Travel: Gluten Free Canadian Rockies

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With our five-month-old daughter in tow we decided to brave a long haul flight across the Atlantic and set off on a Canadian road trip of epic proportions. I had found it tricky to find a lot of gluten free information outside of the main Canadian tourist spots, but after doing some serious research I found plenty of coeliac friendly bites to eat along the way.

Arriving first in Vancouver, I stuffed myself to the gills with gluten free treats – that city is seriously good for coeliacs. Read my Vancouver gluten free guide for the full low down. Then we stocked up on gluten free supplies and set off into the Canadian wilderness…well, not that wild but to three Brits and a baby Canada is pretty huge!

Our route was: Vancouver > Whistler > Kamloops > Jasper National Park > Banff National Park (staying in Canmore) > Revelstoke > Kelowna > Abbotsford > Vancouver. I guess this gluten free guide actual covers parts of British Columbia and Alberta, as well as the Canadian Rockies! Read on to discover my gluten free finds.

Whistler

We actually self-catered in Whistler and had stocked up on supplies in Vancouver. However I did some investigating and found a couple of restaurants that declared themselves to be coeliac safe. Please ask your own questions when you visit, to be extra safe.

Caramba: gluten free options are marked on the menu here (plus other meals can be adapted), at this Italian-style bistro. The pizzas in theory are available on a gluten free crust but when I enquired the cooking processes were not coeliac safe. Worth a check in case they have updated their processes. They have gluten free pasta available.

The Mexican Corner Restaurant: Mexican food with lots of coeliac safe, gluten free options. The menu isn’t marked up but staff seemed to be helpful and clued up when I popped in to enquire. They understood the extra measures required for coeliac diners.

Stonesedge Kitchen: the menu here is marked up with limited gluten free choices, but speak to staff and they will be able to adapt some dishes too. They seemed really helpful and had a good understanding of coeliac requirements. They had gluten free bread available.

La Cantina: another Mexican spot that can cater for coeliacs. Let them know you dietary requirements when you order and they will take extra care to safely prepare your gluten free food. Their website says they can also offer dairy free choices.

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar: a gluten free menu is available here and servers have good knowledge about coeliac requirements.

Olives Community Market: a bakery specialising in gluten free and vegan goods. Totally worth a visit! Note it is not a fully gluten free facility as some of the vegan goods are not gluten free – ask when ordering which choices are coeliac safe. You can also place advance orders for full size gluten free pies and other goods.

Mount Robson

Mount Robson is a natural stop on the road into Jasper National Park. You can hike the trails if you have time but if you are simply passing through then it is at least worth a stop at the visitor centre to admire the view. We managed to grab some gluten free lunch here too, as they had gluten free sandwiches and cakes available in the cafe. I had a delicious rice crispie treat. A lovely place to stop.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park was one of our favourite places in Canada. Less touristy than neighbouring Banff, but just as beautiful and with some spectacular trails.

We had our baby daughter with us so we weren’t able to do any huge trails, but we explored as much as we could. I recommend Maligne Canyon for a brief albeit busy hike (it is very popular), the peaceful trails around Maligne lake and our absolutely favourite was the Valley of the Five Lakes trail. It was stunning! Also very manageable with a baby.

If you are driving down to Banff, take a stop at Sunwapta Falls as that was another lovely little hike and the cafe there has some gluten free options.

We stayed south of Jasper itself in a cabin at Jasper House Bungalows (excellent!) and mainly catered for ourselves although the on site restaurant did say they could cater for coeliacs too. As always though I was on the look out for gluten free coeliac friendly options and I have included a round up here.

Jasper

Syrah’s of Jasper: a restaurant with a menu that is almost completely (naturally) gluten free. Gourmet food with a Canadian theme. Open in the evenings and remember to book as this place is popular.

Downstream Restaurant & Lounge: a great spot for coeliacs, they have a gluten free menu band a coeliac certified kitchen. They only use gluten free flour and a dedicated gluten free flour. When we had a look nearly everything on the menu was gluten free or had a gluten free option, wonderful to see so much choice. I wish we had had the time to eat here!

ALBA Restaurant: as my daughter is called Alba we had to check this place out! They have gluten free pasta available and various other dishes are naturally or can be made gluten free.

Patricia Street Deli: an ideal spot to grab a sandwich or wrap for your hike. They have gluten free bread and wraps and if you tell them you are coeliac they will change their gloves and clean the surfaces and utensils. Very good processes.

Cassios Italian Restaurant: gluten free pasta and cheesecake for dessert. Their menu is marked up to show the gluten free options and they have loads of choices – around 70% of the dishes were gluten free or could be made gluten free.

Coco’s Cafe: a locally run cafe that state they specialise in coeliac friendly food. The menu marked up to show which dishes can be made gluten free and they also have lots of vegetarian and vegan options. HOWEVER, please note I found some negative reviews online about how good their processes actually are, so please ask questions if you plan on eating here.

Maligne Lake

The cafe at Maligne Lake had a nice selection of gluten free options. Not tonnes, but I was able to get a hot bowl of chilli for lunch and a gluten free chocolate brownie. We loved the location of the cafe and I could have sat there all day, gazing out across the lake.

I highly recommend kayaking or canoeing on the lake, we loved it…even though I had to do two mid-lake nappy changes on Alba. Not ideal!!! They have baby lifejackets available at the canoe hire shack.

On the drive down to Maligne you go right past Medecine Lake, which is worth checking out too, even if just for a quick photo.

Jasper to Banff

The drive from Jasper to Banff along the Icefields Parkway is incredible. There are some fantastic places to stop and hike along the way and I have noted a couple of them here.

Sunwapta Falls

Hike down to the lower falls as it isn’t much of a trek and the crowds really drop off once you pass the upper falls. We really enjoyed our stop here and Alba was fascinated by all the waterfalls.

As for gluten free food, when you turn off the Icefield Parkway to drive down towards the falls, you will see Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge on the corner. I popped in to buy some things and discovered they had a range of gluten free options here. All of their hot food items were naturally gluten free, they had fresh baked gluten free muffins plus some other gluten free snacks. A good place to stop for a bite to eat.

Athabasca Glacier

A must visit on the drive to Banff, it is an easy hike to the foot of the glacier (although quite shocking to see how far it has receeded in recent decades). Wrap up warm and off you go! As for gluten free food…

Altitude Restaurant: in the visitors centre has limited gluten free options but they are marked on the menu. There was even a tasty-sounding breakfast option of portabello benedict of poached eggs, spinach, tomato, hollandaise, rocket, potato and spicy salsa.

Visitor’s Centre Cafe: the general cafe in the same centre also has gluten free options marked up (but again, they are fairly limited). I found some gluten free salad options and a totally delicious gluten free choc chip cookie! It is worth grabbing a coffee and a cookie at least and then you can sit outside on the terrace, bag a comfy chair if you can, and chill out overlooking the glacier.

Banff National Park

In this section I cover main towns Banff and Canmore, plus I have added some notes on where you can find coeliac friendly gluten free food around the main tourist attractions in the park.

Banff

I didn’t get a chance to try the places I had researched for Banff, but here are details to save you time with your own research.

Tooloulous: apparently a coeliac friendly spot for waffles and pancakes, with a full gluten free menu and massive portions. There is no dedicated fryer but speak to staff and they will inform which items are suitable for coeliacs.

Eddie Burger + Bar: a burger joint with gluten free buns and good precautions against cross contamination. The fries are not suitable for coeliacs.

Balkan Restaurant: a Greek restaurant with gluten free items marked on the menu. They have various (largely healthy-ish) gluten free options and gluten free beer. They follow processes to ensure food is coeliac safe.

The Old Spaghetti Factory: the manager here is apparently very helpful and reassuring for coeliac diners, taking time to explain processes etc. They have gluten free pasta and a gluten free menu. Let them know that you are coeliac when you order so they can take extra care with food preparation.

Fairmonth Banff Springs: part of the Fairmont hotel group, the various restaurants at the one in Banff are well set up to cater for coeliacs. They have gluten free bread and staff are well trained to understand the risk of cross contamination.

Canmore

We stayed in Canmore and I was so glad we did. It is less touristy than Banff and there are some brilliant gluten free dining options, including a fully gluten free restaurant.

Wild Orchid Bistro and Sushi Lounge: this is a fully gluten free, Asian-inspired restaurant and the food is delicious. We had a hufe variety of dishes to share between us, from sushi rolls and tempura prawns to fish and chips and curry. A must for coeliacs visiting this area.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co: gluten free pizza, pasta and even gluten free cheesecake! Oh and they have gluten free beer too :). Staff have good coeliac knowledge, but please double check what is safe for coeliacs when you order.

Tavern 1883: a pub style restaurant with gluten free tacos and beer. The food was yummy but the portions were pretty small…we ended up having to make pancakes for dessert at home as we were still hungry! The server was brilliant though and very helpful at reassuring me about coeliac safe processes etc.

Communitea Cafe: a must visit for a coeliac safe, gluten free breakfast. Or try one of their gluten free wraps or cupcakes. Either way you are in safe hands here as staff have a thorough understanding of catering for coeliacs. The menu is also marked up to show the gluten free choices.

Spice Hut: a curry house where the majority of the menu is naturally gluten free.

Lake Louise

A tourist hot spot, I would definitely recommend hitting the trails asap to avoid the crowds. The lake is very beautiful but the nature aspect is somewhat spoiled by the crowds. You will need to arrive very early in order to get parking.

Fairmont Chateau: a brilliant spot for coeliac-friendly, gluten free options. We grabbed a bite to eat in the casual Chateau Deli and there were plenty of options for me. Prepackaged gluten free rolls (big fluffy, homemade gluten free bread) and various cakes including a fruity gluten free muffin and delicious chocolate torte. Everything was individually packaged or wrapped to reduce the cross contamination risk.

Although this was the only one we tried personally, I was informed by staff that all the restaurants in the Fairmont are able to cater for coeliacs, including the lovely Lakeview Lounge restaurant.

Lake Louise Station Restaurant: this restaurant has gluten free choices marked on the menu, gluten free pasta available and can cater for coeliacs. The restaurant is themed like an old railway station. Oh and they sometimes have gluten free brownie as a dessert option.

Johnston Canyon

We did a wonderful hike here up to the Ink Pots and if you fancy a decent walk I really recommend this trail. You walk along the canyon and waterfalls for the first couple of kilometres, then up to the ink pots through the forest. The ink pots themselves are beautiful little pools with springs bubbling up through the sand – quite hypnotic to watch.

After hiking the trail you can grab a bite to eat afterwards at the cafe by the car park.

Johnston Canyon Market Cafe: this little cafe in with the gift shop had three types of gluten free cake available, all individually wrapped. I also got myself a tasty salad, which the waitress checked to ensure it was gluten free. They only have a small menu here so don’t expect loads of choice, but I was happy to find something at least!

Yoho National Park

Emerald lake

One of our favourite lakes in the Canadian Rockies, it really is beautiful. There isn’t much here in the way of additional infrastructure or restaurants, but you can grab a gluten free cereal bar in the little shop if you are in need of a snack.

I recommend the trail around the lake – it is so serene and you have an impressive view of the mountains from the far lake shore.

The only restaurant we spotted at the lake was the Mount Burgess Dining Room. We did not eat here but I read some reviews saying they are able to cater for coeliacs, but there is no gluten free menu so be sure to ask lots of questions regarding preparing and any potential cross contamination.

Revelstoke

A good little town to stop for lunch to break your journey on the Banff to Kelowna drive. Revelstoke has some nice little riverside walks too if you need to stretch your legs.

The Modern Bakeshop & Cafe: this cafe has lots of gluten free sweet and savoury options including hot food and homemade bread and cakes. They use separate tongs for the gluten free cakes and take precautions against cross contamination. It is a mixed facility though.

Kelowna

Wine country and what a perfect place to stop on the road back from the Rockies! We spent our spare time here exploring the little vineyards and wineries dotted around the lake, and then ate at home.

Nevertheless here are the restaurants I found through research that can cater for gluten free. As I haven’t tested these places personally please ask the relevant coeliac questions when dining at them, but there seem to be plenty of coeliac friendly spots in Kelowna.

Crumbs & Roses Bakery: a fully gluten free bakery in Kelowna, hooray! Note they bake to order (aside from bread and cinnamon buns) so you should order ahead via their website and then you can pick up in store.

Oak + Cru: a lakeside dining spot set within a hotel with various gluten free options including gluten free fish tacos and gluten free flatbread. They have a dedicated gluten free fryer and specific gluten free pans and utensils for making their flatbread, making it as coeliac safe as a mixed facility can be.

The Table Cafe: this restaurant mentions specifically on its website that they cater for gluten free customers. They specialise in seafood and offer a gluten free menu, including gluten free fish and chips. All reviews I read said this place was coeliac safe.

Fernando’s Pub: a Mexican restaurant with dedicated gluten free fryers and many items on the menu are naturally gluten free too. Gluten free choices are marked on the menu – all tacos are naturally gluten free and they have gluten free buns available for their burgers (and gluten free fries). This seems to be a really good eating spot for coeliacs.

Sunset Organic Bistro: hit the wineries with this restaurant based at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. The gluten free options offered here include pasta!

Bai Tong Thai Food: a thai restaurant with lots of gluten free options and coeliac friendly processes. The gluten free options and marked clearly on the menu and many dishes are naturally gluten free.

Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen: a chain of Asian restaurants with a branch in Kelowna. This branch uses a fresh wok for each dishes, vastly minimising any cross contamination risk. Staff are understanding of the correct procedures for preparing coeliac food and gluten free soy sauce is available. The menu is marked up to show which dishes can be made gluten free.

Another nice little stopping point between Kelowna and Vancouver is Chillwack. Depending on the season they have a sunflower festival and a tulip festival – perfect for exploring with kids and for lots of lovely photos!

Abbotsford

I touched on Abbotsford in my Vancouver guide, but wanted to mention it again here in case you are passing through. There is a WONDERFUL fully gluten free cafe and bakery here, which I highly recommend of a lunch stop.

The Polly Fox: this fully gluten free bakery and cafe serves some sensational bakes and savoury treats. Their doughnuts were so soft inside with a crisp glaze and the vegan apple fritters were juicy and delightful. Everything is gluten free and a number of menu items happen to be dairy free and vegan too. They have really incredible dishes, like a BLT on homemade gluten free waffles. It was huuuuuge, even I couldn’t manage it all. The Polly Fox was definitely one of the best gluten free places we found in Canada.

If you enjoyed this gluten free Canadian Rockies guide then why not have a read of some of my other North American gluten free travel guides:

Safe travels! x

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