Originally published May 20, 2016 | Updated September 14, 2018

One of the best parts of exploring a new city is treating your taste buds to some local flavor. With Victoria’s burgeoning foodie scene, a trip to BC’s capital city is the perfect excuse to sample some truly interesting eats! From classic Italian to contemporary takes on PNW cuisine, you’re bound to find a memorable meal by way of these 5 unique culinary experiences.

1. Zambri’s

Relax and savor authentic italian dishes in the open and inviting Zambri's on Yates Street.
Kick back and savor authentic Italian dishes in Zambri’s hip dining room on Yates Street. Photo: Zambri’s

Hearty Italian cuisine reigns supreme at Zambri’s, the winner of the Cooking Channel’s “Best in Chow: Pizza Wars Victoria” episode. With its airy, sophisticated vibe, the Yates Street restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy simple fare that packs a punch of flavor. Enjoy a classic pasta lunch at the counter or linger over an elegant multi-course dinner. Bonus points for pairing your meal with some of the region’s awarding-winning wines, handpicked by their in-house sommelier!

2. OLO

OLO Frodnesor
Dig into OLO’s pork duo with summer succotash and a corn butter Béarnaise sauce. Photo: Flickr user Frodnesor

With a menu that changes to reflect the seasons and a truly chic environment in which to enjoy it, Fisgard Street’s OLO should top any adventurous foodie’s list of must-visit eateries. Tuck into artfully-prepared dishes, such as the seafood agnolotti with corn and fennel. Or opt for something hardier, such as the duck breast topped with currant sauce. Whatever is on the menu when you visit, you’ll end up with an unforgettable dish in front of you!

3. Brasserie L’Ecole

Peter Bagi
Delicate dishes plated with care at French eatery Brasserie L’Ecole. Photo: Peter Bagi

Cozy up with casual country cooking in a classic French setting at the petite Brasserie L’Ecole. Situated in the heart of Victoria’s Chinatown, “L’Ecole” – which translates to “school” – is a nod to the building’s roots as a Chinese schoolhouse. Inscribed on chalkboards, the menu shifts daily, but you can expect modern takes on traditional bistro fare.

Chef Sean Brennan works closely with Vancouver Island’s farmers and fisherman, to deliver cuisine that is made with high quality, locally sourced organic ingredients. Don’t miss the pork loin entrée, which is paired with clam fritters and a beer cheese sauce. Swoon!

4. Fishhook

Savor open-faced French tartines at Fishhook, Victoria’s top restaurant on TripAdvisor. Photo: Fishhook

A collaboration between a local seafood purveyor and Top Chef Canada contender, Kunal Ghose, Fishhook is at the epicenter of Victoria’s flourishing culinary culture. This is THE place to go for a local version of the iconic French tartine – an open-faced sandwich piled high with smoked fish, silky melted cheese and an assortment of tempting toppings.

If the weather takes a chilly turn, be sure to order their unique take on chowder with a spicy East Indian twist. This thyme-chili-laced soup combines a coconut-smoked fish broth with gently confited halibut. After slurping down a bowl of this inimitable concoction, you’ll leave with the added satisfaction of knowing that Fishhook has made a commitment to sustainability. Ghose makes an effort to partner with organic suppliers who share his passion for conserving the island’s beloved bodies of water.

5. Fuego

Enjoy spicy Latin flavors and relaxed, colorful vibes at Fuego in old town. Photo: Lindsey Ganahl

Want to kick off your day with a bit of adventure? Sink your teeth into pinto pancakes stuffed with pulled pork, pickled red onions and blueberries at Fuego Old Town Eatery. Situated inside Market Square off of Johnson Street, owners Brad and Hilda Oberg have owned and operated this local favorite for more than three decades.

Looking for lunch? Don’t miss their divine chicken enchiladas or carne asada tacos drenched in house-made hot sauce. On a warm day, grab a seat at the tequila bar and soak in the relaxed ambiance while you sip on a perfectly sweet-tart margarita.

Whether you’re a foodie with a refined palate or a casual diner searching for a little taste of Europe, Victoria offers a vibrant international culinary scene, guaranteed to leave you planning your return visit!

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