Victoria is the capital of Beautiful British Columbia but locals often complain that there just isn’t anything to do here. Well, I am pleased to prove them wrong with this series on my hometown.
The most obvious thing to do in a city with the second most restaurants per capita in North America (after San Fransisco) is eat! Here is my list of top Victorian restaurants according to mealtime! (I haven’t included breakfast because I am never awake early enough to go out for the first meal of the day.)
Lady Marmalade (Blue Ribbon)
Their ingredients are always fresh and local, and while they are put together into surprisingly simple dishes like the bread pudding french toast, they produce some of the best food I have ever tasted!
Atmosphere: Eclectic with an almost West Coast indie vibe but conveniently close to the prime shopping district downtown, LoJo (Lower Johnson street). There is always interesting art lining the walls and if any of it catches your fancy all of it is for sale! The people are extremely nice, if a little hipster, and if you go in more than once they quickly recognize you as a regular.
Try this: The Real Club Sandwich
The Blue Fox Cafe (Most Diverse Menu)
This restaurant has a large breakfast and lunch menu with interesting dishes named even more interesting things like Oranges de Sol French Toast (perfect for a sweet tooth) or a huge array of Eggs Benedict and ethnic inspired sandwiches.
Atmosphere: The line up is often long because it is a popular local hang out but it is well worth the wait. The building is a beautiful old brick affair and they have charming pictures of blue foxes up on the walls. It is always incredibly busy so be prepared to wait in line but trust me, the food and quick, friendly service make it worth your while.
Try this: Apples Charlotte French Toast
Meat & Bread (Most Mouth Watering)
This hipster paradise has the best sandwiches I have ever tasted (only just beating out some of the sandwiches at Blue Fox). They have a weekly special and a vegetarian special, accompaniments like salads and soups and cool (hipster) drinks like rose lemonade too.
Atmosphere: White subway tiles line the walls and two long wood slab tables provide the communal seating at this hipster haven. It is always packed at lunch time given its prime downtown location and delicious, fresh and quickly served eats.
Try This: Jerk Chicken Sandwich with Jicama cabbage slaw, pickled onion and cilantro line aioli
Rebar (Best Niche Cuisine)
This restaurant is one of the reasons to love Victoria and the whole West Coast vibe. The restaurant has a huge array of juice combinations they will squeeze fresh to order and the food is always seasonal and beautifully presented. They are a vegetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options but even if you are a meat eater you will not miss the absence of bloody game when they present you with their fresh, flavorful food.
Atmosphere: It is a cheery place located near the popular Bastian Square downtown but on a quiet street. The table cloths are bright and colourful and so are the staff!
Try This: the BBQ Salmon burger
Deep Cove Chalet (Eek! Expensive But Worth It)
This is the place to frequent with your Sugar Daddy, your rich friend or generous family. The expensive and utterly beautiful restaurant is located in Sydney on the water and requires a car to navigate to. It is an upscale place with a menu that reflects that in its French inspired dishes and three course meal menu. The French country cuisine is to die for and I know for a fact that the warm flour-less chocolate cake is awe-inspiring.
Atmosphere: As you can see from the picture, it is the cherry on the top of beautiful sprawling grounds that are often the setting for lovely weddings. The owners are surprisingly warm and kind for the upscale nature of the restaurant and they have a lovely lab who is often by their side!
Try this: A) – if you are adventurous – Braised Rabbit with white wine and prunes! B) Beef Wellington
L’Ecole Brasserie (Date Night and Delicious)
This French bistro is one of the best in the city, if not the best. As if to reinforce this statement, there is always a line up when the doors open for dinner and at least an hour wait if you aren’t lucky enough to snag one of those first spots in line (they don’t take reservations). Trust me though, the wait is well worth it for the friendly service, warm atmosphere and the truffled pommes frites.
Atmosphere: The restaurant is intimate, small and narrow with a wood panelled bar and vintage French posters and prints on the walls.
Appetizer – Chicken liver mousse
Main course – Duck Confit or the famous Brasserie Burger
Ross Bay Pub (Inexpensive and Laid-Back)
If you want to get out of downtown and the touristy spots of Victoria head into Fairfield, a heavily family oriented part of the city where kids play baseball at Beacon Hill Park and parents shop at the local grocery chain, Thrifties. The Ross Bay Pub is exactly what you want from a pub. It is comfortable, cool, and lively especially on a Canucks game day when you can win a prize if the player you pick scores a goal! They also have fun games of musical bingo and the locals are extremely friendly.
Atmosphere: A surprisingly large place in Fairfield Plaza where the locals hang out and go for a beer after chauffeuring their children around to various activities or where youth go to cheer on their favorite hockey team! You’ll feel like a true Victorian perched on a tall chair or sunk deep in a booth.
Try This: Curry Lamb Burger or Blueberry and Brie Chicken Burger
This restaurant is nestled in the main terminal of Harbor Air in downtown Victoria and it serves up some surprisingly good grub. The people there are wonderfully efficient (and attractive which always helps) and the portions are perfect. It is the perfect place for a quick bite while you take in the beauty of the in the Inner Harbor.
Try this: The Club Sandwich
The best fish and chips place on the island, there is usually a line up down the dock at the Inner Harbor — for a reason! Their seafood is delivered fresh every morning and 100% Ocean Wise sustainable. They have picnic tables to perch on while you eat your succulent Salmon Burger and watch the seagulls swoop low over the blue waters.
Try This: Local Shrimp Roll