I head up to Jasper at least once a year – I’ve been going for Christmas in November for the past 13 years – and because I’m typically eating and drinking at the Fairmont JPL, I rarely have an excuse to check out the town beyond gassing up. This weekend there was a little more wiggle room, and we decided to stay for an extra day to exhale before hitting the coast and to do a bit of a Jasper walkabout. People kept asking me where to eat in Jasper and the truth was, I had no idea.
Jasper is a ski town in the Athabasca river valley, small and beautiful and full of gift shops, anchored by a railway station and often populated by herds of elk. There’s an Earls and a Famoso pizza and a Tim Horton’s, the requisite tourist-stop candy store and an easy to find grocery store on the main drag. But some poking around and asking those in the know turned up a few spots I’m happy to know are there – not least of all, we found the good coffee.
The Snow Dome on Patricia Street is a coffee shop inside the (environmental award winning) Coin Clean laundromat, down below street level – an excellent combo if there ever was one, especially in a town with so many young visitors.
As you come in the door, there’s a tiny counter behind which they brew Fratello beans from Calgary (in a Slayer machine!), and in their tiny onsite kitchen bake muffins, banana bread, warden cookies and other tasty things to serve alongside; there are a few tables and chairs and a makeshift living room complete with couches right next to the rows of washing machines for some serious laid-back multitasking. You can at least pretend you’re getting laundry done while sitting back and sipping a cappuccino.
As Mike will attest, I love seeking out bakeries in any city/town/villa I manage to visit, and Bear’s Paw Bakery was just the sort of place I expected in a mountain town – kitchy and homey, with a screen door that slaps shut behind you, lots of wood (display cases, trim, signs, countertops), and plenty of home baking – apple pies! carrot cakes! muffins and scones and grainy breads, and old-school squares like date and those peanut butter-marshmallow ones I’m a total sucker for. Surprisingly, a good muffin is hard to find. Not here.
Cocos Café came highly recommended, and I was happy to find them brewing Phil & Sebastian beans. They specialize in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, but have some serious glutinous baked goods on the menu and know how to stack a Montreal smoked meat sandwich at the same time.
The space is small and cozy, with a walk-up counter and a single table out front; the menu is interesting, and largely local – with things like homemade elk and Saskatoon berry sausage rolls and and extensive all-day breakfast. (A good thing when you’re on the road, and breakfast could be required at any time.)
Twitter enthusiastically recommended The Raven Bistro, which was closed when we went by (but the menu looked amazing), and Evil Dave’s, a large, tinted windowed, locally-owned restaurant on a busy corner, serving up some fairly classic family-friendly meals – had we not had a 100 lb dog in tow I would have gone in and ordered the Alberta bison and wild boar bacon meatloaf.
But as it turned out, we did have Lou with us this time, and when I stopped at the dollar store to pick him up some makeshift legwarmers for the 80s party (purple argyle socks with the toes cut off that made him a hit with the Sunday bruch crowd), the cashier tipped me off to her favourite pizza place, where we could walk in and order a couple wood-fired oven pizzas to take out and bring back to our hotel room, to eat by the fire with the hockey game on.
Sometimes, with kids and dogs in tow, this is the best kind of food to find.
Do you know Jasper? I’d love to get the inside scoop on what you like to eat there.
I love showing off my home province – thanks to Travel Alberta – for helping me do it! As always, words and opinions are my own.