- West (Vancouver; tel. 604/738-8938): In a sleek, jewel-box dining room, absolutely fabulous West starts with classic techniques and the finest Pacific seafood, fish, and other regional ingredients to provide an up-to-the-second dining experience. Book the "chef's table" in the kitchen to watch the chefs at work.
- The Blue Crab Bar and Grill (Victoria; tel. 250/480-1999): You might think that the food would have a hard time competing with the view at this restaurant in the Coast Hotel, but you'd be wrong. The creative chef serves up the freshest seafood, the presentation is beautiful, and the dishes are outstanding.
- Sooke Harbour House (Sooke; tel. 250/642-3421): This small country inn has one of the most noted restaurants in all of Canada. Fresh regional cuisine is the specialty, with an emphasis on local seafood. Views over the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Washington's mighty Olympic Mountains are spectacular, nearly matching the wine list.
- Masthead Restaurant (Cowichan Bay; tel. 250/748-3714): Sitting above a busy marina, with islands and mountains rising in the distance, the Masthead's views are mesmerizing and its trappings -- the century-old clapboard structure was built as a fine hotel -- are charming. But the food here is absolutely up-to-date, an exploration of Vancouver Island's rich terroir.
- Shelter (Tofino; tel. 250/725-3353): Fine dining in Tofino has always been synonymous with the Pointe, the wonderful restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn. But the tourist boom in Tofino created an explosion of fantastic new places in this remote corner of Vancouver Island. Check out Shelter for its youthful vigor and absolutely fresh and authentic flavors -- everything is right off the boat or just off the land.
- Araxi Restaurant & Bar (Whistler; tel. 604/932-4540): A longtime Whistler favorite that just keeps on getting better. Chef James Walt is capable of gastronomic alchemy, producing dishes that are inventive yet tradition-based and full of flavor. Choose one of the tasting menus; then face the wondrous stupefaction by selecting something delicious from the 12,000-bottle wine inventory.
- Bearfoot Bistro (Whistler; tel. 604/932-3433): The food scene in Whistler is extremely dynamic, as you'd expect at North America's top ski resort and recent Olympic host. To get noticed amid Whistler's many restaurants requires something special -- and Bearfoot Bistro's got it. With very inventive food served in three- or five-course meals, this is like having a cutting-edge Iron Chef in charge of your dinner.
- All Seasons Café (Nelson; tel. 250/352-0101): Innovative preparations and rich, hearty flavors are the hallmarks of the cuisine at this superlative restaurant in a downtown Nelson heritage home. Food this stylish and up-to-date would pass muster anywhere; to find it in Nelson is astonishing.
- Belvedere (Calgary; tel. 403/265-9595): The moody, noirish atmosphere of this elegant fine-dining room lights up when the food arrives: Easily one of western Canada's top restaurants, Belvedere offers an inventive dining experience focused on Pan-Canadian ingredients and impeccable French-by-way-of-Tokyo technique.
- River Café (Calgary; tel. 403/261-7670): You'll walk through a quiet, tree-filled park on an island in the Bow River to reach this bustling place. At the restaurant's center, an immense wood-fired oven and grill produce smoky grilled meats and vegetables, all organically grown and freshly harvested. On warm evenings, picnickers loll in the grassy shade.
- Hardware Grill (Edmonton; tel. 780/423-0969): Although located in one of Edmonton's first hardware stores, there's nothing antique about the food at the Hardware Grill. A very broad selection of inventive appetizers makes it fun to snack your way through dinner.
- Maple Leaf Grille & Spirits (Banff; tel. 403/760-7680): In a soaring, two-story dining room that's at once rustic and classy, the Maple Leaf serves up Banff's most sophisticated mountain cuisine. The menu focuses on regional ingredients, fresh preparations, and a friendly unstuffy welcome that lets you relax into having a great time with inventive, delicious food.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.