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Please help with where to eat with a baby and a vegetarian for upcoming trip to Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Tofino

I am looking for some help please...

We are travelling to BC in mid-Sept with a baby (2 months old) and a vegetarian. I have looked at a lot of older posts and have some ideas on what restaurants we want to try, but was hoping local Chowhounders could advise on the baby/vegetarian friendliness of the places on my list.

The baby sleeps most of the time, but does occasionally wake and yell for a feed (she loves to eat as much as her parents!). So I would prefer to avoid restaurants where that is going to get us dirty looks... partly for my sake, but also because I dont want to ruin someone else's special night out!

This is our itinerary and the places we would like to try. Please help cull it to some appropriate choices!! We will have a car and eat all cuisines (as long as they have a veggie option).

Thu/Fri: Vancouver (staying downtown) - 2 x lunch and 2 x dinner from the following list.... omakase at Sushi Kimura, Japadog, Dhaka Fish and Biriyani, Dharma Kitchen, Anatolia's, Ajisai, Go Fish, Nuba (Hastings). Are any of these near Stanley Park?
Sat: Whistler day trip - planning picnic lunch (bread from Sunflower Bakery in Squamish?). Dinner at Sushi Sen (if its baby friendly)?
Sun: Early morning ferry to Victoria - lunch at Zambri or Blue Fox Cafe or Pizzeria Primastrada? Afternoon/evening drive to Nanaimo - dinner on route (not sure where) or in Nanaimo? Not sure where...
Mon: Leisurely drive to Tofino, stopping at MacMillan Park on route. Should we pack a lunch or are there yummy places to eat between Nanaimo and Tofino?
Tofino Dinner - Tacofino?
Tues: Tofino - Spotted Bear for breakfast, Sobo for lunch, Wildside Grill for dinner
Wed: Drive back to Nanaimo. Lunch at Aladdin's Cafe. Ferry back to Vancouver.
Dinner in Vancouver (see list for Thu/Fri)
Thu: Lunch in Vancouver (see Thu/Fri list), flight home in afternoon.

Thanks in advance!

Dharma Kitchen
3667W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6R2B8, CA

Nuba Cafe
322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

911 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8V4X3, CA

Blue Fox Cafe
919 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V3K3, CA

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  1. tink44:

    Sounds like you have an interesting trip planned out.

    I will leave the spots on the mainland to others more conversant with them.

    We head out to Victoria two or three times annually and each Fall to Tofino so I'll "chime in" with regard to those locations if I may.

    Sun: after the ferry to Victoria I would go to either Zambri's or Primastrada. That is not an intended slight with regard to the Blue Fox, I just have not eaten there yet.

    Zambri's new location is quite nice although it apparently does not suit all of the "regulars". Their rustic Italian food is good. I love their cauliflower alla sabbia which I was glad to locate via a web search and it had become a mainstain here at Chez Bobby Mac.

    Primastrada is good pizza. Thin crust, just a little char from the wood burning oven. Their Fresca Salad of orange and fennel was very refreshing.

    Nanaimo: we will be there in a month or so and I too have asked for advice.

    Monday: Leisurely drive to Tofino. Is there any other kind? The road despite being much improved still warrants attention. If it says 35, go 35-40, not merely decrease to 85.

    I remember having lunch at the Pointe Restaurant in the Wickaninnish Inn and a frazzled couple sat at an adjacent table with the lady inquiring, "is there another way out of town?" Besides flying or chartering a boat? Not really.

    I cannot suggest a "yummy place" between Nanaimo and Tofino. Stock up on some cold cuts and cheese at McLean's before leaving Nanaimol.

    Tacofino? I think I read ...not sure where...that they have closed and the proprietors have moved on. That is strictly a rumour on my part as I have no personal knowledge.

    I like Sobo, my wife is not as enthusiastic. Good wine list too given the owners' contacts with the winemakers in the Okanagan.

    Did not make it to Wildside Grill last year. Maybe this year.

    Spotted Bear. Another place we have not been to. We usually hunker down after dark so do not go into the village in the evening which is when it is open when we visit rather than breakfast.

    Enjoy your visit. It is a special place indeed.

    911 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8V4X3, CA

    Blue Fox Cafe
    919 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V3K3, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Mac

      Anatolia's Gate is waythehellandgone in the suburbs-a long drive through city traffic- I suggest a veggie Indian place like Saravana Bhavan on Broadway near Oak just 5 minutes from downtown.


      No problem taking the kid to any of the places you've posted-we were all babies once-or most of us anyway.

    2. I take it your vegetarian is a pescatarian re the Kimura choice :-). Since the omakase takes at minimum two hours, I'd be a bit wary re baby there.

      Japadog is fun and baby friendly though the store on Robson is very cramped and busy (was just there last night!) re maneuvring with sprog in arms/stroller. Haven't been to Dhaka yet but it is a bit of a schlep from downtown to an area with little else to recommend to visitors. Dharma Kitchen is also a schlep but closer to other stuff you might be interested in checking out (UBC, MOA, beaches, etc) and would be fine with the babe. I would walk across hot coals for the cheese pide and the lavash topped with their to-die-for Turkish version of tzatziki at Anatolia's Gate but it is a long way from downtown and is near nothing for visitors. Maybe if you have a car... I like Ajisai but it is out of the way and would not be fun with a baby at all (very uncomfortable seating in a small, sparse room with big lineups at anything like dinner time). Go Fish is fun but 'ware massive lineups at almost any time, and the lack of formal seating if that is important. It is also near Granville Island and other attractions. There are now two Nubas on Hastings. I'm guessing you mean the one at Cambie. I would most definitely not take a baby there. Too dark and loungey, not to mention loud. The one on Seymour would be perfect with the sprog, and although the menu is smaller I think they do a better job, particularly of the veg items. Just watch out for being buried in pita, which seems to come as a side with everything. None of your Vancouver choices are near Stanley Park. Robson and Denman are streets to look for if you want proximity to the park but there is nothing really super close (unless you count the restaurants that are actually in the park).

      On Robson I recently had a lunch and a dinner (on different days!) at Miko and thought it was topnotch. It is much closer to the Park than the other two sushi places you listed and I'd take it over Ajisai for your purposes (and possibly for all purposes).

      Dharma Kitchen
      3667W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6R2B8, CA

      Nuba Cafe
      322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

      1. Some options heading north of Victoria, BC on your way to Tofino:

        These are some places I suggested in another thread about Vancouver Island. Most have flexible menus, to accommodate special eating needs.

        From your eating options in Victoria you can drive north to Cobble Hill. Here there are Merridale Cidery (www.merridalecider.com) and the Amuse Bistro (www.amusebistro.com).

        The Craig Street Brew Pub (www.craigstreet.ca) this is located in Duncan, which is the half way point between Victoria and Nanaimo. A lot of people like it. But to me a brew pub is a brew pub.

        Continue north and just outside of Nanaimo there is a super quaint English style pub called the Crow and Gate (www.crowandgate.com), it is tucked in a rural area called Cedar. In Nanaimo proper, Ryan Zuvich is doing some fine things to pork at the Markt Artisan Deli (www.marktartisandeli.com). It could be a lunch spot or a place to pick up some meat and cheese for snacking and picnic lunching.

        In Nanaimo’s Old City quarter (downtown) there are a handful of good little eateries. Recently I've tried The Nest Bistro and Real Food. I had the tastiest Mushroom Tart at the Nest Bistro a few weeks ago. Real Food uses local products and makes most everything from scratch. It's not fancy but it's good. It's a choose-from-the-cooler type of eatery, so very casual. (http://www.lvoe.ca/index.php?q=node/128) Real Food has a location in Parksville as well. (You will drive past this ocean-side community on your way to Tofino, but if you want to see it you’ll need to exit off the bypass.) Both The Nest and Real Food are fairly new.

        If you take the long way to Tofino (ie: if you don’t take the Highway Bypass) you might want to stop in Coombs, BC. There is the Coombs Country Market (which is worth a visit on its own) and a tasty family style Italian restaurant in an old refurbished farm house called Cuckoo in Coombs. (http://www.oldcountrymarket.com/itali...


        Before Tofino, you will pass through Port Alberni which is home to a popular drive-in where you turn on your headlights to order, and eat from that tray that attaches to your window. Food wise, it’s a greasy spoon, but the nostalgia makes it very popular. I don’t go to Port Alberni often, but when I do I always insist on making a stop at J & L Drive-In. It’s on Gertrude Street.

        These are some off the top of my head that I've enjoyed in the past. I hope this helps. Enjoy your trip Tink44.

        J & L Drive-In
        4422 Gertrude St, Port Alberni, BC V9Y6J8, CA

        1. Wow. Thank you very much for all the detailed feedback. We will have a car but probably don't want to make long trips to the 'burbs for meals if there are just as delicious options closer in. Will also depend on the mini-foodie (aka. the baby) to some extent.

          Sam Salmon - thanks for the Saravana Bhavan recommendation. It was on my original list but then I dropped it off - cant remember why but will stick it back on

          grayelf - Thanks for the Miko rec over Sushi Kimura. A two hour omakase is probably a little long (the sprog is well behaved but lets not push our luck... haha). Will update list to Nuba in Seymour, not Hastings.

          Bob Mac - will def. pack a picnic style lunch for the drive to Tofino. Thanks for the McLean suggestion and for the Tacofino heads up.

          Burma Von Furston - Thanks for the many suggestions! The tough part now is narrowing it down...

          Any other comments/suggestions welcome! :)

          Nuba Cafe
          322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

          8 Replies
          1. re: tink44

            The baby won't be allowed in pubs like the Crow and Gate, and presumably the Duncan Brew pub, so that limits your options unfortunately.

            1. re: Anne M

              Argh, I forgot about that ridiculous rule, well done Anne M! They have to have a restaurant licence for the baby to be "legal" right? I wonder if it would be worth a call to check for the OP?

              1. re: grayelf

                C&G website says "sorry no minors". They wery very strict a few years ago when we were visiting with a small niece. Niece's mother is from Australia and couldn't believe all our alcohol resrictions (and prices needless to say).

                1. re: Anne M

                  I recall being able to sit outside with minors at Crow and Gate....but hard to predict the weather come mid-Sept.

                  1. re: fmed

                    Thanks for the heads up Anne M. I am originally from Australia (but living in Toronto) and am often in the same boat as your niece! ;)

                    Looks like we wont be trying the Crow & Gate after all - not unless it is a particularly balmy Sept evening.

                    Bob Mac - I emailed the Tacofino people and turns out they still have a truck in Tofino at the back of the Live to Surf parking lot.

                    1. re: tink44

                      Tacofino also has 2 trucks here in Van , a taco truck and a burrito truck , you can follow them on twitter

                      1. re: tink44

                        Crow and Gate is not particularly vegetarian friendly either, as I recall. Anyway, I'd go to Mahle House or Longwood if I were you. Longwood is a brew pub but there's a restaurant upstairs.

                        I spend a lot of time around Nanaimo because I have family there and we pretty much always cook and eat at home. There's decent food but nothing to get excited about. Anything new and exciting dies or gets dumbed down pretty fast.

                        Mahle House is south of Nanaimo in the agrcultural area (close to Crow and Gate). It's an old house with some pretty gardens. Here's the website: http://www.mahlehouse.ca/

                        Longwood is in the middle of a shopping centre but they have nice gardens all around and feels like it is in a garden setting not a parking lot. Here's the link: http://www.longwoodbrewpub.com/

                        Mahle House Restaurant
                        2104 Hemer Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9X1L8, CA

                        1. re: tink44

                          Thanks tink44, I will look for it when we are out there in about a month...hope you have a great trip!

              2. My favourite vegetarian places are the NAAM (4th and Macdonald area), Sejuiced (4th and Cypress) Gorilla raw foods( Richards and Pender), Nuba (various), Foundation (7th and main) and Radha (main and prior-area may be a little sketchy for taking a baby but a really nice space inside)

                Nuba Cafe
                322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: van2380

                  Godhelpanyone who eats @ the Naam-Radha the restaurant is long gone-victim of their own snobbery & incompetence.

                2. I posted this a few days ago in another thread but as it seems relevant will post it again here.

                  I have lived in Nanaimo a long time and we have never been overwhelmed with good places to eat. However I would recommend Huong Lan on Bowen Road for Vietnamese food. It is hard to get in at lunchtime so suggest evenings. Asteras greek taverna on Wesley Street is always spot on. On the same street is the Wesley Street cafe which I have not been to in a while but hear very good things about. Crow and Gate pub in Cedar is great if the sun is shining and you can sit outside. Longwood pub is great beer but the food is a bit lacking at times. Mahle house also in Cedar is undergoing management changes and apparently the menu has changed significantly. We are going there in a couple of weeks so will have more info then. Apparently they are offering a three course meal for $30.
                  Longwood pub has a restaurant upstairs so children are allowed in. Crow and gate is my local and as much as they have tried to accomodate children outside in the summer the bureaucrats still do not like it..
                  Hope you enjoy your visit.

                  Wesley Street Cafe
                  321 Wesley St, Nanaimo, BC V9R2T5, CA

                  1. Thanks everyone for all their help!

                    We just got back from our trip and really enjoyed ourselves. Lovely weather for the first few days, followed by a couple of overcast days/rainy days (which I am told I had to have to get a "real" Vancouver experience)

                    We ate at the following places:
                    Nuba (dinner) - really good! Got the vegetarian platter for two and then added on the haloumi, some minced lamb thingy and the sea scallops. We were dining with a friend and this was more than enough food for 3 people. The platter is excellent value, the haloumi to die for and the meat eaters enjoyed the lamb and the scallops. Sadly, no room for dessert! Only comment - the pita was pretty average store bought stuff (or so it seemed?). Would have been nice to have something a little less dry.
                    Miko on Robson (lunch) - great vegie tempura (light, crispy batter - no oily taste), sushi platter (the $19 one - deluxe I think?) had good variety. Only comment from the half Japanese dining companion was that the nori could have been a little bit fresher but overall a lovely meal.
                    Saravanaa Bhavan (dinner) - got the $5 wednesday night special (South Indian Thali). Amazing value and very tasty! Worth the wait (spent about 10 minutes in a queue to get a table). Good assortment of curries, came with rice and 2 small poori. Left satisfied!
                    Granville Island Market - bread from Terra and cheese from the corner cheese shop in the food court area (cant remember the name of it). Yum!!
                    Sushi Sen (dinner) - didnt have to wait too long. Attentive service. Eating with a friend so the two meat eaters shared the sushi boat (turns out it is actually two boats - one was cold sushi and one was the hot items like oysters (which were very good), yaki tori, etc). Also ordered the spinach/sesame salad (really nice), agedashi tofu (good), the ume/shiso rolls (really good), the avocado rolls (not as good) and a seaweed salad (nice). The menu had more on offer for vegetarians than Miko, but the sushi-fiend liked Miko better (primarily I think due to the variety at Miko). Overall thought it was a good meal and worth stopping to eat there.

                    Primastrada (lunch) - yummy mushroom pizza (a little soft in the middle but delicious chewy crust). Went with Bob Mac's rec for grapefruit and fennel salad - yum! And the house bread (like a cheesy foccacia) was amazing value at only $3 for a generous serve!

                    Asteras Greek (dinner) - nice meal overall. The spanakopita and greek salad were great, the rice and vegies not particularly exciting. The lamb souvlaki was apparently half great and half average (the different chunks of lamb seemed to be of differing quality? odd).
                    Aladdins Cafe (lunch) - vegie platter was good value - decent variety of items and served with fresh warm pita. Lamb pita wrap hit the spot but nothing to get excited over.

                    Coombs Market (lunch) - picked up a perfectly ripe local cheese (Qualicam Brie? sorry cant remember the spelling) and a demi-baguette, along with some smoked salmon and a few sweet things from the bakery. Also got a bargain in the form of the ice-cream - two large scoops for $3.75 (this is considered a single serve). Highly entertained by the goats on the roof. Well worth the stop.

                    Wildside Grill for dinner - outside seating only so had to rug up as it was a little chilly. Bean tacos and caesar salad are decent. The fish and chips were good, but the tuna burger was better (we returned the next night as it was super close to our accommodation and we couldnt be bothered going into town).
                    Tacofino - avoid the burrito. Not good value and not very tasty. But really good tacos! Tried the bean ones with the fetta (yummy and fresh) and the fish ones (generous serve of fish). Would eat there again (but only tacos)
                    Chocofino - next to the Wildside Grill. Too cold for gelato so we got an assortment of chocolates. All were tasty and had nice balance of chocolate shell to inside filling. Good job with the "snap" as well. Liked that a few of the flavours were "local" (i.e. local honey or blackberries were used).

                    Thanks again everyone for your help. Hope this feedback helps others!

                    Nuba Cafe
                    322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

                    Saravanaa Bhavan
                    955W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K3, CA