Just back from the Okanagon. There is not much posted on this area so a quick set of notes:
Enderby...Lulu's...excellent general menu. Everything made in house, good qaulity and variety. Nice place to stop (as we did) for lunch before hitting Kelowna.
Summerland: Zia's...another wonderful stop. Had a great lunch there highly recommended.
Kelowna: Fresco, great service, mostly good food. My venison chop was a simple, somewhat overdone tasteless chunk of meat. The other dishes won rave reviews from our crew. The service was very good even if our server seemed a little green and unsure. The pea soup was to die for. The deserts were art. The plating was second to no other restaurant we have been to anywhere (although, overall, the notion in a previous post that Fresco can compete with world class restaurants is a bit overstated). We loved their open kitchen (it is really open...not just on one side, but the entire corner of the restaturant is an open kitchen...We took time to speak to the kitchen staff and they were very friendly and communicative...kids loved it.
Kelowna: Yamas was yummy, basic Greek food.
Kelowna: Da Tandoor....best Indian we have tried. The menu is runs a nice range of styles but all the basics are there. An family from Pakistan who had just finsihed theri meals said it was the first time in Canada that they had tasted food like at home. They rightfully raved about the food. Odd space though...very dark.
Kelowna: Bonfire....more to come on these guys later as we ate there a couple of times (we stayed at the Cove Resort wher they have their establishment)...suffice it for now to note, great service, very poor food. The menu procalims a southwestern theme. The food sounds good, but nothing worked. The ribs were blah, dry and tasteless, th rest of the food just never met expectations as far as flavours. The ingredients just did not work together or there was not enough flavour. The exceptions were the stuffed peppers (renallos) and the ice cream (gellato I guess) made from Carmellis goat milk...yummy! The chef needs to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up as the waitstaff said they were trying to appeal to everyone by keeping the complex list of ingrediaent bland (well, okay, I paraphrase and editorialise a bit on this, but basically they said ....spicy...bad, bland...good). I suggested then maybe a change of theme would work better rather than trying to pretend. In any event, great resort,fabulous staff all round, disappointing food.
Westbank: Cucina...blech, stay away.
Penticton: Salty's Beach House, fun basic food. Better than average, fun decor and freindly service. You get what you expect when you walk in...it comes with our recommendation.
Those, from my faulty memory, cover some of the places we ate at. Sorry for the typos...no spell check...no time.
Passa Tempo in the Spirit Ridge resort in osoyoos was fantastic when i was there for the fall wine festival - I hope it's still good. We had a couple breakfasts and a fantastic wine pairing dinner - the pairings were lovely and they weren't skimpy on food or wine!
it was delicious! we will go back next time we are that way.
The chef/owner of Passa Tempo is Brad Lazarenko from Culina in Edmonton. If you like his food at Passa Tempo you have to try Culina. He offers frozen TV dinners (along with a wonderful and creative menu) that we stock up on for lazy days. Tiny place though (make reservations) and nice deck sitting (also tiny).
I still love Theo's in Penticton. Fantastic Greek food, great ambiance - reminds me of Greece. If you get a chance, go and try the taramasalata. But any of the traditional Greek faves are well-prepared there. I was just there, and I never miss it whenever I'm in town.
My best dining experience in Okanagan has to be Bouchons Bistro in Kelowna. Great wine list (wine spectator award of some sort) and Foie gras many different ways. Always great food & great service.
A recent worthy newcomer is Amante Bistro in Penticton. They just opened this year and are excellent.
Pearson's European Deli in kelowna is great for a lunch sandwich.
Nothing else on my list of 20 restaraunts I have tried are worth mentioning.
Being from Toronto, the range of food styles available in the valley seems very limited. We generally stay way south in kaleden. With the Okanagan being a tourist locale, we find most restaurants live down to that expectation and are generally just slightly under whelming. The last couple of years have seen some of the wineries producing very interesting & tasty food for lunch, but way too expensive.
Just spent a couple of weeks in Kelowna, and continue to be impressed by Waterfront Wines, where we have yet to have a bad meal. There is an awful lot of creativity coming out of that kitchen. We have also become intrigued by Bordello, a small pizza shop that has opened above the Sturgeon Hall Pub. They are aiming for authentic Neapolitan, and while they are not quite there yet, it is an admirable effort so far. They will definitely make the list on future visits, particularly to see if that style can catch on in the area.
I posted this on its own, but thought it might be relevant here, too...
We just returned from a wonderful vacation in British Columbia's beautiful South Okanagan Valley, in the City of Penticton. It has been our family holiday spot since before I was born, so it is like a second home to me. This year, we did things a little differently, and spent much more time at the wineries along the Naramata Bench, which runs high along the east side of Okanagan Lake, to the north of Penticton. In addition to tasting some fantastic wine (and bringing back a couple dozen bottles) we had the opportunity to eat at some great restaurants along the Bench, as well as in Penticton and Naramata Village. Here are some of the highlights:
Theo's Restaurant - This is an old favourite of mine. Since 1976, the Theodosakis family has served up homestyle Greek cooking at this Penticton landmark. Theo's is always delicious, and this year was no exception. They have the best Greek food I've ever tasted outside of Greece, and my own personal favourite Greek dish, taramasalata, is made to perfection here. If you've never had this traditional Greek Easter dish made with cod roe, on a piece of warm pita, you are missing out. We also sampled the tzatziki, calamari, and the Greek salad, which were delicious. My main course was moussaka, and the slightly sweet, orange-flavoured Bechamel sauce was really nice.
The Hooded Merganser - Located right on the lake at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, this is a modern restaurant which reminds me a little of Earl's or Cactus Club. The atmosphere is nice, especially if you get a table on the patio overlooking the lake. The menu is a little strange in that you'll find both a hot dog called 'Remi's Hemi', sponsored by Dodge, and fancier fare such as a duck breast. I skipped both and had the honey-garlic ribs, which were tasty, but not spectacular. They came with a standard baked potato, and veg, which were good but not great. Definitely a place where the location overshadows the food.
Salty's Beachhouse - This place is perpetually busy, and usually insanely so. It is located right on Lakeshore Drive with a view of the beach, and the menu is full of dishes from beach-y places around the world. Menu items include pizzas, Cuban sandwich, stir-frys, chicken roti, tacos, enchiladas, salads and burgers, etc. To start, I had the tom kah gai soup - Thai hot and sour with coconut milk and chicken - and it was fantastic. I have this every time I go because I like it so much. They also do a great job of a Thai red curry with chicken and papaya, served with Jasmine rice - really tasty. This time I had the Big Kahuna burger, which features bacon AND ham, as well as cheese. It's a nice burger, big and juicy, though not the best in town. Is it worth the normal 45 minute dinnertime wait? We thought not, and opted to come back at lunch.
Piggy's BBQ - Just up Lakeshore from Salty's is Piggy's. They are located at the Tiki Shores resort, in a spot that has seen a few restaurants come and go over the years. Of all the Lakeshore restaurants, Salty's has been the only one to survive, let alone thrive. A place like Piggy's would normally be happy with Salty's cast-offs, but I hope this is about to change. I love southern-style slow-smoked BBQ, but much like Mexican food, it seems to be hard to find outside of the U.S.A. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Piggy's does it very well. I would go as far to say that this is the best BBQ I've had outside of the States. We had smoked hot wings to start, and they came with a tangy lime-ranch dip. Excellent wings and excellent dip. I had the brisket sandwich, and my companion had the pulled pork. We had our choice of 2 sides, and we both opted for the fresh-cut fries and the cornbread. I was a little disappointed not to see mac n' cheese as a side, but that went away when I tasted those fries. They serve them with garlic mayo, and they are homemade and out of this world. And the sandwiches were also delicious, tender, juicy, flavourful and saucy. The cornbread had honey butter, and was moist and tasty. Please, let it still be there next summer!
Front Street Bistro - This place looks small from the road, where they have a deck set up for outdoor dining, but it is large on the inside. We were treated to a private booth which featured its own controls for music volume and dimming the lights, and a curtain which we did not use. We shared their version of nachos to start, which consists of chips in a terra cotta pot, which sits in another shallow pot surrounded by a Mexican layer dip, all of which has been baked in the oven until it is hotter than the surface of the sun. Despite the peril of reaching into the hot pot for chips, we really enjoyed the dip. For our entree we shared a burger, as the bistro boasts that they have the juiciest burger in town. This is probably true. The burger also happens to be delicious. Our only complaint was that it came with potato salad, and not a particularly good one. No fries available, but maybe next time we would substitute soup or salad. Also, on this particular day, the service was really slow, and not very good. We are told by other visitors that this is not the norm.
Amonte Bistro - This is a new restaurant on Main, located in the spot formerly occupied by Roberto's Pasta Bar, and, some time ago, by an automobile service station. Amonte is run by a husband and wife team; he's in the kitchen and she's out front. So far, he's doing a much better job than she is. Service was poor, but the food was very nice. We started with and antipasto trio of grilled sausage, garbonzo pate, and tomato bocconcini salad. It came with fresh bread, and everything was fresh and well-prepared. For dinner I had the steak with salsa verde, and my companion had the pork medallions. Both were very tasty, but the pork was better, as the steak, though cooked to perfection, was under-seasoned. What surprised us was the availability of only one choice of accompaniments for all of the dishes: curried glazed carrots and, of all things, barley. The carrots were very good, but the barley was not, and both of us let it remain on our plates. Barley felt like a bit of a cop-out considering the care and attention that went into everything else. For dessert we shared a pecan cinnamon creme brulee, which was delicious, despite the crust being a little overdone. Also, I am a creme brulee purist, and always prefer it done in the traditional way.
Barley Mill Pub - Good solid pub food, tasty, consistent and reasonably priced.
Shades on Main - Voted Best Breakfast by Okanagan Life. Cheap and tasty bacon and eggs. Skip Ricky's, Denny's, etc., and head for Shades for a greasy fry-up.
Pasta Factory - The name is accurate. Not authentic, factory style, but fairly good for the money. The Sicilian Penne is better than passable.
Iyara - This is a wonderful family-run Thai restaurant poorly located in a small strip mall. I am always glad to see that they have survived another winter, because I've never seen more that a handful of people in there at any time. They used to be called Mon Thong, and though the name has changed, the menu has not. The prices are comparable to Thai restaurants in Calgary, but the portions are twice the size. We had an appetizer sampler, with chicken satay, chicken patties, and spring rolls. For dinner, we had pad Thai, spinach with chicken and peanut sauce, and red curry. Everything was outstanding. I really like this place, and I find that the quality and taste are right up there with any of the finest Thai restaurants I've ever been to.
Hillside Bistro - This was the star of the show for the entire trip. Located along the Naramata Bench at Hillside Winery, this bistro offers a fantastic view of the lake from the patio, along with great wine and fantastic food. We started with the bruschetta, which was so simple yet so tasty. The tomatoes were perfectly seasoned, ripe, and juicy. We also shared the gazpacho, which was superb. For the main, I had the tropical chicken pizza, which had a thin cracker-crisp base, topped with sundried tomato goat and cream cheese spead, grilled chicken, papaya slices, and cheese. It was incredible. The flavours were perfect together. My companion had an oven-baked chicken wrap with cheese and peach salsa, which was also wonderful. And on the side were peppery greens drizzled with an amazing roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette. Hillside was our absolute favourite, followed closely behind by the next 2 restaurants.
Lake Breeze Patio - Another winery bistro, Lake Breeze features an English patio in a beautiful garden. It feels as if you've left Canada and landed in some European vacation spot. Our table had the shrimp and chorizo salad, the cannelloni, the red wine-cream fig and chicken pasta, and the chicken sandwich. Everything was very nice, and the complementary garden salad was a nice touch. This is a near-perfect lunch spot. The wine isn't bad either...
Naramata Heritage Inn - For our last night, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner on the patio of Cobblestone Wine Bar, located at the century-old Naramata Heritage Inn. The setting is warm and romantic, and the menu boasts fine ingredients; all of the produce is grown in the garden right on the Inn grounds. To start, they offer fresh stone-baked bread, hot from the oven, with choice from a long list of dips, cheeses, spreads, etc. We opted for the spinach/artichoke/goat cheese spread and the smoked chorizo. The bread was incredible, good enough to eat alone, but with the cheese and chorizo, it was outrageously good. Then we had the grilled romaine hearts salad, and the heirloom tomato gazpacho. The freshness was apparent, and the taste was delightful. My main course was a rib-eye, topped with a braised short rib, on a bed of potato puree, with carrots and onions. It was all very good, but the short rib stole the show. The rib eye was a special, but the short rib was an entree from the regular menu, and I found myself wishing i'd ordered it instead. My companion had Parmesan-crusted halibut, with Dungeness crab risotto. The halibut was nice, but the risotto was on another level. Soooooo good. For dessert we had homemade ice cream, which came with a pecan chocolate-chip cookie. The service was very good, and the prices are extremely reasonable considering the high quality of ingredients and preparation. It is a wonderful place, and between here and Hillside, it is difficult to pick a favourite. We've decided that the best thing to do is to eat at both! Hillside for lunch, Cobblestone for dinner.
If you get the chance to visit this beautiful area, you will find great food, world-class wine and breathtaking scenery. I can't wait until next summer!
* Theo's Restaurant
687 Main St, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Hooded Merganzer Restaurant
21 Lakeshore Dr W, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Salty's Beach House Restaurant
1000 Lakeshore Dr W, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Piggys Bar-B-Q
914 Lakeshore Dr W, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Front St Bar & Bistro
151 Front St, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Barley Mill Brew Pub & Sports Bistro
2460 Skaha Lake Rd, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Shades On Main Restaurant
1909 Main St, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Pasta Factory
236 Martin St, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Iyara Thai Restaurant
2985 Skaha Lake Rd, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Hillside Estate Winery & The Barrel Room Bistro
1350 N Naramata Rd, Penticton, BC, Canada
* Lake Breeze Vineyards
930 Sammet Rd, Kelowna, BC, Canada
* Cobblestone Wine Bar
3625 1st St, Kelowna, BC, Canada
Great List! But be sure to check out Amante Bistro in Penticton, it is excellent. As recent south Okanagan residents, we have been trying many restaurants, and this is one that we'd not noticed until we read the recent review in the Globe and Mail. (A great series of two articles covering the Okanagan.) We immediately booked and very much enjoyed the experience. The location is modest, as is the size; the restaurant is comfortable and you can hear yourself talk! The focus is on excellent food and wine. They feature a good variety of dishes. I had the signature pork belly; my companion had a featured yellowfin steak - both tasty, tender, delicious. All entrees are served with the "starch of the day" -- for us it was mashed (pureed) potatoes with a hint of pastis - very good.
Another WOW!!! Thanks so much for posting this ! Just found this in time...
We are leaving for Kelowna this coming Sunday. We have never been there. So very happy to see your post. My question, because I'm just starting to pack is what is the dress atire for restaurants like Salty's, Piggys, Front St. Bistro, Shades, Hillside Bistro, ect... Thanks!!
Wow did we ever have a different experience ! My husband and i stopped in for dinner at Bonfire in Westbank on the August long weekend. The place was packed, the service was great and the food was spectacular. They have obviously worked out some kinks since you visited.
We sat on the patio overlooking the lake and enjoyed a great evening. The manager that was on that night resembled Dean Martin, floating around the room entertaining as he went from table to table. We asked about the style of food and he informed us that they were trying to combine the freshest local and westcoast ingredients with traditional flavours and cooking styles of Mexico and the Southwest. Well they seemed to be getting it right.
I started with a salad that mixed fesh local greens with candied walnuts, Carmeli's goats feta and fresh local blackberries, boysenberries and huckleberries and a jalapeno lime vinaigrette. The blackberries were the size of my thumb ! Our server informed us that they came from Black Raven Farm in Kelowna which we plan to visit next time we are there. For my main course i had the halibut which was cooked wrapped in a banana leaf and served on a bed of slightly spiced mexican rice. The halibut was cooked to perfection and the rice had just enough spice to make it interesting without overpowering the halibut. For dessert my husband and i shared the Carmeli's goats milk gelato trio (to die for) and a sample plate of the tapas style desserts. A unique way of serving desserts, just small enough that you could sample a few without overdoing it.
We were very suprised to find a selction of wines from Orofino in the Similkameen valley on the list. A small production winery that we had been introduced to by friends, very hard to find. Their pinot noir went well with my halibut and also with my husbands rellenos. During our talk with the manager, he mentioned that the restaurant had recently changed chefs the opening chef had moved on and the sous chef had been promoted. Obviously a good choice as the presentation and flavours demonstrated.
The only area we saw that had room for improvement was in the service. The staff were very friendly and efficient however they lacked detailed knowledge of the menu and wine list. The server had to go to the kitchen more than once to find out answers to our questions.
For a new restaurant we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will definitely return when we are there for the fall wine fest.
Just back from a week in the Okanagan region - here are a few highlights:
Theo's - we had a very enjoyable meal at this Greek restaurant - sat outside in the courtyard on a warm evening, close your eyes & you could almost be in Greece! I had a Lamb shoulder cooked with Oregano - a huge piece of meat, almost too much - but it was tender, flavoursome & the accompanying veggies balanced it out well. My wife enjoyed her chicken souvlaki as well - recommended.
Lord Chumley's Fish n Chips - OK not exactly gourmet but the kids wanted fish & chips & we relented - our server was possibly the nicest erver I have ever come across, a little old lady who was so sweet & charming - the meal itself was pretty good, we had simple cod & chips, with halleluljah! - mushy peas. The mushy peas were pretty terrible, but I doctored them up with the ingredients to hand - salt, sugar & vinegar & they were Ok. Recommended if you have kids!
Memphis BBQ - I read a few poor reviews of this place, but we had a great meal here - my pulled Pork was perfect & the accompaniments hit the spot too - the BBQ beans were great. Again with kids it's a good choice, we sat inside despite the warm weather - as sitting in a little roped off area on a busy sidewalk didn't appeal.
Yamato - we stumbled across this little place, bang next door to the Oriental Supermarket - a good sign as their ingredients were we hoped going to be pretty fresh. as it turned out this is a perfectably good little place, a mish-mash of influences - sushi, thai, chinese - but my pad thai was passable - a bit lacking in flavour & the $2 I apid for teh addition of prawns to the dish, got me 2 prawns. No complaints though, my daughter wolfed down the tempura prawns & getting her to eat so voraciously is no mean feat.
Other places we visited during the trip included Carmelli's Goats cheese place near Kelowna where we tried umpteen different gotas cheeses to the point where my senses were overwhelmed - still we bought a few back with us & the staff could not be faulted for their enthusiasm - areally neat place. We also bought cheese at the Poplar Grove winery on the Naramata bench - the service here was brusque and bored, but the cheeses look good. The Bench in Penticton, an artisan grocery store provided us with delicious scones & muffins to go with our morning coffee - a real gem of a place for the discerning foodie, with the usual gourmet high prices to match.
We travelled out to Blue Mountain Winery to buy some of their highly praised wines - a gorgeous, gorgeous setting & the guy that served us was very knowledgable & pleasant. The same could be said of the lady at the Elephant Island winery who plied us with a dazzling selection of fruit wines, of which the Cassis was stunning.
Of course we gorged on fresh cherries & stopped frequently at fruit stands - thankfully a lot of this produce finds it's way to Alberta - but we feel blessed to have such an interesting & developing agri-tourism region on our (relatively speaking) doorstep. Much of it seems to be aimed at the coach party market, so I am sure more knowledgable (and less child laden) folks would have exploited the diversity within this region more than we did - but we'll be back.
Thanks graemejw for reviving this thread and posting all that great new info...I'll be heading up through the Okanagan in August and hadn't done a search yet to see what had been posted in the past so this was really helpful and perfect timing. I would add to what's been written that we have stopped for lunch twice at Nk'mip Cellars in Osoyoos and loved it. The Patio views over the Lake are lovely and the whole feeling of the place is very peaceful. We all thought the food was wonderful.. interesting aboriginal inspired cooking and terrific use of the local produce. If you are driving through Osoyoos don't miss this place..in fact try to time your trip so you can stop for lunch! http://www.nkmipcellars.com
In Oliver the restaurant at Burrowing Owl is another don't miss experience.... overlooking the vineyards you feel as if you are in Tuscany; the atmosphere, food presentation and preparation here are truly inspiring not to mention the great wine.
We'll be overnighting in Penticton and will be looking for a great spot for dinner that night...I'm leaning towards The Bistro at Hillside Winery based on feuerzeug's review from last year...but am open for suggestions!
Hi, reviewing the board for Okanagan trip next month. Any additional suggestions for smaller wineries, particularly organic/biodynamic. We like pretty much any wine that is tasty and a good value, prefer to stay away from the places that have the tour buses rolling in though...We are from Oregon, and will be camping in the Canadian rockies, and then finishing with an indulgent wine and dine In Okanagon area before heading back home...Thanks.
Just spent the August long weekend in the OK. If you're looking to get away from the tour buses, I would recommend staying in the South OK (we were in Kelowna to grab a coffee and then bee-lined it to the south). My friend and I stayed at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver, BC (we had a fantastic stay in their villa...if you're looking for a splurge after camping), and we were able to drive along the Golden Mile in Oliver, as well as up to Naramata Bench and Penticton during the day.
Since we weren't looking particularly for organic wines, my following recos may not necessarily meet what you're looking for. In anycase, some standouts for us were:
Elephant Island - fantastic fruit wine...not the cloyingly sweet kind.
Laughing Stock (LFNG)
Burrowing Owl (per previous comments, great food as well)
Hester Creek http://www.hestercreek.com/villa/
See Ya Later Ranch (a Vincor operation...but the drive itself is worth the trip).
Quail's Gate - would consider this "large", but is is fantastic for lunch/dinner.
In terms of dining, I concur with suggestions above...thumbs up for Amante Bistro, Quail's Gate, Burrowing Owl, and Salty's (for a quick casual lunch). The first three stand out for me b/c their menus really showcased local ingredients.
Came home with 2 cases of wine (need a bigger trunk), a flat of peaches, and an extra 5lbs around the waistline.
Hope you have a great trip, and don't forget to pick up some of the local fruit along the way...
After a couple of weeks of touring the region in July we came away extremely impressed with the quality of the food at a few of the wineries, particularly Burrowing Owl (the "Harker's Farm Organic Apple & Five Grain Terrine" was among the hits of the summer), Hillside Bistro (we were only there for lunch; so many options and so little time), Quail's Gate and Summer Hill. The latter will force you to cross the bridge into Kelowna, but they have gone to an almost all-organic menu, and Jesse Croy is doing some wonderful work with it.
I agree with VeeCee's comments about staying in South Okanagan if you're looking to stay away from crowds / tours. We found the wineries between Osoyoos and Oliver much more enjoyable simply because they were less crowded. Tip: If you find a huge crowd at the tasting bar, go to the next winery and come back in 20 mins - you'll get much better service and enjoy the experience without being rushed.
We came back with about 3-4 cases of a variety, mostly from smaller wineries. Most notable small wineries are listed:
Golden Mile / Black Sage Bench:
-Stoneboat Vineyards (extremely small, felt like we found a gem - highly recommended!)
-Twisted Tree (SW tip of Osoyoos, right before the switchbacks to Hwy 3, great quality)
-Quinta Ferriera (small & professional, check out their pet chihuahua)
-Antelope Ridge (previously Domaine Combret - don't be afraid of the call box to their home from the tasting 'booth'. Mme Combret is a hoot)
-Golden Mile (go for the Black Arts Pinot Noir)
-Blasted Church (beautiful view)
-Wild Goose (good whites)
-La Frenz (very good wine)
-Stone Hill (good tasting presentation, interesting specialty wines)
Of course, you must go to all the larger wineries simply for the facilities, view, service. Of the larger wineries, my favourite was Tinhorn (they will have a restaurant soon - forget when?!). Good food and view at Nk'Mip also (challenging, scorching hot golf course though!).