Side Dish - Island Inspired Eats.

Gearing up for summer road trips and adventures is one part where to go – and in my case – two parts where to eat.

I hit the road and found plenty of gems for you to check out here on the Island, in Vancouver and in the Okanagan.

Starting at home in Victoria, at Fishhook at 805 Fort St. you’ll find Ocean Wise seafood dishes, local libations, gluten free and dairy free dishes. Delicious shrimp toast ($8) is flash boiled spicy Harissa shrimp with crispy shallots and red chilli honey. Creative menu items are Indo-French inspired. It’s open 11am to 9pm seven days a week. Next door at 807 Fort is Chorizo & Co., a Spanish deli, café and pantry. They have paella nights with music, awesome sandwiches, rare specialty pantry items and local craft drinks. But I’m all about those churros. Check their Facebook page for hours and specials.

Shrimp Toast at Fishhook in Victoria.

Shrimp Toast at Fishhook in Victoria.

Nest Bistro

Nest Bistro

In Nanaimo, plan to stop at Nest Bistro for a glass of BC wine, a creative cocktail, or the forest mushroom risotto.

They make pizzas, a famous mac n’ cheese, and many great mains to choose from. They’re open Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner, weekends for dinner only, 5 to 10pm. Find them at 77 Skinner St. and enjoy the patio. Visit thenestbistro.com for a menu.

For weekends in Vancouver, Beaucoup Bakery in Kitsilano (just a few minutes from Granville Island) has some of the very best pastries in the city. Have a croissant, or (and) the cardamom kouign amann. The salted chocolate rosemary cookie is a must, and I stock on up brioche loaves (only available on weekends unless you pre-order) to make French toast at home. They serve 49th Parallel coffee and have two daily sandwich options for lunch.

Strawberry Rhubarb tart at Beaucoup Bakery.

Strawberry Rhubarb tart at Beaucoup Bakery.

For weekend brunch starting at 9am, stroll to Edible Canada at The Market on Granville Island. The signature breakfast and eggs benny come with duck fat hashbrowns and you can have a maple bacon Caesar to wash it down. All ingredients are sourced from Canada, they have an extensive Canadian wine and drink list, and offer many gluten free options. Ocean Wise seafood, foraged foods and sustainable local meats. Combined with great people and a patio in the heart of the island, makes this one of my favourite spots in the city.

There’s not enough space to share everything I’ve discovered in the Okanagan this Spring, so a few quick must-visits in Kelowna are: Sandrine French Pastry and ChocolateSalted Brick Restaurant and Bean Scene Coffee Works. Watch for a multitude of winemaker events and dinners, and don’t miss Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver. The view, the people, and the wines combined with the food will live in your vacation memories long afterwards.

Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver.

Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver.

Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver.

Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver.

Salted Brick in Kelowna.

Salted Brick in Kelowna.

Try it you’ll like it:

Moody Ales Hardy Brown Ale at craft-focused private liquor stores.

Weekend brunch 10am to 2pm at Saveur on Herald St., the huevos rancheros are great.

Sült Pierogi BarNah-Bros is a dish I’ve been back twice for. Handmade and lots of options for stuffings and toppings, served with craft beer. Check their Facebook page for hours, open for lunch and dinner most days at 609 Yates.

Originally written for and published in Monday Magazine, June 2016.