When you think of Canadian foods, the first thing that comes to mind might be the cheese and gravy goodness of poutine or the savoury Montreal-style smoked meat. Both are Canadian favourites, but Western Canada has a whole collection of foods every traveller should taste.
Thanks to the beautiful Pacific Ocean seaside of British Columbia and the grassy prairies of Alberta, the west coast really is the best coast for some of Canada’s best must-eat foods. Here are just some of the delicacies Western Canada has to offer:
Across Canada, BeaverTails are a sweet treat that just can’t be left out of any must-eat list. While it’s history dates back to a 19th century Indigenous meal where a beaver’s tail was cooked over an open fire until the skin gave way to the meat inside, BeaverTails Canada Inc. created the sugary BeaverTail classic in 1978.
The famed dessert starts with thin fried bread in the shape of a beaver’s tail, which is dipped into a flavour of choice from their 11 tasty options. An FML favourite is the Killaloe Sunrise which features a cinnamon coating and a slice of lemon to give it a little zest.
Fresh West Coast Salmon
B.C. is known for its salmon fishing, whether that’s freshwater or saltwater. So if you’re looking for salmon, this is the perfect place to be. Indigenous to the province are five main species, Chinook, Chum, Sockeye, Coho, and Pink. The Chinook is the largest and rarest of the Pacific species.
Some of the best places to try salmon include Salmon n’ Bannock which serves traditional Indigenous style meals including salmon mousse with bannock crackers and wild Sockeye served on Ojibwe wild rice. On top of that, considering B.C. has one of the largest Japanese populations in Canada, there are tons of amazing sushi restaurants that highlight West Coast salmon. If you’re looking for something a little more high-end, Tojo’s in Vancouver is the place for fresh dishes inspired by Japan but rooted in the Pacific Northwest.
West Coast Oysters
Almost all of the oysters along the west coast are the Pacific type – elongated, frilly oysters originally introduced from Japan. The taste ranges from sweet to salty and even flavours of cucumber. The Kumamoto oyster can also be found in B.C. waters which is known for its sweet, mild, buttery flavour.
Oysters are year round foods in B.C., and Vancouver has some of the nicest restaurants to try all the best of the West Coast seafood. Chewies offers New Orleans inspired food and an oyster bar serving fresh picks everyday. Rodney’s Oyster House is another Vancouver favourite with 12 B.C. native choices on top of 12 additional oyster options from around the world including New Zealand, Ireland and the Canadian East Coast.
If you’re looking for interesting meats, Alberta is known for its bison delicacy. Bison meat is similar to beef but known for a coarser texture and slightly sweeter taste while being a denser meat. That means more hunger satisfaction while eating less. The delicacy is titled s Alberta’s indigenous food because bison have been found in Alberta for at least 120,000 years.
One of the most famous places to get bison meat in Alberta is The Bison in Banff. Some of the farm to table dishes on the menu include a Moroccan spiced bison ragu and a bison ribeye if you’re looking for something a little heartier. Blue Star in Calgary is another great option for bison if you’re on a budget. Their bison chilli is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it’s always ready for the next adventurer coming to try something new.
Fresh Okanagan Fruit
In Kelowna, the Okanagan fruits make spring and summer something extra special. You can get all kinds of fruits from cherries, apricots and peaches, to apples, plums and pears. With local farms all around the Okanagan region, travellers can pick their own fresh fruits as they wander through the area. If you want more than the fresh fruits, ciders and wines are also a specialty of the area – and wine tasting in Okanagan is one of the many experiences FML’s West Coast Best Coast trip has to offer.
Between April and May, the Okanagan fruits go through a blossoming season where flowery scents fill the air and soft colours fill the trees. But if you’re visiting between July and September, Caldwell Heritage Farm and Paynter’s Fruit Market are great places to harvest some of your favourite fruits.
Bonus: Tacofino Tacos
This FML favourite is a must-eat for anyone heading to Tofino. Starting as a food truck selling from the back of a surf shop parking lot in Tofino, Tacofino has taken over the beachside surf town and more since.
If you’re looking for some crunchy carnitas and a little taste of Mexico all the way in Canada, this is the perfect spot. They have veggie, fish and chicken options galore and a Diablo Cookie for dessert if you're looking for something a little sweet.
So, if you’re visiting the West Coast, don’t forget to try some of the FML must-eats: BeaverTails, Fresh West Coast Salmon, West Coast Oysters, Alberta Bison, Fresh Okanagan Fruit (and Tacofino)!
From fresh seafood to farm to table foods, there’s tons of food to try in Western Canada. So, bring your appetite and get ready to feast on your own West Coast adventure. Hopefully FML can take you to all our favourite food spots while you’re here on a West Coast Best Coast tour.