits in a primary location within the culinarily blessed Pacific Northwest. Seafood suppliers swoop up the Sea-to-Sky Freeway with the native top-quality catch. Menus brim with callouts to potatoes from the neighboring Pemberton Valley (seemingly among the world’s finest), oysters from British Columbia’s Fanny Bay and Desolation Sound, and wines from across the province. Many eating places serve a type of upscale mountain delicacies, seasonal and native components utilized in dishes hearty sufficient to gas out of doors adventures, mixed with a decidedly informal setting and repair.
Whistler skilled a increase in Japanese tourism within the ’80s, and although the teams in matching neon outfits headed again to Japan within the early ’90s after the decline of the yen, they left behind an ordinary of excellence within the city’s sushi eating places, which have solely multiplied since. The famed Sushi Village nonetheless leads the pack, and represents one other think about Whistler’s sturdy meals scene: cooks and restaurateurs who arrange store right here to maximise their time on the ski hill and bike trails.
What to Know Earlier than You Go
Toptable Group: Jack Evrensel moved to Whistler from Montreal, able to ski all day and serve meals at evening, debuting Araxi (see beneath) in Whistler Village in 1981 — only a 12 months after Blackcomb Mountain opened for snowboarding, when solely about 1,300 folks lived there on the time (the present inhabitants is about 10 instances that). He created and ran the Toptable Group, which now owns just a few different locations in Whistler and among the prime eating places in close by Vancouver, together with Blue Water Cafe, CinCin, and Thierry. Evrensel bought Toptable in 2014, however the group continues to set the usual for high-end eating in Whistler. They’ve carried on the superb Araxi, expanded with the acquisition of Il Caminetto, and opened (and now reworked) Bar Oso.
Breakfast: Condos and home leases make up just below half of Whistler’s lodging, and lots of the greatest lodges on the town supply apartment-style set ups, so there’s not a lot alternative for going out for breakfast. Most guests and locals seize their morning meals at dwelling, shoving just a few bites of their mouths as they race to beat the crowds for first tracks. If you want to choose up some espresso and snacks, flip to Whistler’s exceptionally sturdy pastry scene.
Lodges: On the hill, the primary lodges on every mountain (the Roundhouse, the Rendezvous) supply surprisingly good and various meals, each by way of conventional ski lodge eats corresponding to chili and burgers, in addition to customized burritos and udon noodles. Costs are excessive and contours are likely to get lengthy, although. Keep away from the crowds by consuming early or late, and/or hitting one of many smaller snack spots that dot the hill.
Ski season: Winter sports activities run late right here, normally starting round mid-November and tapering off in early Could, with the busiest instances falling the week between Christmas and New 12 months’s, the January lengthy weekend with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the February lengthy weekend of Presidents Day within the U.S. and Household Day in British Columbia. If you wish to dine out throughout these instances, make reservations as early as attainable, or plan to attend; even the traces on the grocery retailer get interminably lengthy. (You received’t escape the crowds in summer time both. Mountain bike season begins in Could, and Whistler now pulls in additional guests in summer time than in winter, with the largest crowds throughout August’s Crankworx Pageant.)
Shoulder season: Shoulder season barely exists anymore, however through the transient lull of Could and most of fall (and usually early in any week), the highest eating places battle for the few diners by providing unbelievable offers and reductions. Examine the advertisements within the native paper or social media to seek out three- or four-course meals at locations like Alta Bistro and Araxi for lower than $50 Canadian, about the identical as a high-season entree.
The place to eat
2022 introduced Whistler its greatest restaurant opening in years — each metaphorically and bodily: Wild Blue, a high-end, 150-seat Pacific Northwest seafood home outfitted with turquoise velvet seats and infused with sturdy native restaurant trade DNA. For the mission, Evrensel tapped Henderson, initiatives director at Toptable, and Alex Chen, the chef at Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, the ninth-best restaurant within the nation, per Canada’s 100 Greatest. Chen’s menu takes cues from French and Italian coastal delicacies, however makes use of native components to construct chilled seafood towers and different dishes. Appetizers embody snap peas with sea forest kelp and fish soup Provencal, whereas bigger plates embody Dungeness crab spaghettini, halibut T-bone, and salmon with summer time squash and chanterelle mushrooms.
Jatuporn Nuttamarn and Chanidaporn Sriwanta labored within the kitchen of Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental earlier than taking their skills to Vancouver and ultimately the village of Mount Currie, the place they opened Barn Nork, which suggests “Village Home,” in 2016. Through the starting of the pandemic, after a 12 months of limbo between areas, the restaurant efficiently made the leap over to Whistler. The small menu of northern Thai classics incorporates loads of native produce, as within the massaman curry made with Pemberton potatoes, and the occasional bit of caprice, as within the house-made coconut pandan ice cream and Thai tea lime sorbet. With solely 4 tables inside (plus just a few exterior, climate allowing), the easiest way to get your palms on the restaurant’s coveted hand-rolled spring rolls and pork stomach in garlic oyster sauce is to select up an order to go.
Toptable’s tapas and charcuterie spot (which mixes among the city’s finest cocktails, too), Bar Oso closed for remodels in January 2021. It reopens this winter, with the half-U bar now a whole horseshoe, doubling its beforehand tiny capability. It returns with house-made charcuterie, conventional tapas, and menu of gin and tonics.
The unique Toptable spot instructions a hefty value, however delivers impeccable skilled service and a menu of eclectic influences and trendy dishes woven by with native components. If not for the picture-perfect setting and clean circulation, Québec foie gras parfait, sea buckthorn-marinated scallop crudo, and house-made mentaiko bucatini won’t make sense. One way or the other, Toptable’s culinary director, James Walt, makes all of it work. However doubters can begin with completely happy hour, which pairs discounted drinks with oyster offers in the summertime and fondue within the winter.
Co-owner Eric Griffith is likely one of the few restaurateurs born and raised on the town, so he’s obtained an eye fixed for what Whistler desires in a restaurant. Native cheeses and cured meats open meals of elk tartare, smoked mushroom tartine, and braised beef cheeks with Korean barbecue glaze and beef fats cornbread.
Since 1985, Sushi Village has served impeccable fish, artistic rolls, and conventional Japanese dishes to the hungry hordes. Even after many years of untamed recognition — as evidenced by the wall of signed celeb images (hello, Val Kilmer?) — it retains its delicate quirkiness and sense of enjoyable. Strive as they could, few clients can resist a giggle on the “triple black diamond” signal marking the lengthy trek to the washrooms. The massive menu consists of authentic creations just like the Tremendous Hiro Roll, sushi-snob-pleasing uni and tuna otoro, and cooked gadgets like spinach gomae, tempura, udon soups, and teriyaki dinners. Over time, different sushi eating places matched the standard or the menu at numerous factors (Sachi and Nagomi each stay glorious), however no person else can fairly seize the strawberry sake margarita-fueled spirit of Sushi Village. It’s no secret, although, so waits get very lengthy, beginning earlier than they open. Teams of six or extra can reserve the tatami rooms forward of time.
In 2018, Toptable took over and refreshed this practically 30-year-old restaurant. The delicacies is Italy-meets-Canada, together with 30-month-aged prosciutto di Parma, Pemberton beets with burrata, Nova Scotia lobster, and saffron linguine, all at a barely extra cheap price ticket than Araxi.
If you happen to’re staying close to Whistler’s Creekside Base, pop into Bred for baked items by Brit Ed Tatton, who moved to Whistler to snowboard in 2013, bringing alongside his sourdough starter and expertise in effective eating kitchens around the globe. He created the bread program at Alta Bistro and ran a weekly bread service earlier than he and spouse Natasha opened their very own plant-based bakery and low store in 2019. Utilizing primarily native components, they bake a wide range of sourdough breads every day, together with cinnamon rolls, cookies, and brownies, plus a savory focaccia. The couple additionally supply some snacky menu gadgets for purchasers occupying the few seats, together with hummus and olives.
Purebread opened its first location in Perform Junction in 2010, adopted by a extra central Olympic Plaza location, and now the small chain stretches to Vancouver. It nonetheless wows everyone with a powerful array of baked items, like significantly flaky croissants and whoopie pies. Little butter tarts, big meringues, kid-luring rainbow sprinkle cookies, and stylish coconut passionfruit cake maintain down the candy facet, whereas savories embody bacon and egg brioche, vegetarian sausage rolls, and cheddar jalapeno scones. The store additionally sells a slate of breads and low to go, plus just a few presents and specialty meals. The road stretching out the door strikes rapidly.
At Blackcomb’s base, the informal counter service cafe contained in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler serves sizzling meals all day, largely a reasonably customary menu of eggs, breakfast sandwiches, and waffles within the morning, adopted by sandwiches and barbecue within the afternoon. However locals know to skip the traces and head to the second part, the place the espresso counter additionally harbors a small choice of contemporary fruit Danishes, colourful croissants, and artistic doughnuts.
The place to après-ski
Merlin’s Bar and Grill
At Blackcomb’s Higher Village Base, Merlin’s packs within the crowds with its informal and traditional ski-town-bar really feel. Most tables start with an order of the epically huge nachos; inside just a few rounds they’re swaying to the acquainted tunes that legendary native band the Hairfarmers bang out on the stage. Dusty’s Bar & BBQ provides Creekside’s model of the identical, and the Garibaldi Carry Co. (GLC) holds down the scene within the Village.
People who must step away from the traditional rock covers at Merlin’s ought to go for Handlebar, which makes a speciality of craft beer. Together with 9 faucets, the bar carries just a few cans and bottles, plus a wide variety of whiskey. Most significantly, after 5 years serving German beer hall-type meals, in 2021 it began serving impressively good New York fashion pizza, by the slice or by the pie.
Additional down the Higher Village, “Whistler’s coziest pub” waters the non-après crowd: the oldsters who simply need to chill with beer or glass of bourbon. The Fitz is ideal, no notes. (If anyone studying this tries to carry Whistler Village-style “each evening is a bachelor social gathering” power into this gem of a spot and messes up my Yahtzee sport, I’ll huff proper out of my crimson Adirondack chair on the patio.)
If $19 poutine on the GLC busts your beer price range, head throughout the plaza to Whistler’s finest place for fast and reasonably priced meals. You’ll be able to odor the onions frying from the bottom of the gondolas; nothing will heat you up (and take in pints) fairly like Zog’s sizzling canine, poutine, and burgers. Hours range by season, however throughout busy instances, it typically provides among the solely late-night meals round.
The place to buy
Guests can provide their home leases at a slew of markets across the space. Nesters Market carries the highest quality components, together with a wide variety of native fruit in-season and good cheeses. Recent St. Market in Whistler Market is larger and has a bigger, although much less curated, choice. Whistler Grocery provides the comfort of being within the Village and simply throughout the corridor from the liquor retailer. However you may get a bit extra selection by heading across the nook to Fuji Market, the small Japanese grocery retailer sibling to Ohyama Ramen. For extra selection in your menu, Whistler additionally has a Filipino mini-market, Cebu De Oro, out by the previous Olympic Village, and a delivery-only cheese service: French’eese.
The place to sleep
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
This 12 months, the grand dame of Whistler lodges completed a five-year reworking mission that included upgraded bogs, including a high-end boutique hotel-within-a-hotel known as Fairmont Gold, and utterly renovated the indoor/out of doors pool space. With a plum location only a few steps from the Blackcomb Gondola and a traditional class that belies its Eighties heritage, “The Chateau” stays Whistler’s most splurge-worthy keep. Peak season room charges begin at $649 CAD ($488 USD).
Nita Lake Lodge
Although handy for less than Whistler’s Creekside base, simply throughout the freeway, this contemporary tackle the ski lodge provides facilities that negate the necessity to go away the resort. The comfy foyer sports activities a restaurant, restaurant, and bar, with fireplaces for winter and out of doors seating overlooking the lake for summer time. Rooms function heated rest room flooring, fuel fireplaces, and rain showers or outsized bathtubs. And, for those who do in some way want to depart the room, the resort runs a free shuttle to the Village for visitors. Peak winter season room charges begin at $400 CAD ($300 USD).
Aava Whistler Lodge
With a primary location only a few minutes stroll from the Village and gondola entry to each Whistler and Blackcomb, the Aava provides moderately priced comfort. Easy rooms preserve the deal with the out of doors sports activities, with a motorbike valet, ski lockers, and free boot drying to assist keep away from tools hassles. Till lately, the largest criticism from visitors was the shortage of an on-site restaurant, however the opening of Wild Blue erases that problem. Peak winter season room charges begin from $399 to $799 CAD ($300 to 600 USD) for a Deluxe Studio room.
A condo-style choice makes touring as a gaggle or household simple, particularly on the slopeside Aspens. Although furnishings range by proprietor, every condominium has a full kitchen, and the true draw right here comes within the skill to pop off your skis, hand them off to the ski valet, and hit the out of doors heated pool that everybody on the elevate overhead envies. Items hire individually, so charges range by proprietor.
The Delta Resorts Whistler Village Suites
This hybrid spot combines the seamless ease of a resort (and main resort model) with the area of a trip dwelling. The walkable location (to the Village and base of each mountains) and kitchenettes in every room make up for the shortage of persona within the corporate-style residences. Some rooms additionally embody a washer and dryer and fuel fire. Rooms begin at $650 CAD ($484 USD).
If you happen to’ve learn this far, you’re all set for a scrumptious journey to Whistler. Simply don’t neglect a very powerful mouthful on the town: face photographs of powder on seventh Heaven.
Award-winning author Naomi Tomky, the writer of The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook, explores the world with a hungry eye, digging into the intersections of meals, tradition, and journey.