Where to Eat in BC’s Northeast
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Food in Northeast BC is rustic and simple, but never dull. From big game to roadside treats worth making a detour for, here are some of our favourite things to sample in the region.
Fresh Donuts at Azouzetta Lake Lodge & Campground, Pine Pass
In the heart of Pine Pass, Cafe 97 serves up hearty comfort food all day (think burgers, sandwiches and big breakfasts), but it’s the donuts that steal the show. Made from scratch each day, the cafe’s best-sellers are a well-earned treat after paddling Azouzetta Lake or hitting the slopes of Powder King Resort, located just down the road. There’s a variety of glazed flavours (the menu changes each day), from maple walnut, to chocolate peanut butter, to vanilla caramel, to a strawberry sprinkle that Homer Simpson would approve of. Grab a donut for the road or a box for the whole family and take them outside to enjoy — the views in Pine Pass are just as sweet.
Milkshakes at Stuie’s Diner, Dawson Creek
Step back into this 1950s diner, with its retro decor, classic lunch counter and a whole lotta Elvis, all encased in a stainless steel train-car-styled shell. Stuie’s Diner practically begs you to try its milkshakes and burgers and fries, followed up by a slice of cherry pie. Just like in the movies. While coffee’s no longer a nickel, meals are reasonably priced and the food checks a lot of boxes (any menu with a good Reuben is fine by us). A trip to Stuie’s is a true flashback, and worth the stop in Dawson Creek.
Brunch at Whole Wheat & Honey, Fort St. John
Located in the heart of Fort St. John, Whole Wheat & Honey Cafe serves up a variety of speciality coffees, teas, delectable baked goods, breakfast (the Bennies are a must) and lunches (soup and a sandwich, anyone?) With ever-changing daily specials, something new is always on the menu as talented chefs serve up healthy, flavourful fare, made with wholesome ingredients. Breakfast runs until 11am, and can be busy at peak times, but it’s so worth it.
Bee Sting Lager & Super Neat Saison, Fort St. John
While not food per se, these beers are both made using local Fort St. John ingredients that infuse each pint with a taste of the Peace. Beards Brewing‘ Bee Sting Lager is an amber-coloured lager made using local honey from Mackay Farms in Taylor. The honey comes raw and unpasteurized straight from the hive which sweetens this easy drinking lager during the brewing process. Super Neat Saison from Mighty Peace Brewing is a tart fruit-forward beer that is infused over two-months with 400-pounds of local haskap and black currant (from Grande Prairies’ Haskapberry Farms and Fort St. John’s Runacres Farm, respectively) during the conditioning process.
Healthy Fare at Down to Earth, Fort Nelson
Road tripping can inevitably lead to some questionable food choices, bouncing from service station to service station. We get it. Enter Down to Earth in Fort Nelson to help assuage the snacker’s remorse, and fill your belly with a healthy, whole food meal or delicious smoothy. The cafe serves up dishes that range from organic salads to vegan chocolate cake, lasagnas and flavourful soups and sandwiches.
The building that houses the cafe is built from sustainable, eco-friendly and recycled materials, and features numerous types of green technologies, including heat pump heating, zero VOC paint and a built-in water purification system.
Doubling as a health food store, Down to Earth is also a perfect place to stock up on healthy snacks and supplies for the next leg of the trip.
Cinnamon Buns at Tetsa River Lodge, Tetsa River
Ask anyone about Tetsa River Lodge and they’ll answer with two words: cinnamon buns. This popular roadside destination, located west of Fort Nelson, makes driving the Alaska Highway worth it solely to get your hands on the cinnamon rolls that have been deemed, “the centre of the galactic cluster.”
High praise for a yeasted pastry, but one that locals and residents alike stand behind. These cinnamon buns are notably spice-forward (with a good amount of cinnamon and some nutmeg present), served soft and warm (they’re baked in small batches throughout the day to ensure they’re fresh), and covered in a glossy, sticky icing that’s just sweet and gooey enough. You don’t need to worry about missing out — the lodge, which has been family-owned and operated for three generations, sells upwards of 200 cinnamon buns each day during the busy summer months. With that much practice behind them, you’re bound to get a cinnamon bun that’s truly out of this world.
Tetsa River’s cinnamon buns deserve all the glory they can get, but we’d be remiss not to mention their in-house smoked meats too. Ben, one half of Tetsa’s duo smokes his own meats in-house. Grab some double smoked and salted bacon for frying up in a breakfast that will keep you going all day. Jerky makes the ideal on-the-trail snack and helps keep you satiated while driving too. The Andouille-style sausage is perfect for cooking up in a big pot of campfire gumbo; it’s sweet, savoury and nicely spiced. All of Tetsa’s meats are smoked on-site and made with the same incredible care and attention that make the aforementioned cinnamon buns such a popular stop.
Fresh Bread at Double G Services, Muncho Lake
While the cinnamon buns at Double G also contend for best in the universe, it’s the fresh bread baked by proprietor Jack Gunness that has everyone talking. Stop in for baked goods, or a hearty breakfast or lunch and you won’t be disappointed. Double G has been serving the Muncho Lake area forever—from gas to motel stays to classic road side dining. It’s a spot with lots of character, a quintessential Alaska Highway experience.
Schnitzel at Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake
Serving a variety of North American and European inspired dishes, the skilled chefs at Northern Rockies Lodge serve up home cooked comfort food, with fine dining pizazz. With views of the property and Muncho Lake, one can easily lose track of time drinking imported German draft beer or a fine bottle of wine while enjoying homemade schnitzel and spätzli.
No time to stop and sit? No problem. Northern Rockies Lodge offers simple Canadian comfort foods and lodge specialties (like the Schnitzel Sandwich & Bushpilot Burger), cooked fresh to order for take out. Simple, delicious food to go at an affordable price, perfect for a lakeside picnic.
Bison Burgers at Coal River Lodge, Coal River
Bison is both a common sight in the Northeast and a staple of menus throughout the region. This big game tastes similar to beef (although slightly sweeter) and makes an excellent burger — which is exactly what you’ll find at Coal River Lodge. Located just south of the Yukon border, Coal River’s famed bison burger comes in a one-third pound patty smothered in two types of cheese (cheddar and jack), all the fixins and is sandwiched between a grilled buttered bun. Add on homemade pan fries, soup and a salad for a caloric intake that will ensure the drive between Coal River and Whitehorse goes without hunger pains. While Coal River’s bison burger is worthy of a destination in and of itself, this conveniently located lodge, RV Park, and gas station is also the last stop for supplies and fuel before you cross the border heading north.
Farmers’ markets make a one-stop shop into all things local food. Here you’ll find everything from impossibly fresh in-season produce to small vendors without brick-and-mortar locations hawking tasty treats. From pies, jams and preserves made with local fruit to pails of local honey and pastured-raised meat products, there’s plenty to fill your stomachs and shopping bags. Throughout the Northeast in summer, you’ll find farmers’ markets in Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Mackenzie, Hudson’s Hope, Tumbler Ridge, Fort Nelson and Pouce Coupe.