As a Banff local, I can attest that we are all proud of the mountain town in which we reside; however, our summer months are much different than our slow winter days. For eight months of the year, we’re tucked away from civilization. The streets are clear save for the falling snow, restaurants never have wait-times, and you recognize everyone: from the ticket person at the movies to your cashier at the grocery store. It all changes come the summertime, especially this year. With Canada celebrating its 150th, naturally, our nation’s first national park has become a very popular tourist destination.
On one particularly chaotic Sunday morning, I had my own tourist friends visiting, and we were running out of luck for breakfast options. We went to multiple restaurants to no avail. Lines were out the door at local bakeries, and wait-times were upwards of twenty minutes. It was then a tiny oasis just outside of the town site popped into my head. The Juniper Bistro, which is more or less only car accessible (or quite a long walk), sits quaintly on Norquay Road, just north of the highway exits. This patio paradise is far out from the downtown core, so I don’t often consider it when there are so many alternative options before hitting the end of town. But I’m glad all the tourists (literally) drove me out of town.
It was the perfect spot to get away. Quiet and recluse it sits alone, rewarded with wonderfully unique views. Elevated and facing south, sit on their heated patio, or by their large wraparound windows to get beautiful views of Vermillion Lakes, Rundle and Tunnel mountains.
I was wowed by the view and relieved by the lack of waiting. As soon as we walked into the intimate restaurant, it felt like those quiet winter months again. And in a classic local tradition, we found ourselves intertwined in friendly conversation with all those around us. The local family sitting next to our table gave us great suggestions as they heard us struggling over our choices, and our waitress was equally helpful and lovely.
The menu, although small, was overwhelming. I mean, everything sounded amazing. Choose between apple, brie and apricot stuffed French toast, a daily quiche, or variations of eggs Benedict, to just name a few. I decided on the vegetarian Huevos Rancheros: refried beans, tomato salsa, sunny side eggs, avocado and cheddar on top of a corn tortilla. Not usually my style, but our engaging waitress insisted it was her favourite. The crispy corn tortilla accented the soft sunny side eggs, and because it traditionally included pork shoulder she made sure my plate had extra avocado, a perfect substitution.
Isabelle ordered the stuffed French toast, which I stared at longingly. The French toast was made with a fresh brioche bun and was such a generous portion that she graciously offered to share a few bites with me.
Kelsey ordered the classic salmon eggs Benedict and raved about the housemade Hollandaise.
We sat quietly looking at the beautiful view, and just couldn’t get over the contrast between the busyness of town, and the secluded restaurant just minutes away. It was our last meal together before they were headed back to their respective homes (Calgary and Victoria), so we enjoyed the ambient hours after we completed our meal.
Contentedly, we sipped our coffee and tea. I was euphoric. There’s no other way to describe it. The intimate venue overlooking a busy town was perfectly peaceful. It was a patio paradise. And I was so glad that my friends were able to enjoy Banff’s summer activities like tourists: campfires, gondola rides and hikes, but also experience an authentic feel for our quaint and often quiet mountain town.