By: Simone Paget
After spending over a decade living in Toronto, I decided to move back to my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia in search of a change of pace. I’ve since discovered that my sleepy hometown on the West Coast has produced a surprising number of really great restaurants, independent coffee bars and boutiques since I’ve been away. I’m really excited to be sharing with you today some of my favorite places to eat, drink and shop in my hometown!
Where To Eat
Red Fish Blue Fish: This tiny seafood take-out stand is located right on the pier of the Victoria inner harbor in a transformed freight container. The menu features 100 % ‘Ocean Wise’ environmentally friendly seafood and it is delicious. Try one of their fish “Tacones” – BBQ Wild BC Salmon wrapped in a thin flat-bread with sweet-smoked chili adobe, pea shoots and lemon pickled onions. Enjoy it while dangling your legs off the edge of the dock.
Hernandez: This Latin American cantina prides itself on making ‘slow food’ from scratch but in a fast-food setting. Their tortillas are handmade and the meat they use is locally raised and antibiotic-free. Their tacos are so delicious that I did daydream about them when I was in Toronto.
North 48 – I discovered this restaurant a year ago and have been hooked ever since. North 48 specializes in gourmet, West Coast comfort food. Think: Octopus Tacos, Malaysian Coconut Curry Ling Cod and Peking Duck Leg Confit. I think much too frequently about their Chicken & Waffles. The restaurant also has a complete menu of Tiki drinks, making it the perfect spot for a night out with friends.
Where to Go For Coffee
Habit: What my sleepy hometown lacks in nightlife, it more than makes up for in a huge selection of awesome independent coffee shops. Habit is one of my favourites. They sell only locally roasted beans and are known for their award-winning baristas. We take our coffee seriously on the West Coast and this place serves one of the best lattes I’ve ever had.
Where to Drink
My favourite bar in this city is Clive’s Classic Lounge (top). Recognized as one of the top cocktail lounges in the world (Tales of the Cocktail 2011, 2012, 2014), this cozy, traditional hotel bar serves up delicious craft cocktails using housemade bitters, syrups, liqueurs and fresh squeezed juices. Make sure to also check out Veneto (left) and Little Jumbo (right) for more cocktails.
Where to Shop
Reunion: This trendy boutique proves that West Coast fashion isn’t just about Gore Tex, polar fleece and Cowichan sweaters. Rebel Rebel features a well-chosen selection of chic & sought after brands such as Cheap Monday, Paige Premium Denim, Athé Vanessa Bruno and Pendleton. Also make sure to check out Still Life for Him and Her (above) and Bernstein & Gold – two other Victoria favourites that are known for carrying brands that you won’t find at the mall like Erin Templeton, Elizabeth & James and Ted Baker.
The Patch: This vintage superstore features a massive selection of affordable vintage clothing and new accessories. Last time I shopped there I scored 3 pairs of vintage boots for $60 total. I’ve heard that they pull their stock from all over North America, which is why it’s not unusual to occasionally stumble across high end pieces by the likes of Tibi, Nicole Miller & Tracy Reese.
Thrift Stores and Vintage Fairs: I’ve heard that many of the foreign students who come to Victoria to learn English will ‘dump’ their old wardrobes before returning home with their new Canadian digs. This is why you can find some pretty cool stuff at second hand shops. Victoria is also home to several vintage fairs throughout the year where you can find some really unique, amazing finds. My best score: a pair of Ferragamo ballet flats for $10!
Have you been to Victoria, BC? What are your favourite things to eat/see/d0?
Simone Paget is a freelance writer based in Victoria, BC. She writes about life, love, dating and sex on her blog Skinny Dip.