This blog post was written before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when physical distancing and other COVID health and safety protocols were not in effect. The businesses and communities featured in this article may be once again welcoming visitors but please double check as some are only open with limited operations and others have not yet reopened.
Inspired by the land, oceans, and forests across diverse landscapes in Canada, contemporary Indigenous cuisine has fast catapulted into the mainstream. Based on living in balance with your surroundings, respecting all forms of life and giving back to the earth, traditional Indigenous cuisine revolves around no-waste, head-to-tail cooking. Now Indigenous chefs are pushing boundaries and innovating by adding contemporary touches to traditional plates. For those who wish to sample Indigenous cuisine, here are 12 food experiences not to miss, from coast to coast to coast.
1. Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro
Indigenous owned restauranteurs are showing urban visitors how to taste the flavors of the land without leaving the city. Order braised free-range bison back ribs or wild sockeye salmon dinner at the popular Salmon n’ Bannock bistro, in Vancouver, or try the fresh bison burger or butternut squash bannock pizza at Feast Café & Bistro in Winnipeg.
2. Nek8arre Restaurant
Take a guided tour of the Huron Traditional Site on the Huron-Wendat reservation just outside Québec City, followed by a traditional lunch at the on-site Nek8arre restaurant; try the wapiti medallions or deer steak.
3. Keenawaii’s Kitchen
Book a meal at the iconic Keenawaii’s Kitchen on Haida Gwaii archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, where Chef Roberta Olson serves dishes like dried herring roe on kelp, grain bread with rhubarb relish and octopus balls.
4. Shakat Tun Adventures
Trips with Shakat Tun Adventures in Yukon share a meal potlatch-style, a ceremony of sharing, community, and kinship. In the remote Kluane region of the Yukon, snack on traditional dishes as you share stories, song and dance around a bonfire.
5. Eskasoni Cultural Journeys
Learn to make four cents cake, a traditional flat bread, with Eskasoni Cultural Journeys in a Mi’kmaq community on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia; it has been a favorite snack for thousands of years.
6. Arctic Bay Adventures
Munch on muktuk, a traditional Inuit delicacy of frozen whale skin and blubber and sip a cup of tea made with chips of an iceberg on an Arctic Bay Adventures tour that takes you to the floe edge of the remote Baffin Island in Nunavut.
7. 7th Fire Restaurant
Watch for the opening of 7th Fire restaurant by Saskatchewan Chef Rich Francis, a Top Chef Canada finalist who is redefining Indigenous cuisine; a member of the Tetlit Gwich’in & Tuscarora Nations, he showcases a menu that is a “pre-colonial culinary expression.”
8. La Traite Restaurant
Dine at La Traite restaurant at the upscale Wendake hotel, a short drive from Québec City, featuring cuisine with ingredients that have been hunted, fished or gathered locally; think Western bison tenderloin and Arctic char with red pepper and artichoke tapenade.
9. Wanuskewin Heritage Park Restaurant
Learn about Northern Plains people at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon, and sample delicacies such as bison stew and Muskeg tea-battered whitefish and chips at the on-site restaurant.
10. Spirit Bear Lodge
Feast on traditionally prepared wild salmon at Spirit Bear Lodge in the ancestral lands of the Kitasoo Xai’xais, as orcas and sea lions swim by your window while you dine on a 12-foot solid cedar table inside this longhouse-inspired lodge.
11. Great Spirit Circle Trail
Learn to make bannock over an open fire and sample berries harvested from the lands of Manitoulin Island with the Great Spirit Circle Trail in northeastern Ontario.
12. Grey Eagle Resort & Casino | River Cree Resort & Casino
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#ExecutiveChef @shanemedericchartrand doing what he does best!!! In The Kitchen working his magic!!! Don't forget to join Sage Fine Dinning Tonight and get 50% off regular priced menus Items!!! Excluding drinks. Reserve online www.opentable.com or call 780.930.2636 offer valid Sun-Thur 5:30pm-10pm #FineDineWithUs #finedining #Edmonton #Rivercree #rivercreeresort #rivercreecasino #yeg #food #drinks #chefshanechartrand
Chef Bill Alexander at Grey Eagle Resort & Casino on Tsuut’ina First Nation in Calgary and Chef Shane Chartrand at Sage Restaurant at River Cree Resort & Casino in Edmonton, are two Indigenous chefs bringing new flavor and traditional touch to Alberta casino resort properties. Customized event banquets featuring traditional game foods, local ingredients and flavors from the land are the resorts of the future.
- Kukum (Toronto)
- NishDish (Toronto)
- Birchwood Coffee (Yellowknife)
- Lelem’ (Fort Langley, BC)
- BisonBerry Restaurant at Neechi Commons (Winnipeg)
- Cookem Daisy’s (Winnipeg)
- Kokom’s Bannock Shack (Dryden, ON)
- Native Delights (Food truck in Edmonton)
- Kekuli Café (2 locations: Merritt & West Bank, BC)
- Thunderbird Café at Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (Whistler, BC)
- Painted Pony Café (Kamloops, BC)
- Ha’me’ Restaurant at Kwa’lilas Hotel (Port Hardy, BC)
- Jack Sam’s Restaurant & Lounge at Quaaout Lodge & Spa (Chase, BC)
- Haida House at Tllaal (Haida Gwaii, BC)