If you haven’t eaten in Victoria since your own childhood, you’re in for a treat. Skip the fake fish ‘n’ chips shops and touristy stops. Victoria’s thriving foodie scene means you’ll find plenty of locally grown, internationally influenced options at all price ranges.
Victoria BC family-friendly restaurants:
Rebar. Take a seat at an oilcloth-covered table and ask for a dinosaur along with the kidsâ€™ menu. Rebar loans out the plastic toys to fidgety kids. But it never takes too long for your stacked sandwiches and Asian-fusion fare to arrive. Rebarâ€™s healthy without being ur-crunchy — carobâ€™s on the menu, but so is a veg quesadilla, dripping with creme fraiche.
Sally Bun (1030 Fort St.).Â An easy, no-mess lunch that looks like a dinner roll, but stuffed with delicious fillings (spinach and feta, salmon, chicken curry). Fill a paper bag with buns and head to the park. Extremely popular with the lunchtime crowd, so the pickings are slim to nonexistent by midafternoon. Along Victoria’s Fort Street, about 10 minutes walk from Downtown/Inner Harbour.
CafÃ© Mo:Le. Mo:Leâ€™s locally grown, organic and carefully selected ingredients are infused with colorful Latin style. Even the free-range egg yolks are a vibrant orange-yellow color. Mo:le attracts families, friends and couples with a full breakfast, lunch and kids’ menu. Check the open hours and arrive early — we once waited an hour for a table. My huevos rancheros were worth every minute of that hour.
Rogers’ Chocolates Soda Shoppe. Not the cheapest dessert, but youâ€™re paying for the view and the unique experience. Create your own soda by mixing Rogerâ€™s flavors, or create a super-deluxe ice cream sundae with your choice of ice cream, candy toppings and syrups. Then sit on black swivel stools and daydream out at the yacht-filled Inner Harbour. Not too shabby. P.S. don’t teach the kids the old-fashioned words, “soda jerk.” You won’t be able to live that one down.
Hernandeâ€™z: Central American tacos are calledÂ huaraches, Spanish for shoes, because the oval tortillas resemble the sole of a shoe. Donâ€™t worry, these hand-shaped tortillas donâ€™t actually taste like shoes, but the completely-from-scratch ingredients piled inside: black bean, seasoned chicken or organic beef. The quick-service items, busy atmosphere and plentiful seating makes it an excellent lunchtime option, especially with squirrelly kids.
Red Fish, Blue Fish: Sustainable fish and chips? For sure. In Victoria, this Inner Harbour chip shop only offers seafood approved by Ocean Wise. Definitely a kid-friendly pick, particularly if you eat your meal while watching seaplanes take off and land. Pick up a share-worthy portion of Qualicum Bay scallop tacones orÂ BBQ wild salmon sandwich.
Zambriâ€™s. Fancy new digs for Zambri’s means you’ll feel oh-so-cool while dining — but it can be a bit trickier to eat here with antsy kids. Order your main dish, then request a serving of vegetables from one of the restaurantâ€™s family-style platters. No children’s menu. Parents may feel most comfortable during lunchtime hours. Closed on Sundays.
Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe. A quick bus ride from downtown Victoria takes you to the cutie-pie Oak Bay neighborhood, where 1920s-era Tudor storefronts welcome families. Walk between childrenâ€™s toy and clothing stores, antique shops and a park. For a midafternoon perk-up, Crumsbyâ€™s coffee, cupcakes and a kidsâ€™ play area offer respite. If your tots are too small for The Fairmont Empress’ tea, order Crumsby’s “Tea Party” with mini cupcakes and pot of O.J., apple juice, milk or tea.
Paradiso di Stelle (10 Bastion Square). On a sunny day, nothing beats Paradisoâ€™s location in Downtown Victoria’s Bastion Square. Order your filling pasta or panini, then grab a seat outside and eat while people-watching and Inner Harbour views. We love the cafe’s kid-friendly gelato and adult-friendly espresso. In rainy weather, the food is still fine and fast, but the crowded interior (without much room for a stroller) can make you crazy.
Noodle Box. This BC-based chain makes tasty noodles with a variety of meats, tofu, veg and sauces. Order mild noodles for the kids and hot, spicy noodles for yourself â€“ but donâ€™t order too much. Big portion sizes can be hard to polish off, so two boxes can feed a family of four. Kids enjoy watching the kitchen commotion, and the noise level makes Noodle Box a good pick for boisterous families.
Find more fabulous restaurants in my book Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver