Alberta’s world famous landscapes offer travellers a variety of stunning, jaw-dropping panoramas: from the turquoise rivers and snow-capped peaks in Banff National Park to the urban hustle and bustle of Calgary, to the rolling foothills found in the heart of the southwest’s cattle country. And Alberta’s top-notch culinary offerings vary as much as its unforgettable scenery. So slice open that steak, hop on a horse and ride yourself into the crimson sunset. For a few moments in Alberta you’re a smiling cowboy—enjoy the rush!
What better way to explore Alberta than to spend a few days playing cowboy with a few hundred head of cattle? A short drive south of Calgary, Sierra West Ranch offers guests comfortable cabins and an opportunity to go horseback riding through the gorgeous Rocky Mountain foothills.
Guests to Sierra West should pack their cars with all the luxurious fixings for an al fresco barbecue feast. What better way to celebrate a long day running around in cowboy boots than grilling your very own ribeye steaks while sipping an ice-cold beer?
One of Calgary’s most popular eateries is located in a historic dairy building in the heart of hipsterville on 17th. Model Milk features a petite patio out front, a stellar bar offering some of the city’s most creative cocktails, and a double-decker dining room, which overlooks chef Justin Leboe’s open-concept kitchen.
Model Milk’s menu offers a finger-licking-good selection of reinterpreted Americana classics. Highlights include Shrimp and Grits (pepper vinegar, ham hock, fried egg), Rabbit Bologna (mortadella, beer cheese, donuts, crispy artichoke) and an unforgettable sweet finish coyly titled MM Fat Kid Cake (chocolate cake, vanilla cheesecake, raspberry buttercream, pretzel, preserved cherry and milk sorbet).
Located on the main floor of snazzy boutique Hotel Le Germain, Charcut Roast House has helped place Calgary on Canada’s culinary radar. With a focus on showcasing local producers, chef John and Connie’s carnivorous offerings are popular with visiting celebrities. I was seated in the dining room near Donald and Kiefer Sutherland and eagerly watched as they gnawed their way through fresh corn-on-the-cob and A charcuterie board.
Prepare to loosen your belt (or, even better, wear stretchy pants) because dinner at Charcut is an all-or-nothing fancy feast. Highlights include Pork Belly with aged cheddar grits and Saskatchewan chanterelles, Butcher Steak with chimichurri and Duck Fat Fried Poutine with cheese curds and truffle gravy.
Located in the heart of Banff village, The Grizzy House has been satisfying hungry tummies since 1967. This Swiss chalet meets Canadian Rockies fondue restaurant features a cozy and eclectic interior with walls covered in mounted bison busts and antique alpine skis.
Be sure to order the restaurant’s most popular offering—a four-course set menu featuring French onion soup, Swiss cheese fondue, Alberta-raised beef cooked on hot rocks and slathered in garlic butter, and a sweet chocolate Toblerone fondue to finish.
Folks who call Banff National Park home rave about The Bison Restaurant. The restaurant also features one of Banff’s most stunning patios, which offers a 360-degree Rocky Mountain panorama. The cutesy bar inside offers a perfect spot for solo travellers to pull up a chair and people-watch.
The menu here features a map of British Columbia and Alberta, showcasing where the kitchen procures its fresh, local ingredients. Highlights include Bison Carpaccio (pickled quail eggs, caper berries, truffle oil), Alberta New York Striploin (yellow pepper barbecue sauce, crushed potatoes, chimichurri) and crispy duck breast (B.C. cherry pie, roasted chestnut puree, rich jus).