Victoria, B.C. might be known for its gardens and English charm, but it also has a bursting foodie scene, especially when it comes to seafood. Two of my top picks are Chandlers Seafood and the Wharfside Eatery, both located just a few steps away from the inner harbor.
Wharfside Eatery‘s inner harbor location admittedly makes it a bit touristy, but the food is nothing but local. Try favorites like the Oysters Rockefeller (oysters sauteed with Italian bacon, garlic, and spinach), Alaskan Jumbo Scallops (wrapped in bacon with a smoky tomato cream sauce), or classics like king crab legs or citrus cilantro rubbed ahi tuna. My top picks are the calamari, hand-dipped in cracked wheat and served in an edible rice bowl, and the the smoked salmon and mango chutney wrap, served with crispy sweet potato fries (above). On a warm Victoria evening, eat outside on the dock and watch the sun set on the harbor. 1208 Wharf Street.
Chandlers Seafood is located a few blocks away from the inner harbor, making it less enticing to cruise ship tourists and more appealing to locals (who dubbed its seafood the best in Victoria). There’s no outside seating at Chandlers, but the dark wood paneling and maritime decor make it feel as if you’re dining with a sea captain. The seafood is fresh (as one would expect from a port town) and the chef focuses on local fare, like red Coho salmon, halibut, and Alberta steaks. If you’re there for a small meal, try the seafood chowder (made with wild Spring salmon, halibut, and shellfish) or the shrimp-stuffed mushrooms–two delicious appetizers. Chandlers also serves larger “feasts for two,” like the “Menu Tour” (shrimp-stuffed mushrooms, New Brunswick lobster tails, garlic prawns, wild halibut fillet, and wild Spring salmon fillet) or “King Crab Feast” (shrimp-stuffed mushrooms plus one pound of garlic king crab shanks with two fillets of wild Spring salmon), all served with Caesar salad, basmati organic rice, baked potato, and warm bread with the chef’s signature olive tapenade. 1250 Wharf Street.
No matter where you eat for lunch or dinner, make sure to save room for dessert at Rogers’ Chocolates. This Victoria staple (the original store has been open since 1891 and serves fine gourmet chocolates) opened an old-fashioned soda shoppe right across from the Fairmont Empress. The shoppe has marble counters, retro bar stools, a restored soda fountain, and serves ice cream (try unique flavors like raspberry, raisin rum, or ginger snap) made fresh from the Rogers’ Chocolates factory in Victoria. 801 Government Street.
Photos: Jeannette Kimmel and Brad Swain