Breakfest in Victoria and Chinatown Rec's
I was looking at your posting history and it looks like you're from the San Fran area (correct me if I'm wrong). Given that, I would probably stay away from Chinatown for dinner. Chinese food is not really Victoria's forte. The Chinatown is the oldest in (I think) North America, so it's fun to walk through, but there are lots of other great (non-Chinese) restaurants that would be more worthwhile, in my opinion. If you get a chance to pop into Vancouver/Richmond, though, there is outstanding chinese cuisine to be had there.
If I was only in Victoria for 3 nights I would not go to Canoe over Brasserie L'Ecole, Cafe Brio and a few others. Decent beer. I would however go there for lunch especially if you can sit on their patio on a nice day or upstairs where you can at least catch a glimpse of the gorge waterway.
I love the look of Canoe. All the brick and wood. Some food has worked and other courses have not. Mind you, we did not eat there apart from some beers at their bar the last time we were in Victoria. They did have a relatively new chef heading up the kitchen so have not tried his food.
Swans, Spinnakers and the Irish Times are all good alternatives. The food at the latter is perhaps "surprisingly" good. The beer and inner harbour views from the patio and upper pub portion of Spinnaker's never disappoints. In fact apart from the beer Spinnakers also has a very good wine list.
If you like rustic, well priced casual Italian food then definitely Zambri's is worth a visit. Personally, I have only gone their for a leisurely lunch when it is semi-cafeteria style. Their polenta and duck dishes have never disappointed.
I have to confess to a fondness for Brasserie L'Ecole. Well priced, French bistro cuisine with an outstanding wine program regarding value. Think Plumpjacks on Filmore by comparision but it has been a few years since we were down your way.
Ferris is a definite "must go" on our list for the Fall. Had it recommended to us by a couple of "foodies" we got to "know" via the internet. Definitely will try it on our next visit and look forward to your report.
I would second the recommendation for the Blue Fox as a breakfast place. I've also enjoyed Floyd's Diner (Yates & Quadra), not gourmet by any means but good portions, fast service, diner-atmosphere. They also have a nice outdoor space.
For chinese, Mings is always a stand-by (just up the street on Quadra from Floyds actually). In Chinatown we usually go to the Ocean Garden restaurant (right on the corner of Government & Fizgard)
I am not much of a breakfast eater so although Victoria and Victorians are reputed to be known for their breakfasts I am not the best source.
I can however recommend two spots where we have had good meals.
The first for more traditional breakfast fare with good baking and cooking is Uncle Willies on Johnson Street just above Wharf across the street from the Market adjacent to the alley leading to the Italian restaurant Il Terrazzo.
It is usually busy when we walk by and the two or three times we have stopped in for a muffin and coffee or something bigger like an omellette it has been quite good.
Have to watch your timing especially on the week-ends. Try to get there before the Coho ferry from Port Angeles docks as it has been our experience that it gets flooded with visitors who may not be able to check into their hotels during the morning hours.
Less traditional but more "up my alley" is the good coffee, grilled sandwiches and/or croissants...mind you after a long night being "over served" vino at Brasserie L'Ecole or Cafe Brio [smile] there is nothing wrong with a double machiato and a shot of grappa...hey, I am on holidays after all... at Il Paradiso on Bastion Square. If the weather co-operates you can sit outside on their patio and enjoy its view of the Inner Harbour.
Close by if you are interested in vegetarian options is Rebar.
I have also heard/read recommended the Blue Fox up on Fort Street and Mo:Le back toward Chinatown.
I never go for Sunday Brunch so cannot help at all in that regard.
As far as Chinatown recommendations are concerned, the only one I am familiar with is probably the biggest and has been around for years, Don Mee's Seafood. From the outside it looks like your traditional larger Chinese restaurant which one can find in "Chinatown" settings throughout larger Canadian cities. Have not been to it for either dim sum or dinner.
In fact, I think the only Chinese restaurant we have ever been to in Victoria is Ming's up on Quadra and that was years and years ago.
It is not a situation of Victoria's Chinese food being poor or anything along those lines, more a case of with so many good dining options otherwise available we prefer to try them.
As far as seafood goes given its coastal location you have all sorts of options. Pescatores, Chandlers, LURE, the Marina, Nautical Nellies...etc. etc. None I expect are cheap given the price of seafood nowadays. I would recommend that you google them and have a look at their menus and prices as many restaurants in Victoria have web-sites.
Good luck. Let us know what you try out.
re: Bob Mac
Small correction on the Johnson St. eatery - it's Willie's Bakey (Uncle Willie's was the senior-friendly all you can eat buffet north of town that recently closed). As a local, I've stopped going to Willie's due to crowds and a change in ownership, but have not been for about 8mths, so can't comment on what it's like now. Still crazy busy with the tourists though, so it must still be putting good breakies out.
Current haunts are Lady Marmalade, Johnson St as well, just East of Government. Mis-matched 60's & 70's tables and chairs and great bennies, mexican influenced, interesting pancakes & baked french toast. Portions are great without overdoing it by stuffing you full of toast. Busy on the weekends.
Demitasse on Blanshard at Johnson. Nice breakies here too - bennies, feature omlettes, steam scrambled eggs. Busy, but you can generally find a seat.
Mo:le on Pandora, West of Government. The lineups speak for themselves. Pesto fried potatoes and a great selection of breakfasts with an orignal twist - chinese sausge, cream cheese in the scrambled eggs. Get there early, or mid-week or be prepared to wait.
Most places are open for breakfast on Sunday, but few do the buffet, if that's what you're up for. The Marina still does and it's quite nice - the setting, the food, hot, cold, sushi, desserts - very nice. Need reservations though - and the earlier made, the better.
Can't help with the Chinatown restos either - I eat at Ming's or JJ Wonton Noodle house on Fort for Chinese. There are some good ones "under the gates" though. Fan Tan Cafe is small but quite nice. I was there over a year ago, but food was very fresh and tasted great. Nice selection. And, for whatever reason - a rotating pie display! Don Mee's is good for dim sum (big selection and high turnover of food), but I've not eaten dinner there.