Traveling gluten free is always a challenge, and Banff proved no different on that front. If you’re gluten free just because, it’s great- plenty of options. If you have to be more cautious, you can make it work with a few adjustments. Here are a few places and things I found that worked for me.
Nourish Bistro is conveniently located on Bear Street right behind Banff Ave. Their focus is fresh vegetarian cuisine, but the menu is clearly labeled with items that are naturally gluten free or can be made gluten free. They offer indoor and outdoor seating, and the whole vibe is very laid back. After a four-hour plane ride and two-hour bus ride, all I wanted was a HUGE salad. They delivered.
I got a full size super food salad. Fresh herbs+micro greens, kale, mixed greens, nuts, seeds, berries, cucumber, avocado, flax and quinoa tossed in an apple cider tarragon vinaigrette. It was the most I paid for a meal in Canada, but it was bigger than it looks and the ingredients were incredibly fresh. I’d definitely go back.
The Eddie Burger + Bar
The Eddie Burger + Bar is on Banff Ave, kind of around a corner off the street. It’s very small, but the food was great. Ordering made me a little nervous. They do have gluten free buns, but they cook them in the same place as the regular buns, so those are a no-go if you have celiac disease.
I decided to build my own burger with no bun. I had a burger with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard and bacon. I got a side salad instead of fries because the fries are not gluten free. Unfortunately, I ended up with a french fry in my salad. Since I was starving, I moved that off to the side and prayed there weren’t any hidden in the middle. The burger was delicious, so I’d give this place another try. I was just excited to eat real food, which didn’t happen a lot on this busy trip.
The Elk and Oarsman
The Elk and Oarsman was my favorite place by far, just because our waitress was so friendly and she was happy to double check on things with the chef. It also seemed like a fun spot to spend the evening, because live music started just before we left.
The restaurant does have a gluten free menu, but like most places I found, there are no procedures in place to avoid cross contamination. Since I was really just craving meat and veggies, I had an easy time working with the menu. I decided on the margarita chicken and got some extra veggies in place of the bruschetta.
There was just one last thing that really made a lasting impression on me in Banff…Starbucks! The group I was with decided to spend a morning there so everyone could relax and use the Wi-Fi. I figured I’d be able to have some tea, but then I saw it- a package of huge flourless chocolate cookies labeled gluten free.
*cue angels singing*
I wasn’t even hungry when I saw them, so I put them away to try later. When I finally did, I think I went into sugar shock. These things are SWEET, but delicious; and having lived on Epic bars, baby carrots and hummus for the majority of the week, the carbs were welcomed. As far as I know, these are not sold anywhere near me in Texas. We only have the rice crispy treats, so I may or may not have bought all of the ones I found later on in the Vancouver store…
I don’t think Banff was necessarily any harder to eat than most places I’ve been in the US. In addition to restaurants, you’ll also find that many of the grocery stores along Banff Ave. carry gluten free and dairy free items, including frozen meals, crackers, almond milk and more. Because of the way I was traveling, I found it easier and more affordable to stick to produce, bars and small packaged items, which there was also plenty of. Banff Provisions General Store was my personal favorite for healthier gluten free options. The staff was really nice and they’re actually the ones who pointed me towards Nourish Bistro for dinner.
If you’ve found anywhere else that’s gluten-free friendly, please let me know in the comments. I have a feeling it will be impossible for me to stay away from Banff for too long…