Firstly, we can visit again, so that news is spectacular enough, but now that Stats Canada has determined Victoria, B.C., has more restaurants, eateries, pubs and bars per resident than any other city in the country? Consider us planning to eat our way through the provincial capital, ASAP.
Still the best way to travel is with BC Ferries, and we always suggest booking in advance so that the departure from Tsawwassen Terminal has considerably less stress. Arriving in Victoria, we’re reminded of its old-world charms, heritage architecture, lovely gardens and traditions—plus this island destination at any time of year just reminds us that yes, we need to slowww it down.
To kick-start a weekend culinary crawl, check into the luxurious Oak Bay Beach Hotel, completely rebuilt on the same stunner of an oceanfront lot where the original hotel sat for more than 80 years. The seaside outdoor mineral pools and Boathouse spa are all great reasons to spend a dreamy day here and leave visiting downtown for another day. After a stroll around the village and its waterfront Beach Drive, head to dinner at Snug Pub back at the hotel. Built in 1954, this is Victoria’s first neighbourhood pub, and offers updated pub classics plus a great selection of beers on tap, natch.
Next day, do afternoon high tea at White Heather Tea Room, choosing a variety of sizes, multi-tiers and, get this: a gluten-free option that includes three courses of scones and preserves, mini quiches, finger sandwiches and all those delightful little cookies and loaves. Choose your tea from an impressive menu, like the house-blend Mad Hatter.
Back at the hotel for dinner, check out slick FARO for cocktails, Italian wood-fired pizzas and small plates of sharesy bites. Great for early morning espresso drinks and pastries, too. Heading downtown? Settle into a booth at Finn’s Harbour Front Restaurant & Oyster Bar. We love this 1882 heritage building with exposed brick and big windows on a rainy night, but the 60-seat patio overlooking the Inner Harbour is hard to beat on a sunshiny day. Choose from a menu heavy in sustainably caught fresh seafood, AAA steaks and classic chops cut in-house, plus classic cocktails like the signature killer martini.
Brunch shall never be overlooked, and since this may be the last meal you enjoy before you head back to the mainland, stop enroute at 10 Acres The Pier in Sidney. Seasonal tops the ingredients list because, hello, the restaurant is owned by 10 Acre Farm. Try the healthy-ish toast, with house-made sourdough, romesco, avocado, salsa verde, two poached eggs and all the hollandaise love. Then, head back to Vancouver very well fed. —Catherine Dunwoody