My Big Fat Greek…Lunch
Banff National Park, Alberta
Banff attracts a wider variety of international visitors than Disneyland at times. Crews of Australians stroll down the streets in neon shirts, Japanese schools of tourists gather close and take photos and Canadians go about their business as per usual, ay. The result of this international plethora of tourists is a wide variety of ethnic cuisine around the town. One of the best and one I feel does not get the attention it deserves is Balkan’s Greek Restaurant on Banff Avenue.
Dinner at Balkans is an experience in itself involving plate smashing and belly dancing and that’s just me after a few ouzo’s. Lunch is a quieter experience. The actual building, much like the acropolis seems quite run down which is why when you step inside the door, the fact that it is relatively posh is quite surprising. It has been around for 27 years, in itself an impressive feat in a competitive place like Banff. I would like to think that I am the first person to realize just how good the Balkan is but many newspapers have praised it over the years for bringing its Mediterranean flavors to Banff.
Attracted by the simple advertising sign listing lunch specials, I made my way philosophically into the Balkan. Other than fairly seedy fast food options around town, it is difficult to find a decent selection for less than $10. The Balkan, however nonchalantly sells donair with fries for $7, chicken donair with fries for $8 and a 6oz steak sandwich for $8.50. They also have a fantastic (not so Greek) mojito which is often on special.
The lounge where you sit to enjoy your meal is quite classy and relaxing. You know that lovely feeling you get when you almost feel guilty about not paying enough for quality food and service, well it is working overtime in here. The donair’s (yes, I had two, don’t judge me) were exactly what was needed to fill the stomach (twice). The portions are generous and it tastes like it has come straight from Greece. Don’t walk by this place without a try; it is worth the step up.