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Best Victoria Restaurants

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Despite its size, Victoria has a vibrant and diverse restaurant scene, with many great options no matter what your budget or culinary desires. For years, the restaurant community in Victoria has focused on fostering relationships between local farmers, fishers, producers and restaurants. This has allowed the local community of producers to flourish, so there are loads of fresh meats, seafoods, artisan cheeses, breads and produce to choose from. The result today is that many of the best places to eat in Victoria have menus full of fresh, locally sourced, often organic ingredients. Even some of the budget café-style restaurants source their meats and produce from local farmers. Like so many things in the city, many of the best Victoria restaurants are within walking distance of the Inner Harbour. In the summer months when the tourist season is in full swing, and especially when there are cruise ships in port, restaurants can get quite busy, so reservations are definitely recommended. People tend to dine fairly early in Victoria, with the busiest time around 7PM. You can sometimes squeeze in before the rush, but it will mean arriving before 5:30. The dining scene in Victoria is generally quite casual and relaxed. Dress smartly and you will be welcomed anywhere. 
Il Terrazzo Ristorante Clare Morrison

Il Terrazzo Ristorante

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Tucked away off Waddington alley near the bottom of lower Johnson Street, you’ll find the warmth and charm of one of Victoria’s best Italian restaurants. While the menu, which features the cuisine of Northern Italy, changes to reflect seasonal ingredients, there is always a selection of homemade pasta, fresh seafood and wood-oven roasted meats and pizza. The portions are quite generous, so be sure not to fill up on the warm bread and tapenade that come as an appetizer. Beyond the red brick interior of this heritage building, the lively restaurant continues into a covered courtyard with a number of fireplaces and more candlelit tables. The service is always gracious, attentive and knowledgeable, so if you need help with the enormous wine list that logs some 1,200 vintages, just ask.

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Il Terrazzo Ristorante  
Brasserie l’Ecole Clare Morrison

Brasserie l’Ecole

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Housed in a historic Chinatown building, once the site of a school for Victoria’s Chinese community, l’Ecole has built a reputation as one of Victoria’s best restaurants. Deep red walls adorned with French poster art, white linens and impeccable service in a laid-back atmosphere are the setting for chef/owner Sean Brennan’s little brasserie. He draws inspiration from the simplicity of French bistro-style cuisine, choosing seasonal and locally sourced ingredients to continually update his menu. For the daily selection of mussels, oysters and steak and frites, refer to one of the black chalkboards, and also be sure to check the board above the bar for sommelier/owner Marc Morrison’s selection of fine, predominantly French wines. L’Ecole doesn’t take reservations and, with only 12 tables in the narrow room, there are often waits. If you need a treat after waiting, indulge in some medjool dates stuffed with smoked almond and Roquefort. 

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Brasserie l’Ecole  

Camille's Restaurant

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Fine dining in Victoria doesn’t get much better than this. The setting is intimate, with candlelit rooms and soft blues and jazz playing in the background. The menu, created daily, is an innovative reflection of what’s available in the Pacific Northwest, offering fresh seafood, wild game and vegetarian options. Chef David Mincey (winner of EAT Magazine’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award for his support of the Island farm community) creates dishes that will tempt your palate, like spinach salad with gooey camembert hidden between delicate layers of phyllo, or a cranberry- and mustard-glazed breast of free-run chicken, complemented with a root vegetable and apple puree, and caramelized leek and feta turnover. For those who just can’t decide, a five-course tasting menu is available. Their wine list includes over 250 wines, complete with amusing and informative liner notes. A meal here is a memorable occasion.

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Camille's Restaurant  
The Superior Cafe Clare Morrison

The Superior Cafe

Neighborhood: James Bay Price: Expensive
Situated along a residential street in James Bay, The Superior Café is a unique restaurant with a somewhat quirky, artsy style. The tables and comfortable seating are arranged beneath the high ceiling to give everyone a good view of the small stage, where live, acoustic music (mostly local jazz musicians) is featured six nights a week. The interior space, tables included, is decorated in an eclectic style and often features the work of local artists. The Superior refers to chef Torin Egan as their “culinary artist,” whose creations include such indulgences as Liberace flatbread, a mouth-watering arrangement of figs, prosciutto, goat cheese and caramelized onions that will have you fighting with your dinner companions for the last piece. The menu consists entirely of small plates, each intended for sharing, and features lots of decadent ingredients brought together in unexpected ways. 

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The Superior Cafe  
Cafe Ceylon Clare Morrison

Cafe Ceylon

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
South Asian flavours are prepared using Ayurvedic principles to achieve balanced and harmonious taste in this casual fine-dining restaurant. Unfortunately, the institutional appearance of the building’s exterior does not reflect the artistry of the food created by head chef and Sri Lankan native Tamara Bailey. This place will provide not just a sensory indulgence of taste and smell, but a truly culinary experience. Dishes like the salmon mignon with Malaysian-style coconut pandan leaf curry sauce possess elements to satisfy almost every sense. If you have room for dessert do not miss the koulfi. The small tower of Indian-style pistachio ice cream, hand-made in house, is laced with delicate hints of cardamom that will linger on your taste buds. The service is attentive and personal, and if you’re unfamiliar with a dish, Tamara or husband Ken will often take the time to explain your choice and even its Ayurveda roots.

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Cafe Ceylon  
Ebizo Clare Morrison

Ebizo

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Ebizo chefs prepare simple, traditional sushi, bento boxes or rice and udon dishes, served in a casual setting downtown. Ebizo is certainly not the most lavish sushi in Victoria, nor does it have the most extensive menu, but every dish is carefully prepared with really fresh fish and top-quality ingredients. Make sure you have a reservation for both lunch and dinner, as the eating area is fairly small and they’re always busy, a true testament to the quality of their food. The tuna tataki is seared ever so slightly, topped with delicate daikon and Ebizo’s special sauce that will quite literally melt in your mouth. 
Fernwood Inn Clare Morrison

Fernwood Inn

Price: Moderate
This casual and welcoming neighbourhood pub, situated in the heart of Fernwood, attracts a diverse local crowd pretty much every night of the week. The Fernwood has a real commitment to community, serving a selection of Victoria microbrews, lots of local organic produce and wild seafood. Try their halibut and avocado burger for a real fresh fish treat or their old nippy cheese toast that goes down well with ale. It’s a great place for dinner and fun, and many people find they go for dinner and end up sticking around for drinks. You might even find yourself putting back an “oil slick,” known to turn boys into men and women into She-Ra. To top it off, it’s a kid-friendly venue and great for groups (call ahead if you are in a group, especially on weekends).

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Fernwood Inn  
Canoe Brewpub Marina & Restaurant Clare Morrison

Canoe Brewpub Marina & Restaurant

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Big beams and soaring windows characterize the heritage building that houses the brewpub and restaurant located on the banks of the Gorge waterway in the emerging Design District. In the summertime, Canoe has the biggest, and perhaps best, patio in Victoria, and with a westerly exposure it catches all the afternoon sun. Canoe fills up quickly with the after-work crowd and visitors alike. The building, which underwent a $6 million dollar restoration in 1996, houses a pub, a lounge and a dining room. From the pub, where they serve a range of small batch handcrafted brews, such as Red Canoe Lager and Siren’s Song Pale Ale, you can see the huge stainless steel vats brewing beer soon to be on tap. A daily special accompanies a west-coast-style menu featuring seasonal, wild and local fare, including everything from gourmet burgers and pizzas to pan-seared BC halibut or Quist Farms pork loin.

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Canoe Brewpub Marina & Restaurant  

Red Fish Blue Fish

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Red fish Blue Fish is a trendy, progressive little restaurant located right on the wharf in the Inner Harbour. On most summer days (even rainy ones), Red Fish will be lined up with waits up to half-an-hour, so relax, enjoy the surroundings and wait to order at the portal-shaped service window. The kitchen is housed in a repurposed shipping container, while seating is in the open air along the edge of the wharf or on little stools, if you can grab one. The menu is mostly seafood, harvested according to Ocean Wise guidelines for sustainable fisheries. While they serve traditional fish and chips, Red Fish also specializes in wraps, tacos and burrito-style creations with spicy sauces, freshly-grilled fish and crisp greens. To round out the environmental appeal, food is served on compostable cardboard and you’ll eat with disposable bamboo cutlery.

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Red Fish Blue Fish  
Mo:Le Clare Morrison

Mo:Le

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Mo:Le has quickly built a reputation as a great breakfast spot, with dishes to satisfy a broad range of tastes (and eating philosophies). Lots of vegan and raw foods offerings are balanced with a nice selection of egg and meat dishes for those more carnivorously inclined.  Start the day light with raw, organic granola or tuck into a creamy sausage omelet served with pesto hash browns. If you are not up in time for breakfast, Mo:Le also does lunch weekdays until 3PM, 4PM on weekends. They offer comfort food wonders like macaroni sautéed in white wine cheese sauce with bacon, diced fresh tomatoes, spinach and garlic, and then baked in a casserole. If Mo:Le is lined up, as it often is, and you’re not in a rush, get your name on the list and grab a coffee at Habit next door where they’ll come grab you when your table’s ready.

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Mo:Le  

Union Pacific Coffee Co.

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Just outside Chinatown in the emerging Design District, Union Pacific is a great spot to stop for coffee and lunch when you need a break from a morning of perusing home décor shops. Inside you’ll find big beams supporting the interesting old brickwork of this heritage-style building. Open for breakfast and lunch, Union Pacific serves an assortment of “eggers,” grilled paninis, croissants and treats. The paninis, featuring names like “Harry the Hummus” (a generous serving of smoked turkey, hummus, guacamole, havarti and spinach), are big and often enough for two people to share for a light lunch, especially with a bowl of soup. Settle into the long table behind the coffee bar for a game of chess or backgammon on the boards etched into the heavy tabletop or take your panini to the cute little patio out the back. 

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Union Pacific Coffee Co.  
Fairfield Fish and Chips Clare Morrison

Fairfield Fish and Chips

Neighborhood: Rockland/Fairfield Price: Budget
This cute little restaurant is located in the heart of the Fairfield community on, you guessed it, Fairfield Avenue (at Moss Street). Although there are a few bar stools at the window and a couple of outside tables, the spot is better suited for take away, whether it’s back to your hotel, to the park across the street or down the hill to Clover Point on Dallas Road. When ordering you can choose from several types of white fish and batter styles. It all comes wrapped in paper with a giant mound of fresh-cut fries. For a change, try the halibut burger, grilled or deep fried, on a soft fresh bun with red pepper, lettuce, tartar, pickle and, of course, the fries. For those not into fish, owners Tanta and David Pennington offer juicy hand-made burgers loaded with fresh topping and, again, the mountain of fries. Enjoy.   

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Fairfield Fish and Chips  
Hernandez Clare Morrison

Hernandez

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
What Hernandez is lacking in décor and ambience, it more than makes up for in quality, value and authenticity. This family-run business is inspired by their grandmother’s market stall in El Salvador, with its ideals of scratch cooked food and a de-emphasis on plate and glassware service. Hernandez uses fresh local ingredients (grain-fed, non-medicated pork and locally-raised beef), hand makes their own corn tortillas and serves them to you at an amazing price. They have both a “slow food” menu (everything is gluten-free), and an “express” menu. Their express menu has mostly burritos and power bars, while their slow food menu has their signature chicken, beef, pork or black been tacos served on a sheet of paper and topped with lime wedges and fresh cilantro. At five for five bucks you can’t go wrong. The seating is a small collection of tables and chairs tucked between a hair salon and magazine shop in the bottom of a downtown office building.

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Hernandez  

Café Bliss

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
Café Bliss is a bright little restaurant and juice bar filled with, well, bliss. The whole premise of this little spot is serving organic and raw food made with love. All their food is sourced from BC farmers or bought from ethical fair trade suppliers. Everything is gluten-free so it’s a good choice for anyone with wheat intolerances. Give your body a boost with a wheatgrass shot or a fruit and vegetable juice or kick back and enjoy a Cacao Jedi—an almond mylk, banana, cacao, hemp seeds and maca smoothie. They serve a selection of cracker plates, pizza, desserts, soups, breakfast specials and salads, as well. Your day will be made brighter with a visit to Bliss.

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Café Bliss  
Sally Bun Clare Morrison

Sally Bun

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
Sally Bun is a funky, little cafe on Fort Street in the middle of Antique Row. If you get there before the lunch rush has gobbled the day’s baking, the cabinet will be full of fresh-baked buns (often still warm out of the oven) stuffed with all kinds of delicious fillings. For breakfast the egg, ham and green onion is great with a bit of spicy ketchup. For lunch, your choices are many: turkey red pepper havarti, tuna melt, veggie burger, roast beef dill pickle, pepperoni, smoked salmon cream cheese, herbed chicken breast, and the list goes on. If the buns don’t tempt you, they also make custom salads from a big list of ingredients, and the homemade soups are always delicious. There’s seating inside, but the nice little garden patio out back should not be overlooked on a nice day.
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