The weather might be cold, but Kelowna’s dining scene is heating up this winter. In February, Kelowna hosted the Canadian Culinary Championships—won by Vancouver's very own Chef Alex Chen from Boulevard—but award-winning food and drinks can be found year-round in the Okanagan Valley’s biggest city.
Here are our hot tips for cool places to check out this winter...
1. Krafty Kitchen + Bar
Facebook/Krafty KitchenStart the weekend off right with a hip-hop brunch at Krafty Kitchen + Bar (Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.). A revamped menu includes bowls like Lotsa Lox with avocado, smoked salmon and “holly” (that’s hollandaise, y’all) or Baller Mushroom Bennies with mushroom, garlic and squeaky cheese curds. Order one of the very boozy mimosas to sip on whilst nodding along to loud '90s jams.
281 Lawrence Street, Kelowna
2. Salted Brick
Facebook/Salted BrickSelf-proclaimed hipster chef James Holmes cooks up quirky comfort food in the tiny open kitchen at Salted Brick. With exposed bricks, Mason jar drinks and cutting boards for side plates, it earns its hipster stripes. Chow down on ever-changing dishes like cauliflower mac and cheese with chilli popcorn and then sink some local brews from Kelowna’s BNA Brewing Co.
234 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna
3. Pulp Fiction Coffee House
Facebook/Pulp Fiction Coffee HouseHome to Robbie’s Rare Books and guarded by Robbie the poodle, the Pulp Fiction Coffee House is a treasure trove of curios. From antiquarian tomes to actual pulp fiction, the cafe-cum-bookstore is a delight for fans of the printed word. Warm up with a cup of herbal tea, 49th Parallel coffee or try a glass of kombucha before browsing the books and antiques.
1598 Pandosy Street, Kelowna
4. OAK + CRU Social Kitchen
Facebook/Oak and CruSituated in the lobby of the lakeside Delta Grand Okanagan Resort, OAK + CRU Social Kitchen and Wine Bar has just taken on Executive Chef Daniel Craig (no, not that one!) from the Ritz Carlton Toronto. The lobby is also home to an epic Okanagan wine cellar, which features 300 local labels and 2,800 bottles of exclusively Okanagan wines. Dine at the cellar table or take a seat at the buzzing bar to enjoy a glass with the farm-to-table cuisine.
1310 Water Street, Kelowna
5. RauDZ Regional Table
Facebook/RauDZChef Rod Butters is the poster child for the Okanagan’s dining scene and one of the pioneers of farm-to-table cuisine in the city, alongside Chef Mark Filatow. Unsurprisingly that means that locally sourced ingredients get top billing at RauDZ Regional Table, alongside exclusively local wines and creative cocktails, which include Okanagan Spirits in seasonal fruit martinis for example. Last summer, Chef Butters released The Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking to much acclaim, and many of the dishes can be found on the menu. Look out for crab cappuccino, double chocolate mashed potato almond brioche and the RJB uber-burger, with grilled beef tenderloin, butter poached crab, cured bacon and onion jam on a brioche bun... with roasted potatoes and duck fat mayo naturally.
1560 Water Street, Kelowna
6. Micro Bar + Bites
Facebook/Micro KelownaDown the block, also owned by Chef Butters, is Micro Bar + Bites. Just like the name suggests, it’s way more intimate, with most of the seats situated around the trendy bar. Come for creative cocktails, like the throwback of an Okanagan twist on a French 75 (featuring Broker’s London dry gin, Wayward Spiced Honey Krupnik, apple cinnamon, lemon and bubbles) or an original drink from the Creative Series, which includes the Boddington Mill (with Hendricks gin, green pepper juice, vanilla, lime, Bittered Sling Cascade Celery Bitters and pink peppercorn). Chef Chris Braun is a proponent of nose-to-tail dining and you’ll currently find Boaris—a boar he raised himself—on the menu. Treat yourself to tapas, including pillowy ricotta gnocchi with smoked eggplant and manchego cheese, fried brussel sprouts with pine nuts or crispy fried cauliflower with tahini and basil pesto. While Boaris lasts, he can be found in specials like the rich and salty pork rillette or as part of the carefully curated charcuterie options.
1500 Water Street, Kelowna
7. Waterfront Cafe
Grab an espresso, pastry or doughnut from downstairs in Waterfront Cafe or head up to the funky dining space to fill up on Swiss-style potato rosti—inspired by Chef Mark Filatow’s experience of having pre-ski rostis that stick to the ribs, eggs benny or chorizo hash made with locally sourced ingredients. Set in a more residential location, the newly-opened cafe is the sister to Chef Filatow’s renowned Waterfront Restaurant and Wine Bar.
101 - 2245 Abbott Street, Kelowna
8. Sandrine French Pastry and Chocolate
Tucked inside a shopping plaza, Sandrine’s pretty Parisian-style bakery showcases rows of rainbow coloured macarons, chocolates and other classic desserts, as well as jams and cassoulets. Sandrine Raffault, the shop’s charming owner, has been in Canada for more than two decades but she has retained her French accent and a love of her home country’s desserts. Join her on a Saturday afternoon to go behind the scenes and cook in her kitchen, learning how to make French classics such as tart tartine, macarons, opera cake or cream puff pastry.
1865 Dilworth Drive, Kelowna
9. Okanagan Spirits
Facebook/Okanagan SpiritsOriginally all distilled in Vernon, Okanagan Spirits opened its second location in 2011 and the boutique tasting room is the best place to try the ‘harvest-to-flask’ brandies as well as the gins, vodkas, single malt whiskeys and quirkier aquavit or absinthe. Okanagan Spirits was the first Canadian distillery to make proper absinthe with wormwood and, since opening in 2004, Western Canada’s oldest craft distillery has been winning awards on the international stage. Try a Bee’s Knees gin cocktail with honey and lemon at the tasting room bar, and keep a lookout for their spirits appearing in countless cocktails around Kelowna.
267 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna
10. Tantalus Vineyards
Facebook/Tantalus VineyardsGrapes have been growing at Tantalus since the 1920s but the winery became its current incarnation in 2004 when Eric Savis saw the potential of the site and went on to produce Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that have won several international awards. One of the closest wineries to the city, Tantalus commands views of Okanagan Lake and other vineyards from the beautiful, gallery-style tasting room. It is open by appointment only in the winter months, but if you only have time for one winery, this is a chance to try wines that are served in Canadian embassies around the world.
1670 DeHart Road, Kelowna