Best Lunch on the Go: Pearl’s
Sharing space with the also tasty Pizza of Waterton, the supremely cute eatery space of Pearl’s Cafe is almost always filled with hikers in the early hours of the morning — and with good reason. The place is stocked with well-worn (and well-dog-eared) hiking guides for the surrounding trails, you can make any lunch item a hiker’s special that includes a drink, piece of fruit, and trail mix in a classic brown bag, and you can also register here for the Triple Crown of Waterton — a challenge to hike three exemplary trails in one summer for a free t-shirt and a photo on Pearl’s Glory Board. Pearl’s is also the home base of the Waterton Hiking Meetup Group (join to get free coffee with any purchase at Pearl’s!).
If you have time to sit down, the coffee is strong, the cinnamon rolls are freshly-baked, and the Hungry Hiker Wrap (pictured above) will definitely take you from Hungry to Happy.
Pearl’s Cafe is located at 305 Windflower Ave and is open from 7AM to 10PM. Phone: 403.859.2284
Best Breakfast: Wieners of Waterton
I know what you’re thinking: Hot dogs for breakfast? And the answer is YES. Weiners of Waterton opens a bit later than Pearl’s, so it’s not the best option for early risers, but if you have time to kill (or just want weiners for lunch, too), this is a Must-Visit. They feature fresh-sqeezed juice, freshly baked scones and cinnamon rolls, tasty yogurt and granola parfaits, and the legendary Breakfast Dog, made with local sausage, eggs, and sharp cheese.
No matter what time you visit or what you order, you can stack a pile of tasty condiments on your sausages, from standard fare like grilled onions and sauerkraut to gingered carrots and jalapeño slices. There’s a falafel-and-hummus dog for vegetarian types, and a wide selection of David’s teas, too!
Weiners of Waterton is located at 301 Windflower Ave and is open from 11AM to 11PM. Phone: 403.859.0007
Best Apres-Hike Drinks: Fireside Lounge
Part of the Bayshore Inn Resort and Spa, the Fireside Lounge is a perfectly relaxed place to unwind, stretch out, and sip a drink or two after a long day putting miles on your boots. Enjoy the outdoor patio and bask in views of Vimy Peak and the Waterton Lakes or chill out indoors, where they have local live music on most nights of the week. As a bonus, the expansive leather chairs are supremely comfortable, too.
There are some large LCD flatscreens near the bar that are usually playing sports (on mute). So if you’re into checking in on the latest scores, sit at the bar — otherwise, they’re easy to frame out of your field of vision.
The Fireside Lounge is located at 111 Waterton Ave and is open from Noon until 1AM. Phone: 403.859.2211
Best Mountain Man Meals: Trapper’s Mountain Grill
If you’re smelling something delicious in the air as you walk around Waterton Village, odds are it’s coming from the meat smokers at Trapper’s. This is a classic mountain town eatery in every sense — wooden booths are decked out in red-and-black flannel and antlers make up about 50% of the interior decor. Portions are sizable, and while they may not always be the healthiest food items, they are certainly some of the tastiest — especially the exquisitely tender smoked meat and fish. If you’ve spent the whole day hiking, add a cold beer and you’ve earned yourself this reward.
Oh, and the fish and chips are awesome — especially if you’re looking for a cheaper option.
Trapper’s Mountain Grill is located at 106 Waterton Ave #A. Phone: 403.859.2240
Fanciest Splurge: Afternoon Tea at the Prince of Wales
The gingerbread Victorian Prince of Wales Hotel looms over Waterton Lakes like a medieval dollhouse castle, and visiting it is like stepping backward in time to the high age of the British Empire. The good news is you don’t have to stay at the hotel to visit … and you don’t even have to order afternoon tea to enjoy the jaw-dropping views from the Windsor Lounge.
If you feel like holding a cup and raising your pinky finger without anyone looking at you askance, Afternoon Tea is served from 1 to 5PM in the Windsor Lounge, where your selection of teas and sandwiches will be accompanied by musicians and efficient hotel staff in pressed shirts and tartans.
The Prince of Wales Hotel is located near the entrance to Waterton Lakes National Park, just across from the information centre. Phone: 403.859.2231