A Taste of Jasper

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Oh, Canada…such a beautiful landscape, which we get to ride our bikes through! While the land of the maple leaf is known for its incredible scenery, what you don’t often hear about is the fantastic cuisine that can be found here.

Biking trip in Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies

Biking in Jasper National Park, Canada

If you’ve been to Canada, there’s a good chance that you’ve tried what many locals consider to be their national dish, the ingloriously named poutine. If you haven’t experienced this menace to arteries, poutine is a mound of french fries topped with lots of gravy, and then the real kicker, cheese curds. Yep, they love it!

Poutine aside, as a man who likes his food, you can actually find some great restaurants in the small town of Jasper, where you’ll have a night of dining on your own if you decide to join us for a trip in the Canadian Rockies. These are some of my favorite Jasper restaurants.

Evil Dave’s Grill

Crazy Calamari at Evil Dave's Grill in Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Evil Dave’s “Crazy Calamari”

With evil-themed meals, you can let your wicked side out at this cheeky little family-run restaurant. For starters, order the “Crazy Calamari” with deliciously spicy jalapeño rings–they’ll certainly get you fired up! For a main, try the “Hell’s Chicken.” Marinated in Caribbean spices, the succulent thighs fall off the bone as soon as they touch your lips. For the evil vegetarian in you, consider the appropriately named “Kung Fu Tofu,” a spicy stir-fry with a zingy red currant kick.

Now what would an evil restaurant be without some devilish desserts? The “Sinful Sundae” is sinful indeed, but if you’re truly feeling wicked then there’s only one dessert for you: “Fried and Frozen.” Scoops of tempura-battered ice cream are deep-fried and paired with berry compote and an optional serving of whipped cream. Optional? If you’ve come this far, I say you’re all in!

Tekarra Restaurant

Tekarra's macadamia crusted lamb rack in Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Macadamia crusted lamb rack with crisp truffle mashed potato

Nestled into the pines that run along the Athabasca River just one mile outside of Jasper, Tekarra Restaurant at the Tekarra Lodge has been a mainstay of both the Jasper culinary experience and the Canadian food scene since its opening in 1952. Chef David George Husereau has been at the helm for the last 17 years, creating dishes using local ingredients that have won many awards on an international scale, including the Fodor’s Choice for “Best of the Best.”

Your mouth will water with anticipation of the juniper-rubbed “Sous Vide” bison with mushroom antipasto, ricotta and truffle oil. If you’ve never tasted bison, it has a slightly gamey flavor but when delicately prepared, it melts in your mouth. The macadamia-crusted lamb rack with crisp truffle mashed potato is also a delight. I implore you to try the poached pear salad (pictured at the top left of this article) with Cambozola cheese and wild greens, accompanied by a dark purple beet foam that leaves you longing for more. This may be one of my favorite dishes, period.

On the lighter side, the “Bento Box” of tofu, edamame, spring leeks and buckwheat noodles will leave you full yet feeling light on your feet and ready for another big day in the saddle. After dinner, sip tea or coffee on the balcony where the sound of the melting Athabasca glacier provides a spectacular soundtrack to the night.

Coco’s Café and SnowDome Coffee Bar

Jasper coffee shops, Coco's Cafe and SnowDome Coffee Bar, Alberta, Canada

Coco’s Café and SnowDome Coffee Bar

Speaking of coffee, it can be a challenge to find a decent latte in Jasper. Save yourself the hassle and head to Coco’s Café, where coffee is treated like the god that it is. For a more unique experience, try SnowDome Coffee Bar. Moonlighting as a laundromat, this unassuming little place has a secret: it makes a mean cup of joe!

So there you have it. You’re all prepared for a visit to the lovely hamlet of Jasper. Canadian cuisine may not have taken the world by storm yet, but in Jasper there are surprises around every corner and tastes to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

Just take it easy on the poutine!

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Chris Cincotta

Chris Cincotta

Trip Leader at Backroads
When Chris was 22, he left his small Aussie hometown, Pambula, a town of no more than 1000 people at the time. He took off for Europe, on a two-month solo adventure and has never been the same since. Before he left, his father offered a poem, which Chris now recites to guests at the start of every Backroads trip: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."—H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Chris loves his Backroads family, and writes passionately about his experiences as a Trip Leader. "Backroads has been the greatest adventure of my life," he says. To see just how much this job means to him, see his post, Staff Ride Love. And for more of Chris' adventures and insights, check out his blog: The Travel Journo.
Chris Cincotta

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