Here it is folks, my S.O.L.E.Foodie guild to eating in the Kootenay’s, why? Because so many people ask me where they should recommend their visiting friends go for a meal, and I am always going on about where to eat (and where to avoid) so I decided to make a quick reference guide for visitors and locals on my favorite foods spots in and around this area. This certainly isn’t all inclusive of the good and bad food around, just my favorite food stomping grounds!
Winlaw: Sleep is for Sissie’s, this is my top pick of the two restaurants in Winlaw. Sissies offers fresh food that is mostly organic and local, which means a lot! Plus the bakers are cute and they pump out the “good-est” goodies around ;). There is live music often and the timber framed building offers great views and atmosphere, excellent for weekend breakfasts, healthy lunches and amazing dinners.
New Denver: Sandrella is my pick for summer time food. They make crepes and delicious gelato, and while most of it is conventional fare how can you go wrong with a nutella, PB and banana crepe? Also if you can manage to make your visit to New Denver on a Friday morning / early afternoon, you can take a wonder through the farmers market, and there is always some great baked goodies to be had there.
Sandon: Pack a picnic! If you are exploring this historic ghost town there are ZERO services here not even a vending machine, but it is a lovely stop, with great photo ops, exploration and hiking trails! Some smart food truck operator should make note and set up here for the summer season!
Nakusp: Slim picking for really good food here but we were lucky enough to stumbled into Karl’s Woodfire Pizza N’More on the “main” street only to discover they offered a GREAT selection of German beers on tap, which paired perfectly with a fresh woodfired thin crusted pizza.
Now I do have one other food item I must mention for the sake of my sweetie… there is a European bakery deli (no idea what it is called but it is on the east most end of the main drag on the south side of the road) they makes a crazy pork 3 ways breakfast sandwich (frankly the very thought of makes me sick) It’s called the boss hoss and if you are a tried and true meat eater and you aren’t afraid of conventional meat or heart failure you may just love this as much as my guy does. It’s a ham and cheese bun (freshly baked in house) stuffed with bacon, eggs, cheese and sausage, then slathered in a gooey white sauce. Seriously he says it’s pork-a-lishious.
Halcyon Hotspring: Now this is a hot spring resort with a killer restaurant; Kingfisher! We love this place… I would pick this for a fancy night out time and time again, even though it’s 2 hours away! The chef is ace and the menu is local fresh and exciting. The lunch menu is really reasonably priced for high quality food, while the dinner menu is a little more dear, but they are putting out great meals, perfectly executed, with local seasonal ingredients. Enough said. They have won my heart a few times. 2013> UPDATE since writing this the chef we loved has come and gone, we have twice been back with lack luster results. Not sure I will return for a great meal, but it’s also the only thing around. Not sooo bad, but not the glorious experience we had in past.
Nelson: As Nelson is a big place I have a number of recommendations…
For the meat eater… and this is legit meat, all natural BC meat that even I eat, not the creepy stuff, you GOTTA try the Smokehouse. These guys are real old school southern style BBQ champs and they bang out some wicked good meat and BBQ sauce. Yumm, it’s fast and furious, limited seating but you can enjoy picnic tables outside and conveniently they are located right next door to the fire and safety supply place! 2013> UPDATE new owners often = new ingredients…. I am not sure of the quality of the meats anymore, and have since stopped eating here and I have been unable to get a straight answer on meat sources.
For my vegetarian kin I love love love a lunch at Jagannatha Express on baker (main street nelson) These guys make real wholesome organic food to feed the soul. Each day there are a couple different grains, dahls, and veggie dishes to choose from and they have a great lunch combo that includes a taste of everything with a great salad and a selection home made chutneys to go with the yummy kofta chickpea fried balls they make.
On the whole Nelson lacks any really good ethnic food (as does the kootenays in general, unless your after borsht, the choices are limited this is why when we get to a big city we seek out vietnamese, indian, turkish, greek and asain food like fiends) But there are a few exceptions and some other good stops in Nelson that we frequent:
El Taco for the real deal Mexican with a great selection of house made hot sauces and hibiscus tequila slurpees to wash it all down with. Right across the street from them (if your on the wheat train) you can enjoy really affordable pizza by the slice at Thor’s Pizza where they always have creative pizza creations with great names like; super mario, wonder woman and the god father. They have great veggie options and have the best service with a smile around! Also the Thai place Busaba Thia Cafe is authentic and pretty yummy, but seems to be closed every time we try to eat there.
If you need a coffee in Nelson Oso Negro is a given, they are nelson’s premiere coffee roasters and have the most beautiful outdoor garden patio I have ever enjoyed. But there have some serious competition when it comes to making a great cup a joe (this city has some good baristas) John Ward Coffee I love, Dominion Cafe which also boast some mean raw food treats and a stellar tea selection, and Kootenay Bakery Cafe which has the perk of being a full on organic and allergy friendly bakery so you can enjoy something sinfully warm from the oven with a cup of organic coffee, this is also a good place for a light lunch especially if your vegan or gluten free.
And before I move on from Nelson I have to give props to some of this cities great producers contributing to the culinary world: Silver King Organic Tofu (my all time best-ever-love-love-love-this-stuff- favorite), Nelson Brewing Company, rocking out sweet beers with awesome seasonal specials like my favorite Hemp Ale, and a new Grapefruit brew for summer! And I can’t talk about Nelson producers without hearing the beats of some African booty dance videos and craving the smokey heat of Nelsons Ebesse Zozo sauce… Hot-crazy-amazing-sauce, a great take home foodie find!
Ainsworth: Please do not eat at the Ainsworth hot springs restaurant…. I had the misfortune of eating their once and it ranks amount my all time WORST every dinning experiences! Ainsworth hot springs are a fabulous stop, but bring you appetite with you when you leave and take it south to Nelson or North to Kaslo.
Kaslo: Mmm we just newly discovered this really cute little fish and chippy attached to the gas station (on 4h I think), they make a serious poutine here, for traditionalists, meat eaters and vegetarians alike! This is take out only but they have a number of picnic tables with umbrellas so you can enjoy the view and the food. They also do some tasty sandwiches. The food takes a while to be prepared from scratch, but your patience will be rewarded with good real tasty food.
Castlegar: Can you say food wasteland? I try to not eat in Castlegar ever, but in a pinch I would stick with a doukabor diner like The Borsht Hut or the doukabor deli for a bowl of traditional borsht done right… then get outta dodge and head in any direction to find some better food. I actually was looking forward to trying out the Mexican restaurant there and happily partook in a 3 taco and a beer for $10 deal they had going… I ordered veggie tacos, and was shocked and horrified when I was served hard tacos loaded with (get this) broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrots… from a bag of mixed frozen veg… hmm what happened to beans and cheese?
Crestent Valley: Not much to choose from here by way of dinner but if your looking for some light fare in the day time any of the 3 places in the food business here are all doing a few things pretty well; at Frog Peak Cafe they make pretty good sandwiches and soup, Everbean Café knows their way around a espresso machine, and the new little trailer Funky Lemon is the perfect addition to the hopping beach area often full of river floater and kayakers in need of some ice cream and fried food.
Creston: This is another tough place to find real food but the new Italian restaurant Aldo & Co is making some serious waves in the food world, we keep passing through too early for wanting a pasta dinner, but I am dying to go there, the reviews are fabulous and I understand the chef is super talented!
I like to stop at the Cresent Valley Bakery at the end of canyon street, right where it takes a sharp turn north. They bake a million white flour treats, but also have a pretty impressive sandwhich bar, that offers about 5 different breads all fresh baked and any combination of classic sandwiches, I judge a sandwich bar by how good a veggie sandwich they can make without calling tuna fish or egg salad their only veggie options… this place does great, lots of mustards and cheeses to pick from along with a dozen different veggies to load up a classic deli style sandwich, the coffee is no hell but hey on a road trip you win some you loose some.
Trail: The spot, this is the only place we eat when heading to trail to stock up on Italian Groceries. The Spot is a little retro styled dinner that makes a few pretty serious poutine’s, killer milk shakes, and a good handmade black bean veggie burger, it’s not cheap, and they tell me the meat is conventional, but the poutine alone is worth the trip!
I should say that if you are up for a foodie picnic deli stop, pop into Star Grocery for a great albeit small selection of nice cheese and deli meats, the service is often terrible, but the prices and products let you grin and bare it!
Rossland: The Alpine Grind makes a mean cup of joe and have some pretty gooey sticky cinnamon buns that pass the test from this critical baker, and for a hearty healthy lunch spot that offers gluten free and lots of vegetarian options we like to hit The Sunshine Café. But Rossland has lots to offer beyond the food, the museum is great and some of the local shops are a real treat to wonder through, I love the look and feel of this steep alpine town!
No doubt I have missed at least a few gems, just my two bits in my battle to vote with my fork!
happy eating the kooks!