Although I'm new to Nanaimo, I already know that there are a few amazing restaraunts. Gina's is an authentic Mexican restaraunt perched perilously atop a hill looking over downtown Nanaimo. You can't miss it, it's bright, neon pink. Be expected to wait on the weekend. And don't forget to try the salsa! The next is The Acme Food Company. This restaraunt is relitively new to Nanaimo. Now please don't prejudge and think new means trendy. This restaraunt is located in downtown Nanaimo, and anyone who has ever been here knows that there is nothing trendy about downtown. If you want trendy, you head north, plain and simple. The Acme Food Company seves up an amazing pasta bar. You have your choice of pasta, sauce and an array of ingredients to go in it. They vary from roasted garlic, to artichoke hearts and chorizo sausage. It also comes with your choice of a chicken or a prawn skewer on top for no additional charge and comes with foccacia bread and a balsamic/olive oil dipping plate. This is all for $10.95. The martini's there all come with fresh fruit in the glass, so if you order a blackberry martini, you'll get fresh blackberries in it (duh). And man do they taste good after being soaked in the martini!
Gina's is my absolute favourite moderately priced restaurant in Nanaimo. They've been serving Chipolte since long before it became popular. Chipolte Chicken. Yum. I also like their Quesadillas Supremos (with a side of Chipolte) and much of their other food. Like most places in Nanaimo, their menu doesn't change much, but at least it's consistantly good. For dessert, the chocolate truffle cake is incredible.
Just a block south of Gina's is a greek restaurant called Souvlaki House. Fairly traditional. I really enjoy it, but it's possibly a sentimental thing as I had my first date with my wife there. Their Tyropita (filo cheese pies) are very good, and I usually order whatever is on special or the chicken mushroom fetuccini (I know, it's not greek). Sometimes I'm not very adventurous. Katrina's is supposed to be good too, but for all I know it might have closed down. Possibly because I have never been there. :)
If you _really_ want a treat then you need to visit the Mahle House in Cedar. Fairly expensive, but the food is fresh, innovative, and coupled with one of the province's best wine cellars. This is my favourite "birthday dinner" place, though I haven't found time to go since the boys were born. There's a pub in the same area called the Crow and Gate. Very traditional British country pub style. Interesting. They used to have a Mediaeval (I can never spell that) Fair there every year, but that was almost 20 years ago. Probably one of my more memorable experiences as a young boy; they had a "real" Godiva :)
Maffeo's Ristorante Italiano was pretty darn good as far as the pasta went the last time I went there. However long ago that was. Yet another place that may have shut down due to the lack of my custom :)
There's a good selection of new restaurants at the North End, but most of them are either crap or give little value for the prices they charge.