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Foodie tour of Victoria, related question

I'm coopting a thread I have just been browsing through regarding Victoria eats.
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/516609

We'll be there on vacation next week - our first time - and will have 2 kids age 2 and 6, so we are probably looking for something a bit different from the couple who originally posted.

Could you help me parse the above thread to focus on places that are family friendly? I'm hoping to avoid dumbing down the food too much - both kids are well behaved and adventurous eaters, but I don't want to hit up too many white linen places either.

Thanks!

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  1. Fifth St. Bar and Grill is a good choice for family food. It's located on Hillside Ave and has a bar on one side and a restaurant on the other. They offer a great range of food that would satisfy grown up foodies and kids alike. You can smell their wood fired oven a block away. Yum! Just be warned, the place gets packed on Friday and Saturday nights. They take reservations, but you need to make them at least a day in advance.

    Barb's fish and chips is located at Fisherman's Wharf. It's a floating fish and chip shop and despite it's touristy vibe it offers some really great food. You can have your fish grilled or battered and they have an assortment of shellfish too. The kids would probably love watching the seals (who are usually getting fed more often than not) and the neat houseboats that are moored there.

    Ebizo sushi offers what I would consider the best sushi in town, if your kids are as adventurous as my sister and I were when we were little! I also suggest making a reservation here. The place is teeny and can get packed. They are located right downtown on Broughton st.

    If you're looking for lunch and Mexican is your thing, Hernandez is Victoria's best kept secret. It's located in thoroughfare of a big glass building between Yates and View St, just up from Douglas st. It's ridiculously well priced and the best Mexican food I've ever eaten. All food is served on paper, and they only take cash. You don't get a number, you get a tarot card for your order.

    If you're sticking downtown and want something a little more upscale I would suggest Camille's or Niche. Camille's is located in Bastion Square and Niche is on the other side of the
    inner harbour (in Jame's Bay). Both offer phenomenal food.

    The Superior might be an idea too. It's located kitty corner to Fisherman's Wharf in what used to be an old church. I usually hit them for lunch but they offer dinner and live music in the evenings.

    My favourite place for breakfast are:

    Floyd's (on Yates at Quadra)
    Shine Cafe (at Strathcona center)
    and on the weekends: The Reef Carribean Restaurant (Yates near Wharf)
    Most people don't know that the Reef offers brunch on the weekends. It's fantastic and rarely busy. I think they open a bit later 10:30 - 11am. The crabcake benny's are great and you usually get a free bucket of Johnny Cakes.

    That's all I can think of at the moment, but feel free to pick my brain. Hope that's helpful.

    Oh yeah, Pig on View St. has fantastic BBQ. Not much room to sit, but delicious. They're open for lunch and latenight.

    6 Replies
    1. re: munchiegirl

      I concur with munchiegirl and would say if you're up for fish & chips and you're nearer to the Inner Harbour (where the seaplanes land) - hit Red Fish Blue Fish - ikea stools to sit on along the wharf - or their new pier-edge eating area. Incredible fresh, ocean-wise fish, scallops, tuna, salmon... Traditional fish & chips if you want them or grilled on a salad, wrapped in a tortilla (making parents & kids happy). Mushy edamame/peas, chili-fries. Great fresh seafood. Similar to Go Fish in Vanc.

      1. re: cassie

        I also totally agree with munchiegirl, especially on Fifth Street. I think Camille's and Niche may be too "fancy" for kids ... Camille's especially known as a romantic spot. ReBar in Bastion Square is another great suggestion very laid back and prides itself on local food. Just a warning about Victoria and its liquor laws, any place that is a pub or bar has a no kids allowed rule even if they serve food. This includes a lot of the downtown pubs and brew houses. Hope you enjoy yourself!

        1. re: annynstar

          Can anyone clarify this (the kids in pubs rule)? I'm thinking pub food is perfect for our lads and noticed for example that Swans has a kids menu. Is there a good pub-like place for us downtown?

          1. re: waver

            Sure. Pubs and bars have liquor primary licenses, meaning that they cannot allow anyone onto the premises who is under 19. Restaurants have food primary licenses which means they are allowed to admit minors but obviously not serve them liquor.

            Swans and Spinnakers both have restaurant sections where children are permitted. In Swans it's the outside portion (enclosed patio) and in Spinnakers it's downstairs. The other parts of the buildings are designated as "bars" and children cannot enter.

            I think Swans would be a good choice for you. Good pub grub and decent service. Spinnakers has a focus on local ingredients and excellent beer, but their food quality and service have nose-dived the last couple of years.

            I think the other pubs downtown (Irish Times, Bard & Banker, etc.) are all pubs, not restaurants. The Sticky Wicket has a restaurant section and a kids menu too but I haven't eaten there in a long time and can't really give a decent recommendation.

            1. re: victoriafoodie

              Thanks for the explanation and rec. We had a nice time at Swans. Good beer, the kids menu was decent and shepherds pie was pretty much what it was meant to be. Desserts were a little bad, but we had beer and the sprouts had vanilla ice cream with chocolate cake, so we survived. It was also quite fun to sit in the inside/outside patio place and watch the world go by, but maybe a little sad to be exiled from the good-humoured pubbiness of the inside. We had to walk through it when we left and it was funny trying to explain to the kids why were out THERE when the action was in HERE! Oh well, their time will come.

              Oh, I'll just add in here for the general thread, that we had a really good *not cheap* but very, very good breakfast at the Blue Fox. The fruit accompaniment to my ham/egg quesadilla and SO's poached eggs was most noteworthy. It was a huge pile of several kinds of fruit all carefully sliced and arranged. Great sausage too. Very kind and thoughtful servers who were great with the kids' likes and minor dislikes. Funky art. Get there early to avoid line-ups.

              Oh, also, we had the most horrible, unpleasant food at the Museum. I was fully prepared for it to be a little blah, but fuel was needed and how bad can made to order sandwiches and a bowl of veggie chili get? Stupefyingly, comprehensively revolting. Not even good bad, like say a greasy spoon, nope, just really really bad. Really expensive too. Veggie chili that was little more than slightly heated undrained beans. Stale bread, which they tried to refresh with enormous globs of mayo. I actually watched my family CHOOSE not to eat. A first. Luckily we had fabulous pizza for dinner that night (see post on Primastrada), so perhaps it was in a good cause.

              1. re: waver

                Thanks for the report, waver! I am glad you had a good visit. I love the Blue Fox - the apples charlotte toast is incredible.

    2. Beacon Hill Drive in for soft serve ice cream. Loved it when I was a kid, still love it as an adult. DO NOT order a large though -- you will want to eat the whole thing and if you do you will need to lie down on the grass for a while. Luckily, there is lots of grass nearby as it is right beside Beacon Hill Park which is a great place to take kiddlies. You can walk down to the beach with your cones, or head into the park. There used to be a pretty good petting zoo nearish-by as well...

      Oh and no matter what, NO FOOD from BHDI. Only ice cream. Just trust me on that :-).

      1 Reply
      1. re: grayelf

        Good call on the no food only ice cream warning at BHDI Grayelf. I agree wholeheartedly!

      2. Thanks everyone! It should be a great trip, especially if we get a little sun. I think we've had 10 straight days of rain and/or grey in the north of Seattle area.

        I'll report back on the highlights.

        1. Vieux Montreal for smoked meat sandwiches and great pastries.

          The Break Water Cafe, beautiful big cinnamon buns and a beach to play on.

          John's Place on Pandora, great food any time of day.

          Dim Sum at Kwong Tung or Don Mee's, kids love the little carts, or at least mine do.

          John's Noodle House on Bay, the Ginger Chicken is our family favourite.

          Drive up Island 45 minutes to Cowichan Bay, enjoy locally made ice cream at Udder Guys, fresh bread at True Grain and cheese, soup and sandwiches at Hilary's Cheese.

          Pick up a picnic and eat at the playground at Beacon Hill Park, there is a petting zoo too.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mlgagnon

            Thank you thank you. By this am, I'd gathered about 25 recs for dining before I even started researching what we'd do between meals. What does that say about my priorities? :)

            1. re: sasha1

              I can relate. I've now got more restaurant recs than sights. :-)

          2. Is there a great farmer's market we can visit in Victoria or nearby areas? I've read about Moss St, but that is on Sat - the only day of the week we won't be visiting. Our vac. is Sun to Fri. Thanks!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sasha1

              Bastion square market on Fridays featuring local farmers will be starting up on Thursdays real soon, James bay market on Saturdays and Sundays as well.

              If you love red meat like I do I just found a great steakhouse in town that caters to kids with fun packs and all its Vic's Steakhouse on the corner of Oswego & Quebec one block up from the Coho Ferry.

              Enjoy Victoria

              1. re: ribeye

                At the James Bay Market (and possibly the Moss Street Market too?) the Victoria Women's Cooking Cooperative makes INSANELY good take-out food. It's mostly Indian but they have some Iranian and Iraqi dishes as well. The rish that they serve their curries on is to die for. I should mention that I've been out of the country for six months, but I faithfully ate my curry every weekend last summer, so I hope they're at the market again this year!

            2. Report!

              Thank you everyone for the tips.

              We liked re-bar quite a bit. I expecially thought my yam quesadilla with pepitas, jack cheese, and cilantro crema were quite tasty. The kids got a kick out of the juice and smoothie menu, and my husband quite enjoyed the hummus, with a nice tomato chutney. But don't order it as your entree - it is quite a mountain of beans to put down in one sitting!

              The reef was quite decent. I had a jerk chicken roti and husband had the goat curry. I wasn't a huge fan of his but liked mine. Mine was likely not too authentically jerk, as my 2 year old kept eating the roti wrapper which had the sauce all over it. The kids split the island of eggs - 2 poached, over beans and rice and seemed to enjoy it. It's nice that they had non-spicy (at all) options for the little ones, and the decor was a kick.

              We also had good meals at (or from) Ottavio, Hilary's in Cow Bay, Udder Brothers (yum!), Mt Royal bagelry (very friendly no sit down though), Choux Choux (their prosciutto salami is amazing and I can't find it at home!), and even Ali Baba pizza! The last was sort of a lifesaver. We dragged our kids from Blanshard and Yates up Fort to Plenty, which was closed. Then back down to Brio, which was too expensive, then back to the Pig, also closed. Then around the Wharf looking for anything open and not $$$, got to Pagliacci - 30 minute wait. Baby falling asleep already in dad's arms. Desperate, thinking we might have to do McD's (no way), perhaps a muffin and milk at Starbucks - saw the pizza - it was literally a godsend. And pretty good too!

              Chocolatiere was great. We also visited Merridale and Tugwell Meadery. I would not recommend kids - don't know what I was thinking. I was hoping for samples and a tour for them, but cider was all hard, and the bee tour was sort of a - get as close as you dare, at your own risk.

              I heartily concur with everyone who warned us about eating at Fish. Wharf. We were there and it was lunch. Fish sandwiches at Barb's were bad at best. Closer to really distasteful. But that was really the only terrible chow. We were lucky on the rest of it.

              Oh - and I didn't think the ferry food was that great. On the return trip it was also extremely busy - we couldn't get any food until 10 minutes before the boat docked at port in Tsasswassen. Next time, I'll bring my own chow on board.

              5 Replies
              1. re: sasha1

                Glad to hear you enjoyed almost everything.

                I agree with you on the ferry food. The only ferry food I eat is the soft-serve is cream. I think it's only avaiilable on the "Spirit" ferries, though. Anyway, it is delicious.

                1. re: miss_bennet

                  I usually try to compete with whoever I'm travelling with on the ferries as to how much ice cream we can fit into one of those little tubs. The cashiers get a good laugh out of it. If I recall correctly, you can get the soft serve on other ferries too. I seem to recall getting it on the one that hits all the southern Gulf Islands. But yes, the ice cream is the only good thing about ferry food.

                2. re: sasha1

                  Too bad to hear about Fisherman's Wharf. Barb's used to be really good, I haven't been in a while though.

                  1. re: munchiegirl

                    we go to victoria about 1x a year (live in nyc) and have been for at least 15. barb's really is awful for at least the past 8. greasy and not good. i know it is delightfully located near the houseboats so it's a fun walk but the fish isn't worth it.

                    love beacon hill soft serve!

                    1. re: redgirl

                      I think it's all about Red Fish Blue Fish. Right down on the water, great food, enviro-conscious -- what's not to like? I finally got a chance to go at the end of June and it was all it was cracked up to be in other threads. Kids would love the container it's in too, I think (hey, I got a kick out of it and I haven't been a kid for a LONG time).