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Culinary Adventures in Victoria, BC: A Guide to Places to Eat Downtown

The charming capital city of Victoria in British Columbia has a thriving culinary scene with a range of flavours and styles to fit every foodie's budget. This guide will introduce you to just a small sample of places to eat in Victoria -- all within walking distance in the downtown area. Whether you are looking for a place to eat a quick snack or a full culinary experience, you will find it here in Victoria BC

A nighttime shot of the CP style Empress Hotel reflectted in the Harbour
The Empress Hotel, Victoria Harbour

Consider joining one of the food tours offered by Off the Eaten Track Food Tours that take visitors on a walking tour and introduce some of the local gems. I chose the Downtown Food and City Tour and was very impressed with my young guide, Jo.


A sig in a window advertisig Food Tours by Off The Eaten Track

My timing didn't work, but Victoria also hosts the Dine Around & Stay in Town event, which runs at the end of January and into February, where local establishments offer special meals and dining deals to showcase the very best Victoria has to offer.


 

Table of Contents

Union Pacific

2% Jazz

Hey Happy

Chocolate Favoris

Chocolat & Co

Beaver Tails

La Roux Patisserie

Dutch Bakery & Diner

Crust Bakery

Bon Macaron

Artisan Wines

Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub

L'Apéro Wine & Cheese Bistro

Don Mee

J&J Wanton Noodle House

Lum's Chinese Restaurant

The Empress Hotel

Pendray Inn

Steamship Bar & Grill

Glo

Bodega


 

The Victoria BC Foodie Scene: Places to Eat, Drink, and Indulge

Victoria's food scene pulls from the rich historical and cultural influences that promote a commitment to local, sustainable, and globally inspired cuisine. The innovative West Coast dishes and authentic traditional ethnic cuisine with a focus on farm-to-table practices and featuring local seafood results in menus that showcase excellence.

The Coffee Scene

The city's coffee scene is abundant. You'll find the usual assortment of brand-name coffee houses but there are also many small roasters and independent coffee houses. Pass by Starbucks and head to one of the local shops.


Union Pacific (537 Herald St) takes pride in offering a range of ethically sourced beans and blends for every taste. The cozy ambiance and friendly baristas make the Union Pacific a favourite for local coffee aficionados

A cup of coffee with the foam creating a flower design. A purple flower is in a vase behind the cup

2% Jazz (1701 Douglas St): One of my personal favourites (and no, it's not just the name!) is this coffee shop with a laid-back atmosphere paired with exceptional brews. With a menu featuring both classic and creative concoctions, 2% Jazz is a great place to start your day.


Hey Happy (560 Johnson St): The receptionist at my hotel recommended Hey Happy in Market Square as the place for delicious smooth coffee and a staff of knowledgeable baristas. I had totally forgotten that recommendation when I arrived in Market Square but soon found myself following the enticing scent of espresso. The smell alone revived me but the first sip confirmed I had found my new coffee home in the downtown area.


Cheap Eats

In Victoria, locals and visitors will find a delightful range of "cheap eats" that cater to every palate without compromising on flavour or quality. These affordable gems will make your taste buds dance.


Food Trucks

The days of food trucks with a limited menu of ice cream, hot dogs, and fries are long over as food entrepreneurs design their mobile restaurants to create unique, high-quality, and tasty food quickly at reasonable prices. The challenge can be finding them, as they tend to move around the city. A group of food trucks are often parked in the courtyard behind the Royal BC Museum. Download the Street Food App to keep up to date on the daily movements of the food trucks operating in the Victoria area.

two food trucks in a courtyard with picnic benches in front.
Food Trucks in the Royal BC Museum courtyard

Deadbeetz Burgers - Beetrice Truck  Deadbeetz started as a food truck but now has a sticks and bricks location plus 2 food trucks. The menu features gourmet burgers and beet-inspired dishes. Although I am not a vegetarian, I will go out of my way for their cashew-chickpea vegetarian burger with a side of "full' chips (potatoes, beets, and yams with chipotle mayonnaise). It is the tastiest veggie burger I've ever had. Grilled to the Mac: I do love anything that includes pasta and cheese so I was intrigued by their grilled cheese sandwich with mac and cheese but was distracted by Mac Lorraine with bacon and caramelized onions which was absolutely delicious! Those who enjoy something a little spicier will enjoy the Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

L’Authentique Poutine Burgers No, this is not a burger made of poutine but instead features the flavours of Quebec with Montreal smoked beef and an assortment of poutine toppings. For those unfamiliar, poutine is chips/french fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. The Classic Poutine is a great introduction but for those looking to try something new, the Montreal Poutine with Montreal smoked beef had the couple at the next picnic bench swooning.

Cafes and Diners

Jam Café (542 Herald St) is a cozy all-day breakfast and lunch place in the historic Old Town known for generous portions and creative enhancements to classic menu items.

Shine Café (1324 Blanshard St/1548 Fort Street): The place for brunch in the heart of Victoria. With more than 10 side dishes, it is easy to customize your meal exactly the way you want.

Smile Chicken (1001 Douglas St): This tiny hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant is a fairly recent addition to Victoria's food scene that was included in the Off The Eaten Track tour. They are known for rotisserie chicken and corn dogs. On the tour, we had the Korean Corn Dog -- a hot dog coated in a sugared wheat dough with honey mustard sauce and ketchup. Not my kind of food but clearly popular with the patrons

A dough wrapped hot dog on a stick in a plastic basket. The dough is sugared and the entire thing is drizzled with honey mustard and ketchup
Korean Corn Dog by Smile Chicken

Serena's Pizzaria & Hoagies (766 Fort Street): Another newcomer introduced on the food tour, Serena's Pizza & Hoagies has a central open kitchen where the Chicago-inspired food is freshly prepared. The pizzas are deep dish and the hoagies are huge! We had a half-slice of pepperoni pizza. Next time, I will go hungry and order the Philly Cheesesteak.


aa large 5 panel suspended menu boaard listing pizzas aand hoagies
Serena's Menu

Tacofino Taco Bar (760 Pandora Street): Tacofino has been a favourite for Vancouver Islanders since its beginnings as a food truck in Tofino, which is where I tasted my first Tacofino taco. Their restaurant location is bright and modern. The fare is simple (tacos, burritos, gringos, and nachos) but the flavour combinations will make your tastebuds sing with their west coast spin on Mexican favourites. The prices are very reasonable. I like that when my appetite is small, I can buy a single taco or burrito but when I'm hungry I can buy several different types. Over the years, I believe I have tried everything on the menu, and I recommend them all.

La Taquisa (1017 Blanshard St): On the food tour, we stopped to sample the chicken mole taco at this family-owned restaurant with street food cart origins. The authentic Mexican dishes are prepared by Chef Scott using recipes gathered by his wife, Sindy from her family in Guadalajara. The chocolate in the mole was subtle and the spice level complimented without being overwhelming. The tastes transported me back to Mexico.

an open taco on a plate
La Taquisa chicken mole taco

Treats and Sweets

I don't have a sweet tooth and rarely even think about treats (chocolate doesn't count!) when I'm home but when I travel I suddenly require large infusions of sweets. There are plenty of opportunities in Victoria with a tempting array of treats and sweets that promise indulgence without blowing your budget... however, keeping to a diet will be challenging!


Chocolat & Co (703 Fort St): This shop features the products of several gourmet chocolatiers and is another stop on the downtown food tour. It is a feast for the senses. The glass cases display rows of tempting treats. Shelves are full of colourful and enticing boxed delights. The tour included a cup of drinking chocolate, made of melted Uncouth Chocolate mixed with hot milk, a particular treat on the chilly January day. The treat was a truffle chocolate made by Terrible Truffles.


A cup, a business card for Terrible Truffles, and a chocolate truffle dusted with almonds

Beaver Tails (602 Broughton St): Beaver Tails are hand-stretched pieces of dough that are deep-fried with a golden brown, crispy exterior. The result is a flat, elongated pastry that resembles the tail of a beaver. The surface is then generously coated with various toppings, offering a range of flavour options. Popular choices include classic cinnamon sugar, chocolate hazelnut spread, maple butter (my personal favourite), and many more.

La Roux Patisserie (519 Fisgard St): Settling into a chair here will whisk you away to a café in Paris with its decor and elegant French-inspired pastries and cakes. Be sure to browse the local artisan products they offer for sale.

Dutch Bakery & Diner (718 Fort St): A local institution since 1955 the family-owned Dutch Bakery & Diner has been serving up delectable baked goods with timeless appeal. The diner serves breakfast and lunch, while the bakery has a tempting range of traditional treats. You can't miss its distinctive traditional Dutch building on Fort Street.

A display case showing blue and white Blue Cheese and Pear, white Tuffle and Pink Salt macarons
Savoury macarons

Bon Macaron  Patisserie (1012 Broad St): Specializing in enticing delicate and flavourful macarons, Bon Macaron shows off the flavours and artistry of these iconic French pastries. They have a range of both sweet and savoury macarons in a rainbow of flavours and colours. Unfortunately, due to my allergy to eggs, I was unable to sample but my guide eagerly accepted my share and the other person on the tour was very complimentary.

Craft Wine, Beer and Spirits

BC wines, spirits and craft beers are celebrated all over BC. Victoria is no exception, with many brew pubs, wine merchants, and tasting experiences. These are my favourites but check out Victoria Tourism's website to discover more.


Artisan Wines (644 Broughton St): With a curated selection of BC wines that showcase the diversity of BC wines from the Okanagan region, visitors will receive a tasting of several wines and an education on the terroir unique to the province.


In a tasting room, a man showing a bottle of wine with a map of the Okanagan annd two glasses of wine in foreground
Okanagan Wine Tasting

Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub (308 Catherine St): The perfect way to spend a summer afternoon is tasting some craft beers or ciders at a picnic table outside this waterfront brew pub while trying to decide what you want to order next. The perfect way to spend a winter afternoon simply move indoors. Known equally for their brews and outstanding food, visitors can even stay in one of their guesthouses for a full experience.


A man behind a counter with aa disply of cheese to the left and a ack of winne bottle behind
L'Apéro

L'Apéro Wine & Cheese Bistro (1028 Blanchard St): This was my favourite stop on the food tour blending my love of wine and cheese perfectly. This intimate establishment will create the perfect experience for you that could include grazing boards, raclette, fondue, or full meals complimented perfectly with wine. I think this is an ideal spot for hanging out with friends or having a special night. Don't miss their Fondue Fridays.

Experience Authenticity in Chinatown

Victoria is home to North America's second-oldest Chinatown (after San Francisco). Along the streets and narrow alleys are some establishments that have become time-tested favourites in the local Chinese food scene.


Don Mee (538 Fisgard St): Established in 1923, Don Mee is an institution in Victoria's Chinatown. The menu features both Cantonese and Szechuan dishes. Enjoy dim sum where servers wheel carts stacked with small servings of a wide variety of Cantonese snacks, intended for sharing. Diners choose which dishes they want. Servers will keep track of the dishes chosen for billing.

street view of the Don Mee restaurant sign in Chinatown

J&J Wanton Noodle House (1012 Fort St): It is not unusual to see lineups to get into this popular restaurant, so reserving ahead is recommended. Staff are very accommodating to dietary restrictions with many vegetarian and gluten-free dishes available. As with most Chinese restaurants, dishes are meant to be shared so it's always best to go with a larger group to take full advantage of ordering multiple dishes.

Afternoon Tea

Victoria's British roots are on display with the plethora of choices available for those looking to experience a traditional Afternoon High Tea or a more modern experience with a West Coast twist. Afternoon Tea services may be in grand Victorian-style tea rooms, on a rooftop apiary, in loose-leaf shops, gardens, and cafés. A typical tea service will include a pot of tea chosen from an extensive menu of green, white, and black teas from all over the world and a 3-tier cake tray with bite-sized sandwiches, tarts, and sweets


The Empress Hotel: The most impressive and expensive tea service is catered by the Empress Hotel in their sophisticated Tea Lobby. Exquisite teas and pastries in the elegant surroundings make this a grand experience. You'll be paying a very large fee, so if you choose the Empress, live it up and truly immerse yourself in the experience. Be aware that there is a dress code and you are encouraged to dress for the occasion.

Teapot, cup in traditional English paattern on a table set in front of a garden. To the left is aa 3 tier cake stand filled with tea treats
Winter Tea at the Pendray Inn

Pendray Inn and Teahouse (309 Belleville St): Much less expensive but still retaining Victorian charm is the Afternoon Tea at the Pendray Inn and Teahouse. Set in a historic mansion, the tea room overlooks the gardens which are a delight throughout the summer months. This was my choice for my latest getaway where I had the Winter Tea service. The server was attentive and amusing as he charmed all his guests. I was touched to receive a complimentary slice of a chocolate mousse cake to mark my birthday.



For Dinner

Diversity and the fusion of global and local flavours are the pride of Victoria's foodie scene. Visitors looking for a better but not extravagant meal have many choices in ambiance, style, energy, and tastes.


Steamship Grill and Bar (470 Belleville St): Located in the Beaux Art style Steamship Terminal Building this lively restaurant features panoramic views of the harbour and boasts of the best summer patio in Victoria, The menu features fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients. I devoured their fish tacos which were generously filled with fresh cod.

Thee exterior of a Beaux-Arts style building with benches in front.
The Steamship Terminal Building

Glo Restaurant and Lounge (2940 Jutland Road):  A little further away is the beautiful Glo restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water. With a constantly evolving menu focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients, Glo showcases the best local produce while including flavour influences from around the world. As delicious as the food is, the presentation is even more stunning.

Bodega (1210 Broad St): For a taste of Spain in Canada's most western city, Bodega's menu includes small tapas-style plates, perfect for sharing. There is no reservation system so be prepared to wait during peak times.

Treat Yourself

For those seeking the best of the best, again there are many choices, however, all are beyond my solo-trveller-on-a-cheap getaway budget. I'm told by locals that

Cafe Brio (944 Fort St), the Q at the Empress (721 Government St), and the Aura Waterfront Restaurant (680 Montreal St) should be at the top of a foodie traveller's list.


a sleek grey bar with modern arty lighting in a dark wood paneled bar..
Q at the Empress. Image credit: Fairmont Empresss

Final Thoughts

Visitors to Victoria are certain to find a culinary experience to suit both taste and budget. From cozy coffee shops to elegant tea rooms, and humble food trucks to dim sum in Chinatown, the diverse establishments and food experiences ensure that everyone will enjoy the best of the West Coast flavours gently influenced by the ethnic communities and cuisines that have been shaped by the history and population. Relish the taste journey that captures the essence of this beautiful city and the culinary scene it hosts.


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13 Comments


Guest
Mar 16

Spotted many dishes and treats of interest and I'm impressed. Before diving into the post I was a bit concerned to maybe hear left right and centre front about fish and "fresh" seafood dishes as so many restaurants promote fish and seafood these days with little variety in other meat or vegetarian options. You made a strong entrance with the coffee scene, the Korean corn dog is a treat which is slowly coming over to Europe, too and please sign me up for a Beavertail.


Carolin | <a href="https://solotravelstory.com/">Solo Travel Story</a>

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Replying to

While seafood is widely promoted and is the focus of many local dishes, the vegan/vegetarian options are plentiful. You'll never go wrong with a beaver tail!

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Guest
Mar 05

An excellent article with something for all tastes and wallets!

For those who enjoy a good food tour, here's a lot of information for when you visit Victoria BC. The photographs illustrate the quality on offer and whet your appetite for an immersive experience of the city's culinary scene.

Angela | Blonde Around The World Travel -

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What a great guide to Victoria which always has lots of great food options. I must try Deadbeetz as I'm always on the hunt for a good veggie burger. So many places stick to Beyond Meat which is so boring. Bon Macaron is always a hit, I often visit their Granville Island location. And I can confirm Q at the Empress is really good. Their breakfast especially. I once had a banana bread French toast there that I still dream about. The cocktails are really nice for a bit of a holiday splurge

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Oh my! I don't know how I would choose. I love macarons, but blue cheese and pear sounds a bit interesting. I like to end my trips on a fancy dinner to revel in the awesomeness of the trip so Q at the Empress looks perfect!!

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What a yummy post! It really reflects the diversity of the foodie offerings in Victoria. I loved that you have covered so many options for eating out, from the cheap eats to decadent dining. It's great that so many establishments offer fresh local produce as well. Off the Eaten Track definitely sounds like something we would love to do. We'd also be very keen to try local craft beer and wine.

Mitch and Colin from verytastyworld.com

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Here in BC we have a strong culinary scene based upon local resources. The craft beverage scene is exploding with new options. You are sure to find the brews to suit your tastes!

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