In the past, Victoria, BC, was known as a pretty, but kinda boring location – famous as a place for honeymoons, double-decker buses and afternoon tea.
BUT… these days, things have changed.
Victoria is making a splash, not only as a beautiful holiday destination, but with its wide variety of quality restaurants, cafes and bars, as a hotspot for foodies!
I’m a bit of a foodie myself, and my job at Global Village English Centre in Victoria means I spend a lot of my time talking to people from all over the world who come here to learn English and discover the best the area has to offer – including, of course, its food!
I’ve tried to find the top places to eat and drink in Victoria. Read on and let me know if I’ve missed any gems!
Budget eats and take-out ($-$$)
Face it, although it’s nice to go to a restaurant sometimes, it can get pretty expensive. For this reason, let’s start with some places to eat that are on the cheaper side.
They’re all in and around the downtown area and perfect if you’re looking to try someplace new without breaking the bank.
Some of the best Italian-style sandwiches you’ll ever have. My favourite is the Meatball Panino! So good!
If you’re still in the mood for sandwiches, these ones are Vietnamese style (banh mi). Served on French bread with a variety of choices for fillings, you’ll probably make it a weekly part of your lunch plans!
Just five minutes’ walk from Global Village Victoria, this place is a great healthy option for those who like Middle Eastern style food. Try their vegetarian falafel or their chicken shawarma. You won’t be disappointed!
5 tacos for just over $10!! Sounds good, huh? This family-owned restaurant serves authentic Mexican dishes like burritos and quesadillas… all made from scratch.
This is a very popular fish and chips eatery that is a hit with everybody. There’s usually a line-up, but it’s worth the wait. This is your chance to try west coast wild salmon or halibut. Eat it by the harbour and enjoy the view!
Mid-priced, sit-down meals ($$-$$$)
Once in a while, you’re gonna want to pay a little extra and have not just good food, but a nice atmosphere to chat with your friends or go on a date. Imagine a place with lots of people, good music and friendly servers! And great food – that’s a must!
These places are two of my favourites. They serve gourmet hamburgers and drinks in a lively atmosphere. After 9pm, Bin 4 sells their burgers at half price when you order a drink. Maybe catch a movie first then hit Bin 4 afterwards!
‘Pag’s’, as it’s known to those who live here, has been around for ages. It has a really cool atmosphere and delicious Italian food. It’s very popular though – so get there early to avoid the line-ups! I recommend the lasagne!
These two restaurants are west-coast-dining standards. They have a wide variety of dishes, good drink and food specials, plus a lively atmosphere that's popular with students and locals alike.
The philosophy of this popular restaurant is to create an experience that is healthy, delicious and sustainable. Everything is organic and mindfully sourced as well as gluten and dairy free. Be good to your body and the planet! Try a meal here!
Delicious Brunch at Jam Cafe, Blue Fox Cafe, John’s Place & Shine Cafe
Victorian’s LOVE breakfast and brunch, and these four restaurants are some of the best options in town… so much so that you’ll have to get there early to avoid the line-ups. You’ll never underestimate breakfast food again! A ‘beni’ (eggs benedict) or a waffle is a great way to start the weekend with your friends!
High-end, fancy meals ($$$-$$$$)
All right – if you want to impress a date or celebrate in style, where do you go? Keep reading and you’ll find some really special restaurants for fine dining here in Victoria that are sure to make some pretty magical memories and some great selfies!
World-renowned Italian fine dining in a beautiful restored courtyard setting – very romantic and a staple for any foodie visit.
What would a trip to the west coast be without getting some delicious seafood? Try the local crab AND steak! Why not – you’re celebrating, right?
Another wonderful eating experience, this farm-to-table restaurant has been receiving lots of great reviews. Why not check it out and leave a review of your own?
Another place to eat that specializes in locally sourced, seasonal food, paired with a great cocktail and wine selection – this award-winning restaurant is sure to bring a smile to your face… and warmth to your stomach!
This popular restaurant/cafe strives to create a rustic, family-style atmosphere where the food is top class and the setting is warm, friendly and comfortable.
Cafes and Bakeries
It’s always good to know where you can grab a coffee and a pastry. Canada’s most famous coffee spot is Tim Horton’s, but I’m going to recommend a couple of other cafes around town, and some bakeries if you feel like having a sweet treat or something nice to go with your coffee.
This place has been an institution in Victoria for over 100 years. They blend their own teas and prepare some of the nicest cakes and pastries in town. And they're just down the street from us here at GV Victoria!
Blenz is another local cafe that is popular with students and locals alike. Starbuck’s might be more famous, but Blenz is truly Canadian; it started in Vancouver in 1992. Try a London Fog – it’s also invented in Canada.
This small bakery on Fort Street has an unbelievable selection of treats. They also have sandwiches and coffee so you can get lunch there as well! You’ll find something fantastic every time!
If you like donuts, this is a must! It’s a bit of a hidden treasure because its location is off the street in an office building. They serve decadent regular donuts and gluten-free options. Superb!
If your taste in bread and pastries is very particular, you might want to try this organic, French-style bakery. Fol Epi uses only the highest quality ingredients and both traditional and modern techniques; you’ll be hard pressed to wipe the smile off your face while eating one of their creations.
No guide to eating in Victoria would be complete without mentioning where to go for a beer beforehand or afterwards. Victoria is becoming well known for its craft beer and I highly recommend trying some of the local selections.
One of the best-known craft breweries, Phillips came on the scene almost 20 years ago, brewing world-class beer in a variety of flavours and styles. They’ve now opened up a tasting room where you can check out their latest offerings. Try their European-style pretzels with your beer!
If you want to try a lot of different craft beers instead of just one, this is the place for you. They specialize in beer from the west coast, so anything from Alaska to California can find its way on to their ever-changing menu. Great food too!
In the same area as the Drake, Swan’s is another favourite destination for thirsty students. Recently renovated, it now offers a wide variety of in-house brews as well as beer from the local area.
Since Victoria is on an island, it’s always a good idea to have a beer by the water. Canoe Brewpub is located just metres away from the harbour and makes for a relaxing place to have a beer or a bite, especially during the warm summer months.
Even more Pubs on Government Street: Steps from GV
There are a number of great, historic pubs here near Global Village English Center in downtown Victoria. The Bard and Banker, The Irish Times, The Churchill and Garrick’s Head are well worth a visit. Each has its own charm, a wide variety of drinks and dishes, and a lively atmosphere… great for a night out at the end of the week.
So, there you have it – restaurants, cafes and pubs for any budget and any taste!
Victoria truly has an amazing variety of places for its size. Even if you don’t consider yourself a foodie, rest assured that you’ll find lots of great eating places to choose from to make your trip to Victoria even more memorable and special.
Come join us in Victoria and try some of these great restaurants for yourself! You can find out more about Global Village Victoria on our website, and follow us on Facebook to see what we're up to (whether it's studying English, adventuring, or stopping into a local restaurant for a bite!)
Have a look at some useful vocabulary from the blog:
Foodie – someone who is really interested in food
Make a splash – attract a lot of attention
Hotspot – a popular place of entertainment
Face it – something that is true but a bit unpleasant
On the cheaper side – not so expensive
Break the bank – cost all your money
Made from scratch – made from the base ingredients
Worth the wait – good to wait for
Hit someplace – go somewhere
Around for ages – around for a long time
Be hard-pressed to do something – find it hard to do something
Rest assured – be certain or confident about something