One week on Vancouver Island
I will be driving from Portland, OR to Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island, briefly stopping in Seattle.
Right now my main concern is the week I will be on Vancouver Island, as I have no idea where to eat. I am very into local seasonal, fresh quality food, other than that I am not too picky. My bf is a vegetarian, so any tips for him would be great too! i am looking for people's favorite spots on the island or food that's particular to the region.
Thanks so much in advance!!
- hey kimpers
if you are in nanaimo- don't miss aladdin's cafe. i would not describe it as progressive or adventurous ( and certainly not upscale ) but great value for the money- and the food IS good. meat, plus many veg options- including a superb vegetarian platter. mega- casual.
I was going to recommend Primastrada too (but I noted that kimpers is from Portland where they have excellent pizza). Zambri's, Stage (owned by the same folks), are good bets too.
Are you headed to Tofino, kimpers?
911 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8V4X3, CA
Victoria is probably the best place in BC to drink beer. In bottles, I especially enjoyed Black Toque from Phillips and Naughty Hildegard's from Driftwood. The Spinnakers IPA is very nice. BC wine is also worth trying, if for no other reason than that little of it is available in the US.
Stop by Merridale Cidery as you're heading up the highway from Victoria to Nanaimo. They have a restaurant called La Pommeraie which is awesome and very reasonably priced. I just went there for the first time two weeks ago.
see the post on the question about balsamic vinegar ... Venturi Schulze winery near Duncan
also - plan for some picnics! I mean, this has to be some of the best scenery anywhere, so enjoy it. There are many safe, clean spots to have picnics outdoors. Just go along near Ogden Point in Victoria -- or check out the flower gardens at Beacon Hill. And then up-island? Maple Bay near the store is a picturesque beach ... go and explore on Saltspring Island if you have time - you can enter by way of one ferry and then leave by way of the other (Vesuvius) ferry www.bcferries.com ... lovely typical Gulf Islands BC provincial park down on Active Pass - park is called Ruckle.
Lots of hidden local gems including the scenic pull-offs at the crest of the Malahat (views to Washington State, Mt Baker etc) ... further up, take the backroads around Duncan and you'll find the serene churchyard at Anglican St Peters (maybe the wild flowers will be in bloom beneath the Garry Oaks)... continue to Maple Bay. Hit the right morning and there's a farmer market in "downtown" Duncan. See the train station. Continue north on the back roads and you'll pass thru Maple Bay (Genoa Bay if you venture further, interesting little restaurant, not sure how it's been lately, very picturesque www.genoabaymarina.com )
... then backtrack on the sideroads to Crofton, Chemainus, Salt Air, Ladysmith (cute old downtown and a shore park) ... then suburban Nanaimo (another interesting downtown) ... take the little foot passenger ferry over to the Newcastle Island park (hiking trails) and then the Dinghy Dock pub is on an adjacent Protection island. (typical pub fare, amazing setting www.dinghydockpub.com ) Have more time to explore? Gabriola Island is lovely. Then you head north to Nanoose. Another great picnic spot is Rathstrevor BEach provincial park in Parksville. Beautiful - huge beach at low tide. Big views - a precious reminder of what Vancouver Island used to be before linear sprawl and big boxes kicked in.
Just remember our BC law states no alcohol incl wine to be consumed in public non-licensed places. And my fav Vanc Island grocery chain is Thrifty Foods tho our Safeway stores are usually pretty nice too..
Ogden Point Cafe
199 Dallas Rd, Victoria, BC V8V1A1, CA
Just got back from a great drive and a meal at the Genoa Bay Cafe because of the mention above. Great food, lovely setting, gracious host. The menu is small but I think this ensures excellent dishes made to order. It's important to us that the restaurant uses fresh local foods and sustainable seafood. Good wine list as well which includes locals wines. The chocolate terrine is pretty great! We will be making more than one return trip. (We were advised to make reservations in high season, as the marina can get pretty full. In fact, we were wandering around and asked a boater if he had eaten at the restaurant and he told us it was the reason he was there.)
Genoa Bay Cafe
5000 Genoa Bay, Duncan, BC V9L 5Y8, CA
There are a number of artisanal cheesemakers (Hillary's, Little Qualicum, Natural Pastures), wineries (Venturi Schulze, Church & State and more), cideries (Merridale, Sea CIder), meaderies (Tugwell Creek), meats, etc specially on the east coast around Cowichan Valley, Saanich Peninsula, etc. A number of microbreweries too.
In Victoria number of localvore purveyors such as Choux Choux charcuterie, Fol Epi bakery, Phillips brewery, etc.
Seafood: halibut (Mar - Nov) , spot prawns (season starts soon), sablefish (all year), dungeness crab (all year), oysters (Fanny Bay, all year), clams (all year)...etc.
If you're in Nanoose Bay, you should try to check out The Landing West Coast Grill at Pacific Shores - a great selection of local and sustainable menu options (and vegetarian ones too!)
They also have a super wine list and a huge saltwater aquarium - fun to dine & watch!
Good luck on your search :)
Landing West Coast Grill
1600 Stroulger Rd, Nanoose Bay, BC V9P9B7, CA
Just got back from there. Sooke Harbour House is fantastic...I recommend booking a room and making a dinner rez. The former chef at Sooke just opened a little restaurant in town called The Edge, which was good, but I got the sense locals were favored over outsiders (we watched 4 parties of locals who ordered after us get served before us). I also recommend afternoon tea at the Empress hotel in Victoria. Definitely old school, but nice.
Harbour House Restaurant
607 Oswego St, Victoria, BC V8V4W9, CA