Victoria’s Inner Harbour
Victoria, British Columbia’s waterfront capital, is experiencing a boom in its culinary, beer and spirits scene. New restaurants, pubs and food tours are popping up across the city in 2023.
A fun fact is that Victoria has more restaurants per capita than any other city in Canada. Named after Queen Victoria, the city is one of the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. British settlement began in 1843, and throughout the city the Queen’s influence is everywhere you look. The city has also been crowned the “Brunch Capital of Canada”, as restaurants continue to flourish.
A celebration of farmers, chefs and the food they create takes place on August 5 at Food Day Canada.
Legislature – Jill Weinlein
Off the Eaten Track offers a three-hour walking tour with stops along the way to enjoy a progressive four-course dinner from some of Victoria’s best restaurants. It’s a great way to get to know the city while enjoying local farm-to-table cuisine.
Recently, the company launched a new Fine Dining Evening Tour this summer. Participants meet inside the historic Steamship Terminal building and begin walking and learning about the historic sights of the city. First stop is the trendy Bar 500 for a sparkling glass of BC wine and an amuse bouche.
Next, the food tour guide leads foodies along the inner harbor to the award-winning The Courtney Room inside the Magnolia Hotel. Chef Brian Tesolin presents an array of appetizers, using forage and seasonal farm-grown ingredients. This movable dinner includes two appetizers, a main course and dessert. Optional wine pairings are an additional charge.
Other progressive food tours by Off The Eaten Track include a Modern Chinatown Food and History Tour, Eat Like a Canadian and a Downtown Food and City Tour. Private tours can also be arranged.
Trample Around Victoria – Jill Weinlein
The Pedaler in Victoria is a bike rental and bike tour company partnering with Off the Eaten Track for an “Eat, Drink and Pedal Tour”.
Guests will be provided with a helmet and provided with a bicycle or e-bike. During the tour, guests will discover some of Victoria’s trendiest neighbourhoods, while sampling delicious food and drink. Participants will visit Victoria’s beloved Root Cellar grocery stores and sample their famous green sauce, voted one of the best things to eat in the city. It’s so good that they serve over 25,000 pods of it each year. This special sauce is served with home-roasted chicken or seasonal vegetables.
Next pedal to BoomTown to try their iconic burritos. Sit outside on one of the largest patios in Victoria, to enjoy the flavors of Mexican cuisine while watching people go by. Afterwards, riders will explore historic Fernwood for a slice of pizza at Fernwood Pizza and a taste of the homemade smoked sriracha dip.
Back on the bikes, participants will pedal to beautiful Fairfield for a special cookie from the charming Deer & Dough Bakery, before cycling along the stunning boardwalk for a stop for coffee or locally made soda with in-house hand-roasted peanuts at For Good Measure.
The Pedaler also offers a new evening experience for cruise passengers looking to explore Victoria’s food scene during their stop ashore. There’s also a Hoppy Hour Tour for those who like to pedal, stopping at a local brewery and park for refreshments and views. The Castles, Hoods & Legends tours to iconic landmarks. Visit the narrowest street in North America and the tallest free-standing totem pole along the way.
Fairmont Empress Hotel – Jill Weinlein
Every visitor to Victoria BC should stay or stop at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel for an elegant afternoon tea ceremony or their new Sunset Sips. Guests can choose from 21 elegant loose leaf teas served in royal china, a gift from Her Majesty in 1939. The tallest tower hosts savory and light tea sandwiches, fresh fruit and pastries during the afternoon celebration. This has been a tradition at the hotel for more than 115 years.
In the evening, clear glass teapots pour tea-infused cocktails into glass teacups, while guests enjoy tasty tapas and sweets in a three-story tower during Sunset Sips.
Dinner at Q at Empress
Victoria has recently welcomed several new chefs and restaurants in 2023, including Q at the Empress. Oozing opulence with rich cherry wood ceilings and spectacularly detailed moldings that honor the past, Q at the Empress is a nod to Queen Victoria, with a playful modern twist on royalty.
Located in the most storied building in Victoria, it is a must-visit culinary experience for Pacific Northwest cuisine. Chefs provide regional ingredients in each dish based on their partnership with local farmers and artisans. They also use their own herb, vegetable and honey bee garden to ensure a fresh and unique meal.
Eat Out in Victoria – Jill Weinlein
Other restaurants worth checking out include Fathom at the Hotel Grand Pacific which offers a seafood menu. New chef Peter Kim draws inspiration from the rugged west coast to cook food from sea to table.
Touted as one of the most elegant fine dining experiences in Victoria, Ugly Duckling is housed in one of Chinatown’s beautiful heritage buildings. Gathering ingredients from Vancouver Island to make everything by hand.
The new tapas and wine bar Bray’s offers a unique dining experience with seasonal small plates paired with local and internationally renowned wines.
Vancouver Canucks and TopTable Group owners opened the new Marilena Cafe & Raw Bar on June 28, 2023. Guests can choose from nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls from the raw bar led by Chef Clark Park.
Those looking for gluten-free options, The Art of Slow Food bakery and cafe uses local organic ingredients and traditional gluten-free cooking methods.
Visit Tourism Victoria for helpful suggestions on where to stay, eat and explore.