Trip from Banff to Jasper
I was just there last year, and like the other posts have indicated. There is not a lot to get excited about, but there is one restaurant in Lake Louise at the Post Hotel (http://www.posthotel.com/). It's a Relais and Chateaux property and is well worth the trip. The lodge is one of the best in Canada and the food matches the setiing perfectly.
You should probably make reservations before you leave, as when I dropped in for a meal one night, I had to book three nights in advance for a table.
I hope this helps and enjoy your trip!
I can confirm Eric's info about the Post. Great place to eat...most definitely the best meal we had on our honeymoon up there 4 years ago. I highly recommend staying there as well--perfect European service with personal attention from one of the owners (at least at the time). He came over from Switzerland to ski years ago and knows how to treat customers.
We ate at the nice restaurant in the Jasper Park Lodge two of the three nights we were there and really enjoyed it. They required coat and tie at the time. It was good food, but definitely not top ten. We didn't really concern ourselves with the price on this trip, but it probably wasn't worth it (maybe with a good exchange rate?). The third night they prepared brook trout that my wife caught (I was shut out). It was delicious as well. Honeymoon service was great with a nice bottle of champagne and chocolates.
Just one night in Banff and ate mediocre bar food.
It's been quite a while, but I spent a long summer up there once (at a jazz masterclass with Dave Holland's group) and didn't eat a single delicious bite.
But just as astronauts find it an attractive idea to fly to the moon, in spite of the absence of oxygen, danger, cramped space capsule, etc, there are (tough concession here) persuasive reasons to visit the area, for limited amounts of time, in spite of this problem. It's just mega beautiful.
re: Jim Leff
It's been 16 years but since most of the trip isn't available for commercial development, I don't think that things have changed. There is an area around the junction of the Icefields Parkway with Route 15 coming in from Red Deer. I remember a hotel and a sort of truck stop there but have never tried them.
How about a picnic lunch. The scenery is even worth going hungry.
re: Lee G.
There are a few decent places off the beaten track in Banff, and in Canmore twenty minutes west.
The Coyote Cafe has good food pretty much all day; the lineups are testament to that. There's a new restaurant in the Banff Springs called the Banffshire Room which is by all accounts expensive and great.
In Canmore, I'd try Zona's Late Night Bistro, Bella Crusta for takeout pizza, Crazyweed kitchen on the main drag for healthy hearty skier type stuff and Valbella Meats for great homemade sausage and pate.
re: Jim Leff
I just got back from Banff. On the whole, especially for food, it is an overpriced tourist trap. I did, however, manage to eat quite well during my 24 hours there, mainly by buying food at the local supermarket. They had a few nice local cheeses and some very decent sourdough batons, along with fresh fruit and vegetables.
My one meal out was at the Sun Foods Cafe (215 Banff avenue (Second floor of Sundance Mall)(403) 760-8219). The prices were very reasonable, especially compared to the competition. I had very good french onion soup. I cannot vouch for anything else, but all the dishes I saw looked very well prepared. The owner was friendly and the service good. A nice place for a more casual meal.