When it comes to restaurants in Victoria, the sheer diversity in style, influence and tradition is guaranteed to blow you away. From centuries-old favorites, such as classic fish and chips, to cutting-edge international fusion, the local dining scene reflects the local commitment to fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. As is the case with other Pacific Northwest destinations, Victoria is surrounded by the rich farming regions of the Saanich Peninsula and Cowichan Valley, which allow for direct access to the natural riches of Vancouver Island, as well as the Pacific waters, which give way to freshly-caught seafood, particularly salmon and shellfish. Throw in your share of world-renowned chefs and it’s easy to see why restaurants in Victoria have risen in popularity in recent years.
Q at the Empress
Dedicated to Queen Victoria herself, Q at the Empress represents a contemporary spin on royalty. The first thing you’ll appreciate about the signature restaurant of the Fairmont Empress is the atmospheric setting that stays true to the hotel’s iconic heritage with tapestry-covered walls, cherry wood ceilings, candlelight and live harp music floating in the background. In the summer, this elegant character continues outside to the veranda, where you can relax with the best views of the city and harbor. When it comes to the food, Q at the Empress brings about the very best of Pacific Northwest cuisine with a menu based on fresh regional ingredients and direct partnership with local farmers and artisans. The cherry on top? Try the 500-label wine list that features an excellent selection of the best in the region and top vintages from around the world.
OLO really epitomizes what dining in British Columbia is all about. The award-winning restaurant takes farm-to-table cuisine to the next level, bringing together the very best seasonal ingredients from across Vancouver Island, such as locally-raised beef, fish plucked straight from nearby waters and produce grown from well-known farmers. While the menu is constantly changing based on the time of year, you can take great pride in knowing that the refined menu was created with sustainable farming practices, and you can even ask about the stories of the individual growers themselves. At heart, OLO strives to create a community that comes together over the comfort of a great meal. Meanwhile, the high-arching windows, bare brick walls and cozy touches make for an atmosphere that feels personal, inviting and wholesome. Take a peek at our Restaurant Guide to Victoria for the town’s top culinary experiences.
Vista 18 is billed as Victoria’s only rooftop bar and restaurant. It’s located on the 18th floor of the Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites and boasts panoramic views of the city’s bustling Inner Harbour, the snow-capped Olympic Mountain range and the Pacific Ocean’s Juan de Fuca Strait. The mood is set from the moment you step inside, as the modern yet cozy décor and regular live music programming create an atmosphere that’s both inviting and romantic. Like other restaurants in Victoria, the menu places an emphasis on free-range, organic and local products, and combines this with a curated palette of flavors from across the globe.
Looking for fine dining in a casual urban setting? Saveur brings a taste of the big city to Vancouver Island. This intimate 30-seat restaurant sets the mood with an exposed brick wall and soaring high ceilings punctuated with shining chandeliers, contemporary artwork and modern touches throughout. The inclusion of artisan-crafted walnut tables contrasts with the bold pops of color and an open kitchen, creating a sense of coziness while dining. When it comes to the culinary creations, Robert Cassels and his award-winning team produce contemporary French-inspired cuisine that incorporates ingredients from around Vancouver Island when possible. Working directly with the island’s farmers, foragers and fisheries, the playful and elegant tasting menu rotates as the seasons do, ensuring a fresh and pleasant experience with each visit.
For the past two decades, Zambri’s has drawn crowds for its handcrafted menu of Italian soul food. The trattoria-like restaurant strikes the perfect balance between casual and professional in a captivating space with floor-to-ceiling windows, eclectic chandeliers and homemade touches. Like many other restaurants in Victoria, the owners work with local farms to obtain the freshest seasonal ingredients, many of them organic, and use them to churn out contemporary versions of traditional dishes. Dinner is an elegant affair where house-made sausages, marinated octopus and other Italian delicacies are brought to life. Elsewhere, you can take the culinary experience to new heights with the multi-course tasting menu on Saturday nights. The finishing touch on a truly unforgettable meal is the unique selection of Italian wines.