A food and drink guide to Victoria

No trip to British Columbia is complete without a stop in its capital city of Victoria. We’ve blogged before about the city’s cultural and sightseeing opportunities – but you’re going to need some food in between all that exploring. Thankfully, Victoria is home to an impressive culinary scene that appeals to all appetites and taste buds. Here’s our mini-guide to making the most of your time in Victoria, British Columbia.

Breakfast

We’ve blogged before about nearby Vancouver’s love for brunch, and Victoria isn’t any different. Shine Café is regarded as the local favourite with two locations (one in Downtown and one on Fort Street). It’s known for its gourmet take on breakfast classics and use of local suppliers. Make sure you have a look at the café’s creative takes on Eggs Benedict.

Another popular choice is Blue Fox, where people actually queue out the door! It’s no wonder though given their extensive menu that includes omelettes, French toast, breakfast cocktails and twenty varieties of Eggs Benedict. They also have a lunch menu that includes salads, burgers and sandwiches.

Food markets and street stalls

Victoria prides itself on its farm-to-table attitude to food, and you’ll find regular farmers markets within the city. One of the most notable is Victoria Public Market, housed in the historic Hudson building in downtown Victoria. Here you’ll find locally-produced cheeses, local meats, farm-fresh groceries, handmade pies, a French bakery, as well as oils and vinegar.

If you’re looking for something quick to eat, Victoria is also home to a generous selection of food trucks. One of the most fruitful locations in the city is behind the Royal BC Museum. Open between 11am – 6pm during the spring, some of the local names you’ll find here include DeadBeetz, Puerto Vallarta Amigos, Wild West BBQ’d Salmon, The Yummy Truck, Rolling Beef, and The Love Perogy.

Chinatown

Welcome to the oldest Chinatown in Canada (and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco), which dates back to 1858 when gold was discovered in the Fraser Canyon and western Canada experienced high rates of immigration.

The focus is the 500-600 block of Fisgard Street, including famously narrow Fan Tan Alley, the old Chinese School and a small selection of historic buildings and Chinese businesses. Don Mee Restaurant opened its doors 80 years ago, with its blend of Cantonese, Szechuan and Western-style dishes. It boasts both a lunch and dinner menu that includes poultry, seafood, beef, and vegetable dishes.

If its sushi you’re craving, we recommend Chiba Sushi. They have a lunch and dinner menu, both filled with traditional and modern varieties of sushi. Soup and noodle dishes are also available.

British-style pubs

Victoria is well-known for its British influence so you won’t have to look far for a familiar meal that reminds you of home. You’ll find the city’s oldest fish and chip bar, Old Vic Fish and Chips, at 1316 Broad Street where you can order giant Yorkshire pudding filled with a roast beef, as well as a classic fish and chips.

The other regions of the UK have a presence in Victoria too. In the centre, you’ll find Irish Times, considered Victoria’s leading Irish-style pub, which hosts live music seven nights a week. Then just down the road, you’ll find the Scottish equivalent, Bard and Banker, where you can also dance to live music.

Veggie and Vegan

Don’t eat meat? Don’t worry, as Victoria is home to an impressive vegan and vegetarian scene.

An absolute must-visit for vegans in Victoria is The Very Good Butchers, an all-vegan butcher shop that creates plant-based meat alternatives. Their menu is extensive and includes BBQ glazed ribs, poutine, burgers, and Southern Fried Chicken.

Another popular option is Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant, an all-vegan Buddhist-friendly Chinese restaurant. Turnip Cakes, Spring Rolls, and Pot Stickers are just a few of the Lotus Pond’s staple crowd pleasers. Plus, there’s a buffet that is sold by weight.

Also remember to visit Fern Cafe and Bakery, Victoria’s first 100% vegan bakery and cafe.

Drinks

We’ve mentioned before that Vancouver Island is home to a burgeoning independent wine industry.  But if you don’t have time to explore the wider island, Victoria itself is home to plenty of pubs, breweries, and cafés to refuel yourself.

This is especially true for beer since Victoria is British Columbia’s craft beer capital and home to Canada’s first brewpub. Across the city you’ll find several craft breweries and cider houses where you can learn about the process, as well as enjoying the finished product. If you want to visit Canada’s first brewpub you’ll find it close to Lime Bay Park, and it’s called Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub & GuestHouses.

Cocktails have also become more popular in Victoria over the last few years, partially thanks to local distilleries like Victoria Distillers and Sheringham Distilleries producing high-quality gin, vodka, whiskey and bitters. Veneto Tapa Lounge (in the Hotel Rialto) was voted best cocktail bar in Eat Magazine‘s 2015 Exceptional Eats Awards. First-time visitors should try Spin the Wheel, where you request your spirit of choice and desired flavour profile (sweet, bitter, etc.) and they’ll use their expertise to whip you up a customised cocktail.

Have you ever been to Victoria? Tell us about your favourite meal!

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