A no messing around guide to the coolest things to eat, drink and do in Vancouver and beyond. Community. Not clickbait.

Further Afield in Victoria (with Detours through Sooke) with Anna Wojtala

We're no strangers to the Victoria scene, by any means - but, all things considered (including an impressive resume in Vancouver kitchens), the Island-born now-GM at Stage in Victoria, seemed like the perfect person to turn to for a locals' perspective with a refined palate...

Further Afield in Victoria (with Detours through Sooke) with Anna Wojtala

Anna Wojtala | Photo credit: Johann Vincent photography

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.

Mount Douglas
4500 Cedar Hill Rd.

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?

Hey Happy Coffee
560 Johnson St #122, Victoria, BC V8W 3C6
Saint Cecilia
535 Yates St.

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.

Uchida Eatery
633 Courtney St.
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park

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:

  1. Stop in and visit the gang at Artisan’s Garden, grab coffee number two, and maybe feed my houseplant/ceramics addiction.
  2. Take a drive up to the Sooke Potholes for a dip in the river.
  3. Head over to East Sooke Park for an oceanside hike.
Artisan's Garden
6689 Goodmere Rd., Sooke, BC
Sooke Potholes Park
Sooke Potholes Park
East Sooke Regional Park
East Sooke Regional Park

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.

Aylard Farm
Aylard Farm
Little Sea Chest
241 Becher Bay Rd., Sooke, BC

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.

Wild Mountain Food & Drink
1831 Maple Avenue South, Sooke

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.

Le Petit Saigon
1010 Langley St.

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.

Wind Cries Mary
45 Bastion Sq.

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.

Fairmont Empress
721 Government St.

It’s time to catch some shuteye; where do you suggest we stay?

The Magnolia Hotel is a very eloquent boutique hotel just steps from the Empress, and their in-house restaurant, The Courtney Room, is a great place for a nightcap.

Magnolia Hotel
623 Courtney St.
The Courtney Room
619 Courtney St.

Anything we absolutely have to pack in our suitcase while visiting?

Oh yes, definitely load up your suitcase with bread from Working Culture, pastries from Goodside Pastry House, and bagels from Mount Royal.

Working Culture Bread
2506 Douglas St.
Goodside Pastry House
1805 Fort St.
Mount Royal Bagel Factory
1115 N Park St.

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.

Fan Tan Alley
Fan Tan Alley
Chinese Canadian Museum
27 East Pender St.

There are 2 comments

  1. Solid list. Well done. Headed that way next week for a summer break___ stoked to follow in your foot steps

  2. This is an amazing list! Adding these stops to my Sooke, Victoria and surrounding area wish list.

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