Vancouver Island Dining
We work hard for the money, so hard for it honey! When we go out to eat we have expectations like most diners do. It doesn’t matter if we grab a hot dog or sit down at a Chef’s Table Event, we want to enjoy our meal and get our monies worth. Cafes, restaurants, food trucks and farmer’s markets all seem to be in healthy competition these days and that’s a good thing.
Foodies flock to Vancouver Island for culinary events, wine tastings and festivals knowing that the food is fresh, local, sustainable and unique to the coast. We’ve put together some of our favorites over the past year and it sure wasn’t easy. There are scores of fantastic places to eat, even in the most unlikely of places…
Our Favorite Vancouver Island Eateries of 2014
Ukee Dogs Eatery
There’s a mural on the side of Ukee Dogs in Ucluelet that proclaims, “I love my Wiener”. Well, we do too! This is not your average ball park frank! Owner Zane set out to offer his community a fun place to have a bite and the menu certainly shows that they are passionate about reinventing the lowly dog into a spectacular DOG! Mission accomplished!
The energy here is high and you never know what will show up on the daily specialty board. There’s a good selection of food, baking and beverages making it a great stop for the family. Need to take it with you, no problem, just let them know!
The Atlas Cafe delivers on every level which is good to know because some restaurants are falling short these days. I have friends up island who drive in from Campbell River and others from Parksville because of the food, the desserts and the staff. My spies also commented on the wine and spirits selection which features a number of quality BC wines.
Ingredients sourced from the area allow the Chefs and their team to create fantastic dishes that are delivered to your table looking as great as it tastes! The food and service will keep you coming back time and time again.
Avenue Bistro in Comox is owned by the same dream team Trent and Sandra and offers the same divine eating experience
Little Bavaria Restaurant
TripAdvisor says Little Bavaria is the #1 Restaurant in Port Alberni.
If you are looking for a break from the same old, same old, then be sure to make a reservation and stop in. Schnitzel, spaetzle, red cabbage, liver and onions and Hungarian Goulash makes the smells in this place unbelievable.
The staff’s fantastic and are super helpful in explaining the menu choices and pointing out the Gluten Free options that are available for those with sensitivities.
So, here you’re sure that your money is well spent and your meal will be a refreshing change from the same old, same old. Reservations recommended.
Pioneer House Restaurant
You'll find this restaurant just south of Duncan. Drop in anytime for breakfast until 4pm, lunch, dinner or enjoy a drink at the historical bar.
This is a busy place and it’s not uncommon to see a line up… it ‘s worth waiting for!
The beautiful log building is a great back drop for a homemade meal. The owners and chefs embrace the philosophy that great food starts with great ingredients. They use locally sourced, sustainably farmed ingredients to create fantastic food. Dietary problems are not a problem here as Pioneer House is celiac, vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Rock Cod Cafe
One of our favorite seaside towns is Cowichan Bay and almost every time we visit there we have a meal at the Rock Cod Café. As a creature of habit I ordered the fish and chips while my friend ordered mussels and clams and a salad from the appetizer menu.
Every time we have visited Rock Cod the food has been consistently better than most. In addition to preparing excellent seafood the Rock Cod Café supports community charities and community events.
Amuse on the Vineyard
Now going into it’s 9th successful year in the Cowichan Valley, Amusé continues it’s dedication to ingredient driven cuisine with onsite culinary gardens, relaxed lunches, a family welcoming Sunday brunch and the ever changing, palette intriguing dinners presented by Chef Bradford and team.
The beautiful herb garden patio and glass enclosed pavilion dining room overlooking the vines will be the backdrop for many great events such as dinner theater, long table dinner in the vineyard, a Friday evening patio oyster bar, and wine release parties. Amusé is also welcoming weddings and large events.
Barbs Fish and Chips
Barb’s Place Seafood Restaurant opened in 1984 and has continued to grow and expand ever since. Word of mouth and positive community support have helped make them a landmark in Victoria, being voted #1 ‘Best Fish and Chips’ for the past 30 years.
They pride themselves for serving quality, freshly made food. All burgers, chowder, dips, dressings, carrot cakes and famous chunk cookies are made in their prep kitchen and brought daily to the restaurant.
Open from March through October it’s worth the trip to Fisherman’s Wharf not only for the food but to experience this vibrant community of houseboats, pickle boat ferries, float planes and of course the resident seals.
Ferris Oyster Bar
Ferris’ Oyster Bar is located in beautiful heritage building at 536 Yates Street, Victoria. The fascinating thing is there is not one but 3 restaurants to choose from.
The downstairs grill is a comfortable room for those who are looking for well priced quality food. Venturing upstairs you will find the Upstairs Oyster Bar that is an upscale version of the downstairs grill. To top it all off head upstairs and visit Perro Negro and immerse yourself in Spanish food and culture.
This place is typical of businesses that have a large and loyal following and as such you’ll probably have to wait in line but the wait is so worth it.
We have found that after a long night of fun and frivolity, we arrive at the Village Cafe for a life saving breakfast.
I had the the eggs Benny served on latkes instead of an English muffin. It was immensely satisfying especially to the intolerant among us.
After dining and feeling like joining the land of the living again, take the time to stroll along Willows Beach before entering the rest of your day.
Red Fish Blue Fish
The last time I visited my friend in Victoria she asked whether I had ever eaten lunch prepared in a cargo container! I was intrigued to say the least. Off we went walking along Wharf Street until heading down a wooden pier behind the old customs house. There it sat, a re-purposed cargo container with a line of people waiting to place their orders.
Clearly this is not your run of the mill seafood cafe. Not only can you purchase the common fish and chips but hand rolled seafood tacos, tuna, salmon, oyster, cod and shrimp sandwiches on a portuguese bun. If that isn't enough you can order salmon, tuna and oysters from the grill. Closed until February 2015
Haro's Restaurant and Bar
Not only does Haros enjoy one of the best views on the Island but use the freshest of Ocean Wise seafood, locally sourced dairy and produce, and the finest of meats to ensure a memorable dining experience.
There are daily specials throughout the week including a Bring Your Own Wine Night every Tuesday which they serve without a corkage fee! Try the daily specials as most come with a featured salad to die for!
If you're one of those that must ease into your Sunday, drop by for Haro's plated brunch between 11:30am - 2pm.