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Downtown Banff in Canada is fairly small but they have plenty of restaurants for locals and tourists. We stayed in Banff for a total of 5 days and tried numerous restaurants; some even twice because we loved it so much. The great thing about downtown Banff is that everything is within walking distance so all of these restaurants are only a 1-2 minute walk from each other. Some restaurants really stood out to us, so we wanted to share our top picks.
We wanted to dine here the first night we arrived in Banff around 8:30pm, but the wait for a table was 90 minutes, so we had to come back another night and luckily we were able to grab a table at around 5:30pm the second time around. They don’t take reservations, so if you want to dine here, we suggest getting here at non-peak times. Their restaurant is super tiny, so it fills up pretty quickly.
We’re so glad we came back because this was the best restaurant in Banff. They had the most creative, hand-crafted cocktails and unique dishes with Asian flair. For cocktails, we loved the the Watermelon Splash and the Gin Beetroot Sour. The Watermelon Splash came with a gigantic slice of watermelon and it was such a refreshing drink. The Gin Beetroot Sour was an interesting one. It came with gin, fresh beetroot juice, lemon and chickpea brine. It was a beautiful dark pink cocktail with a slice of orange on top.
We ordered a ton of dishes since most of their menu consists of tapas, which are small dishes meant to share with others. Our favorite dishes were the Silk Road Chicken Skewers, Takoyaki, Chilled Ramen Noodle Salad, Asian Lettuce Wraps, Tokyo Fries and Pork Kimchi Potstickers (although we wish it wasn’t fried). We also saw a lot of customers ordering the bison burger, so I’m sure that’s a great dish to try as well. For dessert, we ordered the matcha cheesecake and although I didn’t like the sesame crust, Crystal really enjoyed it.
Everything at this restaurant was superb and Trip Advisor rates the restaurant #2 out of 112 restaurants in Banff. #1 is the Grapes Wine Bar but we didn’t go there since it was inside Fairmont Banff Springs hotel and not located downtown, where we were staying.
ADDRESS: 201 Banff Avenue, Suite 5, Banff, AB T1L 1C6, Canada
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Asian Lettuce Wraps and Tokyo Fries
2 | Saltlik
Since we weren’t able to get a table right away at Block Kitchen + Bar on our first attempt, the host recommended Saltlik as another option for dining. We’re so glad we took his advice because it ended up being one of our favorite restaurants in Banff. We loved it so much that we dined here twice while we were in Banff.
When we first entered Saltlik, we were a bit skeptical that there weren’t that many people dining here but we believe that it wasn’t as busy as the other restaurants because it is located on Bear Street, which is the street behind Banff Avenue (the main street), so it was far less crowded than other restaurants. We had two options for dining at Saltlik: 1) dine upstairs for a more intimate dining experience (they usually recommend reservations) or 2) dine downstairs in the lounge with a more casual vibe. We opted to dine downstairs since we were able to sit right away and the prices were much cheaper.
We loved the service here from the host to our waitress, who were all very friendly and helpful. We sat at a great table right next to a window and started off with wonderful cocktails like the Grape Smash. The waitress said the Grape Smash was a great choice and that it’s a popular drink with the locals. It was made with Stoli vodka, muddled grapes and white grape juice topped with elderflower soda. It reminded Crystal of a Japanese grape drink she used to have as a child, so she loved it.
For dinner, we shared the 16oz Bone in Ribeye served with citrus rosemary butter and it was absolutely amazing. We also ordered their French Onion Soup, Caesar Salad, and Steak Cobb Salad and everything was presented so beautifully and packed with flavor. We were all very satisfied with our meals and had such a wonderful experience. We enjoyed it so much that we came back for lunch on another day.
We loved everything we ordered on our first night here that we pretty much ordered the same thing for lunch with the addition of their Steakhouse Caesar (Canada’s version of a Bloody Mary), Truffle Mushroom Mac & Cheese (minus the truffle, as Crystal hates truffle), and Scallop Potatoes. For some reason, our ribeye steak and cobb salad wasn’t as great the second time around. We asked to have our steak cooked at a medium temperature but it came back well done, so we had to send it back. When our steak came back at the right temperature, we felt like the steak lacked the original flavor from the first night and it also wasn’t as tender. The cobb salad wasn’t as fresh and the presentation was a little messy. Everything else was great but we definitely recommend coming here for dinner instead of lunch.
ADDRESS: 221 Bear Street, Banff, AB T1L 1B3 Canada
RECOMMENDED DISHES: 16oz Bone in Ribeye and Steak Cobb Salad
3 | Ramen Arashi
Whenever we visit any city, we try to find a ramen shop. Crystal is a ramen fanatic and loves to try out different ramen shops in various cities around the world. We had some amazing ramen in Vancouver, so we had to try some in Banff as well. Ramen Arashi had great reviews on Trip Advisor and we agree with the reviews. We arrived around 5pm, before dinner hours, and there was already a line. Not a long line, but we did have to wait about fifteen minutes to be seated since it’s a small establishment.
Although we had to wait for a table, this doesn’t mean their service is slow. In fact, their service was so speedy that we received all of our dishes within minutes. Since they are a popular restaurant in Banff, they know that they have to turn their tables fast to accommodate all of their customers.
For appetizers, we ordered the Takoyaki (ball-shaped Japanese snack filled with diced octopus) and Gyoza (ground pork dumplings). Both were made fresh and very authentic. For dinner, we tried three different ramen bowls: 1) Arashi Tantanmen (their signature dish), 2) Tonkotsu Ramen and 3) Seafood Ramen. Tantanmen is on the spicier side made with chili oil and consists of ground pork. Tonkotsu Ramen is made from pork marrow bones and fat that are cooked for hours. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the broth for the Tantanmen and Tonkotsu Ramen were creamy and flavorful. Highly recommend this place if you’re in a mood for some ramen.
ADDRESS: 215 Banff Avenue, Ste 213, Sundance Mall Banff, AB T1L 1B6 Canada
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Arashi Tantanmen and Tonkotsu Ramen
4 | Tooloulou’s
While we were looking for some brunch restaurants around Banff, our super friendly waitress at Saltlik recommended Tooloulou’s and said it was her favorite place for brunch.
When we arrived at the restaurant on Saturday morning around 10:30am and there was a line out the door with about 10 people. We usually don’t like to wait in lines, so we thought about eating at The Maple Leaf across the street but since they didn’t open until 11am anyway, we thought we’d just wait in line at Tooloulou’s since the estimated wait time was 20 minutes. The line went by pretty quickly and we waited for about 30 minutes until our table of 4 was ready.
We started out with the Caesar cocktail and although it was delicious, it did take awhile to get the drinks since there is no dedicated bartender and the waitress had to make it herself. With that being said, our waitress did an excellent job making the drink. Just be prepared to wait a bit since the restaurant is busy and the waitresses have to handle a lot of tasks on their own.
As we were looking over the menu, we were pleasantly surprised that Tooloulou’s was a Louisiana inspired restaurant. We both went to college on the Gulf Coast and visited New Orleans often during those years, so we’re familiar with the delicious Cajun comfort foods. There was a lot to choose from on the menu and we went the BreggFast Sandwich, Pork Belly Benedict, Jamborito and a huge side of pancake with REAL maple syrup, which is an extra $3 but worth it. The service was friendly and the portions were plentiful. We later looked at the Trip Advisor reviews and this place had an impressive 4.5 stars with over 1,700 reviews.
ADDRESS: 204 Caribou Street, Banff, AB T1L 1A6 Canada
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Pork Belly Benedict and Pancakes with real maple syrup
There are plenty of dining options in Banff, but we definitely recommend our top four picks!