Victoria for Foodies
Your chef is actually cooking in the kitchen—and he probably owns the restaurant, and maybe the farm where the kale is grown, too. The bartender is growing his own micro-greens in a hydroponic unit under the counter. The guy who sold you your cheese this morning is probably sitting across the room from you at dinner tonight. Your server can tell you where the beets were grown, the lamb was raised, and the fish was caught—all of it local and sustainable, of course. There’s no doubt that Victoria is all over this whole local food thing.
The easiest way to explore Victoria’s dynamic food scene is to join one of the culinary tours organized by Travel with Taste, such as the urban walking tour of downtown Victoria, or the all-day food-and-wine tour of nearby Cowichan Valley. But if you want to explore on your own, here are some of the can’t-miss foodie destinations. Bring your appetite, and wear stretchy pants.
Start by venturing across the Johnson Street Bridge to Dockside Green and Fol Epi. This little organic bakery makes some of the best artisan bread you’ve ever tasted, all made from heritage grains ground on site and baked in a wood-fired oven. Enjoy a pastry or baguette with coffee to start your day in the best possible way.
From there, head back across the bridge into downtown and the new Victoria Public Market. This beautiful market takes up the ground floor of the century-old Georgian revival-style former Hudson Bay building, now a luxury condominium complex called The Hudson. Nibble your way around the market, sampling the gourmet Indian fare at Sutra, the handmade cheeses at Salt Spring Island Cheese, the porchetta sandwich at Roast Carvery, and the sustainable smoked salmon at Cowichan Bay Seafood. Be sure to pick up some of the local fleur de sel from the Vancouver Island Salt Co. for your friends back home. And, if you can, plan your visit for a Wednesday, when area farmers bring their fresh produce to the market.
Then it’s just a short stroll to Chinatown and Silk Road Tea, where master tea blender Daniela Cubelic creates fragrant infusions such as the dark, chocolatey Velvet Potion. If you have time, join her for a tea and chocolate tasting.
If you didn’t overdo it at the market, you might be thinking of lunch right about now, and a pint or two of local craft brew. You’ll find some of the city’s best fish and chips and local brews at the Guild, a new English-style gastro-pub in a heritage building on Wharf Street. A great place to relax a while.
After lunch, continue on to Fort Street. Once known for its many antique stores, this busy street is now best known as a foodie destination. Drop into the Dutch Bakery, where the Schaddelee family has been making croquettes and vanilla slices since 1956. Visit Choux Choux Charcuterie and the Little Cheese Shop for some savory samples.
By now, it should be cocktail hour, which means it’s time to head to Little Jumbo at the foot of Fort Street for terrific handcrafted cocktails concocted from an extravagant back bar and a savory snack to go with. As for dinner, it’s a tough choice: perhaps the romantic setting of Café Brio? The fab Italian food at Zambri’s? Or the farm-to-table fare at 10 Acres? Whichever you choose, be sure to save room for a nightcap, perhaps the smoky “Rosemary’s Baby” at Veneto Tapa Lounge in the Hotel Rialto.
Note: Because Victoria is so compact, most of the restaurants listed are in downtown or Old Town, and no more than a 10-minute walk from most hotels. Thus, public transit information is listed only for those spots that are a bit farther out.
Complement your dining experience with one of BC's award-winning wines. Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley in eastern BC and the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island produce some remarkable reds and a couple of delicious sparkling whites. Ask your sommelier or server to steer you in the right direction.
Reservations are strongly recommended for prime sunset seating during summer, especially on weekends.
Victoria is not the kind of late-night, show-off, see-and-be-seen dining city that Vancouver is. Most restaurants in Victoria close around 10pm.
The base-line tip in Victoria calculates as 15%, with more offered for exceptional service. Groups of six or more can anticipate an automatic added service charge of 15% to 18% percent -- this serves as the tip and diners are not expected to leave an additional amount unless service was outstanding. Keep in mind that restaurants in British Columbia add the 12% harmonized sales tax (HST) to the bill.
Expensive C$25 and up
Inexpensive Under C$10
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.