Follow Me Foodie to the Yukon Territories!
Highlighting bakeries and restaurants in Whitehorse, Yukon.
When you visit a small town like Whitehorse there is usually a limited but quaint restaurant scene, and almost every recommended restaurant you hit is “the best” there is. As I mentioned in Follow Me Foodie to the Yukon it’s not a culinary destination yet, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing going on.
While The Northern Lights and local activities such as dog sledding are the main tourist attractions, the food scene isn’t too shabby.
In my short stay I managed to try their most locally recommended bakeries and restaurants. By “most locally recommended” I mean in the first 2 days I had at least a few recommendations for them from locals. I almost thought there were only 6 restaurants in town. These bakeries and restaurants were likely the “top” in their respective category, although I missed a few more I’ll put on the itinerary for next time.
Regardless of why you are visiting the Yukon, everyone needs to eat, so why settle for an average meal when you can try some of the local favourites? It doesn’t matter where I am, but I’ll always make an effort to find good independent restaurants making great food.
I summarized my first impressions of the food scene in Follow Me Foodie to the Yukon, but here are some restaurant recommendations and places I tried during my visit.
Follow Me Foodie Legend
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
No diamond – Not recommend (Under 29%)
♦ – Okay, not necessary to try. (30-49%)
♦♦ – Good, with some hits and misses. (50-69%)
♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)
♦♦♦♦ – Excellent, make a trip out for it. (90-100%)
♦♦♦♦♦ – Follow Me Foodie Must Try! (Bonus marks! 100%+)
Follow Me Foodie to the Yukon (Whitehorse) Bakeries & Restaurants!
See Follow Me Foodie to the Yukon (Whitehorse) Bakeries & Restaurants – Part 1/2
See – Elk Sausages and Bison Burgers at Muktuk Adventures (Dog Sledding & Lunch)
See – Breakfast and dinner at the elegant bed and breakfast – Takhini River Lodge
Restaurant: Sanchez Cantina
Address: 211 Hanson St, Whitehorse
Phone: (867) 668-5858
Price Range: $10-20 ($15-25 on average per person)
I mentioned Sanchez Cantina in Follow Me Foodie to the Yukon. I would have never considered dining Mexican in the Yukon, but never say “never”.
Sanchez Cantina is family owned and operated and it has been around for 18+ years. It is a local favourite and one of their only two authentic Mexican restaurants in Whitehorse, the other being La Petrona which I did not try.
I discovered it while researching Yukon restaurants and I was given further recommendations to try it over Twitter. The recommendation was given by a local, which is a bit more promising, and it just so happened to be where I was taken for lunch upon arrival.
Beef Enchiladas with Poblanas Mole Sauce – 4/6 (Very good)
- Served with guacamole and beans, rice or salad (choose 2) – $22 (It’s pricey, but in the Yukon this is quite normal).
- I ordered Mama Sanchez’s “go-to” dish with beans and salad.
- The salad had an Italian-like dressing which was unexpected for a Mexican restaurant.
- Usually enchiladas are served with a chile sauce, but in this case it was a mole sauce which is another version.
- They can be stuffed with anything and chicken is perhaps most common, but Mama Sanchez recommended her beef.
- She used nicer shredded beef instead of ground beef which I prefer. Steak strips would be another option, but I liked the shredded.
- The shredded beef was a bit dry, but there was enough mole sauce to compensate although I didn’t want to rely on it.
- The sauce was smoky, nutty from sesame seeds and quite sweet with cocoa and chocolate, which is common of most chocolate mole sauces.
- The mole sauce was balanced with no overpowering spice and the corn flour tortillas were hand made.
- It was topped with Oaxaca cheese (?) and onions, but not with as much cheese as expected.
- Her beans were highly recommended and dangerously addictive.
- They were almost extra savoury, I don’t know if it was from meat drippings and onions or what, but they were great.
- They had good texture and flavour and were sprinkled with Oaxaca cheese (?) to finish.
- This mole was similar to the Mole’ Negro Oaxaqueño I had at La Carta de Oaxaca in Follow Me Foodie to 2 Days in Seattle.
Menu features/highlights: Beef Enchiladas with Poblanas Mole Sauce and beans.
Pros: Home made, authentic, family friendly
Cons: A bit pricey for a casual Mexican restaurant.
Tips: Open: Tuesday – Friday, 8am to 6pm, Saturday, 8am to 4pm. Call to reserve specialty loaves.
♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)
Address: 4121 4th Avenue, Whitehorse
Phone: (867) 668-3505
Price Range: $20-30 ($20-25+ mains)
In 3 days I was given about 4 recommendations by locals to try Antoinette’s. I walked by it while exploring downtown and the menu looked pretty good and I managed to have dinner here on my fourth night.
Antoinette Hanneke learned how to cook from her Caribbean grandmother, but she’s raised in Canada so her food is Canadian-Caribbean. She also appeared on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here!
Caribbean wasn’t first or even tenth to come to mind when thinking of dining in the Yukon, but it was very good and if you’re in the Yukon I would recommend it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Antoinette and she had quite the story and history about how she got to the Yukon. She was born in Trinidad, raised in Toronto, moved to Manitoba, then to Dawson City and finally settled in Whitehorse. She also spent 15 years dating women and then found her German husband in the Yukon. “It’s about the person in front of you” – Antoinette Hanneke.
She has lived in the Yukon for 7 years now and if you come here you’ll likely meet her because she’s still very hands on in the kitchen and very personable. She’s great!
Caribbean Salad – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
- Fresh organic baby greens tossed with toasted coconuts, almonds, channa oven-roasted mango and diced avocado dressed with Dawson City birch syrup dressing $13
- I’m not even a salad person and I loved this. I like salads, but it’s hard for me to see value in many of them, but this one had effort and creativity.
- It had grated carrots, tomatoes, crunchy fried chickpeas, and ribbon shavings of toasted coconut.
- I could have used more avocado and dressing since it was a bit underdressed, but I could have asked for more.
- I love texture and sweet and savoury combinations as well as nuttiness and this scored on all aspects.
- The dressing had a sweet, tangy and spicy kick too which gave the salad a bright pop of flavour.
- It was made with good quality ingredients and it was almost entree size.
Deep Fried Crab Balls (Daily special) – 2/6 (Okay)
- They were okay, but mostly shrimp instead of crab.
- It was almost like a ground shrimp meatball and it was moist and spongy with a crispy panko crust.
- I wasn’t expecting a crab cake, but I was hoping for more crab.
Mango Spring Rolls (Daily special) – 2/6 (Okay)
- The spring roll wrapper was quite thick and doughy so I was hoping for more stuffing.
- It was filled with shredded carrots, green mango, and a bit of ginger.
- It came across as a Western version of a vegetarian Chinese spring roll and I was hoping for something more Caribbean inspired.
- There was no description and I thought it was going to be fresh yellow/orange mango with maybe avocado, so this was unexpected.
- It was served with a sweet and tangy chutney.
- Halibut in coconut-tomato curry sauce on fresh spinach and coo coo topped with fresh lime $28
- I only had a couple bites of the halibut, so it wasn’t enough to “judge”, but I found the fish under seasoned.
- Halibut is pretty bland so it needs a strong sauce, but perhaps I just didn’t get enough sauce.
- I also thought it needed a starch, like rice, to absorb the sauce rather than just spinach.
- It was served with fried bannock, but I think rice would have suited the fish more.
Caribbean Lemon Chicken – n/a (Top right)
- Served on Anto rice blend with a vegetable medley $22
- I only sampled this, but the chicken was on the salty side.
- It tasted Cajun spiced and tangy from lemon, but it was a bit dry being white meat chicken too.
- I was expecting more of a Jerk seasoning than a Cajun one and it was kind of in between.
Bison Stew (Daily Special) – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
- In red wine sauce with locally grown vegetables and cranberry bannock $27
- This was my favourite main and I would order it again.
- The bison was tender and the stew was hearty, rich and comforting with carrots and root vegetables.
- It was almost like a Caribbean-Canadian version of Beef Bourguignon.
- The cranberry bannock was one of the best parts. It was fluffy, chewy, soft and doughy and freshly baked and/or just fried.
- It was almost like a savoury doughnut with a tart and sweet cranberry jelly inside. Actually, that’s pretty much what it was.
- Again, I love sweet and savoury so I loved the combination. The bannock was great dipped in the stew.
- It was almost like Thanksgiving, but bison instead of turkey… I’m game for that (pun intended!).
Coconut Rum Drops – 2/6 (Okay)
- With freshly whipped cream $11
- It had lots of freshly toasted coconut curls, but all I could taste was rum.
- If you’re all about the booze, then you’ll love this.
- The rum was caramelized, but I could taste the alcohol and it was strong.
- It was also a bit too sweet and syrupy so I wasn’t as keen, and I found it quite pricey for what it was.
Chocolate Rum Truffle Cake – 2/6 (Okay)
- With chocolate rum sauce $12
- It was a very rich, dense and indulgent cake, but I preferred The Chocolate Claim one, although a bit apples and oranges.
- It seemed like it was made with almond flour, but I’m not sure.
- It was drenched in chocolate sauce and it was just a bit too much for me. After a couple bites I was good.
- I didn’t really understand the marshmallow component and how it matched, but they tried with the plating.
Antoinette’s Yukon Espresso Beer-Banana Cake – 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
- With lime cream cheese icing $8
- This was the one I wanted the most and it sounded right up my ally.
- The cake was quite dry and crumbly though and it would have been better fresh.
- I think it had been in the fridge because it was served cold and dried out.
- I couldn’t taste much espresso, beer or even banana and I think it was made with plantains so it was less sweet and more starchy.
- I didn’t expect to taste the beer, but baking with dark espresso beers should give the cake deep flavour and intensity.
- Unfortunately it was a bit underwhelming, but I loved the concept and flavour combinations.
Lime Infused Ice Cream – 4/6 (Very good)
- This was the simplest and it was my favourite.
- I wasn’t even going to order it, but I did and it was great with the banana cake too.
- It wasn’t ice cream, but more like a popsicle. Think creamy mojito, but without the booze.
- It was almost like Kulfi (Indian ice cream) and it was fragrant and refreshing.
- It was a bit icy and it had flavours of lime zest, mint and coconut.
- It might sound and look boring, but it was great!
Menu features/highlights: Caribbean Salad, Bison Stew, Lime Infused Ice Cream
Pros: Homemade, well seasoned, vegetarian friendly, vegan friendly, interesting and original menu, local favourite, daily specials, local ingredients, passionate chef
Cons: Hit and miss dishes, a bit pricey.
Tips: Open: Tue-Thur. : 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Fri: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, Sat: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, closed Sunday and Monday
♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)
Address: 170 – 2237 Second Avenue, Waterfront Station, Whitehorse
Phone: (867) 456-2982
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/Canadian/International
Price Range: $50+ (Mains $25-35+)
The Wheelhouse has been only open for about half a year and it has quickly become Yukon’s “special occasion” spot. It is pretty much considered the nicest restaurant in town, but it’s not pretentious or even fine dining. Yes, there are white tablecloths, but it doesn’t feel like fine dining and it’s not stuffy or formal. The Yukon is a casual place and formal is never that formal, but I guess The Wheelhouse is their “formal restaurant”. It had a great open space, bright lights and a welcoming staff.
They are one of the leaders in the “eat local” philosophy and they source a lot of ingredients from local farms, producers and suppliers.
If you compare it to fine dining places in bigger cities, it doesn’t compare, but it is still one of the most exciting restaurants to open in the Yukon. It gave the small town a “big city feel” and it was a place to wine and dine and impress guests.
The portions are generous and the menu is seasonal, but some items I found a bit too casual for the caliber of restaurant. It was bordering on casual classics and comfort food so it didn’t quite match the sophisticated dining room, price level, and ambience.
Complimentary Bread and Olive Oil
- Sourdough focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- The house made sourdough focaccia can be served warm or cold, but this one was cold.
- It was soft and fluffy and I can appreciate any restaurant making their own bread and serving it complimentary.
Cheddar & Jalapeño Cheesecake – 3/6 (Good)
- Red pepper & fireweed jelly, crackers $13
- The jelly was locally sourced from Wild Things.
- It was a generous portion made for about 4 people.
- I don’t think it should have been called a “cheesecake” because it was more or less just a cream cheese spread.
- It was almost like cream cheese with cheddar and jalapeño, but it sounded more creative in the description.
- It was served cold and the spread was very rich, thick and dense with a bit of sweet and spicy fireweed jelly on top.
- It got a bit repetitive after a few crackers so it was better as a share plate than as an appetizer for one person.
Duck Confit & Sweet Potato Perogies – 3/6 (Good)
- Red cabbage, creme fraiche, scallions $15
- This was a substantial appetizer and the perogies were pretty heavy.
- It was a bit unexpected to have a comfort food dish like perogies on the menu at this restaurant, but it came recommended.
- The perogie dough was quite dense, thick, and chewy, but it was crisp and stuffed with lots of duck (dark duck leg meat).
- I wished the dough was thinner and I could have used more creme fraiche, but overall I think I would have enjoyed this in a more casual setting as a main course.
Lamb Shank Risotto – 2/6 (Okay)
- Wild mushrooms, goats cheese, spinach, grape tomatoes, mint-walnut pesto $29
- It really did not present nicely, but I liked the description.
- The risotto was very stiff and clumpy rather than creamy and smooth.
- I found it on the mushy side, but the lamb was good.
- The lamb was quite tender and fatty (expected for being lamb shank), and in chunks, and I would rather have it cooked separately and placed on top of the risotto.
- The goat cheese was quite strong and gamey so it was quite aggressive in flavour overall.
- I liked the mint-walnut pesto, but I couldn’t taste much of it unless I ate it alone.
- The execution could use some work because I think it was just too much going on for a risotto.
Grilled Arctic Char – 4/6 (Very good)
- Tri colour potato & celeriac hash, smoked Hungarian sausage, green beans, herb butter $31
- The Arctic Char was Icy Waters Arctic Char which is sustainable and locally sourced.
- This was my favourite course.
- It was a generous portion and the fish was perfectly cooked with nice grill marks.
- It was well seasoned, moist, tender and flaky with a bit of white wine and butter sauce to finish.
- It sat on top of a bed of smoky Hungarian sausage with snappy skins, root vegetables, celeriac, onion and green beans.
- The vegetable medley was simply sautéed in herb butter and it was a basic dish and concept, but I enjoyed it.
- The potatoes were from Rivendell Farms (local farm).
Shared Plate Dessert (Taste of Yukon) – 2/6 (Okay)
- Chocolate espresso stout tart, Pannacotta with spruce tip and fireweed jelly, Birch syrup and pecan pie, and Chocolate low bush cranberry truffles $29
- It was a pretty pricey dessert platter, which I don’t mind at a white tablecloth restaurant, but it didn’t represent fine dining desserts.
- The tarts and pies were quite basic, homestyle and standard, so I was executing something more refined.
- It was more of an afternoon teatime selection of desserts rather than a dinner time selection of desserts, so I think they could fancy it up more.
- I appreciated that they were made in house, but it would be nice to have at least one of the desserts made a la minute.
- The stout was from Yukon Brewing, the fireweed jelly was from Wild Things, and the birch syrup was from Uncle Berwyn’s Yukon Birch Syrup.
- The “Taste of Yukon” idea was great, but they could have showcased the local products better or used them more creatively.
Menu features/highlights: Arctic Char, and the Birch Syrup and Beer Braised Bison Short Rib with barley and aged cheddar risotto, spinach and roasted carrots ($39) is also highly recommended.
Pros: Focus on local and sustainable ingredients, good ambience, new space, spacious, decent wine list, professional service, good for special occasions, currently “the best” fine dining spot in the Yukon
Cons: A bit pricey for what it is, but still aligned with other restaurants of its caliber in The Yukon. Some hit and miss dishes.
Tips: Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 5-10:30 p.m.
♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)
The Wheelhouse may have some misses like the lamb risotto, but I’d take variety over generic franchise places(like White Spot, Tim Horton’s, etc.) and burger joints. Perhaps the weather in Whitehorse has led folks to relish heavy food. Mebbe they like dense, heavy perogies. Too bad about Antoinette’s halibut, the sauce sounds good. I like a coconut based sauce for white fish(I make Thai style with lemongrass and lime leaves…and fine chopped Thai red chiles). Mexican food has found a niche up north .I think workers(oilfields) from the States and other provinces have eaten Mexican food and will support it.Unfortunately the desserts didn’t hit the mark but years ago the best food was in someone’s home, not in restaurants.
@bow – AGREED. They’re right beside a Boston Pizza… each to their own, but I like supporting the local guys. Valid points. I love homestyle food too, but I just think homestyle food should be at a homestyle restaurant with homestyle prices… expectations right?
@Mijune, a reason for high prices up North is because the cost of supplies. Truck transportation is the mode of choice and food costs are much higher than on the coast. The average small restaurant charges a lot for food. It’s always been so.