It's no secret that Victoria, B.C. is the destination to hit if you're looking to escape to the beautiful outdoors, spend some time on the water, or get your gourmet tea fix. But more and more these days, it is becoming a foodie's paradise. It even has more restaurants per capita than Vancouver! Although I was only there for two days this month, I got to try several of their best offerings. Tourism Victoria also gave me a ton of recommendations I didn't have time to hit—listed those at the end of the post!
Lunch, dessert, coffee
On a cold winter day, there's nothing like hot soup and toasted bread to warm the soul. Unfortunately for me, the only soup offering of the day had meat in it, so I opted for a fresh falafel wrap from Crust Bakery for our first stop into town while my mother enjoyed the corn chowder. Although there are only a few stools at which to sit and eat, people are in and out of Crust pretty quickly, so you're bound to get lucky if you're having your lunch for here. Do not miss the black current tart with meringue on the way out—Mom and I took one for the road and were crushed that we didn't have time to go back and get another before we headed back to the mainland. Honorable mentions are the vanilla cronut and almond danish.
Farm-to-table fresh meals, great wine pairings, cozy
Although I forgot my camera en route to our fabulous dinner hosted by Olo Restaurant, pictures wouldn't quite do the place justice at night. It's an incredibly small space for such a big reputation. Although it's not technically a community dining table, they are close quarters and the cozy vibes are real. We started off with two sharing plates: buckwheat cornbread with honey butter, and their deservingly famous semolina cubes with garlic aioli. The cornbread speaks for itself, but the semolina cubes I ordered out of pure curiosity, and they were divine. Little pockets of crispy, gooey perfection smothered in garlic sauce? Send. Me. Home. Both my mother and I hadn't known what to expect, and were met with absolute indulgence. For our meals, I decided on the gnocchi while my mom ordered a simple yet flavorful prawn pasta. Both of us were too full for dessert! I'm definitely recommending this to any and all readers.
Late night cocktails, New Canadian cuisine, truffle fries & burgers
Little Jumbo was a place I stopped by on my first visit to Victoria last summer, and I knew immediately it deserved a return trip. Not only did I meet a couple new friends who took me on a cocktail tour of the best Victoria bars afterwards, but the cocktail I enjoyed then (the "Holy Shiz!") was beyond memorable—the names alone get stuck in your head. This time, I selected the "A Sherry Unlikely Quincedence," purely because I've been trying to find an opportunity to drink sherry ever since I started watching Frasier four years ago. It was about the most complex yet tasty cocktail I've ever had...ready for the ingredient list? Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, Fino Sherry, Silk Road London Fog Tea, Quince Jam, Plum & Rootbeer Bitters, Lemon, Egg White. They also boast a lengthy food menu, which I've never been fortunate enough to experience, but there definitely seemed to be favorites as I glanced around the busy space.
Afternoon tea, brunch, healthy lunches & all vegetarian
Venus Sophia was a place I was looking forward to very much when I found out we were booked for early afternoon tea—big thanks to Venus Sophia for hosting us. We got to try their seasonal special, Christmas Holiday Afternoon Tea. It was absolutely stunning, as you can see from the photos above. I went with their Blue Sapphire Earl Grey tea blend while my mom decided to try the Cream Earl Grey, enhanced with hints or vanilla and caramel. Not only was the tower of treats adorable, but delicious! The kale quiches were far and away favorites for both myself and my mother, and the lavender shortbread was another favorite of mine. There was also Victorian sponge cake, chocolate-covered strawberries, cheesecakes, chai scones with cream and jam, finger sandwiches...the list goes on! All for $38. Such a wonderful Christmas treat—don't sleep on this delightful afternoon!
While Steamship claims to be the best patio in Victoria, I'd give it a good spot in the running for coziest Christmas decor as well. My mother and I ate dinner here on our last night in Victoria, and besides thoroughly indulging in a seafood fest, I was quite taken with their Christmas decorations, and the impressive space itself. We started with a Steamship favorite, Spicy Firecracker Shrimp with chili lime butter and garlic herb toast—it was so good my mother and I were literally dousing the toast in the sauce after the shrimp was long gone. (We are slightly seafood crazy, don't feel like you have to order seafood for every course like we did.) We split the three-piece fish and chips between the two of us, but I would have been fine with just a two piece because the fish were huge! My mother and I were both craving classic fish and chips before we found Steamship, and we were definitely not disappointed. In addition to the great food, it was so pleasant and comfortable that I could sit and chat long after the meal is over—as long as dessert is on the way.
Thanks to Tourism Victoria:
Opened in summer 2016, La Roux is a French style patisserie serving up pastry favourites from flaky croissants and Paris Brest to éclairs and macarons. Pair with a fresh cup of Fernwood Coffee to set you up for the morning! Crust Bakery
Fol Epi is the place to find hand crafted European style breads. Using traditional European methods, organic ingredients and flour milled in the store, Fol Epi’s baked good include handcrafted baguettes, croissants, danishes, pain au chocolat and streusals. Gluten-free macarons and cookies are also available along with tasty seasonal items.
Yalla Middle Eastern Street Eats
The brainchild of chef Joel Pollock and his wife Pam Smith, trainer sommelier and CPA, Yalla is a middle eastern inspired restaurant serving up tasty street food inspired dishes including falafel, hummus, Hawai’j sprinkled fries, shawarma and kale salad topped with fried Haloumi, fresh mint and parsley. Their authentic recipes are inspired by a recent trip to Israel and the West Bank.
The Ruby serves up breakfast favourites and house brined rotisserie chicken for breakfast and lunch. Owners Josh Goyert and Chris Jones have extensive experience in the food industry in Victoria and beyond and crafted The Ruby’s menu using fresh local produce including chicken from Fraser Valley, locally roasted Discovery Coffee and Red Barn bacon. Try their selection of generous breakfast hashes and bennies, a breakfast taco or sweet or savoury waffle.
A new counter-service concept that mixes the authentic and familiar flavours of the Middle East with the laidback feel and fare of the West Coast opened in August 2017. With licensed indoor seating for 38 and another 12 on an outdoor patio, Superbaba is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The menu features fresh, faithful takes on Middle Eastern favourites like falafel and hummus in a variety of bowls, sandwiches and sides, as well as chicken and steak kebabs, fresh-baked pita, turmeric cookies, iced Turkish coffee, house-made pickles and fried cauliflower.
Enjoy the flavours of fresh, seasonal produce in every bite at Nourish in the Harbour. The restaurant's first location at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific opened in 2010 serving up wholesome dishes made using product from local farms and providers in the Saanich Peninsula.
The new location, tucked inside a colourful heritage house in the James Bay neighbourhood, is a space to eat with people you love. Enjoy a nourishing cup of house made broth at their bone broth bar, indulge in healthy oatmeal pancakes with fresh fruit toppings or stop by for their Rad Thai made with turnip and carrot noodles. The James Bay location also houses a Fermentorium where preserves and kefir are made and will soon have its own farm garden to produce more delicious, healthy foods on site.
The Tapa Bar’s sister location, Bodega Bar, is the place to sample pre-dinner or late night cocktails with small, flavourful bites. Enjoy their authentic tapas paired with one of many varieties of sherry. Indulge in individual “pintxos” featuring serrano ham, manchego cheese, chicken liver mousse and stuffed piquillo peppers, or share their Bodega Board with a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, pickles and salads. Be sure to try their sherry flight to complement your dishes.
Agrius is a contemporary regional restaurant inspired by French cuisine. They learn from, but are not confined to, traditional and classic methods, while always remaining progressive in our approach to handling ingredients and preparing food. The menu is dictated by the seasonal availability and quality of the organic ingredients they use, so much like the seasons change, so does their food menu. They deal with many local producers, farms and foragers to ensure the freshest and highest quality level of everything that goes into each dish. Their bartenders take the same approach with the drinks program, which is constantly changing to showcase classic and original cocktails, local beers, wine and spirits.