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Jul 8, 2013 06:48 AM

Updated Okanagan Thread

Hi Folks: I'm a bit sheepish to admit it, but I've never been to the Okanagan...until now. I'm going in about two weeks to the south Okanagan (staying in Osoyoos). I searched the board here and found information in past threads to be "thin on the ground" re: intel.

I'll only be there for two nights, so I'm focusing on the Oliver-Osoyoos corridor and of course my focus will be on tasting wines. I think I have a pretty good handle on the winery scene, but I'm a bit clueless when it comes to eating there.

Specific questions I have: Where should I stop for lunch between Delta and Osoyoos (remember, I'm coming from Victoria so I won't get into Delta until about 10:45 when my ferry arrives). An old thread yielded just one recommendation, the "Home Cafe" in Hope. Any other options?

Where should I stop for coffee between Delta and Hope? Anywhere good between Chilliwack and Princeton?

Where is there good coffee in the Oliver-Osooos area? A recent thread suggested a place called Village Grounds in Naramata, but that's a long way from my B & B in Osoyoos. Is there anything decent between Osoyoos and Oliver?

What is my best bet for dinner in Oliver-Osoyoos area? Burrowing Owl, Tinhorn Creek, and Hester Creek all have restaurants. What is the best? (apparently the owner of Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek also owns Le Gavroche in Van, so that might be promising).

Other than the new bakery in Osoyoos, are there any food specialty stores in the south Okanagan that are destination worthy?

Who has the best lunches in the Oliver Osoyoos area? I notice that Black Hills is doing woodfired pizza, and Road 13 has a small lunch menu. Can anyone comment on the best lunch in this region?

And finally, when I am driving back from Osoyoos to the ferry terminal, I'd like to stop for dinner on Thursday night, probably in the Fraser Valley but really anywhere between Mission and Delta. There is SHOCKINGLY little intel on this site about good food options in Surrey, Abbotsford and the rest of the Fraser Valley. Also not much written up on Tsawassen/Delta. Is this entire belt a culinary wasteland, or do the hounds on this board not often venture out into these regions? Would there not be some killer Indian food somewhere between Abbotsford and Delta? I ate at one place two years ago in Surrey, believe it was called Dakshan, that was decent but not mind-blowing or destination worthy.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. in your fourth paragraph above - you ask for stops between chillawack and princeton - make note - there is nothing beyond Hope in terms of restaurant, cell ph service, etc - literally. It is mountain highway with forests. I am not sure if Manning Park restaurant is open any longer. And even then, that's not exactly a chow stop in the sense of this board.

    indian food (ie south asian) in oliver

    i'd look at the okanagan websites to see what the locals think is of value.

    take a cooler so you can bring back some fruit, veg or other -

    have a great trip - bring sunscreen and a big hat!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Georgia Strait

      Further to GS's point, fill up on gas in Hope, as there's only 1 (?) station between Hope and Princeton:

      1. re: LotusRapper

        yes, excellent tip LotusRapper

        ... i should have said also that despite the lack of restaurants, etc - there are many nice picnic sites along the way - it is Manning Park, after all ---- they are very scenic - so bring a picnic and enjoy the views!

    2. "readers choice" poll results - for what they're worth - everything from hi-end to Denny's


      wine touring is fun but the real okanagan is more than just the new wine business (this topic could easily divide a dinner party conversation!


      eg - look up and see when the farmer markets are held in the towns you're visiting (hence the cooler(s) we recommend you take with you)

      i know for a fact that there are markets in
      Penticton (Sat morning - crowded and ... crowded)

      if you are interested in food history - this unique heritage site is in Keremeos - The Grist Mill - they host a special event "apple day" (heritage varieties etc

      if you are driving from Keremeos to Osoyoos by way of Cawston - that is a hot spot for certified organic - I don't know if there are any roadside stands - but these farmers certainly come to the farmer markets.

      In rural Oliver, I would stop by Covert Farms - it's interesting - longtime farm in that area - they are interested in food heritage, too.

      if you take a drive up the EAST side of Skaha Lake (between OK Falls and Penticton), stop in at Matheson CReek Farm - straw bale building - with a "truth" window. lovely spot (open only certain times of the year; check website


      on the WEST side of Skaha Lake on Hwy 97, there is Jane's Farm - she sells corn and parahe and Grand Forks style borscht etc. (more genuine BC food heritage!) It is near the gas station on the lake side of the hiway. Be very careful pulling across that hiway - it's busy and fast there.

      if you drive up to Naramata - Poplar Grove cheese is very good and is an interesting little place to visit - and take a walk along the KVR transcanada trail at the head of Poplar Grove Road *you can't miss it - if you get as far as Hillside Winery, turn around and come back to Poplar Grove Rd.

      also in Naramata - i would for sure visit Elephant Island Winery - fruit wines - sounds odd, I know (think sweet wine that our grandparents made at home!) - but this is not so at Elephant Island - you can't go wrong. A lovely shaded patio too and casual atmosphere, real okanagan feeling to the place. and they have not ripped out the beautiful old orchard in order to plant "lifestyle" grapes.

      if you are up near Summerland - the ornamental gardens at the Agri Canada research station are lovely - and you get a great view of the Kettle Valley Railway "Trout Creek Trestle" - it is very high over the creek canyon. At certain hours, you will see the vintage steam train (you can ride on it)

      ps - take a pair of binoculars with you on your road trip - you'll see lots of birds (if you are a birder you'll already have your lists and books ready!) ... and/or will want to see distant mountain views etc

      ALSO - i think there was a recommendation about a coffee shop place in Hope - it is on the Chowhound BC board in the last few months - maybe under the subject line "road trip" or "roadtrip"

      this blog might have something - it's road trip food related

      3 Replies
      1. re: Georgia Strait

        You're probably thinking of Blue Moose Café, which we liked very much on our way from Seattle to Kelowna. We stopped for mochas and chais, and were happy! It's kind of a cute little downtown, too.

        1. re: Katie Nell

          well, thank you! - great minds and all.

          isn't it the usual way - we locals just carry on and miss the journey just to get to our destination.

          i will have to check this out one day

          i hope you post more about your trips in BC and WA (Winthrop is one of our favourite destinations)

          1. re: Georgia Strait

            We were there a year ago, celebrating our 6th anniversary- Seattle to Kelowna to Vancouver. (We got married in Kelowna!) We're currently doing research for my in-laws, who will be traveling to Kelowna and Vancouver. :-)

      2. here is a place in Hope BC for coffee, etc

        i have not been there - only cuz after we have escaped the suburban sprawl of Bby, coq, surrey driving, we stick to the hiway to get home to OK sooner - but the blue moose looks interesting

        2 Replies
        1. re: Georgia Strait

          Thanks for all of the tips. I certainly love farmers' markets and will see what I can find while I'm in the south Okanagan. I'll be there all day Wednesday and Thursday morning so just might find something good. I'd love to come back with 1 cooler full of wine and 1 cooler full of organic cherries (too early for peaches at the end of July?)

          1. re: anewton

            you never know what the fruit harvest will bring at that time - apricots? the best old variety are the Tiltons (make jam, make a tarte, stir in to good yogurt, etc)

            generally, the south end of the Cdn Okan Valley is earlier than the north end - obviously it's hotter down near the border (and beyond)

            check out this BC Ag website

        2. please see more info about coffee, restaurants, etc on the other Okanagan thread - thank you

          3 Replies
          1. re: Georgia Strait

            No joy on restos in the Fraser Valley but if you have time to check out Hen Long, it might be worth your while: It's open 8-8 7 days a week, and apparently has stuff you can't get anywhere else in BC (I haven't made the trek but others who post here have).

            1. re: grayelf

              Something was niggling at me, and then coincidentally I found a reference in my (way behind) filing that reminded me Jeff van Geest is at Miradoro. Then I saw this article yesterday:
              and figured it was a sign. I loved Chef van Geest's sadly defunct restaurant Aurora on Main, and I would happily test out his wares at Miradoro given the chance.

              1. re: grayelf

                thank you - that's interesting - and also - for the person on this board who has recently been looking for special sausage - that's why i said maybe check the Tinhorn menu - in case they have the portuguese sausage - one never knows - always fun for us when we eat out to find out sources (I think any decent restaurant will share certain info - it keeps us wanna-be good cooks keen - and frankly, i'll never cook as well at home - which means having the story behind the food will bring me back to their establishment. I know at Sun Mountain Lodge (winthrop wa) - they can point out the windows to the ranch where the "protein" (see other recent thread on CH) came from)
                PS - EDIT to add - i was reading carefully-er and is the Local the old Shaughnessy's Cove or whatever that pub was called - we all used to enjoy that - nice location - too bad the "hostess" ticked off Mia Stainsby. Wow. But I have made the comment recently on here about Okanagan - the raw materials are great, the scenery is lovely, it is all so close to moneyed and well-travelled markets who are willing to pay for great experiences - and yet it's often the HR factor that blows it. Scraping the plates at the table. Crabby, off-handish service. Questionable dress codes. Argh. I do not blame the individual people - rather the management and training functions first - then the individual sometimes. I hope one day they have more than "serve it right" as a ticket to waitering up in OK Valley.

          2. Just came back from our Okanagan trip. There were some very pleasant surprises this year. I won't write about our return visits but the new experiences we came across this year.

            Vanilla Pod at Poplar Grove was suprisingly good. Amazingly, they has super fresh mussels & clams, plump and juicy, something that's lacking in Vancouver. Desserts were equally delisious especially the fresh fruit tart made with local fruits. The view, wow. Wish we could of came back a second time.
            Upper Bench has some "award" winnings cheeses. Very nice and flavours were very subtle but I think it was to showcase their creamy buttery features.

            Terrafino was another nice surprise. Their barrata plate was rich and creamy, pair beautifully with their home made mustard and bacon jam. It sounds odd but it was delicious. They also had really good pizza. Not super thin but not thick either. Nice crisp and chewiness to it.

            Beijing Bina was very tasty. I wouldn't say it's 100% authentic but it's a good delivery of Beijing style food. Probably due to the clientele. Had the fish in boiling water, tasty but it lacked the szechuan peppercorns. The dumplings were really delicious. The skin was a tad thicker than I would of liked it but the filing had a very nice floral fragrant to it, almost like osmanthus. They're selling the restuarant so come while Bina is still running the show.

            Two very interesting coffee shops. Bean Scene is a local roaster and coffee shop. It's good. Downside, super slow staff, really slow. Wanted to come back but couldn't convince hubs to come back due to the service. Pulp Fiction Cafe is also really cool. Came here twice. They use Parallel 49 beans. But the cool part is they have a rare book and antique section in the store.

            Sandrine Bakery was a nice find. Croissants were good. The plain one was the one we didn't enjoy. Too doughly but the pear one is definitely the winner. Chocolate was good too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gourmet wife

              totally agree re: Bean Scene "downtown" Kelowna on Bernard (near the white sails sculpture) - rude, indifferent, slow - whatever one calls it, it all adds up to "never going back" - and those staff make sure they cover all the words.

              it is confusing to me because I think that the original owners might (again, might) not own all the locations - and I am sure if they knew how awful Bernard service is - maybe they would fix it.

              the actual coffee is good - we like the all bark, no bite (decaf espress0) for later afternoon.

              further south in Summerland, there is Backyard Beans - it's a roaster not a cafe - check their website.