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Looking for true West Coast cuisine? Visit BC's capital to experience some of the finest restaurants the province has to offer
Victoria’s Best Restaurants
Victoria, BC’s bell of a capital, is a city with two faces. One looks back; the other looks to the future.
While this well-preserved ode to Victorian England is rife with quirky Brit traditions (afternoon tea and double-decker buses), it’s also a foodie hotbed of game-changing 100-mile eats.
Victoria’s chefs combine unbeatable ingredients from Island producers with talent gained from stints at the world’s best restaurants, creating some of the most innovative cuisine on the West Coast.
Here are the top five spots showing up on knowledgeable foodie shortlists.
Occupying a brownstone in Victoria’s edgy Chinatown – the second oldest Chinatown in North America – upstart Ulla is changing the way diners think about food, as well as the identity of a neighbourhood past its heyday.
Chef Brad Holmes takes classic flavours and improves on them with seasonal, organic ingredients and modern technique. Predictable herb-crusted halibut comes with an unexpected crispy brandade: an irresistible combo of salty white fish and potato, fried crispy into a grown-up fish stick.
Local lamb, a sweet alternative to gamey Australian beasts, comes four ways: roasted lamb leg, braised and lacquered lamb bricks, a punchy lamb sausage cube, and decadent, smoky lamb bacon.
Set in a heritage brick building in Victoria’s up-and-coming Fernwood, Stage Wine Bar wins awards for its sophisticated small plates ($2-12) and unbeatable wine list by Sommelier Marlisa Hollands.
The vibe is casual and authentic, where value-for-money is an omnipresent concept, and patrons can perch at a reclaimed counter made from bowling alley wood.
Although small plates/tapas are an over-explored territory, Stage stands out from the crowd.
Proprietors George and Linda Szaz created a menu that mixes artisanal, house-made charcuterie (spicy, paprika sausage), unusual Old World specialities (langos – a Hungarian fry bread with Maldon sea salt and garlic) plus a strong representation of local seafood (spot prawn risotto).
Long before Vancouver’s 2011-2012 explosion of wood-fired pizza joints, Pizzeria Prima Strada brought authentic Neapolitan technique to the West Coast.
After obtaining certification from pizzaiolo pros at the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, Prima quickly established its reputation for the best slice in Canada.
From food snobs to families looking to please small children, diners vie for seats at both locations: the original in Cook Street Village downtown, and the new spot on Bridge Street.
All Pizzeria Prima Strada pie crusts are made with the required Caputo ‘00’ flour in a wood-burning oven heated to 875 Fahrenheit. Toppings include fresh, locally-sourced artisan Bufalo di Mozzarella by Natural Pastures and house-made sausage/salumi.
Although most 20-somethings think the local food movement launched in a post-2000, hipster-populated world, Vancouver Island has always been surfing ahead of that particular wave.
Cafe Brio, a Victoria fine-dining spot on Fort Street, has been dedicated to showcasing the finest regional cuisine since 1997.
Chef Laurie Munn crafts a repertoire of tempting regional treats from spaghettini with tomato-braised squid ragout to tender roast pork loin with Jerusalem artichokes. Rather than pick just one, let the chef guide you with the Brio Family Meal: a selection of six dishes chosen by the chef all served family style.
True foodies know that the world’s best chefs – El Bulli’s Ferran Adria – would rather pair their food with craft beer than wine. Canoe Brewpub, a marina-front gastropub accessible by land or by sea, is a paradise for suds-happy gastronomes.
Grab a seat on the unparalleled waterfront patio and work your way through pub brews like Siren’s Song Pale Ale, Beaver Brown Ale and River Rock Bitter, with the locally-sourced small/sharing plate menu that creatively upgrades basic bar fare.
Free-run chicken wings come with buffalo-chive creme fraiche. Beef sliders are brown ale braised and topped with a hearty serving of fennel-apple slaw. 'Little corn dogs' is code for cornmeal-battered artisan franks with grainy, house-made mustard.