This is about as quintessentially “local” as you can get in Canmore: breakfast at Craigs’. It’s a true Canmore institution and it has been around for longer than my friends and I have been alive. As a matter of fact, my mom worked at Craigs’ when it doubled up as a gas station and had a fully functioning mini golf course.
My dad always went there for coffee with his friends. I’m told that one day, while he was there, he saw my mom and made a bet with his friend that he “would marry that girl one day.” There’s even a picture my parents standing by my dad’s old Camaro parked out front of Craigs’.
This place is practically the definition of local and it really hasn’t changed much. That’s not to say the place is dated. They’ve recently spruced up the interior with new tables and re-upholstered chairs to modernize the dining area. They took out the counter with the swivel chairs that I spent cumulative hours spinning around on getting dizzy. They’ve replaced it with a wooden divider and a sitting bench, which is a good thing because it was hopping at 9:30 on a Sunday morning! It’s still the same old Craigs’ to me though. It still has its antique fireplace, made of Rundle Rock, and the grizzly bear carving hanging above it. The antique stove is still in the entrance; they use it to house their brochures and maps. Same local way station feel that everyone loves.
The secret to Craigs’ success, it would appear, isn’t in having a flashy menu or an avant-guard chef at the helm, it’s just serving simple, good, honest food. When you look at it, Craigs’ menu hasn’t changed in…ever, I don’t think. And that’s how we like it. Comfortable. Familiar. Home.
If you’ve never been to Craigs’, I highly suggest you go at least once for breakfast. I love the bottomless coffee they serve. It’s got that diner coffee quality that you can drink cup after cup. Many places in the Valley have their own breakfasts, and they do them well, but if you want my pick for the best eggs benedict in Canmore, it’s Craigs’ Benny. Shaved ham, basted egg (to your liking), English muffin, hollandaise sauce and hash browns. Oh so simple, yet oh so good.
My eggs and muffin were cooked perfectly, a true medium egg, and a crisp muffin that wasn’t soggy. The star is the hollandaise which at Craigs’ is unique because it doesn’t have that yellow colour that you’d normally expect. It’s white, which suggests it might be more of a country gravy than it is a hollandaise, but honestly it tastes amazing. The hash browns are unforgettable, small dice, pan fried with little strands of onion in them. They go great with that hollandaise/country gravy.
If eggs benny isn’t your thing, they have Belgian style waffles, which are great, and you can’t go wrong with pancakes, omelettes or any combination of egg, bacon, hash browns and toast you can imagine. If you want a true local’s tip ask for a “local’s special.” Nothing fancy, just two eggs, hash browns, bacon and toast, but you won’t find it on the menu. They’ll know what you mean when you ask for it.
If you can’t make it for breakfast, I also recommend the burgers. They’re juicy, loaded with toppings and it’s just what you want after a hard night on the town. Try one with a milkshake. They have vanilla, strawberry or chocolate and they’ll serve it to you in a pint glass along with the metal mixing cup and spoon for the rest.
This restaurant has stood the test of time and I feel it is for good reason. It serves up hearty, Canadian fare that has filled the bellies of hungry miners and young Canmoreites for generations. It’s got this laid-back attitude that is perfect for sitting around with your friends, sipping on coffee and shooting the breeze.
So… Craigs’ bud?