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Tofino


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Hey Catherine, I can help you out. I've lived in Ucluelet and Tofino for the past five years. The top two restaurants you have to try are actually in Ucluelet.

Norwoods - it is on the main road (Peninsula) when you drive in to town. It is definately a little pricey but worth every penny (Say $150 for two people with wine and 3 courses). They have a decent wine selection and are one of the few places out here that carry Vancouver Island wine. It is a small place so make resrvations. The scallop with the potato shards is amazing. The warm sausage plate is really good too, with all the sausage coming from Pete's Mountain Meats in Port Alberni (full disclosure Pete's is our bbq team sponsor but they do make amazing sausage). For mains the lamb shanks are really good and the pork is amazing as well.

Driftwood - Go here for lunch one day. The young guy who runs is (Franky) was one of the chefs at Norwoods before taking over here. It is down the hill in Ucluelet (when you see the coop turn left and when you get to the bottom of the hill turn left again, it is on the left hand side of the road just before the police station. I highly recomend the musels and fries. He makes incredible fries and the mussels are in a marinara sauce. I recomend asking for the sauce to be spicy. The tuna loin is really good as well. Also recomended are the thai curry (not traditional and sometimes a bit watery but good). Also the crab cakes are awesome. The burgers are nice as well. It is a very casual place. You won't spend more than $50 here if you try......

Now on to Tofino

Sobo - Really nice local food. Lots of seafood. The polenta fries are really nice (although my co worker sitting across from me thinks they taste like Kraft Diner so take that for what it's worth!). The pizza's are good (duck confit and walnut is my fabvorite). The seafood hot pot is really good but only on the dinner menu. You really can't miss here. the miso soup with noodles is really good as well. Casual place as well but kind of upscale. Desserts are really good, my favorites are the flourless chocolate cake and the key lime pie. The margarita's are good and strong and the beer selection is pretty good. I would avoid the tofu pockets.

Sea Shanty - Go for lunch, the crab monte cristo is amazing with a good chowder. Not much else to say because that is all I ever order from there. It is right on the water in Tofino (turn right at the coop).

Now for the places that are ok......

Tofino

Tough City Sushi - On Main Street in Tofino (which is actually not the street you drive in on but is the one that is on the water). If you like sushi this is decent, they have some neat things such as diced strawberries and mango on a deep fried sushi roll. Honestly nothing amazing here if you have sushi often but not bad by any means.

Tuff Beans and Vicentes Coffee Shops - Both are good for sandwiches, soups, breakfasts and coffee. Just regular basic homemade food but enjoyable on the go.

Shelter - Trendy place. Nice menu, food usually doesn't live up to the descriptions. Not bad in any way but not worth the money and kind of dissapointing all in all. They have everything from pub food, to burgers to fancy seafood dishes etc.....I would compare it to Moxies, Earls or something like that.

Spotted Bear Bistro - This used to be the best restaurant on the coast when it was the Rain Coast Cafe. Now it is sub par. Still expensive. The food is not usually cooked correctly. The menu is good, small selection but really nice choices. It can still be really really good from time to time but is hit or miss. I've had the duck breast be amazing and not. Never really bad or anything though.

Wick Inn - Good food, very expensive. Seafood based. Very fancy. On Chesterman Beach, amazing view. I'm very biased on this place it's a little too fancy and pretentious for me, they do have really good service though. Probably worth going to (although I hate to admit it!)

Long Beach Lodge - The Great Room here is amazing, I would go during the day and at night. The diner menu is really really good. If they have the lamb on special I recomend it. During the day go for a drink and a pizza and enjoy the view. The homemade ice creams are really good and the chocolate selections from there pastry chefs are always good. It is pricier and fancy but still very very comfortable.

Ucluelet

Cynamoka - Decent breakfast and coffe, basic but good. Lunch the same idea.

Black Rock Resort - Amazing view. Nice menu. Food is good, but not extraordinary. Probably worth seeing. The lounge is really nice at night and they have nice upscale lounge food. Decent number of scotches (nothin crazy about 10 but good choices). They are open for breakfast, lunch and diner.

Matterson house - odd hours so check before......Really basic diner type food, nothing wrong with it but nothing you'll write home about!

Places not recomended......

Ucluelet - Peninsula Chinese, Blue Room, Eagles Nest Pub, Romans Pizza, Harbour Pizza, jiggers.

Tofino - Gary's Chinese, Weighwest pub (except for a beer at night although no selection), Schooner, and Breakers, Tofino Bagel Company.

If you were coming in the summer I would also say do not miss Tacofina. If none of these work just swing by and we'll cook you some food and get you some home made beer!

Shoot me an email if you need help planning anything, anything doesn't make sense, or if you have any other questions!

Clark

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Also to add, if you go to Sobo make sure you have the chowder. It is really really good. Kind of spicy, lots of fish. You can also take it to go, they have it in a cooler as soon as you walk into the restaurant.

2 more two add as well:

Tin Wiss Resort outside of Tofino has pretty good breakfast and the view is ocean front. Not what you would get at Black Rock, The Wick or Long Beach Lodge but still nice. Breakfast is reasonably prcied as well. For some reason I have never had any other meals there aside from lunch meetings which is a different beast.

The offshore restaurant in Ucluelet. The food is really good. Very seafood based. The only problem is it is very unprofesional and the prices match that of the places that do food as well and are more profesional (what I mean by this it is a very small place and you can hear the cooks and so forth using not the nicest language. Plus you get a few people come in and sit at the bar which is literaly a few feet away). To be brutally honest it never bothered me much but the last two times I was there the folks with me had some major complaints once we left.

Number One Market in Ucluelet. This sounds funny because it is just a convenience store. It is a great place to pick up a meal on the run. The owners used to run the bakery in town (there is no bakery now) before purchaising it. They have fresh muffins every morning. Sandwiches, burgers and tortillas in the fridge for lunch that are prepared daily, along with soup in a crock pot and baked goods (cookies and so forth). It is right when you drive into Ukee on the right hand side with a yellow sign. In my opinion it is better than the Common Loaf Bakery in Tofino.

Clark

Edited by Clark D (log)
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No worries at all. Like I say if there is anything else just send me an email anytime. If you are looking to cook for your self don't count too much on getting any fresh seafood this time of year, all of the sea food stores are shut down for the season. If there is something you really would like to cook let me know and we can probably get it for you!

Clark

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Not sure the exact dates you're round but there are a few events with Whale Festival the next couple of weeks. The best is the Chowder Chowdonw. All of the restaurants in Ucluelet and Tofino get together in Ucluelet. You get a spoon and then go to each booth and get a small bowl of chowder. I think it's $10 and you leave stuffed. Here's from the web page.

15th Annual Chowder Chowdown

Sunday March 20, 2011: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Ucluelet Community Centre, Ucluelet

Tickets at the door: $10 adults/$5 kid/$25 family up to 4 kids

Sample the best of the Pacific Northwest from local Tofino and Ucluelet chefs! Gourmet secrets, mom & pop specials, traditional family recipes. Have a taste of numerous samples and favour your flavour. Which chowder will win your vote this year?! Featuring live maritime tunes and collector’s T-shirts for sale. Bring a spoon! Presented in partnership with District of Ucluelet Rec Commission and Department. Thanks to all for keeping the tradition alive and well!

Then there is the sweet idulgence in Ucluelet. THis is open to everyone and a bunch of locals submit desserts for everyone to try. It is all you can eat so be ready for the sugar rush......

Sweet Indulgence - All you can eat dessert

Monday March 21, 2011: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Ucluelet Community Centre, Ucluelet

Advance tickets only: $10 adults/$5 kids 12 & under

An evening of decadence; featuring favourites from the recipe archives from up and down the coast. All-you-can-eat desserts & people’s choice awards, and more. Live musical guests, Smalltown Empire! Limited capacity, so advanced tickets only!

And a few events I haven't been too

This is from a restaurant that closed but was actually really good, may be worth checking out.

Family Dinner Night

Wednesday March 23, 2011: 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Ucluelet Community Centre, Ucluelet

While others are migrating with martinis you can enjoy a fabulous home-cooked meal with the comfort of someone else doing the cooking!

Join Shamie of 4 Spice Restaurant for a meal with flavours that will leave your taste buds tingling! After the meal head to the other end of the Community Centre and enjoy a movie night!

Adult $12 Kids $8

This one is really popular

Martini Migration

Wednesday March 23, 2011: 7:00 pm - 12:00 am

Tofino Community Hall, Tofino

Advance tickets only: $45

6th Annual Cocktail Competition. Local mixologists will compete for the coveted title of the best Whale Festival Martini & decorated booth. Come shake, stir and vote for your version of the best coastal martini, and the most animalistic costumes in attendance! Dress for the theme - Feathers, Fur & Fins - Get Primal! Bring out the animal in you!

Live show with Quoia {Kwoi - a} is a collective of musicians currently residing on Southern Vancouver Island. Known for their high-energy live show and uplifting grooves, this genre-hopping group is swiftly attracting new fans of all ages!

Partial proceeds to local research projects.

I think I'm going to check this one out, Alderlea makes nice wines, especially the one they call Clarinet.

A Whale of a Wine - Wine Reception

Saturday March 26, 2011: 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Ucluelet

Only $20 per person!

Bob Furguson of Okanagan’s Kettle Valley Winery & Roger Dossman of Cowichan Valley’s Alderlea Vineyards for a Wine and Cheese Reception in Float lounge! Meet Roger and Bob and dare to compare!

Vancouver Island to Okanagan Varietals

A Whale of a Wine - Wine Maker's Dinner

Saturday March 26, 2011: 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Ucluelet

Tickets are $120 (taxes and grats not included) Only 25 spots! Call Black Rock now to reserve your seat!

Dine with Bob and Roger in Black Rock’s extraordinary Wine Cellar! Explore the Best of BC wines paired with Chef Andrew Springett’s Artistic Culinary Creations!

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's my last night in Canada, and I'd like to report back, in case someone else is making their way up to Tofino. First of all, it is stunningly beautiful here, all calories aside.

Clark was so generous with his recommendations, only some of which we were able to follow in our all-too-short trip. We did eat at Norwoods this evening, and it was easily the best meal of our trip to Vancouver Island, which included several good meals in Victoria.

At Norwoods, my husband and I shared the excellent mussels as a starter. You don't get mussels that big on the East Coast, and they were impeccably clean, in a delicious, slightly spicy, light, tomatoey sauce. Served with half glasses of a very good riesling.

My husband had a roasted game hen for his main course, perfectly cooked, very flavorful, with a wild rice risotto. No room for mistakes there, and it was just right.

I had what is listed as an appetizer course: a seafood trio consisting of Dungeness crab chowder, prawns tempura, and grilled octopus on truffled mashed potatoes. So good. Everything balanced and complementary. The truffle flavor, for example, was subtle and beautifully matched with the remarkably tender octopus. (That's not easy: recently, a professionally trained friend served a pasta that was so overwhelmed with truffle flavoring that it was unpleasant.)

Because Norwoods offers wine by the half glass and full glass as well as the bottle, the dinner was not so expensive, and as my husband said, we didn't feel stuffed and drunk when we left.

I have to say, Norwoods put Sobo to shame. We ate their last evening, and while the items were not badly cooked, none of the flavors seemed to come together. Use local ingredients at the end of winter, the salad included sprouted peas and beans, grated beets and jicama (maybe?) as well as lettuce, but the textures and tastes were just a hodgepodge. Similarly, I had some roast shrimp in a citrus butter sauce over gnocchi--so far, so good--but the dish included a roasted carrot, a floret of broccoli, and a piece of cauliflower, all nicely cooked but really out of place, I thought. It didn't help that the service was quite poor: every time the young woman who was waiting on us put something down on our table, or even asked how we were doing, she was looking at the next table over.

We had only two nights in Tofino/Ucluelet--which I can now pronounce!--and I would gladly have eaten at Norwoods twice, had I known. I would love to taste their duck ravioli, the clam sauce, their lamb, actually, everything on the menu. Oh, well!

Thanks again to Clark for all the help. I highly recommend this far corner of the world (far from Connecticut, in any case) to anyone who can get here.

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  • 1 year later...

I see that the restaurant recommendations date back to 2011 so I am wondering what is good now? We are heading out to Tofino in a week. Any recommendations? So for I have found these on Trip Advisor:

Redcan Gourmet for takeout; tactofino Cantina for a foodtrucks; Spotted Bear????; Wildside Grill at the Golf Club for fish and chips; Big Daddy's Fish Fry for outdoor eating but it could be too cool; Shelter

Help if you can, many thanks.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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