Insider’s Guide: Eating with Young Kids in Whistler
I remember a time when my two-year-old, Ella, would eat broccoli, she would even ask for “mini trees” when I’d start dishing out her dinner. However, a few months on and it’s sometimes a battle of wills, ingenuity, and cunning to get her to eat her veggies. I know I’m not alone when it comes to fussy eaters.
It’s not only what they eat, it’s when they want to eat it, and finding that oh-so-delicate balance is a practiced parenting skill. Throw in ski school, après activities, trying to get to cool stuff like the Fire & Ice Show or the Summer Concert Series and you need a plan of action for dinner time when you’re visiting Whistler.
A hangry child can be a tantrum-throwing nightmare so to avoid that we’ve put together a list of our favourite spots to take the kiddies.
Head to Main Street
Located in Village North, Main Street is tucked behind the Marketplace Shopping Centre. This is a whole street of family-friendly dining options from Australian meat pies to French crepes, sushi to pasta, and noodles to burgers. Note — these places are small and none of them take reservations, but if you keep an open mind (and belly) you can see which one appeals on the night or has the smallest line-up.
Good for lunch and dinner, Peaked Pies is a fast and easy option. You’ll find a glass case full of savoury pies (meat and veggie options) as well as slightly lighter choices like a sausage or spinach and ricotta roll. You’ll be asked if you’d like your pie “peaked”, which means a dollop of mashed potato, mushy peas and gravy are added to the top. The portions are generous so bear this in mind if you have little ones who could take a nibble of yours. There’s a small dine-in area, or you can opt to take-out and eat picnic-style outside or take it back to your hotel or condo. If you have room for a Lamington we highly recommend these for dessert!
From simple ham and cheese all the way to a lobster and scallop option, there are crepes for all levels of eaters at Crepe Montagne — not to mention some incredible dessert options. Space is pretty tight, but they do have some booth-type seating which is great for wedging the kids into. This is a good option for breakfast and lunch too, and if you’re visiting in the summer months, their patio is a lovely sun trap.
The Splitz Grill tagline is “Casual place. Serious burgers.” and that’s what they deliver. They make their patties fresh, daily, and have over 40 house-made sauces and toppings. Although we know that kids tend to prefer a more simple approach to sauces (ketchup), a few dunks into Dad’s garlic aioli might broaden their dipping horizons. It’s also good to note that they have a kid-specific menu for kids 10 and under, with all the usual favourites including fries and a drink for $8.50. Note, they do have gluten free buns, lentil patties and a new “Beyond Meat” vegan option.
There’s nothing like fresh pasta with a tangy tomato sauce and kids know it. Pasta Lupino is a great option for pasta-loving families, and they make it simple with their “pasta & sauce” option. At $5.50 for a kids portion (under 12 years) it’s a great deal. The chicken parmigiana, lasagna and pizzas are also great options for teens and adults out for a carb-load. If you’re looking for another pasta-based option that’s good for families try the Old Spaghetti Factory on the Village Stroll, it’s between Mountain Square and Village Square.
Pizza is another kid-friendly favourite and we have some great options for you to try that range from take-out and super casual, to a more formal setting where the menu has a few more adult-friendly options on it too.
Caramba! pizzas are of the slightly thinner, wood-fired variety which is a bit easier for little ones to chomp through. They also do a gluten-free crust if needed. Take note that their happy hours (5 – 6 PM Tuesday to Friday, and 3 – 5 PM at the weekends) coincide with the earlier nature of eating with kids — very handy. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, and they’re used to having the kid-crowd join them in the earlier part of the evening. They take reservations online, over the phone and in-person.
Another thinner, Neapolitan-style pizzeria, Pizzeria Antico is a funky option with a great craft beer list for Mom and Dad. Some of the base pizza options are very simple, but you have the ability to add toppings. This makes it a good option for fussy eaters who will refuse to consume anything that might be “contaminated” with mushrooms or peppers! They take reservations over the phone and in-person.
Located in Whistler’s Creekside area, a five-minute drive south of Whistler Village, Creekbread is a local favourite that’s always hopping. They use 100% organic, Canadian wheat, the meat is organic and nitrate-free, and their veggies are sourced locally. Housed in a big wooden cabin-style building, it has an old school ski-lodge feel that’s relaxed and fun. Kids can watch as their pizza gets put in the wood-fired clay oven, and there are some funky flavours like the Pemberton potato pie and Mopsy’s Kalua pork to choose from. They have a 20-minute call-ahead policy, which isn’t a reservation, but it makes sure you’re on the list as long as you’re on your way
I am a big fan of Gnarly Roots as it’s quick, casual, and there are lots of choices. It’s also directly opposite the Whistler Olympic Plaza, a hub for kid-based fun year-round. There’s a whole counter dedicated to pizza, which you can order by the slice or by the pie. They also do omelettes, which are a great kid-friendly filler — hats off to you if you can sneak some spinach in there. For dessert, they also serve locally-made Lucia Gelato. Open from 11 AM – 10 PM, this is a great lunch and quick-dinner option that has a great view of the Whistler Village action (no reservations).
Sushi and Ramen
I moved here from the UK over ten years ago and sushi was not something I grew up with. As a child, I think I would have likely shunned the idea of raw fish, but it’s an intrinsic part of the cuisine here on the West Coast and it’s something we’ve introduced Ella to at an early stage.
We’re big fans of Sushi Village, and the kids love the thrill of a tatami room and the seemingly endless roll options. You can’t make a reservation unless you have a group of six or more, so get there early, if you have to wait get one of their frozen sake margaritas. Another place to take the kids that’s a little off-the-beaten-path is Oyama Ramen, close to the Whistler Conference Centre and RBC Bank. Ella loves to slurp up the noodles in the yummy broths and pop the edamame beans.
Soups and Sandwiches
Gone Village Eatery and Ingrid’s Village Cafe are both located in the centre of Whistler Village, just off of Village Square. If you head to Gone, go through Armchair Bookstore — they have some great children’s books written by local writers with a Whistler twist. Great for breakfast and lunch, Gone is known for its cozy atmosphere, hearty soups and chili, and a very good Pad Thai. Ingrid’s is a local’s favourite and can’t be beaten on their fully-loaded sandwiches. Space is a little tight, so this might be an on-the-go option, or if it’s sunny you can dine on their patio.
We recently took Ella for her first fondue experience. We went to The Chalet, by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It’s actually their golf clubhouse in the summer months, but in winter they turn it into a winter wonderland with fairy lights, lanterns and fire pits. Ella was quickly sorted with a high chair, crayons, and her own Egyptian lemonade mocktail in a sealed jungle juice container.
We opted for the full fondue experience with Ella just digging in on our food, although there is a kids menu if needed. Armed with a three-prong fork we gave Ella the task of getting Mom and Dad bread, while we dealt with the actual cheese dunking. Be aware that the molten cheese contains Emmenthal, Gruyère, white wine (the alcohol cooks off) and kirsch, so it does have a distinctive taste that some kids might not love. We were also busy putting our AAA Alberta beef in the fondue broth, Ella loved to pop the little slivers of steak in her mouth.
By 7:15 PM she was starting to look a bit droopy, and then the chocolate fondue appeared. We had to strap her down in the high chair to stop her simply putting her face into the lightly, bubbling mixture of milk and dark chocolate. There were strawberries, pineapple, banana bread, marshmallow, and biscotti to dip — she didn’t know where to start. While she was distracted we got a nightcap from the Schnapps Wagon, a beautifully ornate wooden cart filled with equally beautiful liquors.
After a day adventuring with the kids, whether they’re big or small, there’s definitely a wall that they hit. Dragging them out of a nice warm hotel room might be more hassle than it’s worth. Check out the Whistler Dine In service, where you can order from 20 different restaurants from Indian to Mexican cuisine, burgers to pasta — you don’t even have to agree on having the same thing. It’s also good to note, they do liquor store delivery in case you also hit a wall.
If the kids just can’t stay at the table any longer consider a nice evening stroll, with a sugary kick. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has glass cabinets filled with toffee apples, fudge, and something called a “bear claw” that I personally think every visitor to Whistler should try. You can smell Cow’s Whistler before you see it on the stroll. Known for their yummy ice cream, look out for the new moonan bread and moo malt crunch options.
This is by no means a complete list, as a foodie and a mom I could keep going for quite some time, but Whistler.com has a handy dining guide you can also consult.
If you’re planning on coming with the family, let the team at Whistler.com do the heavy lifting on the accommodation and transportation front, so you can plan the fun stuff — like fondue!