The premise for Food Network Canada’s newest show Neighbourhood Eats is simple: celebrate the pride we take in where we live and eat by giving Food Network Canada stars and other notable Canadians an outlet to tour and brag about their favourite food spots. Whether it’s a bakery, restaurant, cheese or spice shop, the hosts introduce us to their very best Neighbourhood Eats and the colourful local characters who create them. Each episode features a new host and along the way, they’ll sample delicious bites, purchase a little something tasty for take-out and maybe even get to help out behind the counter.
I certainly could not consider myself as “notable” as some of the other Canadians on the list, but it is nonetheless an honour to be included alongside Chef Lynn Crawford, Chef Michael Smith, Chef Hugh Acheson, and other figures as The Sheepdogs and Banff’s Mayor Karen Sorensen, to showcase the best culinary spots in some of Canada’s neighbourhoods. And for me, that neighbourhood is Downtown Victoria.
Yes, I am a Torontonian. However, I have also spent a lot of time in Victoria, BC in the last few years and by virtue of my curiosity and tenacity, eventually got to know the city’s best restaurants, food stalls and cafés. Opening a spa in Victoria’s Hudson District and becoming a local business owner definitely played a role! Victoria is a wonderful city that ebbs and flows with its tourist seasons and is fuelled by a nature-loving, yoga-obsessed local population all year round. I’m proud to represent the city and share my little slice of it with Food Network Canada’s audience.
Below, you can find a few of my curated favourite spots. You can also view my top recommendations on the Neighbourhood Eats page: Eat Like Food Blogger Annie Chu in Downtown Victoria, BC.
Where to Eat in Downtown Victoria
Coffee shop: Hey Happy is my favourite little coffee shop in town. It’s very well designed (think clean and contemporary with rounded corners) and has a lot of finesse without being stuffy. Plus, it’s surrounded by some of my favourite boutiques.
Brunch place: Notwithstanding the lines, Jam Café probably has my favourite brunch. They feature hearty, whimsical versions of (American) Southern food such as Pulled Pork Pancakes (pictured above) or Chicken N’ Waffles (my usual weakness). If dim sum counts as brunch, my go-to is Golden City, where they steam everything to order and do a great congee. It’s not fancy, but it’s an institution, and it’s also just a stone’s throw away from my spa!
Fine dining: Despite its colonial, stiff upper lip history, Victoria today is one of the most laid-back places I’ve ever been, and the fine dining is equally relaxed. For a wonderful evening out, I would highly recommend Olo, an upscale farm-to-table establishment. The best thing is to just let them serve you whatever happens to be seasonal, rather than ordering from the menu.
Casual dining: If you’re looking for refined flavour profiles, organic, local, reasonably priced, comfortable, and creative, you’ll find all that and more at a little unassuming restaurant called Part & Parcel. While their menu is forever-changing, I would be willing to eat one of their kamut-fried chicken sandwiches paired with a roasted beet salad every day.
Fast casual: Bin 4 Burger Lounge has a few locations and a winning formula. I always try to see what they have as their special (I had an intense Mighty Duck once with a beef patty, latke, and fried duck egg) but if all else fails, I will order the velvety Wild Mushroom Burger (Bin 11) with fries and salad.
Food truck: When I think of “food trucks” in Victoria, it’s really the permanent ones that are memorable. If you head down to Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll find a few different vendors, but The Fish Store is by far my favourite. Their fish is sustainably sourced and they have a great selection. Try the sturgeon if you’re looking for something a little different!
Bar: For a nice, can’t-go-wrong experience, check out Canoe Brewpub. There’s an excellent selection of drinks and great food to go with them. The (seasonal) maple syrup pie is fantastic. If you’re looking for a fun, gritty experience (though you won’t find much food here), there’s no place better than Big Bad John’s. With burlap style booths and peanut shells strewn all over the floor, it’s a rowdy time.
Bakery: For simple, hearty bread and little loaves, you have to check out La Tana, the little Italian bakery located just outside of Fan Tan Alley. You haven’t tasted happiness until you’ve had gelato in a brioche bun.
Dessert spot: Crust Bakery is as amazing for a simple morning cookie (yes, this is allowed!) as they are for catering (they once made me a beautiful assortment of miniature tarts and quiches for a special event). However, if you’re looking for a nice place to spend the entire afternoon, the refined French charm of Fol Epi and its delicate pastries will certainly satisfy.
See more on Food Network Canada.