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The Newest, Coolest and Best Food & Drink in Victoria Right Now

Planning a trip to Victoria over the summer? We’ve compiled a short list of essential eating and drinking around the city to sate your various appetites…

The Newest, Coolest and Best Food & Drink in Victoria Right Now

Stage | Photo credit: Johann Vincent photography

Planning a trip to Victoria over the summer? We’ve compiled a short list of essential eating and drinking around the city to sate your various appetites…

Humboldt Bar

Fresh on the scene is Humboldt Bar, which opened doors at 722 Humboldt Street in late June of this year. The space may be new, but its roots are deep, and because of this it immediately fits in. The bar’s name pays tribute to both the street locale and the street’s namesake, Alexander von Humboldt – a German botanist, scientific explorer, natural philosopher and visionary. Aptly, the bar itself draws on the themes of adventure, nature and knowledge. The beautifully appointed 45-seat room offers high, low, and bar seating, a light food menu, and some serious cocktails. Aesthetics reference the opulence and grandeur of exploration without losing the inviting warmth of hospitality (think marine-blue velvet bar seating, olive-green banquettes, wood panelling, antique prints, brass accents, and soft lighting). The menu reads like a deliciously constructed miniature history/botany/science lesson culminating in beverages such as “Lost in The Woods”, “Concentrated Sunbeams”, and “Lost Luggage” – each one complete with backstory and suggestions for further reading, if you’re interested.

Humboldt Bar 722 Humboldt St. MAP
Photo credit: Citrus & Cane

Citrus & Cane

Decked out in wood panelling and smoked glass, with a subdued tropical colour palette, sexy lighting, and on-point stemware, Citrus & Cane is one stunner of a cocktail lounge. A space like this doesn’t come together without a healthy dose of reverence – both for the original and thoughtfully revitalized 1977 design of the room, and for the high-quality cocktails it showcases. News of Citrus & Cane’s official November 2020 launch was somewhat muted due to Covid. Completely free from social distancing restrictions, though, this Douglas Street lounge is flourishing. Its inauguration onto Canada’s 100 Best list this year might even lead some to claim it as the frontrunner of Victoria’s cocktail scene and, given the calibre of drinks in the city right now, that’s saying a lot. If you haven’t already been, then make a plan to go ASAP.

Citrus & Cane 1900 Douglas St MAP

Marilena

The long-anticipated first Island outpost of Vancouver-based Toptable Group (Blue Water Cafe + RawBar, Elisa Steak House, CinCin, and Araxi) finally opened doors in late June. With its white tablecloth looks and luxurious menu, Marilena is bringing a new level of sophistication to Victoria’s dining scene. Acclaimed chef, Kristian Eligh, oversees the restaurant’s seafood-centric menu from the open-concept kitchen, and skilled chef, Clark Park (who brings his expertise from time spent in the BOH at Miku), serves up nigiri, sashimi and sushi at the restaurant’s Japanese raw bar. Though the room undoubtedly has a “special occasion” vibe, the bar is more casual, and also exactly where we’d aim to sit ourselves.

Marilena 1525 Douglas St. MAP

Tourist Wine Bar

Photo credit: @touristwinebar

It’s about time that Victoria scored a dedicated natural wine bar! Located on the edge of the downtown core, at 1002 Blanshard Street, Tourist offers a well-edited menu of small plates to pair with by-the-glass and by-the-bottle natural wines, poured with love. Though doors have only JUST opened, and we have yet to experience Tourist for ourselves, friends tell us that the room is minimalist and relaxed, the service is casual and well-versed, and the wines are selected from near and far. Tourist is open Thursday-Saturday from 5pm-late.

Tourist Wine Bar 1002 Blanshard St. MAP

Goodside Pastry House

 

A few minutes outside downtown, on a low-rise retro retail strip at the Fort-and-Richmond intersection, Goodside Pastry House may seem too far out of the way to factor into your trip…but we’re here to make sure you don’t make that mistake. Established in Victoria by Vancouver transplants, Curtis Helm and Haley Landa, Goodside is brimming with good reasons for reworking your day around making a stop here. Its offerings range from stuffed and glazed croissants to cookies, pastries, and cakes – and coffee too! The combination of seasonal ingredients and the team’s creativity means that the pastry case is one of constant variety, inviting you to try something new each visit. Don’t be discouraged by the queue, it tends to move quickly.

Goodside Pastry House 1805 Fort St. MAP

Stage

Photo credit: Stage. Wine Bar

This industry favourite is located outside of the downtown core in Fernwood – a walkable neighbourhood anchored by a community theatre, small shops, and independent restaurants. Not only is Stage a beautiful room – big windows, brick walls, wood floors and candlelight – it’s also a room full of deliciousness. The French-inspired menu is precise, and seasonally driven;  the service is outstanding; and the wine from their thoughtful wine list is approachable (and encouraged).  Insider tip: Stage pulls out a burger option from 10pm-midnight, making it an excellent late-night snack option in a city with too few late-night snack options.

Stage 1307 Gladstone Ave. MAP

Wind Cries Mary

photo credit: @grazielaportelaphotography for Wind Cries Mary

Did I just say that Victoria has too few late night snack options? Maybe that’s because there aren’t  a whole lot needed beyond the late night snack situation at Wind Cries Mary. Sure, this Bastion Square cool kid serves up tasty food and (very nice) drinks starting at 4pm every day of the week, but deep evening when they really shines. You’ll regularly find industry folks here for post-shift hang out. If you’re peckish and it’s pushing past 10pm, we recommend heading straight here.

Wind Cries Mary 45 Bastion Sq. MAP

The Courtney Room


For me, The Courtney Room is a unique blend of contradictions. It evokes feelings of places distant from Victoria, but at the same time, it embodies the essence of Victoria. The ambiance is both elegant and laid-back, the cooking blends modern and classical touches. It’s hard to convey – but I suspect that the way these contrasting elements flirt with one another has a lot to do with what makes The Courtney Room such a magical place – it’s just always ready to meet you wherever you are. Drinks here are exceptional, the wine list is well rounded and the food never fails to impress. The tasting menu here is a treat well worth indulging in, but I find myself most comfortable ordering à la carte at the bar (also a great place to get inside tips about where to go next).

The Courtney Room 619 Courtney St. MAP

End Dive

End Dive is new enough to Victoria that, if you haven’t been to the capital city recently, you may not have had the chance to visit it yet. Time to turn things around! This capable crew focuses on good music, good times, made-from-scratch cooking, and locally sourced ingredients. Need a few more details to go on? Hit up End Dive’s website (here) and click on ‘sample menu’ – it kinda says it all.  End Dive is only open Wednesday to Sunday evenings, from 5pm until “bedtime”.

End Dive 1802 Government St. MAP

Dumpling Drop

Yes, Victoria’s much-loved Dumpling Drop is known for dumplings (no surprise there) and you should absolutely swing by their Pandora Street storefront for a serving. But do it at lunchtime (the earlier, the better); that way you can return with a renewed appetite for Chaiyo Nights, Dumpling Drop’s evening alter-ego serving up authentic Thai dinner. Grab a friend, get comfortable, and order a whack-load of share plates, including garlic chicken wings, Som Tom green papaya salad, Masaman Gai (a comforting chicken, potato, coconut and tamarind curry on rice), and Thai glass noodle salad with spicy mint, cilantro and lime dressing. Don’t forget to throw a glass of wine or a cold beer into the mix. Chaiyo Nights runs Thursday to Sunday, from 6-9pm.

Dumpling Drop 556A Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC V8W 1N7 MAP

Working Culture

Looking for a pick-me-up? Fresh bread, killer cinnamon buns and friendly people always do it for us. Working Culture Bread has them all – and then some. Hit up this Douglas Street bakery for bread, cookies, pastries, coffee, and (sometimes) even pizza. Please don’t leave it too late in the day, though! Victoria loves Working Culture, and the shop regularly sells out early. Travellers tip: Take-out sandwiches are a nice thing to do for yourself on the way to the ferry.

Working Culture Bread 2506 Douglas St. MAP

Maiiz

Photo credit: Maiiz Nixtamal

Even if the food at Maiiz wasn’t some of the most authentic and delicious Mexican we’ve come across in Canada, Chef Israel Alvarez Molina’s enthusiasm and knowledge of traditional ingredients and processing would be reason enough to stop at this Mexican counter service shop, located in Chinatown. Tamales and tacos are a must, but consider taking along a carry bag to load up on takeaway packages of their stone ground tortillas as well.

MAiiZ Nixtamal Tortillería 540 Fisgard St. MAP

Brasserie l’Ecole


Although Brasserie l’Ecole does not accept reservations, if you are prepared (with hat and sunscreen) to brave the line for a spot, you will be rewarded! There is a reason that seats at this classic French country style brasserie have been sought after for almost 20 years. A comfortable room, gentle lighting, genuine service, French wines and beer, and a classic menu (oh man, that famous Brasserie burger with truffle oil and parmesan frites!) Brasserie l’Ecole is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 5:30 to 9 pm. We suggest you arrive early to stake your claim on a table. If you don’t get in for the first seating, don’t fret – they have a waitlist system that allows you to leave your name and contact number so that you are notified when space is available.

Brasserie L'Ecole 1715 Government St. MAP

Sherwood

 

Whether it’s sausage & eggs or honey ricotta French toast by day or Aunt May’s whiskey glazed ribs and a plate of shishito peppers with ginger, sesame, & lemon by night, Sherwood has you covered. Don’t miss  the very affordable ‘Day Drinking’ menu or the thoughtful list of natural wine. This bright and lively ‘contemporary take on a European café’ is a favourite Victoria haunt for good reason. Check Sherwood’s website for a read of the full menu. Visit them Tuesday through Saturday.

Sherwood (Closed) 710 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC V8W 0E4 MAP

Ruth & Dean

 

We’ve said it 100 times, but we’ll say it again: We never leave Victoria without a visit to Ruth & Dean. Located on a bustling one-block shopping district in a residential neighbourhood, this luncheonette and bakery does comfort food right. Not only do they serve from-scratch soups, sandwiches and salads, but they also produce some of the best baked goods in the city. We make sure to fill our luggage with all manner of take-back-to-Vancouver treats, including frozen soups, house-made granola, the best chocolate freezer-cake ever and a few Nanaimo Bars for good measure. Holy heck, this place is good.

Ruth & Dean 2509 Estevan Ave. MAP

Eva Schnitzelhaus

Photo credit: @evaschnitzelhaus

Jagerschnitzel, schweineschnitzel, bratwurst, currywurst, braised red cabbage, cold beer, and SPAETZLE! Eva Schnitzelhaus has you covered. This sophisticated yet relaxed space at the edge of Chinatown offers dinner five nights per week (Wednesday-Sunday) and a weekend brunch from 10am-2pm. Orchestrate your own personal Oktoberfest ANY time of the year!

Eva Schnitzelhaus 509 Fisgard St. MAP

Beer

Photo credit: @ilesauvagebrewing

In Victoria and in search of good beer? Heat things up by hitting Superflux {Cabana} for sexy, Vegas-inspired vibes along with a food menu of comfy classics, along with sleeves of Superflux beer pouring from their taps. Ile Sauvage Brewing is the spot to get wild with a glass of something fruity and/or sour on tap. And, if you’re brewery hopping downtown, then Whistle Buoy Brewing is a no-brainer… Followed by a short (5-minute) walk to your next stop: Herald Street Brew Works – a joint effort between the owners of Victoria’s The Drake (another good stop on your crawl) and New West brewery Steel & Oak’s owners, so you can pretty much count on it being an inviting space and delicious brews.

Superflux {Cabana} Upstairs, 804 Broughton St. MAP
Île Sauvage Brewing 2960 Bridge St. MAP
Whistle Buoy Unit 63 -560 Johnson St. MAP
The Drake 517 Pandora Ave. MAP
Herald Street Brew Works 506 Herald St. MAP

COFFEE

If you’re going to cover as much Capital City ground as possible, you’ll need some coffee. Lucky for you: Victoria is ready! This city brews good stuff. We’ve dropped a few addresses below, but this is just the tip of the iceberg… Get out there, explore, and report back!

Habit Coffee 552 Pandora Ave. MAP
Hey Happy Coffee 560 Johnson St #122, Victoria, BC V8W 3C6 MAP
2% Jazz (Midtown Court) 740 Hillside Ave, Victoria, BC V8T 1Z4 MAP

Did we miss someone? | Do you have a favourite Victoria restaurant that should have been included in this list but wasn’t? Comment below or send your suggestion to michelle [at] scoutmagazine.ca

There are 11 comments

  1. Don’t forget Boomtown and its fabulous patio! The food and drinks are good too!

  2. You missed Saint Cecilia, the best coffee on the Island, but def not known enough!

  3. In the coffee section you missed Victoria’s (Oldest?) Premium coffee at Caffe Fantastico, all 3 locations.😁

  4. St. Cecilia for sure but Hide + Seek (both locations!) deserves all the limelight for consistently knocking it out of the park with ever changing multiroaster selections.

  5. Bows coffee…otherwise known as Torch Song Cafe… don’t miss it.
    Boomtown is also necessary for their happy hour and great patio.
    Part and Parcel is out of the core but worth the trip for their fresh and creative food and natural wine selection.

  6. Dolce Vita on Yates is the best espresso in the city period.

    Refuge Taproom and Churchill for beers

    Chorizo & Co for tapas/Spanish

    Saveur for fine dining/French

  7. Seconding Torch Song, for their excellent coffee and snacks as well as the amazing collection of books and records to buy!

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