Why Foodies Ought to Go to Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria Tourism

If you consider Canada’s best food cities, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal take the undisputed title. And if you press further, destinations like Prince Edward Island and Quebec City shoot up as contenders. But there is one Canadian city that is quietly vying for the attention of connoisseurs: Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Victoria’s food scene is dwarfed by nearby Vancouver, but the capital of British Columbia has long earned its culinary reputation: it was home to Canada’s first brewpub; it has a neighboring wine region; it serves one of the best high teas in the country; it boasts the nation’s oldest Chinatown; and Canada’s first chocolatier started here.

Find out why you should try your way around the Pacific Northwest’s oldest city.

The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

WHERE TO SLEEP

For our culinary tour of Victoria, we checked into The Magnolia Hotel & Spa, and not only because the Forbes Travel Guide four-star hotel is in an excellent location just a few blocks from the Inner Harbor or because of its classy, ​​sophisticated accommodations.

The 64-room boutique hotel offers fun, self-guided routes for guests called Curated Trails, some of which are centered around food and drink. Here are highlights from Magnolia’s Culinary Trailblazers, Craft Brewery, and Tea-Riffic Trails tours, as well as some other delicious spots we found along the way.

Leila Kwok

WHERE TO EAT

The Courtney room

The first stop is the hotel’s chic, brand new restaurant, which premiered in April. Come for fine dining or soak up the sun on the new terrace, which overlooks the Capitol’s domed building, one of Victoria’s most iconic landmarks. Then linger until the early hours of the morning at the white marble bar for midnight in Oaxaca cocktails (Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yej Mezcal, lime, habanero bitter, mint, cucumber) and the irresistible Courtney potatoes (duck fat tater tots accompanied by onion dip).

For dinner, order the seasonal tasting menu to see Chef Sam Harris highlight local ingredients in French dishes. A tender duck breast from Yarrow Meadows is covered in crispy skin and served with carrots, beets, and pickled rhubarb. Local halibut gets decadent with a pool of airy, ethereal whipped bearnaise and tarragon.

Add the caviar service. The sustainable, organic Northern Divine pearls, chives and creamy “dip” (garlic, garlic and onion powder, crème fraîche, egg yolk, grapeseed and olive oil, lemon juice) on a homemade chip was one of the best bites on the menu. And opt for the vino pairings – you’ll get a nice taste of the local Cowichan wine region.

Jennifer Kester

Olo restaurant

The cozy room basks in a warm light from its orange-yellow walls and bird’s nest-like lighting fixtures. The food is artfully presented, but just as homely as the surroundings.

The addicting deep-fried semolina cubes with garlic mayo make you want a second round. The vegetable platter gets an upgrade with a deep smoky white bean hummus. For a seafood-heavy dish that won’t weigh you down, choose the sable fish collar with clams, potatoes, kale, daikon, and shellfish butter.

Dobosala Cantina & Ride Thru

Dobosala Cantina & Ride Thru

Chef Kunal Ghose has firmly established himself in Victoria’s food scene with popular restaurants such as Red Fish Blue Fish and Fishhook. For his project, which opened in April, he used Dobosala’s location on the new Pandora Avenue cycle path and opted for a quick and casual concept that has the only drive-through window in the city.

But it’s worth parking your two-wheeler and taking a seat in the industrial restaurant to enjoy Ghose’s bright, flavorful Indo-Pacific fusion. Try the crispy pakora with kimchi crema and tamari tamarind ponzu; “Squimp” onigiri – rice balls with Humboldt squid, Tofino prawns, red-bellied sashimi and horseradish mayonnaise; and the adobo gochujang chicken stuffed in a tortilla cone. Rinse it off with a homemade mango and hibiscus iced tea.

pasta

Victoria Public Market in Hudson

Save your appetite for La Pasta, which debuted in May, at the small public market. The spot produces handmade pasta every day. Order the soothing carbonara with delicious spaghetti and porchetta pieces or the fusilli pesto with generous blobs of fresh ricotta. But start with antipastos like fried artichokes with lemon aioli for some brightness, as well as the rich arancini.

Or go to Very Good Butchers. As the first vegan butcher shop on Canada’s west coast, it specializes in plant-based “meat”. Try a dish with the smoky seitan bacon or the “pepperoni”, which give a more kick than their beef and pork counterparts.

Kids sister ice cream

Tucked away on Chinatown’s photogenic Fan Tan Alley – Canada’s narrowest street – is this little shop. You can’t go wrong with freshly made ice cream like the delicious salted caramel in a homemade waffle cone, but the salon is known for its paletas (Latin American popsicles with fresh fruit and fun ingredients) in creative flavors like quince creme dumplings; Mango, black currant and lime; and mocha cheesecake.

Fairmont Empress

WHERE TO DRINK

Fairmont Empress

Half a million cups of tea are poured every year at the four-star Forbes Travel Guide hotel, whose afternoon ritual has been a tradition in Victoria since 1908. Don’t let the date fool you: the modern room overlooking the harbor is considered one of the best tea experiences.

There are many thoughtful details: the china bears the same timeless purple and pink pattern that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth chose for a dinner party they held at the hotel in 1939; the menu is delivered in an elegant wooden box that also contains samples of each high quality mixture; the homemade strawberry jam uses local berries, honey from the hotel beehives and lavender from the roof garden; and the waiters are warm, welcoming, and ready to make just the right recommendations.

Even if you are not a tea drinker, come to the Empress 1908 Gin. The hotel’s small batch of butterfly pea blossom infund has an indigo tone that turns to lavender when you add citrus or tonic. The color-changing G&T is a must for your Instagram feed, but also because of its great taste with notes of juniper and grapefruit.

Jennifer Kester

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.

The brewery was founded in 2001, but the city’s first tasting room was added in April. Try the easy-to-drink Blue Buck or Robert Service Stone Fired Ale.

But everyone can find something to sip here. Check out the house’s all-natural sodas – meaning no syrups or other artificial sweeteners – like the foaming, Creamsicle-like Dare Devil Orange.

Small jumbo

Find a little neon elephant above the Pacific Transfer Building sign, go inside and head down the hall for this restaurant / bar. The pressed copper brick ceiling is a welcoming local favorite for well-made cocktails.

Follow the Victorians and ask for A Convicted Melon (Altos Tequila, Campari, Hibiscus, Honeydew Melon, Local Olive the Senses Coconut Balsamic, Bittermens Molé Bitter) or Gin and Tea (Boodles Gin, Silk Road’s Alchemist’s Brew and Berry Victoria Teas, Lime and Flowers).

Silk Road Tea

WHERE BUY

Silk Road Tea

In this tea-loving city, there is no better souvenir than local leaves. Tea master Daniela Cubelic creates exquisite blends in her Chinatown shop. You’ll find Silk Road teas popping up all over town (including Little Jumbo, The Courtney Room, and Rooms at the Magnolia).

Take health-promoting teas such as the antioxidant-boosting Beau-Tea-Ful Skincare (white and green leaves, rooibos, marigold, lemon balm, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender) or the sinus-relieving allergy and hay fever defense (take the green tea , Peppermint, nettle, holy basil, rooibos and eucalyptus three weeks before allergy season to prepare your immune system). Or try the 8 Immortals, a special reserve oolong with floral notes that is said to help longevity.

Rogers’ chocolates

While you can buy Rogers’ chocolates across Canada, Charles “Candy” Rogers started his business in Victoria in 1885. His first confection, Victoria Cream, started his career as the country’s first chocolatier.

Visit the original store on Government Street, which appears frozen in time. Staff in starched white shirts and black ties are ready to satisfy your cravings from the wooden shelves and glass cabinets full of chocolates. The must-buy candy is Rogers’ Victoria Cream, wrapped in waxy pink gingham paper. Wrapped in dark chocolate, the slices are made from fresh cream and fruit and do not contain any additives. Our favorite was the not-too-sweet, nut-strewn hazelnut.

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