Nestled in a valley surrounded by forests and mountains, Yukon’s capital city, Whitehorse, is a gateway to the Canadian wilderness. It’s very much an outdoorsy sort of place, but that doesn’t mean residents or visitors have to forgo their creature comforts. Quite the opposite in fact. With a population of 28,000, Whitehorse has way more good restaurants, cafés and foodie haunts than you’d expect from a city of its size. Here are some I’ve had the good fortune to experience.
Klondike Rib & Salmon
The quintessential Yukon diner, Klondike Rib & Salmon is housed in the two oldest buildings still in use in Whitehorse. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time, with vintage paraphernalia in every nook and cranny, but there’s nothing old-time about the food, which has a distinctly local flavour. Dona and her “kickass team” serve fresh northern fish such as salmon, halibut and Arctic char; wild game meats such as elk, bison and caribou; fresh bannock and the restaurant’s signature sourdough bread pudding. Visit for true northern flavour and good ol’ Yukon hospitality.
Location: 2nd Avenue, Whitehorse; Tel: +1 (867) 667 7554.
Bean North’s Café In The Woods
Since 1997, Bean North Coffee Roasting Company has been roasting organic fair trade coffee in the picturesque boreal forest of the Takhini Valley, on the outskirts of Whitehorse. Its coffee is widely available throughout the Yukon, as well as in other Canadian provinces and Alaska. Sample the coffee at Bean North’s Café In The Woods, where you can also enjoy a selection of house-made soups, grilled paninis and baked goods. Sitting on the patio surrounded by pine and spruce trees is lovely when the flowers are in bloom, but it’s also a treat to cosy up inside when the weather is chilly.
Location: 8.8 km on the Takhini Hot Springs Road, Whitehorse; Tel: + 1 (867) 667 4145.
The Wheelhouse Restaurant
Although The Wheelhouse is one of the city’s more upmarket restaurants, it has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Artefacts and historic photos pay homage to the Yukon’s fascinating history, a time when sternwheelers plied the Yukon River, the same river that the restaurant overlooks. The seasonal, local menu features steaks and ribs, pasta, northern wild game and Arctic char, and there’s a wide selection of wines and local beer on tap. Make sure you try the Mary Pickford, a fruity cocktail similar to those created in response to the 1919-1939 Prohibition in the US and served on sternwheelers such as the SS Klondike.
Location: 2237 2nd Avenue, Waterfront Station, Whitehorse; Tel: + 1 (867) 456 2982.
Fireweed Community Market
The deep pink-purple plant that grows prolifically on Yukon roadsides has given its name to the Fireweed Community Market, held on the waterfront on Thursdays during summer. Although small, it has a happy community feel with live entertainment, llamas and a donkey to amuse the kids, and stalls selling local produce, baked goods, plants, and local arts and crafts. The Yukon has a short but intense growing season, resulting in wonderful produce available from growers such as Elemental Farm and Anarchy Farms. After the market, take in live music at MacBride Museum or pop into the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre for bannock and tea.
Location: Shipyards Park, Whitehorse.
When it gets cold in the Yukon, it must be nice to think of the Caribbean which is probably why Antoinette’s is a favourite with the locals. Antoinette Oliphant delights her guests with an eclectic mix of modern Canadian, Caribbean, Latin, East Indian, Thai and vegetarian dishes. Unmistakable with its bright yellow exterior, inside is equally colourful with beautiful mosaic tiled floors, an eye-catching bar and an outdoor area that brings a little bit of the tropics to this northern capital. Weekends often see live bluesy, lounge music being played, adding to the atmosphere.
Location: 4121 4th Avenue, Whitehorse; Tel: +1 (867) 668 3505.
The paddock to plate concept is a growing trend in the Yukon, where there’s a surprising abundance of excellent produce. Farmer Roberts was established to help farmers move from farmgate sales to year-round retail sales. The shop and tea barn sells fresh produce, local eggs, meat, bulk organic products, bread and ready to eat food. It supports local farms by sourcing sustainably produced food from as close to Whitehorse as possible. As well as serving locally roasted coffee, it serves tea in a traditional Brown Betty, kept cosy with a handknitted cover. Cakes, cookies, soups and sandwiches are available, made mostly with organic ingredients.
Location: 21 Waterfront Place, Whitehorse; Tel: +1 (867) 456 2178.
Not speaking from personal experience here as the restaurant was closed when I swung by, but this café right next to Takhini Hot Springs is known for its use of local produce. According to its website, 90% of its food is made in-house, using about 75% of local products. The menu draws on the flavours of the boreal forest – wild berries and mushrooms, spruce tips, juniper berries, wild roses, and even dandelions, hand-harvested by local hikers. The kitchen staff grow their own fresh herbs and flowers in a greenhouse near the thermal pool, and they buy Yukon Gold potatoes, beets and carrots from a local farmer. Take your swimsuit and go for a dip first.
Location: 10 km on the Takhini Hot Springs Road, Whitehorse; Tel: +1 (867) 456 8005.
An institution in Whitehorse, this business encompasses a bakery, restaurant and organic produce club, priding itself on using natural, wholesome ingredients. Suat Tutzlak founded it in 1984 and in 1995 it moved to its current location in a two-storey log building with a garden patio out the back (many of the greens and herbs are grown here). Locals love the bread which is baked daily in a brick oven. There’s a small area for dining in, where you can enjoy burgers, pizzas, stews and other lunch specials, or you can buy bread, cakes or juices to go. New owners, Silvia and Walter, took over after my visit in 2016.
Location: 411 Alexander Street, Whitehorse; Tel: +1 (867) 668 6871.
Whitehorse is the City of Cool. Make a note of how many cool cafés it has –remarkable, really, for a city of its size. Here are some worth checking out:
Birch & Bear (2237 2nd Ave, +1 867 334 2224) for salads, smoothies, coffee, loose-leaf tea, and gluten-free treats.
The Claim Café (305 Strickland St, +1 867 667 2202) began as a catering and chocolate manufacturing business, and morphed into a café doing baked goods, sandwiches, soups, chocolate and coffee.
Baked Café (100 Main St, + 1 867 633 6291) is a popular local hang-out, known most of all for its huge scones, which come in flavours like raspberry walnut and cranberry coconut.
Burnt Toast (2112 2nd Ave, +1 867 393 2605) is urban chic with vintage photos on striking black walls, leather seats and a creative menu.
Southern Lakes Resort
Just over an hour’s drive south of Whitehorse brings you to beautiful Tagish Lake, and right on the water’s edge is a log-cabin lodge. Swiss-born chef Bruno Dietrich is turning out beautiful European food – his chocolate mousse is to die for, while a dash of Yukon Gold beer splashed around the Yukon Gold potatoes towards the end of the roasting elevates the spuds to truly great heights. Float planes land on the frozen lake in winter, while in summer visitors can rent boats and canoes, or do fishing charters and guided nature tours. It’s an easy drive back to Whitehorse but, better still, why not stay over? After a long period of closure, new owners have completely renovated six log cabins facing the lake.
Location: 1005 Ten Mile Road, Tagish; Tel: +1 (867) 332 2113
With thanks to Destination Canada and Yukon Tourism for hosting my visit to Whitehorse.