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Jun 2, 2008 08:21 PM

Favorite Food Shops in Vancouver, Victoria, and Tofino?

SF Hound here. Will be spending two weeks chowing down in BC for my honeymoon. My restaurant itinerary is solid, thanks in no small part to this board. Now I'm just looking for the best food shops for snacks and picnic supplies - cured meats, smoked fish, cheese, fresh fruit, preserves, nuts, chocolate, etc. I love little shops that specialize in just one or two things but do them incredibly well. I wont have access to a kitchen, though I will have a fridge.

In Vancouver, I'd love to hear about places on Granville Island. Am also open to places within walking distance of Salt Tasting Room, Vij's, and the Bins. If there is anything really special that is worth a detour, I will have a car.

Tofino is pretty small, so I'd love to hear about any worthwhile shops in the area. Same goes for Victoria.

In terms of market schedules, I'll be in Van Fri, Sat, Sun, in Tofino Tues, Wed, Thur, and in Victoria Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed.

Thanks in advance. I do promise to provide you with some detailed reports of my most memorable dining experiences.

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  1. I'm assuming you are staying in the downtown area so I'll restrict my recs to there (and slightly beyond):

    Les Amis du Fromage - for cheesey comestibles and assorted stuff
    T&T for chinese snacks and buns
    La Grotto - also for cheese and italian stuff
    Fujiya (the downtown location, though I prefer the Clark Dr location) - for Japanese snacks and bento and sushi to go.
    JN&Z - (Commercial Dr) for inexpensive charcuterie

    You already mentioned Granville Island - which actually could be your one-stop shop. Oyama for characuterie should be one of your destinations at the Market.

    Fujiya Japanese Foods
    912 Clark Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L3J8, CA

    Fujiya Take Out
    1050 W Pender, Vancouver, BC V6E3S7, CA

    La Grotta Del Formaggio
    1791 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N4A4, CA

    J N & Z Deli
    1729 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N4A4, CA

    Les Amis Du Fromage
    1752 W 2nd Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

    T & T Supermarket
    189 Keefer Pl, Vancouver, BC V6B6L4, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      As for Tofino...there's the Coop there...I'm going to be there this coming week (the Food and Wine fest is on). I'll scope it out.

      1. re: fmed

        Sorry, tried replying to original post but internal error prevented it. Within walking distance of Vij's is Meinhardt Fine Foods and the take-out adjunct Picnic. MFF doesn't have spectacularly original groceries, but both are good for some take-out picnic fare. Their scones are quite good, as are the sable cookies.

        1. re: toutefrite

          Meinhardt is like the Dean & DeLuca in St. Helena. But smaller and not as good, and without the wine section :-)

          1. re: im_hungry

            Completely true, but if killing time before heading to Vij's, Meinhardt still qualifies as the only food related diversion within walking distance as per OP's request. Hey, at least there are some nice flowers!

      2. Try Longliner at Granville Island for smoked fish. I like their smoked tuna. Love Oyama for prosciutto (they make 15 kinds, I think) and pate (goose liver/black truffle and mountain mushroom are my 2 faves). Chilliwack River Honey has a stand at Granville Island every other weekend, and they have a variety of local organic honey. Terra Breads has good bread, kinda like what you'd find at Acme. If you head to Commercial Drive, in addition to cheap charcuterie, JN&Z has roast suckling pig and roast lamb on Saturday mornings. They sell out super fast, though, so go early! They open at 9am, and usually sell out by 11am. Maybe grab a coffee at Cafe Calabria while you're there.

        Hope you have a great trip!

        6 Replies
        1. re: im_hungry

          Glad you were able to get some good ideas for restos from this board, Morton -- I hope your trip is as successful as ours was to SF in April, also thanks to you and others on the SF board.

          I'll add a couple of ideas to the already excellent lists provided by fmed and im_hungry. Both could be folded into a trip to JN&Z, Clark Drive Fujiya and La Grotta if you decided to do an east Van foody shop crawl. The first is Bee Kim Heng for Asian jerky. Here is a link to a post I ran across from someone I know nothing about but who is in agreement with me (I also gave the pork jerky as a Christmas present one year!):

          It may be that you have something similar in SF but I think the quality here is pretty high and it's all they make (I think maybe also pork floss IIRC) so it falls into your does-one-or-two-things-really-well category.

          The other place to consider which is entirely on the other end of the scale is Gourmet Warehouse on Hastings. I like this store because it has virtually everything a food weasel might want, from mixing bowls to assorted ready-to-eat foods of every description. Again, I'm not sure how it would compare to the food porn stores in SF (having only visited the one at the Ferry Plaza) but it's a pretty great store.

          Bee Kim Heng Beef & Pork Jerky Ltd
          4149 Fraser Street
          Vancouver, BC V5V 4E9
          (604) 677-5303

          Gourmet Warehouse

          1340 Hastings Street East
          Vancouver, BC V5L 1S3
          (604) 253-3022

          Bee Kim Heng Beef & Pork Jerky Ltd
          4194 Fraser St., Vancouver, BC V5V, CA

          Gourmet Warehouse
          1340 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5L, CA

          1. re: grayelf

            Good call on Gourmet Warehouse and Bee Kim Heng greyelf. (I'll make my way to BKH soon enought). If the list isn't already too long, I'd like to add a newish favourite of mine: Mediterranean Specialty Foods almost across the street from La Grotta on Commercial. I have become addicted to one of their imported date cakes and their Turkish Delight.

            Just in that block and a half - you have JN&Z, La Grotta, and MSF. Add Calabria for their Italian Shortbreads and your picnic is complete.

            Mediterranean Specialty Foods
            1824 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N, CA

            Calabria Bar
            1745 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N4A4, CA

            1. re: grayelf

              Is the gourmet warehouse on a safe part of hastings. My recollection of East Hastings is that it is a pretty difficult area?

              1. re: jkb13

                Safe. It's next to the Canadian Tire. East Hastings towards Main Street gets pretty rough.

                1. re: fmed

                  Thanks fmed. I would really like to visit this store on my next vist.

                2. re: jkb13

                  In Victoria:

                  Choux Choux Charcuterie on Fort St. for a small but excellent selection of breads, cheeses, house-made pates, olives, sandwiches/lunches, cured sausages, and all other deli needs.

                  Ottavio--in Oak Bay, on Oak Bay Avenue at Monterey, for the city's largest selection of cheese, quality meats (including Oyama meats), breads, pastries, olives, spices, cured sausages, and just about any other Mediterranean foodstuffs one can think of.

                  Moss Street Market, in Fairfield, on, you guessed it, Moss Street. Fun local scene with lots of local organic produce, crafts, and a variety of food vendors. 10 AM-2 PM. Getting there by 10 AM is a good idea as certain food items, i.e. local organic berries, sell out QUICKLY.

                  Moss St. Market is a very cool scene and a good place to get away from the ticky-tacky tourist side of Victoria.

                  Silk Road on Government St. is an excellent place to sample a variety of delicious premium Asian teas.

                  Mt. Royal Bagel Factory on Grant St. at Cook (Fernwood) has authentic Montreal-style bagels (boiled, then baked in a special oven) and all the trappings of a Montreal bagelry: lox, numerous cream cheeses, etc...

                  In the same complex is the Polish Deli, where you can get your fix for perogies, cabbage roles, and all other things Polish (they do take-out).

                  Plenty, downtown on Fort St., looks like a neat place, but I have never been in. It focuses on local foodstuffs like locally made cheeses.

                  There are a lot of other cool food shops in Victoria, but I need to go for now! You'll have a great time. There are a lot of foodies here per capita.

            2. For Victoria cont.

              Chocolates (I am quite experienced in this area!):

              Best: Chocolatière Victoria. It's right downtown at 703 Fort St. The chocolates are all hand made on the premises. They are the kind of chocolate executed so well that words cannot do them justice. They have basics (champagne truffle, maripan, cappuccino) and then ... others. Here are some examples:

              Chili: fiery red chilies steeped in dark chocolate ganache
              Pépé: dark chocolate and tequila ganache with a splash of lime
              Samurai: wasabi and candied ginger ganache
              Thai lemongrass: with coconut cream and a hint of curry

              My absolute favourite is Cinnamon (creamy cinnamon ganache in milk chocolate). The reason these chocolates are so special is the silky smooth ganache, as well as the unusual ingredients. The chocolates are also decorated beautifully. And, no, I don't work for them! (Probably a good thing.)

              In fact, you could easily do a "foodie" hike up/down Fort: Chocolatier in the 700 block, Choux Choux Charcuterie in the 800, the 900 has tons of antiques stores and restaurants (including Cafe Brio and the Blue Fox), then Plenty at 1029 Fort.

              Other chocolate places include Roger's Chocolates and Bernard Callebaut. Roger's is tourist trappy (Government St.), but the locals also frequent it. Their specialy is "Victoria Creams," which are 2" round creams. They are sweet, and often one-dimensional flavour-wise. The "creams" come in many flavours: rum raisin, vanilla, coconut, ginger, raspberry... My favourtie is Candy Cane, but that is seasonal. I just love walkign past the store. The door is always open, and the smell... Roger's is actually opening up a "soda shoppe" down the street from their chocolate store. I am looking forward to trying it. Bernard Callebaut is out of Alberta and is good, but their chocolates are not as fresh and endorphin-inducing as Chocolatière. Basically, it's you're honeymoon; go to Chocolatière Victoria.

              And to expand on anewton again, right next to the Polish Deli is Patisserie Daniel, which is where I get my birthday cakes each year. The have a selection of sweet and savoury items, and usually have a daily quiche ("single" serving).

              I can second Ottavio. In fact, again, you can go for a "foodie" walk on Oak Bay Avenue; there are interesting shops, bakeries and food stores along the way.

              While I am not familiar with Tofino, I would recommend a stop in Coombs. The market (under the goats on the roof) has a great selection of many different things, and sells local cheese, meat and produce. Just beyond Port alberni, Naesgaard's Farm and Market has farm-fresh vegetables (I don't think they're organic, but they are local!). I love their snap peas. My family use dto cook them, but it was just a waste fo time; everyone just eats them raw. The make a lovely snack. Naesgaard's also sells fresh strawberries from their farms.

              4 Replies
              1. re: miss_bennet

                And if you do make it to Goats on the Roof in Coombs, keep an eye peeled for Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese curds. They usually have them here in $10 bags which make one of the best road snacks ever -- beat the heck out of Cheesy Poufs -- although not as healthy as miss_bennet's snap peas! This place is wildly popular and may have lines even on weekdays but it is definitely worth a browse if only for the eclecticism of the food selection.

                1. re: grayelf

                  I can get Little Qualicum cheese curds in my local market (Red Barn Market in Victoria/Saanich). But not in $10 bags, and they have been refridgerated before I can get them. I also like their Fromage Frais.

                  1. re: miss_bennet

                    The $10 bags seem to be harder to find but I've got them several times from Goats and they had not yet been fridge tainted IIRC (in a large basket, I think). Agree re the fromage frais, most excellent on a toasted bagel.

                    And speaking of bagels and the OP's Granville Island query, check out Siegel's Bagels. Their rock salt and rosemary one is definitely worth a nosh, or go old school and have a sesame. What's not to like?

                2. re: miss_bennet

                  I agree with all the Victoria suggestions. I've been to Plenty & it's a great shop to poke around in. Also on the Fort St foodie hike I would add The Little Piggy (1019 Fort St) and Bubby Rose's Bakery (1022 Cook St around the corner from Fort).

                  If you do the Oak Bay Ave foodie walk, close by are Demitasse Cafe (2164 McNeil Ave) which has penny candy, gourmet groceries, great coffee, bakery goods and savoury items in a very neat setting.

                  In north Oak Bay is Charelli's Deli with a great selection of cheeses, deli items and gourmet groceries.

                  Moss St market is a great idea - I walk down there all the time. It does get very busy, so best to go early for the best selections from the farmers. Any lines for any of the food stands are worth the short wait as it's all good.


                3. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. Please keep it coming. I'm really excited about my trip, and will definitely post back about my experience.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    I know it's not particularly picnic fare, but if you need to start off your day with caffeine, there is a plethora of options in both Vancouver and Victoria.

                    For Victoria, take your pick of 2% Jazz, Discovery or Habit. Habit is the most centrally located (right on Pandora I think just west of Government), but 2% and Disco are close together on Douglas (cross streets are Kings and Discovery respectively, ~ 15 minute walk north from downtown).

                    In Vancouver, 49th Parallel (W 4th, between Yew and Vine), Elysian (W5th @ Burrard), Wicked (Hemlock @ 7th), JJ Bean (multiple spots) and Artigiano (multiple spots) are my picks. The first 3 are in Kitsilano/South Granville. From downtown you could hit Wicked on the way to Vij's and Meinhardts and hit Elysian/49th on the way back if you looped over to Burrard and 4th.

                    Anyways, not sure if you're into coffee, but thought it would be worth a mention regardless. Have a great honeymoon!

                    1. re: peter.v

                      I like your coffee recs, peter.v -- would love to hear how MTM thinks these places stack up against Blue Bottle or Ritual or the other great SF java purveyors.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Yeah, those would be benchmark SF joints (along with the more distant Barefoot and Ecco). I know Ritual and Blue Bottle have served me very fine drinks...

                    2. re: Morton the Mousse

                      I was in Tofino this weekend for the Food and Wine Fest. I'll do some more detailed reviews and impressions later....but for now - there is one item that is definitely worth buying: 600 Degrees hearth-baked sourdough bread. The proprietor, Julie Lomenda is a total hearth-bread geek. She has helped build six massive firebrick bread ovens with Australian Alan Scott (a world-renowned brick oven builder. Hearth-bread geeks will know his name.) That is true dedication to the craft and it shows in her products.

                      This bread is out of this world: maltey, tart, chewy - with a beautiful open crumb and darkly caramelized crust. My fave is the Walnut Sourdough.

                      You can get her loaves at SoBo and at the Public Market (Saturdays).

                    3. Not really a snack but since you asked for special places on GIsle: Osake, where sake is brewed onsite. I don't know if you can get this stuff outside of BC (they didn't have any at True Sake when we inquired in April) and it might be a nice accompaniment for some of your other finds -- I seem to recall from your posts on the Bay Area board that you are a fan of smoked salmon which is available here on the Island in myriad forms. Osake is on Railspur Alley (