Eat

“Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: ‘Is it good? Does it give pleasure?'”
Anthony Bourdain

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
Orson Welles

 We are not food moralists, we are food lovers. On this site you will not see kudos given to establishments that promote their use of local organic gluten free vegan low fat chakra healing ingredients if they don’t combine them into delicious, sustaining platters of lip-smacking, belly rubbing goodness. This isn’t just eating we’re talking about, it’s eating out. An event that should not only be a celebration of our good fortune in having someone else cook for us today, but that we get to experience the knowledge, creativity and passion of a fellow food lover. So relax, save your fear and loathing for the grocery store aisle, for Tonight We eat Like Kings! (If you want to read Monty’s slightly more pointed musings on the new food “morality” check out “Dr. Glutenlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love All Food“.)

These days the majority of establishments have menus that cover the width and breadth of the food universe, not only within the menu, but often within each dish (“Try our Teriyaki Burger topped with a Tamarind Curry Velouté and a side of Thai Basil Pulled Pork Poutine”). The categories of our Eat section are therefore arranged more according to the nature of the experience you are seeking rather than the specific dishes you might choose upon arriving. We do have a “Globetrotter” category for restaurants that specialize in the cuisine of a particular culture or region. You’ll also find that some establishments may be included in more than one category, for example Burgers & Booths, Breakfast of Champions and Cheap Eats if they make the grade in all these areas. To find what you’re looking for see our Quick Links and Category descriptions below, use the general Search Box at the top right, or better yet try out Super Search Engine for a straight path to the food you crave. Now let’s EAT!

QUICK LINKS

View All Eat Posts

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View Cheap Eat Posts

CATEGORIES

Bountiful Bistros – We think of Bistros as being a bit like high end pubs with a tendency to feature wine more than beer and with a little more sophisticated menu. Bistros also tend to have a quieter, more romantic vibe and should not have the ever-present TV monitors adorning the walls to distract you from your dining companions.

Breakfast of Champions – Are you a sausage swallowing, bacon biting, hash hoovering, pancake pounding, syrup snorting, waffle wolfer?  Or maybe you’re looking for a little more refined brunch fare,  perhaps a smoked salmon eggs benedict with a glass of Mimosa? You’ll probably find what you’re  looking for in our Breakfast of Champions listings. (Bonus points are given for those serving breakfast all day.)

Burgers & Booths – Diner style “North American” food served in a casual atmosphere. The burgers and fries have to be great, and these days you’ll probably find wings and poutine on the menu. Bonus points for brightly coloured leather booths, jukeboxes and walls covered in “stuff”. Most often these spots are family friendly and have diversified their menus beyond standard diner fare (though in most cases you’d be wise not venture too far beyond the burgers and fries).

Counter Culture – Step right up and make your needs known at these counter style eateries. If quick service and perhaps a 3D perusal of your food options appeals to you this may be what your looking for. If you have horrible emotional scars associated with food served on plastic trays, don’t worry, we promise the food will be better than your high school cafeteria (though we’d kind of like to see a restaurant where food fights broke out on occasion).

Crowd Pleasers – These eateries have wide ranging family-oriented menus, covering the bases from diner food to whatever is trendy these days. Many of the establishments found in our Crowd Pleasers category are “chain restaurants” but don’t worry, we haven’t been paid off by a certain red headed jester with size 32 loafers, we just feel that there are some chain restaurants that deserve a closer look. Of course these aren’t multinational mega-corporations we’re talking about, they typically started with local BC restaurateurs who just kept going and going. As far as we’re concerned good is good, so we’re not going to turn up our noses just because they can produce food we want to eat on a consistent basis in multiple locations.

Date Night – Whether it’s your first date or your 50th wedding anniversary, there are certain things that make for a great romantic atmosphere.

  • Low Light – sorry, but that person across the table from you really does look better by candlelight (and by the way so do you).
  • Properly Spaced Tables – You want to feel like you have a little privacy – when you can hear the guy at the next table struggling to tell his wife he may have given her a venereal disease, it kind of kills the mood.
  • Staff Who Know When to Interrupt and When to Stay Away – A good server will know that if you are down on one knee slipping a ring onto your teary-eyed companion’s waiting hand that this clearly is NOT right the time to inform you that your credit card has been rejected and subsequently chopped into tiny pieces by the manager.
  • The Right Kind of Menu – The menu should minimize choices that cause excessive bad breath, greens that stick in your teeth, overly diuretic drinks, and especially foods that cause excessive flatulence approximately 1 hour after consumption.
  • Absolutely NO TV’s – No matter how hard we try to ignore them these mood-killing attention vampires always manage to grab our eyeballs and virtually suck them out of our heads. And when your date catches you more engrossed by the Lithuanian amateur league lawn bowling highlights than your discussion of postfeminism’s reliance on competitive individualism, the only after dinner treat you’ll be experiencing is a frozen banana with crushed berries, not the peaches and cream you had your heart so firmly set on.

Divine Deli’s & Bakeries – Victoria has it’s share of delectable delicatessens filled with beautiful meats, cheese, breads and condiments from around the world. Many of them also turn their pantry of wonderful ingredients into quick lunches of sandwiches, soups and salads making for some of the city’s finest quick lunch spots. We also have beautiful bakeries that may also feature lunch fare like a lovely ham and cheese croissant, a hearty soup, or a healthful veggie sandwich on Estonian rye…oh who am I kidding…just give me a box of those creampuffs and a fork! Despite having nourished and sustained mankind for nearly 10,000 years wheat has recently found itself on the wrong side of the food gestapo. With the paranoia around gluten reaching proportions usually reserved for a black cats walking on shattered mirrors under ladders, our poor beloved bakers haven’t had it easy (I spoke with one recently who had a client ask if they could prepare a “sugar free, gluten free, dairy free cake” for their child’s birthday…geez, happy birthday kid!). We continue to have some wonderful bakeries, you just need to look a little harder to find them and we are here to help. (Hang in there bakers…this too shall pass!)

Elegant Eateries– These restaurants feature spaces as delectable as any dish of haute cuisine. Refined menus, elegant wait staff and more cutlery than you know what to do with are all hallmarks of these exquisite establishments. The costs of operating a space of this caliber is often reflected in the prices. Where this is the case we’ll let you know when the quality of the food is worthy of a wallet draining, or if you’d be better off nursing an appy and drink while feasting on the ambience.

Food with a View – Victoria has more than its fair share of gorgeous vistas but surprisingly few restaurants have managed to land a spot that takes full advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds us. Choose this category to find some of Victoria’s best views from a diner’s perspective. We’ll also let you know if we think the owners believe the enticement of the view means the food doesn’t have to be good, in which case you can fill up first at one of our Cheap Eats locales then head down for the skimpiest meal on the menu (“Waiter, another basket of complimentary bread and a large jug of tap water, if you’d be so kind”.)

Globetrotter – We know Victoria can seem pretty WASPy when strolling her boulevards but we are actually home to numerous ethnic communities that, bless their hearts, share their wonderful cuisine with us through a multitude of eateries, deli’s and markets. It seems that our location on the Pacific Coast has endowed us with 10 Asian restaurants for every European eatery so Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Filipino cuisine are definitely on the menu. We are also eternally grateful that the great people of the South (especially Mexico and Central America) have finally brought us their fabulously fresh and flavourful fair after years of having only Taco Time or the 7-11 microwave to teach us the ways of the chili and tortilla. To search for eats from a specific region make a selection from the “Food Specialties/Foreign Cuisine” drop down box in the Super Search Engine on the right. Then click “Run Super Search”. One last thing – we’re not going to engage in debates about what constitutes “authentic” ethnic cuisine. If an eatery serves good food inspired by a particular region’s traditional flavours or methods of cooking we’re happy to include them here.

Let’s Do Lunch – A good lunch spot should have reasonable prices, quick service, and sensibly sized portions available on the menu. Victoria has plenty of restaurants that fit into this category, especially downtown. There’s really no need to resort to a bland heap of depressingly lifeless ingredients on a stale bun when you can choose from a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and a host of other savory sensations served up quick, fresh and at price’s only a little higher than those “meal deals” the big chains offer.

Mobile Munchies – Food carts have finally rolled into Victoria and boy are we glad to see them. We’ll tell you about some of our favourites and assist you in tracking down this movable manna.

Perfect Patios – We’ve always wondered why Victoria doesn’t have more perfect patios. Resplendent and surrounded by water, with mild weather half the year and multitudes of locals and visitors looking to enjoy a drink under the sun or find a spot for alfresco dining. We’ve picked some of our favourite patios where the view (or people watching) is terrific and the food and drink options are decent at a minimum. Please note that on any warm sunny day these spots will typically be packed, so consider a back-up plan or be prepared for a wait in case you hit a peak time.

Pub Crawl – While drink may be the main draw to many of these terrific taverns you may also find some fine grub if you know where to look. We’re not really fans of the ghastly “gastropub” trend. In fact we’ve watched some of our favourite drink’n’dinner spots ruined by turning away from providing well executed burgers, fries, and wings, or delicious traditional pot pies, fish’n’chips and stews, only to become pathetic purveyors of “fusion foods” besplattered with a variety of foams, mousses and inedible garnishes. C’mon guys, it’s only showing off if you actually know what you’re doing. Let’s keep our pub food hearty and honest and leave the fancy footwork to the few fine dining establishments that can pull it off.

TAGS

A few of our EAT tags that may help you find what you’re looking for…

Meals Served:

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Happy Appy Hour, Dinner, Desserts & Treats, Late Night Grub, Open 24 Hours (Please note that all restaurants may not be open for the meals shown on everyday of the week. For example some only serve brunch on weekends, only have happy hours Monday-Friday, or have seasonal openings. It is always best to check the establishments web page for hours before heading there).

Special Eats:

Vegetarian – though not necessarily Vaguean, Glutton Free, Nutless, or Dairy Diminished.

I Feel Good! – Had one too many meals lately consisting of a 2 pound burger, a side of fettuccine Alfredo pulled pork poutine and a double deep fried Mars bar for dessert? Time for something a little lighter, dare we say healthier? Why not check out our Feel Good restaurant choices. Now keep in mind that these establishments do not serve punishment food – every bitter, sandy bite designed to make you repent your filthy butter lust. The genius to a great Feel Good eatery is to make the food still taste fantastic, maybe even decadent, without the buckets of animal fat, massive carbohydrates and heaping portions typical of our Hangover Havens selections.

It Came from Beneath the Sea – Being a coastal community and the home to many commercial fishers you will find seafood (especially salmon) on most local menus, but in this category we’ll focus on restaurants that either specialize in seafood or have some excellent examples on their menus. Definite bonus points given for locales where you can actually see the sea from your seat.

Hangover Havens – Waking up from a wild night of god knows what to find an ache in your head and an emptiness in your belly that can only be salved by a heaping plate of starch cooked in animal fat?…try our Hangover Havens. You’ll EAT BIG in these restaurants. You know, the kind of heaping helpings served on giant plates that make you feel like you’ve stumbled onto the set of a Hollywood movie where a crazy professor’s shrink ray has left you pint sized and running from murderous grasshoppers. Since you’re already suffering from a hangover we want to make sure you don’t end up in a hospital bed, clutching your belly and reciting Hamlet (“cut off even in the blossoms of my sin”), so we’ll point you to eateries that serve hearty portions of good food. We can’t save you from suffering the consequences of your sins but at least we might help lessen the misery.

Noteworthy:

Special Occasions – These fine dining restaurants are the perfect place to celebrate important family occasions; engagement announcements, birthday gatherings, family reunions. We have also found their refined and somewhat restrained atmosphere to be particularly well suited for the breaking of delicate news; divorce announcements, murder confessions, or subtle redrawing of the family tree (“Son, you’re not ours. We stole you from the back of a ’58 Ford Fairlane outside of a county fair in Tennessee”). The atmosphere of these rooms tend to lessen the likelihood of the recipient screaming and throwing cutlery, and if this does turn out to be your last meal, hopefully it will have been a good one.

Good for Groups – These eateries are good at accommodating larger groups. Some may even be willing to pull together tables on the fly, but do yourself and them a favour and call ahead if your planning on showing up with more than 6 people in your party.

Take Your Time – These spots have the sort of vibe that makes you feel it’s okay to hang around and chat (or sit and contemplate the meaningless of existence) until you’re good and ready to move on. It’s always good form to order something now and again if you’re going to pass the hours (while you may be considering ending it all, they likely want to survive to see another day).

Senior Central – When’s the last time you did something nice for your Grandma? I mean didn’t she used to bake you cookies, read you stories and tell you all your parent’s dirty little secrets? What’s that?…your grandma beat you with a tire iron, repeatedly stole your stash, and is currently doing 20 to life in Sing-Sing? Well never mind, just go and find a kindly senior in the neighbourhood and take them to lunch. I’m sure they won’t mind you calling them “Gammy”. These venues know how to make those basking in the wonder of their “golden years” feel right at home. Menu’s with ingredients octogenarians will recognize, senior sized portions, a chef who really knows how to work with organ meats, and down to earth wait staff who’ll never try to impress you by giving tap water a fancy name (Stillwater – geez, give me a break).

The Young and the Restless – Whether it’s hipster hangouts adorned with deer heads and replete with board games and drinks served in Mason jars, or blackened industrial interiors lit by a billion pixels of social media addiction, redolent with Axe body spray and the gut churning monotone pulse of a computer generated mating soundtrack, these destinations will make the young feel at home and the old feel, well, old.