Best Chow on the Trails for Sledders
Every snowmobile trailblazer knows the satiating feeling of a hot and hearty meal to begin the day, along the way, and to put the icing on your day! My experience as a winter cook at the Elk Lake Eco Centre had me making gallons of soups, chili, 12-hour whisky pulled pork, and many flippin’ steaks! Oh, and should I mention a pancake stack with real maple syrup or my all-time favorite: the classic western sandwich that will get you and your gang off to a roaring start. This gastro mission between Temiskaming Shores and Kapuskasing will help you plan your three square meals a day and create a few fond food memories on the trails in Northeastern Ontario.
On this mission I set out to find you the best chow at reasonable prices, in big portions, and served with a smile! Starting in Temiskaming Shores, let’s stop at Gilli’s Truck Stop, rated in Top 5 Restaurants for tourists in Ontario. At this stop I enjoy a chat with a gal named Star, who sports funky white-rimmed glasses and big ol’ attitude that’ll rattle the cups off the shelf! If you want all-day breakfast, they got it. But what I like most about Gilli’s Truck Stop—aside from the fantastic service—is the in-house roast beef, turkey, and chicken for their hot sandwiches. They source steaks from the local butcher, punch their own fries (not frozen) and probably make the best Club House in the entire region. Their 8oz 100% beef burger with bacon and cheese is probably the best deal on the trail and the most sought after dish, served with soup, fries, and coffee at a bargain price of $12.99. So there you have it, be sure to stop in the heart of cattle country for your big burger bite!
Let’s get back on the trail and head to Cochrane for the night. Cochrane is definitely a popular destination and layover if you are heading up to do the Abitibi Canyon Tour. If you like a classic small town bar atmosphere, you’ll be comfy with the company of J.R.’s Bar-B-Q Ranch with its quaint ranch style décor. If you’re travelling in a group, you may want to reserve ahead—it’s a busy little spot. I always say order what they preach and in this case order the ribs with the Black Gold sauce and an order of garlic bread. The Station Inn is another popular breakfast spot with an authentic historic atmosphere featuring a solid breakfast at good prices located in a former rail station. Or if you want to kick back in your room and watch the game, order in from Greco Pizza Express. Tim Hortons and Subway are popular chains serving up their classic hot soups and grilled sandwiches too and are accessible by sled.
The final destination is Kapuskasing—where you’ll find fine dining or a little bit of city in a small town atmosphere but not at all snobbish—and where you can find consistently good food like veal scaloppini, fresh salads, surf and turf, pan fried pickerel—all at reasonable prices. Then there’s an amazing, should I say the #1 hot beef sandwich, along the route can be found and devoured at Papa Franco’s on Government Road in Kapuskasing! Think of home-style slices of beef smacked between a couple slices of bread, smothered in gravy, paired with crispy fries, or mashed with a generous portion of fresh vegetables. Soups are all homemade, pizza is good, but their pan fried pickerel seems like the 2nd best option on the menu. Be sure to save some space for a few delicious pies. All around great service and good prices!
Back to those pancakes I talked about earlier—I hear the pancakes at Back to the Grind served with maple syrup or strawberries and whip are a decadent choice.
I do guarantee you’ll find delicious club house sandwiches, burgers, piping hot soups and salads if you are opting for healthy options—just ask the servers; they are very accommodating. The locavore in me couldn’t find too many places serving up local options in the winter, but the food culture and homemade meals are certainly crowd pleasers. Prices in Northeastern Ontario are fair-to-moderate with good portion sizes, really friendly service and most places are open 7 days a week.