The Kootenay Rockies: An Outdoor Playground
With Great Foodie Finds

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Note: This story was originally published in 2020.

We know serious adventurists gravitate to the outdoor playground of the Kootenay Rockies, but did you know there is a burgeoning food scene there, too? Fuel your day in the mountains with delicious foodie finds, ranging from locally-roasted coffee to hearty and delicious meals.

Empire Coffee, Nelson | Kari Medig

Experience Kootenay Coffee Culture

Fortunately for coffee lovers, Kootenay communities are as passionate about their coffee as they are about their mountain activities.

No trip to Nelson is complete without a visit to coffee roasters Oso Negro, considered a hub of creativity and connectivity in the community. Slow down to mountain time and watch the world go by in their charming garden patio. Grab a shot of caffeine and a baked treat for the road, plus a bag of their coveted beans for home. Alternatively, start off your morning with a Stumptown coffee and breakfast sandwich in the bright atrium patio of Empire Coffee, the perfect place to take in life’s simple pleasures.


In Rossland, drop by the pick-up window at Seven Summits Coffee Company, named after the area’s widely acclaimed point-to-point singletrack traverse across the Rossland Range. Swing by for a flat white, Americano, or chai latte.

In Fernie, visit Rooftop Coffee Roasters, who carefully roast their coffee in small batches. Their latest grab-and-go food offering is a decadent Croque Monsieur, no doubt energizing for your day’s adventure.

Baker Street Restaurants in Nelson | Kari Medig

Fuel up at local restaurants

Food is a big part of fuelling your adventure, and Kootenay mountain towns are dotted with restaurants and eateries offering great patio views, delicious cuisine, and plenty of local flare.

Craving a hearty burger? Look no further than Indigenous-owned Bear & Bone Burger Co. on the Trans Canada in Golden, now open for dine-in or take-out. Make the difficult decision between a veggie, salmon, beef, chicken, bison, or elk burger, served with both classic and unconventional toppings, like bourbon bacon jam. Other options include smoked meat poutine, chicken wings, Caesar salads, and rib-eye steaks.



In Fernie, drive up into the alpine just outside of town to Island Lake Lodge, a cat-ski lodge and spa that reopens in the summer months for hiking, biking, and canoeing in the Lizard Range of the Rockies. Their Bear Lodge Bistro provides casual fare on what’s arguably the most scenic deck in the region. For elegant dining, reserve ahead for dinner at their second restaurant, Tamarack Dining Room. Whenever possible, both restaurants serve local produce, organic and traditionally grown foods, and sustainable Ocean Wise seafood.

In Nelson, the diversity of foodie-approved restaurants is just one of the town’s many appeals. In the mood for Southeast Asian cuisine? Yum Son will delight vegans and omnivores alike with their noodle bowls, bao buns, pho, and modern takes on Vietnamese delicacies. Looking for street tacos and Mezcal cocktails? Get yourself to Cantina Del Centro, a contemporary Mexican restaurant on historic Baker Street.

In Kimberley, take in the authentic Bavarian ambiance of Old Bauernhaus, whose 350-year-old building was originally constructed in Germany, then transported to the Kootenays in 1989. Enjoy Wienerschnitzel and Pilsner on the patio, or feast inside on one of their famous Eastern European specialties, like the Schweine Haxen braised pork hock with sauerkraut spätzle, which requires a 24-hour pre-order. You won’t walk away hungry.

Fernie Brewing Co. | BC Ale Trail

Sip craft beer and swap stories at après

Every good day in the mountains ends with a solid après, and craft beer is practically synonymous with the mountain town lifestyle. After all, this is the home of Beer Goggles (stay tuned for information on this festival’s return), the beloved beer and ski festival at RED Mountain Resort. The Kootenay Rockies are also home to Fernie Brewing Co.’s Trail to Ale, a three-peak challenge for expert trail runners and mountain bikers where, upon completion within 24 hours, you’re rewarded at the brewery with beer and bragging rights.

Fortunately, there are easier ways to sample the local ales, saisons, lagers, stouts, and sours this summer. With 17 craft breweries and two BC Ale Trails in the Kootenays, craft beer is never far away.

The tasting rooms of Backroads Brewing in Nelson, Kaslo’s Angry Hen Brewing, the aforementioned Fernie Brewing Co., Over Time Beer Works in Kimberley, Mt. Begbie Brewery in Revelstoke, and Castlegar’s Tailout Brewing have recently reopened, with many more coming soon. If you don’t want to sit inside, you can always swing by for a pick-up.

Tip: Download the BC Ale Trail app for two Kootenay itineraries and suggestions for all the breweries, brewpubs, and craft beer establishments. And be sure to collect points at each stop so you can trade them in for discounts and swag.

Featured Image: View of Nelson and Kootenay Lake | Ryan Dury

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