Further Afield Trips asks locals in a town well beyond Vancouver’s city limits where to find the best places to eat, drink, chill, and have a good time. Think of it as the country cousin to The Dishes.
Anna Wojtala is the General Manager of Victoria’s Stage Restaurant. Wojtala has come full circle: she cut her teeth in the restaurant biz working at the legendary Sooke Harbour House in her hometown of Sooke, before moving on to fill out her impressive resume doing stints at highly lauded Vancouver establishments Le Crocodile, Chambar, Hawksworth, and St. Lawrence, before migrating back to the Island.
We’re no strangers to the Victoria scene, by any means – Stage, included – but, all things considered, Wojtala seemed like the perfect person to turn to for a locals’ perspective with a refined palate…
Good morning! Let’s take a walk/hike in nature before it gets too hot. Where should we go?
Mt Pkols (Mt Doug) in Saanich is a really nice morning hike. If we’re feeling extra keen, it is also a beautiful place to enjoy the sunrise.
Is there somewhere we can stop for coffee along the way?
Hey Happy is a favourite of mine – great atmosphere and wonderful people. Must try: their coconut latte. I also love Saint Cecilia for a coffee. Espresso and tonic? Yes, please! Is it too early for ice cream?
Now we’re starving! Where should we eat?
Uchida Eatery is a hidden gem in this city. They only do take out, though, so let’s grab some food and wander over to Beacon Hill Park for a picnic.
We’ve got some free time for an afternoon adventure. What do you suggest we do?
For this, we’re going to my hometown of Sooke – about a 45-minute drive outside of Victoria. This adventure will be a three-part’r:
- Stop in and visit the gang at Artisan’s Garden, grab coffee number two, and maybe feed my houseplant/ceramics addiction.
- Take a drive up to the Sooke Potholes for a dip in the river.
- Head over to East Sooke Park for an oceanside hike.
That was fun! Now we need a pick-me-up plunge in some cool water. Can you let us in on your favourite nearby place to cool off in?
End the hike at Aylard Farm, with its white sand beach. A crisp and cool ocean dip is in order, and of course we must stop at the Little Sea Chest to visit Mouette and have one of her divine ice cream sandwiches.
Where should we head for a post-adventure beer, glass of wine or cocktail?
Back into Sooke we go, to sit on the patio at Wild Mountain, say “hello” to Brooke and Oliver and, if we’re lucky, their cute pup Mitzie. I love tasting the delicious and thoughtful dishes this team creates, and sipping on the latest local wine Brooke has on offer.
Now we’re hungry again. What’s the plan for dinner?
Trekking back into Victoria, my favourite place to go for dinner is the mom and daughter run Le Petit Saigon – their hot and sour soup is perfection.
It’s patio season! What’s your favourite restaurant patio?
The Wind Cries Mary back courtyard is so dreamy, and their cocktail program is equally so. A bartender’s choice made by the lovely Bronwyn is definitely in order.
Any tips on a good spot to take in the view and watch the sun go down?
I feel sitting on the front veranda of the Fairmont Empress overlooking the Inner Harbour, with a bottle of Champagne and fresh oysters is a nice way to watch the sun go down that the locals often miss out on.
It’s time to catch some shuteye; where do you suggest we stay?
Anything we absolutely have to pack in our suitcase while visiting?
What did we miss? We have two hours before we have to head to the ferry, what should we be doing with our time?
I would take a stroll along lower Johnston St (lojo), do a little window shopping, and make my way over to Fan Tan Alley in Victoria’s Chinatown; the oldest Chinatown in Canada. There is a temporary exhibit [on now at the Chinese Canadian Museum] that explores the Chinese-Canadian history in Victoria. Find out more.