If you want a rewarding culinary vacation (or just an excuse to eat and relax) then a B.C. vacation focused on food and eating is just what you need. However, later my travel companion called it the “I was told what to eat” vacation. I would do this trip again, exactly the same way. And below is a reminder to myself what we did and how to do it again.
First Stop: Nanaimo, B.C.
After a 5 hour flight and waiting at the Vancouver ferry terminal for two hours, we were finally on our way to Nanaimo, via a breathtaking two hour ferry ride. But boy was I hungry.
In Nanaimo we stayed at the Coast Bastion Inn and the view of the harbour from our room was a peaceful, serene one; especially for both the sunset & rise. My first official edible portion of this vacation began at Minnoz’s (the hotel’s restaurant) for their Nanaimo Cheesecake with a glass of milk! So dense, yet melt in your mouth; so excellently tasty!
Penny’s Palapa – Definitely recommend! It’s not your traditional Tex-Mex restaurant (one because it’s a boat… floating off the docks) but they had excellent fish tacos in a soft shell with a sauce that reminded me of tikka masala. The outdoor seating had quite the cozy “patio” feel.
Nanaimo – Tofino: Cathedral Grove
On our drive to Tofino this was a must stop…. we got to see the Douglas fir measuring more than 9 meters in circumference.
Finally, the main course: Tofino!
Just so I don’t forget, this vaca was about eating, so we had to save our money for meals…. however if we weren’t on a budget I would totally stay here again: Middle Beach Lodge – $113/night including breakfast (Basic room w/ a forest view). Excellent value for the location, location, location and the view from the main room. Great breakfast with homemade touches: freshly baked cinnamon buns, croissants, cookies and we loved the homemade yogurt, granola and honey. The main lodge was worth the visit with it’s big comfy cozy couches positioned perfectly for a peaceful view of the ocean, yet beside us the wood-burning fireplace. Another highlight was the 8pm smell of the staff baking chocolate chip cookies for guests. The only tiny downside was the rubber boots they provided had holes in them, which I didn’t find out till I was out on the beach walking in the water.
Tofino Food tips:
SOBO – The seafood chowder was so amazing. I would go back to the island and do the drive again just for this chowder (and it didn’t contain any shellfish) We also enjoyed the Fish Tacos, and the Key Lime pie!
Breakers Deli: grilled cheese here was was so very good!
Wickaninnish Inn: Our meal here at the Pointe Restaurant was a culinary experience that every foodie needs to try! The panoramic view of the ocean was just as fabulous as the food. I was salivating over the menu for the four-course meal that I got, but so glad my travel partner got an entree to make it a five-course meal for me. 🙂 The carrot cake dessert blew me away: it was carrot cake whipped into an ice cream!
Tofino was so worth the travel – from the food to the views – offering so many cute places to chill out and watch the ocean and the mountains. We also enjoyed the whale watching tour on the zodiac speed boat as we saw 4 whales and Sea Lions, a lot of them. I can’t wait to return, real soon!
Do do the lighthouse trail. It’s a great way to walk off some of the food from Tofino and prepare your taste buds for more. Plus again the scenery on this hike was so breathtaking.
Ukee Dogs –A must stop! The best hot dog ever! The salmon pie with the mushroom soup alongside it was perfect.
Villa Marco Pollo: Amazing B&B as we left feeling truly pampered. We were only there 3 days, but it quickly felt like a home away from home. The rooms are amazing. Our room was so cozy and the Jacuzzi tub was great to relax in at the end of the day. Liam made excellent breakfasts for us. Hot chocolate was made from scratch and with milk. The backyard was so relaxing to chill out in as well. I also really appreciated the drink fridge stocked with water and juice.
Victoria food tips
Pizzeria Prima Strada — excellent pizza! A must visit!
Red Fish Blue Fish – on the pier in downtown Victoria – the fish and chips were insanely good and sooo cheap. I hear the fish tacos are just as good, and I’ll be getting those next time.
Zambri’s – a charming restaurant and the service was excellent. Very good Italian food – definitely hit the spot.
Pink sugar cupcakes – take a peak in here as the decor itself is worth the visit. There’s vegan options too!
Take a break from eating
Buchart gardens – walk off your all your calories here – you can easily spend a relaxing two hours among the many gardens full of flowers.
Beach drive: it’s just south of Oak Bay and while the sun is setting is the perfect time for a drive. I kept making my travel partner pull over so I could get some photos.
Day trip to Salt Spring Island via the Ferry
You have to do Salt Spring Island. It’s an experience that you`ll never forget. I loved it and can`t wait to go back.
Food Tip: Rock Salt: after you’re done at the salt spring island, get to the ferry early. Park your car in line, then take a two-second walk to Rock Salt. The view is amazing. Hamburger was very very good and the mushroom soup was excellent. Staff was also very friendly and helpful providing a large water thermos filled with lemons for us.
“A Gastronomic Adventure: Join us for a surprise Multicourse tasting menu chosen daily from the best our chefs have to offer from the sea, our gardens and local farmers. Every dish can be wine-paired from our award winning cellar to enhance your adventure. Reservations are necessary.”
This blurb pulled from their website was the reason for this culinary adventure. I wanted to plan whatever vacation we had to plan to get there. And it was well worth it! The restaurant`s view of the oceans, mountains and even the otters complimented our already well presented meals. It was such a fun night as I recall each bite exploded with tastes on my tongue, after each course I was so anxious with anticipation for the next course. Thank you Sooke Harbour House, you made my culinary vacation very memorable.
Return to Vancouver, for some more food
I really enjoyed the return ferry ride because I was forced to just chill out, but also we were so lucky with sun tanning weather.
Upon our arrival to our surprisingly upgraded suite (with 2 bathrooms!!) also waiting for us was a bottle of wine, cheese plate and crackers. We had a great view of the mountains and water from all our rooms (bedroom, living room, dinning room.)
Honestly, by the time we got to Vancouver we were pretty full, but I did manage to eat some fabulous Sushi as well as some Cupcakes at the NW corner of Thurlow and Robson.
Grouse Mountain – Definitely recommend a trip up here (there was even some snow) I braved the gondola (as I’m iffy with heights) and it was so worth it. The views of Vancouver, the mountains and the ocean were once again breathtaking. My travel partner went even higher up Grouse Mountain’s wind turbine – I guess the glass bottom floor was wicked.
HOME TIME ALREADY? JUST ONE MORE STOP, PLEASE!
Blue Canoe, Steveston – when we checked in to our Vancouver airport hotel I was pretty bummed out that our eating vacation was coming to a close, until I found Blue Canoe!! It was 20 minutes from our airport hotel, but you sure didn’t feel like you were close to an airport. We were surprised by it’s waterfront location (the Pier next to Fisherman’s Wharf overlooking the marina and river traffic) and the variety of good food coming out of the kitchen and then the service was the cherry on top of it all. Our amazing waitress Grace gave us complimentary apps when she found out it was our last stop on the Culinary Vacation: crab cakes in phylo and ahi seared tuna. Entree: white salmon melted in our mouth! I was so full and didn’t think I had room for dessert, but the Hazelnut Chocolate cake (pictured) that was the best cake I have ever had!
Overall a thoroughly successful culinary vacation as we challenged ourselves to try so many daring combinations, expanding our palate.Cheers, You Gotta Eat This