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An insider’s guide to Whistler’s favourite secret-menu items

In a town full of cash-strapped restaurant workers, sometimes the best dish is the one you won’t find on a menu
Sushi Village is home to one of Whistler's favourite not-so-secret, secret-menu items, the Nicole roll.

As a general rule, Whistlerites are a pretty resourceful bunch. When you live in a pricey resort town that passes the keys over to a new throng of visitors every weekend, it’s important to hold on to those rare local hacks that make getting by here that much easier.  

Don’t believe me? Ask any longtime Whistlerite for their favourite secret alpine run or free parking spot or pristine public washroom and chances are you’ll get back an academic-level analysis.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised when, last week, I posted to the Whistler Winter Facebook group asking the masses for their favourite food hacks and secret-menu items, and got back a smorgasbord of responses. As it turns out, in a ski town full of cash-strapped restaurant workers, sometimes the best dish is the one you won’t find on a menu.

So, without further ado, welcome to Pique’s non-scientific, non-exhaustive guide to locals’ favourite secret-menu items, some born out of financial necessity, some out of a sense of epicurean adventure, and all playing into Whistlerites’ inherent yearning for something that’s just for us.

The Nicole roll at Sushi Village

Nicole Weiss hasn’t worked at Sushi Village for four years, and yet, she still gets stopped by sushi lovers professing their love for her namesake Nicole roll, Whistler’s favourite not-so-secret secret roll.

“I still serve in town and people are like, ‘Oh my god, you’re the Nicole.’ People would hug me or say they were in the presence of a celebrity,” she says. “It’s one of the best things you’ll ever put in your mouth.”

A notoriously picky eater, Weiss says the Nicole Roll came about many moons ago because “I like to mod the shit out of everything.” Not a fan of mayonnaise or seaweed, Weiss would customize the restaurant’s Super Hiro Roll—a spicy tuna roll wrapped with avocado on a bed of tempura bits—to remove those ingredients, and add mango, cilantro and house-made chili oil. Soon, she began telling customers about her sweet-savoury-spicy creation, which quickly caught on. Management wanted to put the roll on the menu, but Weiss wasn’t having it, hoping to maintain its mystique.

“People are stoked. It’s like letting them in on a little secret,” she says.

But not just anyone can be granted the secrets of the Nicole roll.

“I don’t tell everyone,” Weiss says. “If you’re not my favourite human, I’m not going to tell you something fun like that.”

Mac-and-cheese pizza at Caramba!

Proving once and for all you can never have too much of a good thing, Caramba!’s contribution to this exalted list is a combination of two hearty comfort foods executed with the restaurant’s usual Mediterranean flair: mac-and-cheese pizza.

This rib-sticking creation swaps out the usual tomato sauce in favour of a rich cheese sauce base made from a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and Boursin, topped with macaroni noodles and a drizzle of truffle oil, before being fired in a wood oven.

While it appeared on the menu one winter several years ago, nowadays diners in the know have to specifically request it to enjoy all that cheesy, gooey goodness.

“It’s that popular that people will ask for it from time to time,” said Caramba! co-owner Jay Pare. 

Insider Tip: If you like a bit of spice on your pizza, add chorizo to the mix.  

Garlic dough balls at HandleBar

This Upper Village haunt known for its vast selection of craft beer switched up its original menu that skewed more towards German street food to now offering classic New York-style pizza by the slice.

A welcome side effect of that change are what one local commenter called “the best garlic dough balls in town,” served with a zesty pizza sauce for all your dippin’ needs. (Editor's Note: After this story was published, HandleBar reached out to say the garlic dough balls were a one-off. Maybe if you ask really nice, they'll still make 'em for you.) 

Miller hot wings at El Furniture Warehouse

This one’s not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. If you’re a spice head and ever find yourself in El Furni and want to put your tastebuds to the test, utter these three simple words to your server: “Miller hot wings.”

Named after cook David Miller, a.k.a. Miller Time, ordering the Miller hot wings essentially gives the El Furni kitchen crew license to make them as scorchingly hot as possible. Loaded up with a spice mix of chili powder, cayenne and Cajun chili flakes and topped with diced fresh jalapenos, these absolute sadists will then coat the wings in Frank’s Red Hot, Sriracha, and whatever else they can find that will induce temporary blindness.

“Most people’s eyes start watering just from making or smelling them,” Miller tells me. “Been meaning to email Hot Ones and see if they want to do a Whistler special.”

Insider Tip: Pair your hot wings with a pickleback shot; the pickle brine will help dilute some of the heat. And if you’re not a drinker, order something else you won’t soon find on the El Furni menu: a tall glass of milk.

Honourable mention: The Freestyle Wrap at Ingrid’s Village Café

Sadly, Whistlerites’ beloved lunch spot, Ingrid’s Village Café, closed its doors for good in 2021, but that doesn’t mean locals have forgotten about its most coveted of secret-menu items: the Freestyle Wrap.

The café was long known for its highly customizable sandwiches, and the Freestyle Wrap was invented by a particularly genius customer in the early Aughts. Containing Ingrid’s famous chicken schnitzel, bacon, cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, shredded carrot and alfalfa sprouts, all pulled together with homemade spicy mayo, the wrap never appeared on a menu, its ingredients were never written down, and yet, it wasn’t unusual for the café to sell 25 or more a day.

A true Whistler icon, the Freestyle Wrap lives on in the hearts and minds of hungry locals.

Check back with Pique in the coming weeks for more of Whistler’s favourite food hacksKnow of any secret-menu items we missed? Let reporter Brandon Barrett know by emailing bbarrett@piquenewsmagazine.