Victoria Food Guide: Where To Eat In The BC Captial
Planning a trip to Victoria, Canada?
You’re in luck!! Much to my surprise, this little city on the West Coast of Canada is a haven for lovers of the farm to table movement, craft beer, and cocktails. Because of its isolated location on an island, many restaurant owners have naturally worked with local growers and farmers because that was their only choice. The food scene here surprised me and I almost will be bold enough to say it rivals Vancouver, a much bigger city. Below is a curated guide Victoria Food Guide. Bon appetit!
Now for my Victoria food guide! – updated August 2015
I can’t live without a cup of coffee in the morning and sometimes I need a pick me up in the afternoon. I will admit to going to Starbucks when there are no other options, but I prefer to support local independent coffee shops and roasters.
Bows x Arrows Coffee
BowXArrows is a bit out of the downtown core but if you can get there I recommend them. Their in-house cafe is super chill, a great place to sip on some coffee and take a breather from exploring. Depending on the time of day you may even catch them roasting their beans.
Habit Coffee serves Bows x Arrows beans so if you can’t make it there, come here for a good cup. I stopped in for a cortado at their Yates Street location. They also have another location on Pandora. The Yates Street space is bright and airy but there is no wifi or plugs. It would be a good place to get work done without being connected or just to meet up with friends for a coffee.
Heist is close to the Inner Harbour and many of the attractions in Victoria. I was super happy that it was stumbling distance from when I stayed at Magnolia Hotel. It’s tiny but a great location to pick up a caffeine boost.
I was staying in an Air Bnb rental and it didn’t have a coffee maker. I checked out my Foursquare for the closest coffee. Fernwood, they roast and brew their own coffee, was just a couple of blocks away but it was perfect. It’s a neighborhood locals’ spot.
Ok, green juice is not coffee but not everyone drinks coffee, so here is a great option for the healthy types who drink green juice in the morning or throughout the day. My friend and I came here for something healthy after we went for a hike. Lots of different cold pressed juices to order or make custom.
Jam Cafe is a very popular breakfast/brunch/lunch place. My friend and I went super early before we caught the ferry back to Vancouver so we didn’t come across having to wait. It is a popular place and I’ve heard there are line ups so please take note. I ordered Harrison Fernando seen below, perhaps for the name alone.
Catalano is a Mediterranean inspired restaurant inside the Magnolia Hotel. I am not always into hotel restaurants but this one I enjoyed. It was nice to just roll out of bed and get tasty food downstairs. I love polenta and Catalano had a polenta and chorizo breakfast which I devoured. They are open for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Fol Epi is not just a breakfast option but a great place to pick up pastries in the morning. I wholeheartedly recommend Fol Epi. Much of the ingredients they use are organic and sourced locally. They also have some gluten-free items for those with dietary restrictions. Everything I had from there was delicious. I really loved their ham, kimchi, and cilantro sandwich on their own bread along with the numerous pastries I purchased. They had a creme brulee tart which was off the charts!!!
I always try to find restaurants for my vegan and vegetarian friends, and Be Love is a great option. It reminded me a bit of Cafe Gratitude in Los Angeles. I had the mango lassi and Be Love bowl, which is a brown rice (or quinoa) bowl with steamed greens, refried black beans and dressing. Be Love is open for lunch and dinner.
If you’re new to my blog you may not know that I lived in Bali for four months. Much to my dismay, I haven’t been able to find a really great Indonesian restaurant since I’ve been back. While researching where to eat in Victoria, I came across Ayo Eat on some review sites. When I got there, I couldn’t decide what to order because I wanted to try out everything. In the end, I went with my standby of nasi goreng with ayam or Indonesian fried rice with chicken. It wasn’t the back alley street food style that I was longing for but the flavors were reminiscent and the best I’ve had in BC. If you’re looking for some Indo food, come here.
Chef Bana uses his grandmother’s recipe for beef rendang, another favorite so I’m looking forward to a return visit to try this. Please note this place is not a sit-down restaurant. It’s a small, one man operation stall located in Market Square. I recommend going there on a sunny day and picking up and eating by the harbor or taking back to your hotel room if the weather isn’t up to snuff.
Food Market/Farmers Market
Victoria Public Market
Love going to markets when you travel? Check out the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson. It’s small but there are some really great vendors in there and once a week they have a farmers market set up inside. Some of my favorite vendors in the market are Silk Road Tea, Salt Spring Island Cheese, and Island Spice. The famous Vikram Vij of Vij’s fame has a stall serving Indian food called Sutra. You can eat prepared foods there or you can pick up frozen take home meals from their freezer.
Kid Sister is a cute little cold treat shop not far from Victoria Public Market. I saw a sign for their popsicles at Go Fish but I figured it would melt by the time I was done eating. I was happy when I came across their own shop on Fisgarde Street. The owner spent a lot of time in Mexico where paletas are popular (ice pop/popsicle made of frozen fruit) and decided to bring it back to the island. If you’re looking for a sweet treat or something cool on a hot day, please do yourself a favor and go here. Their key lime pie popsicle was the bomb dot com as well as their Aperol and Grapefruit pop!
Guild Freehouse Pub
I stopped at the Guild Freehouse Pub for some eats and beer. I’m not all that keen on pub food, to be honest but it was really good. Most of their ingredients are locally sourced and they have a great craft beer list. Seen below was a sampler tasting I had which included ham hock terrine on piccalilli, lamb shepherd’s pie, and a salted cod fritter on ginger and tomato chutney. Packed full of flavor and not like any pub I’ve been on this side of the world. Guild is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
10 Acres Bistro
Right across from the Magnolia Hotel is 10 Acres Bistro. They have their own farm so much of what they serve is grown on their own land. I recommend having a drink on the patio and getting some appetizers. I enjoyed my charcuterie, oysters, and cheese plate seen below as well as the Salt Spring Island mussels starter.
One night I was lazy and went downstairs for dinner at Catalano when I staying at Magnolia Hotel. I’m particular about my seafood but when I’m home in British Columbia I try to eat it as much as I can. I am proud to say it is some of the best and freshest seafood you’ll have in North America. I ordered their Sardinian Seafood Stew which is something I wouldn’t normally order. The stew was delicious and I was tempted to lick my plate clean. The dish was made with wild salmon, local seared scallops, local mussels, and clams. Yum!
I believe Olo is a reincarnation of the popular Ulla. I had never been to Ulla but I was hoping to go on previous trips. Lucky for me they didn’t shutter and they just changed names and added Shawn Soole to their lineup who was previously at Little Jumbo. I did previously have Little Jumbo on this list but Shawn left and so did Justin their chef and I just heard it’s gone downhill since.
Olo…where do I begin? My friend and I had a funny dinner here. The vibe was nice, we ate at the bar, and we had really delicious cocktails. We ordered the family style dinner between the two of us but first asked if it a lactose intolerant person (my friend, not me!) would have issues. We sat at the bar and were served by the bartender. He said he would tell the kitchen about her intolerance to lactose but I think it’s too hard to accommodate someone with food restrictions on a family style dinner. They ended up serving us food that had dairy in it and our bartender told her just to pick through it. She was not happy, therefore, I was not happy. Nothing annoys me more than when there is complaining at a meal. I wasn’t annoyed at her, just the situation. The food was really delicious and I would go back again 100000% and I totally recommend that you go too. The octopus and the pasta with clams were highlights. But in retrospect, we should have just ordered individual meals to avoid issues.
10 Acres Kitchen and Commons
I stopped in for some seafood at Pescatores. The room is super large and they are right in the heart of the Inner Harbour. The best thing to do in BC is to load up on eating seafood if you like seafood. You will not get anything fresher like this. I had a delicious yellowtail roll. I don’t usually eat sushi in non-Japanese restaurants but I couldn’t resist ordering one here. It was tasty!! I also had a local craft beer to wash it down.
I had an incredible dinner and wine experience at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel during their Winemaker dinner event that happens every so often.
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- The Best Things To Do In Victoria, BC
- The Best Craft Breweries In Vancouver And Victoria
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**Disclaimer: Many thanks to Victoria Tourism for their support with creating this Victoria food guide. My meals were complimentary at Catalano, 10 Acres, and 10 Acres Kitchen and Commons. As always, opinions are my own.**