With a wealth of international cuisines, renowned chefs, fresh seafood and striking landscapes, it can be a difficult task choosing where to dine in Victoria, Canada. Here are ten attractive restaurants, hand-picked for their stunning settings, delicious menus and mesmerizing decor, perfect for romantic dates, family dinners and celebratory meals.
Red Fish Blue Fish
Fish and Chip Shop, Restaurant, British, Canadian, Fusion, $$$
If you’re in the mood for sustainably-sourced fresh fish while gazing at a magical panoramic view, then head to Red Fish Blue Fish, a spot that sits right on the waterfront. Go for the fish and chips —halibut, cod or salmon deep-fried in a crispy tempura batter and served with traditional tartar sauce, coleslaw and hand cut Kennebec chips; or, opt for the fish tacone, an experimental dish, a fresh piece of grilled seafood, or one of the house-made soups. Nestled right on the bay, Red Fish Blue Fish is located in a cargo container in Victoria’s Inner Harbour – perfect for watching the sun go down over the water.
At The Butchart Gardens, you’ll find intricate and colorful flower arrangements surrounding the dining areas. This provides a magical air to the place and pairs perfectly with the beautifully designed menu. Head to The Dining Room for fine dining, or to the family-friendly Blue Poppy Restaurant for some laid-back fare. There’s also a coffee shop for those in the mood for a caffeine fix. At The Butchart Gardens, there’s something for everyone — take part in afternoon tea, a three-course meal from the seasonal menu, or take a gourmet picnic to the lawn and attend one of the Saturday Night Fireworks events (only offered during the summer). Picnic options include wild BC salmon, grilled chicken, fresh prawns or Portobello mushrooms all served with salad and a house-made treat. These are even packaged up nicely, and given to guests in a picnic basket!
Dine by candlelight in the romantic, Italian restaurant, Il Terrazzo. With inspiration drawn from northern Italy, menu options include wood-oven roasted meats and pizza, fresh seafood and house-made pasta. There are many options for local fish like the seared scallops, steamed mussels or open-flame-roasted salmon. For meat-lovers, try the veal tenderloin. Dessert cannot be missed at Il Terrazzo, think house-made tiramisu and cookies, and house-churned ice cream.
Cafe, Restaurant, Dim Sum, Fusion, Canadian, Greek, Cocktails, $$$
Set just beside the sea, Aura is the go-to spot if you’re in the mood for Pacific Rim-inspired dishes. Its seasonal menu uses only the finest local and organic ingredients. Try the goats cheese and grilled asparagus omelette for breakfast, the pan-fried Dungeness crab cakes for lunch or the charbroiled beef tenderloin with roast garlic jus for dinner. Not much of an appetite? This spot is the perfect place to sit and watch the boats pass through the harbor whilst enjoying an early morning cup of coffee or an evening glass of wine. Valet parking is complimentary and the selection of wines, island micro-brews and cocktails are exemplary.
An adults-only establishment, The Bengal Lounge inside The Fairmont Empress, serves authentic curries and lush cocktails. Inspired by Queen Victoria’s role as the Empress of India, The Bengal Lounge is decorated in an elaborate and impressive manner. The restaurant has a la carte menu options available as well as signature curry buffets — not overly generous in variety, but unbeatable in flavor. The dim lighting and lounge-like furnishings make it the perfect venue for relaxing in the evening. Live music performances by local artists on the weekends give diners all the more reason to stay for that extra cocktail (or two).
Known for simple French cuisine at its finest, Restaurant Matisse offers delicious dishes like beef carpaccio, roasted breast of pheasant, king prawn and scallop fricassee and lemon syllabub. Diners can order a la carte, or can put their experience in the hands of the chef with the tasting menu (offered in three-courses, with or without wine pairings). The intimate and quaint setting transports guests to a tiny bistro in the French countryside, making it the perfect restaurant for smaller parties and couples seeking a romantic dining experience. Waiters are skilled in wine pairing so be sure to ask for suggestions.
Jam Cafe, serving huge portions of American classics, is typically known for having long queues, but it’s worth wait. Breakfast is served all day with options like Huevos Rancheros, Green Eggs and Ham or Red Velvet Pancakes. For lunch, go for one of the large sandwiches served with shoe-string fries; or, opt for the grilled mac ‘n’ cheese or fried chicken. Look out for the daily specials written on the chalk board, and be sure to try the signature dish, the Charlie Bowl –crumbled biscuits topped with pork gravy, ham, green onions, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and finished off with two fried eggs – a brunch dish big enough to satisfy any appetite.
Ithaka, a family-run restaurant serving up authentic Greek fare, is one of Victoria’s most famed eateries. Meals begin with bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table, and for a standard Greek appetiser, go for the saganaki opa — kefalograviera cheese flambéed at the table with metaxa brandy. For an entrée, try the moussaka or half rack of ribs — you can even add a skewer of chicken souvlaki for a meaty fix. Be sure to make a reservation as this one fills up fast, and watch out for the occasional smashed plate and outbreak of traditional dancing from the owners.
At Bubby’s Kitchen, diners can enjoy wholesome cooking in a relaxed atmosphere. The name ‘Bubby’ comes from the Yiddish term for grandmother, emphasizing the restaurant’s philosophy of creating dishes inspired by grandmothers’ cooking. There’s an open kitchen allowing diners to see the preparation of every dish, and the owners ensure that only the finest meats are used. Go for breakfast or brunch, and try Bubby’s West Coast Bennie — two poached eggs on a grilled herb biscuit, topped with a homemade hollandaise sauce, smoked wild salmon, fresh dill and capers, and served with baby potatoes and fresh fruit.
Owned by sommelier Marc Morrison, Brasserie L’ecole is known for its eclectic selection of Belgian and French beer and wine, which are perfectly paired with the French dishes offered on the menu. The selections change every night, and only include seasonal and local ingredients; examples of what’s offered include oysters, inland mussels, gougères, skate wing, beef paleron with cauliflower puree and duck confit. The dark wood flooring and furnishings make for a romantic setting, but guests are only sat on first-come, first-served basis, so be prepared for a wait.