Valentine’s Day is coming (as if you didn’t see all of the card displays and red chocolates in the grocery store!). Coincidentally, Family Day is also on Monday for Albertans. For many of us, this means heading out to the mountains for either a romantic getaway or a little family vacay. We are doing both – my brother and his girlfriend are coming up and we are doing a little double date weekend in Canmore for the occasion.

We go to Canmore A LOT. We don’t live there, but whenever we have a free weekend we head out there. We just love it. And I do mean Canmore, not Banff! I love that so many restaurants in Canmore are locally-owned and source local, seasonal ingredients. You always feel at home in the little mountain town.

To help you make plans for your trip out there, here are out top suggestions for places to eat in Canmore this weekend, or any weekend. Many offer advanced online reservations.

1. Place for a Pint – Grizzly Paw Brewing Co

The Grizzly Paw makes great beer. It is absolutely worth visiting, and everyone knows it. The only issue we find is actually getting a table! Their food is not the best we’ve had in Canmore, so we go here after dinner or after a ski or hike to grab a beer (although their flatbread appetizer is pretty tasty). My favorite is the Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat, while other B likes Rutting Elk Red. Can’t decide what to try? Get the suds sampler to try a few. I regularly do this just to mix it up. If you want to try local, you have to go here. You won’t find their pints at any other pubs in Canmore. Love what you tried? The Paw Shop is just across the walkway and you can take home a six-pack of your fave. This is great for couples, friends, and families alike!

2. Quick Breakfast (or Lunch!) – Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.

Their slogan is “where the locals love to meet”. It’s so true – it feels like everyone in this place is a local. It actually amazes me that every time we visit Canmore with friends that most of them have never been in here! This place makes their bagels fresh and man, they are fantastic! They also do great sandwiches. My regular is the “Eggel” with cheese on a jalapeno cheddar bagel. It is so. good. Hubby doesn’t like eggs so he mixes it up and tries different sandwiches every time we go. RMBC also has take-home cream cheese and bagel options. You’ll find these guys in two locations – one on the main street (actually 8th Street) and one on Bow Valley Trail along with most of the hotels.

3. Sit Down Breakfast – Summit Cafe

A friend of mine turned me onto this place and I’m in love! The Summit Cafe is on the north side of the highway just a bit up the hill. It’s a tiny place so be prepared to wait, but it’s worth it! You order at the counter and then take a little toy with you to your table to mark your order. They have an interesting brunch menu with gluten-free options AND the option to add Baileys to any drink (ummm, yes please!). Last time I was there I had the “Amigos” – a Mexican twist on the traditional eggs benny. Every person I’ve gone with has enjoyed their meal.

4. Pizzas – Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co

Mmmmmmm pizza. Or flatbread. Whatever, same thing. I love this place. I think I’ve said that about every place, but I really do! Rocky Mountain Flatbread is another popular location in Canmore just a block off of 8th Street (the “Main Street”). Start with their flatbread and dip appie and then choose a couple of different pizzas to share. But whatever you do, save room for the dessert pizza if they are making it. Brownie pieces, cheesecake bites, berries, chocolate sauce, and more… it is unreal. You could just eat that for your meal and you’d be 100% satisfied. This place is often busy, so try to book ahead if possible. It’s great for families, too!

5. Snack and Beverage – Miner’s Lamp at Georgetown Inn

We discovered this hidden gem when it was -40 Celsius and we didn’t have the guts to walk downtown from our hotel. We are so happy that we did! It’s not downtown so it’s a bit off of the beaten path for most tourists and it’s not often busy. The Miner’s Lamp is almost like a museum for mountain gear and accessories. Their food is great – we will regularly pop in for a pint and a ploughman’s platter of meat, cheeses and warm bread. While their beer selection is rather poor, you can get  a pint of the Southern Alberta fave Big Rock Traditional or choose from a decent wine list. In the summer, their patio offers a great view of Ha Ling Peak. Bonus: take their Triple Crown Challenge  this summer and hike three Canmore peaks to earn yourself a beer mug that gets you discounts on pints every time you visit. We’re going to attempt it in summer 2016! We also noted that in the fall they had a hay-bale maze on their patio for kids, as well as swings out front. I wouldn’t have pictured a pub to be family-friendly, but these guys are.

6. Romantic Dinner – Crazyweed

Crazyweed is constantly busy. If you don’t have a reso, you’re probably waiting for hours to get in. They create amazing dishes and have an exceptional wine list. We don’t go often as it’s a little pricey for us teachers, but we’ve had a few special dinners here. I particularly love the pork meatball appetizer and have had a drool-worthy gnocchi. Their menu is seasonal and changes frequently, but you’ll always find something delicious. I would definitely suggest this for couples or friends and not families, although they do accommodate children.

7. Girls Night – Sage Bistro and Wine Bar

Sage has fallen under my (and many others’) radar until recently. Like the Miner’s Lamp, Sage is a bit off of the regular tourist path so it isn’t nearly as busy as some of the other restaurants. My girlfriends took me here for dinner when we were out in Canmore for my 30th birthday and we had a great time. We shared the mussels for an appy (good choice) and I had the gnocchi appetizer for my meal (I really like gnocchi). It was a delicious mix of bacon and cheese and all that yummy goodness. One friend had the risotto and we all wished we would have got that. Chels had the duck appetizer and it was rather odd and none of us particularly cared for it, but overall everything was delicious. We’ve booked at Sage for our double Valentine’s Date and I fully plan on getting the risotto for myself (and trying to convince everyone to try some of the different wines with me). The ambiance and service of Sage is wonderful – you feel like you’re in a log cabin tucked away in the mountains. They even brought me delicious dessert with candles to celebrate (mourn) my 30th.

8. Lunch and Tea – Communitea

Do you like tea? If so, you have to go here. Their tea selection is actually slightly overwhelming (especially for a Type A person who suffers from extreme buyers remorse like myself) but also enticing. They have tea menus that you can read while you’re waiting in line, and will also bag a little up for you if you want to take some home. Lunch and breakfast offer a variety of fresh, healthy choices like the infamous Buddha Bowl. Communitea is the cutest little shop/restaurant by day, but at night they often host intimate concerts by night. In fact, I just looked and apparently Michael Bernard Fitzgerald is there on Valentine’s Day but it’s sold out and now I’m mad that I didn’t check earlier. Ugh. I’m supposed to be a planner! Anyway, sorry. Now that YOU know, make sure you check ahead to see if there’s a live music session you can check out on your visit.

9. Cup of Coffee – Beamers

Many of my friends love Beamers because we love to support local businesses and Beamers is local! They also have two Canmore locations – one on Bow Valley Trail and the other downtown on 7th Avenue just off of 8th Street. They offer a great selection of your typical lattes, but also many unique choices (and some unique food choices as well if you need a bite). B and I tried their maple latte in November and it was a perfectly Canadian expression of a latte. If you are open to new caffeine addictions, give it a try.

9 is an odd number for a list, but those really are our favorite local joints. While you’ll find a few chains (and a few other local choices) in Canmore, these are our tried and true favorites that we recommend to everyone who goes to Canmore. Good service and good quality food that we feel comfortable supporting. Give any of these a shot next time you’re in Canmore and I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Did we miss anything? What are your favorite spots to eat in Canmore? Where should we try next?

B