The elegant city of Victoria on Vancouver Island is one of Canada’s culinary hot spots, with gastronomic adventures that go well beyond the norm. Surrounded by the sparkling Pacific brimming with sea life, regional vineyards, bountiful farms, and filled with eclectic eateries and talented chefs, Victoria takes farm-to-table fare to a whole new level. Read on for five edible adventures that will make your tummy rumble and your mouth water.
It’s tea time
Tea has been an important tradition in Victoria since the British introduced it in the 1840s. Nearby, Cowichan Valley boasts a unique micro-climate optimal for the growth of tea plants, further engraining the tea culture that’s steeped in history but infused (pun intended) with modern West Coast flair.
For a truly regal experience, take tea at the grand Fairmont Empress Hotel, across from the picturesque inner harbour. Take your tea in the sophisticated Lobby Lounge, where royalty, celebrities, and dignitaries have carried out this timeless ritual. Sip on the original blend of The Empress Tea, try the exceptionally rare Tong Mu Phoenix Lapsang Souchong blend, or any other of the finest loose teas in the world, and savour the High Tea treats presented on elegant, tiered trays.
For a different, equally memorable High Tea, head to the Teahouse at Abkhazi Gardens, an exquisite heritage home and garden framed by glaciated rocky slopes, magnificent Garry and Japanese oaks, and brilliant rhododendrons. The stunning backdrop is guaranteed to make your tea and cakes taste even sweeter.
Brews and pubs
Victoria’s thriving pub and brewery scene might seem at odds with its regal history, but this contrast makes the city even more fascinating, with craft beer a vital part of the city’s innovative culinary scene. Home to Canada’s first brewpub and some of the country’s best breweries, Victoria is the birthplace of the craft beer revolution, where bold trailblazers created liquid gold to complement the city’s progressive food movement.
Follow the Ale Trail through Victoria, from Spinnakers Spirit Merchants with its 500 BC brews, to the Strathcona Hotel, where you can sip your brew in this historical building that dates back to the gold rush era. Don’t miss Swans Brewpub, one of the early pioneers of the craft beer scene, and Canoe Brewpub, where you can soak up the sun on the patio as you taste some of the finest golden creations on the Island. Better still? Take the hard work out of your pub crawl with a tour by The Rolling Barrell, or take a West Coast Brewery Tour, where you’ll take a unique look into some of the finest craft breweries in Victoria.
Lunch in the gardens
Victoria is synonymous with resplendent gardens and one of the best in the world is only a short drive away. The renowned Butchart Gardens will take your breath away, and lunch in the Dining Room restaurant is an experience that will feed your heart as much as your stomach. Feast on gourmet sandwiches made from locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients such as Cowichan Valley chicken salad with fig chutney, smoked wild BC salmon with caper cream cheese, or Berryman Farms heritage ham with orange marmalade.
In spring, the aromas of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths add incredible fragrance and colour to your meal. Savour the flavours as you feast your eyes on the Italian Garden and Tod Inlet – this is one meal you’ll never forget. After dessert, take a ride on the carousel for the perfect, fairy-tale end to your day.
Victoria’s dynamic culinary scene reflects the Island’s abundant natural resources and passionate producers, creating delicacies you simply won’t find anywhere else. Let your taste buds do the walking on a culinary tour that takes in the best of Victoria’s gastronomy throughout its diverse neighbourhoods.
A Taste of Victoria Food Tour begins at the Victoria Public Market and explores the very best of the city’s breads, pierogis, meatballs, craft beer, macarons, and chocolate. With up to eight tastings included along the way, it’s best to start this one on an empty stomach.
Victoria’s original walking food tour company, Off The Eaten Track, offers a range of tours, from traditional downtown routes, to a modern Chinatown and history tour, and even a Chocolate and Churches circuit. To gain a deeper understanding of authentic Canadian food, jump on the Eat Like A Canadian Tour, where you’ll sample traditional dishes, like candied salmon, poutine, Nanaimo bars, beavertails, and Caesar cocktails, while learning the history behind the dishes from the chefs and producers themselves.
Dine Around & Stay In Town
Visit Victoria in late January to experience one of Canada’s most celebrated foodie events. Dine Around & Stay In Town showcases the city’s thriving, flavoursome cuisine, with more than 60 restaurants joining the fun with special offerings and exclusive three-course menus. In the spirit of the event, Victoria’s hotels also offer accommodation at reduced prices. Taste the flavours of the west coast and discover first-hand the delicious bounty of Vancouver Island’s farming regions and coastal waters. Sample the best in locally-produced wine and craft beer, and eat your way through the city’s world-class restaurants, bistros, cafes, and produce markets. It’s easy to see why Victoria takes prime position on Canada’s culinary map.