Your taste-buds didn’t evaporate the moment you had kids, although your time for a long leisurely 5 course dinner likely did. If you want to enjoy the benefits of dining out (someone else doing the hard work) once you are a tribe, you need kid-friendly food and environments, options for grown-ups that you don’t have to unwrap before eating, for pocket-book friendly prices. All-in for under $50 for a family of four in Whistler? No problem.
Pasta Lupino is a firm locals’ favourite. Although it’s just a modest 19-seat bistro, the mac and cheese is so delicious that you’ll want to finish the little one’s leftovers, instead of leaving it to compost in the take-out box. All their food, including pasta and bread, is made fresh daily. Half-portions are no problem, and the coffee is great. Prices during the day range from $4.25 for kids to $7 – $13 for adults. (Prices go up after 5.30, when the atmosphere becomes more formal.)
Splitz Grill is an old school milkbar slash burger joint that offers kid’s combos which include a burger / hot dog / chicken fingers with fries and a drink for $7.50. Adults eat made-to-order burgers with freshly made special sauces, guacamole and hearty vegetarian options for $7 -$11. The atmosphere is relaxed and it’s fun to watch you food prepared in front of you. The food is made quickly, but demand for Splitz burgers is definitely not unique to families – best to go before 6pm as it gets packed at dinnertime.
Creekbread has the best pizza in Whistler – with a wood-fired oven, organic dough and ethical ingredients, they put hippie-love in every pie. The venue is spacious and relaxed, parking is never a problem (and it’s free) and families are made to feel completely at home. The wood-fired pizza oven was built by local children. Gather the kids around an indestructible picnic table, and while you wait for your pizza to bake, they can play with their own dough. Prices start at $14 for a 12” pizza or $19 for a 16” to share.
The Wildwood is a perfect stop for early risers or those still trailing a biological clock courtesy of a different time zone. It’s open from 7am for breakfast, has plenty of room for strollers, and you can watch people playing tennis. Food options are flexible at breakfast time, and from lunchtime they have the largest children’s menu in town. The location is easy to walk to from the village, and there is plenty of free parking. Breakfast prices are between $8 to $11 for adults, dinner costs between $14 and $30 (ask about their dinner specials), children’s dinners cost between $4 and $10. Not that you’re interested, but the liquor license starts at 9am and they serve Caesars.
Located on both sides of Whistler, Samurai Sushi has become the go-to location for families on their way to hockey or gym practice. They serve child-friendly sushi bento boxes for omnivores and vegetarians, with easy-to-use chopsticks (yes, adults can ask for them too). Parking is convenient at both the Nester’s and Creekside locations, but the dinner-time line-up can be long. Prices for kids are $3.75 to $5.75 and adults pay $8 to $13.
Zogs Dogs is an outdoor stand which sells hotdogs, burgers, poutine and beavertails. Although there aren’t children’s options, the food is convenient, and the alfresco location is ideal for extremely messy eaters. With the mountain nearby there is plenty of inspiration for a game of “I spy”: including the bike park, passersby, the gondolas and maybe even a bear far away up the slopes.
The Old Spaghetti Factory is always full of families. There’s plenty of seating for everyone, and it’s never short of a high chair. Options for kids include pasta dishes, with a soup or salad as an appetizer, milk or pop to drink and ice cream for dessert. While you wait (briefly) for your food, there is unlimited bread, books, toys and – my personal favourite – colouring sheets. Prices for kids range from $5.25 to $7.
Other family-friendly eateries around Whistler include Alpine Café in Alpine for healthy home-cooked food, Southside Diner in Creekside for a real local’s feel, Dup’s Burritos for Mexican, Boston Pizza in Creekside, Carumba, Portobello for custom sandwiches (and doughnut treats), Fuji Market for cheap sushi or Mongolie Grill to select your own ingredients and then watch them cooked theatrically. And as a reward for good behaviour, the Great Glass Elevator candy store’s pick and mix selection is always fun choice for dessert.