Tofino is such a unique town, it has a lot of creative and physical energy running through it. I went there to camp on Long Beach a few years ago and was faced with a few days of poor weather to contend with. Luckily, there was plenty of interesting restaurants to keep us all distracted, nourished, dry and warm.
It did seem a little pricey, but not alarming to a cheapskate like myself. Just comparable to Vancouver prices maybe. And Vancouver has nothing on the creative and fun eateries, or on the more sophisticated dining rooms that dot the Westcoast. The only trouble here is deciding on which one to try first.
I have tried a few, but not all of the restaurants listed here. And by the time you read this, there could be a new trendy spot on the town map, or a menu overhaul on your favorite. These chefs like to express themselves and I suppose there is a lot of pressure and competition to stay on top of the heap.
Fine Dining Spots in the Heart of Tofino
Sobo’s on Neill St. is a popular choice and is recommended by many locals due to the Polenta Fries or the Ceviche as appetizers, and the (amazing) Fish Tacos or Duck Confit as mains. Gluten free and vegan items are on the menu as well.
The Spotted Bear Bistro on Fourth St. is a smaller scale spot that comes across as more intimate than just small. The raved appetizers here would be the Tuna Tartare and the Chowder, but don’t stop there, the Duck and Pho soup are also very desirable. I have looked at the menu and am quite interested in the brunch aspect of it, it made me hungry, so that’s a very good sign.
Some Casual Spots that offer Amazing Meals
Moving on to The Shelter Restaurant on Campbell St., here you will notice the surfer style ambience and open kitchen. The staff have a good reputation here, which makes a big difference in your dining experience, because we’ve all had a night out dampened by a snotty waiter or waitress before! So happy people giving you food should be a universal law. The Salmon Surf Bowl and the Burgers of the Day have gotten a lot of good reviews as well as the wine list. It’s so much easier when the chef has done half the work for you when creating a good pairing.
Now for a wild card spot…look for a big orange food truck behind the Live to Surf shop and indulge yourself in of the best tacos and burritos outside of Mexico. It’s called Tacotino Cantina and this guy knows what he’s doing here as he seems to bring a cult following to his truck. Try all the different combos of flavours and hope there is some Mango Salsa left over for you. And throw some chocolate in there if you have room, his Chocolate Diablo Cookies are amazing!
Sate Your Hunger and Your Sweet Tooth at Breakers Deli
There are so many places to write about this subject. I will mention one more place called Breakers Deli to give the list some balance. Fresh, green, succulent and dynamic. Look for them on Campbell St. for a ton of variety packed between some delicious fresh bread or loved up in a soft cosy wrap. Breakers also does a few different flavors of pizzas, and I can bet the dough will be the star of that dish. This deli also has a consious, the coffee is organic and Fair Trade. The meat is free range, and I personally can tell the difference between free range and the other stuff. The salads are quite substantial and you won’t go away hungry after eating one. Give your body what it wants! You will feel good after eating here. Catering is possible for your next crowd who would appreciate the variety of healthy choices.
If you take the art of chocolate crafting and gelato making seriously, or if you are lucky enough to be traveling through Tofino with one of these special people, then a stop at Chocolate Tofino will be in order. I’ll drop a few names to give you an idea of what types of chocolate we are dealing with here:
- Tiramisu Rooibos Truffle
- Lemon Cream Vanilla Bean Caramel
- Wild Blackberry Buttercream
There are many old time favorite combinations too, fear not. As for the gelato, the flavors are made in small batches and intensely good. Good luck trying to pick one without holding up the line. You can follow the smell of the freshly baked waffle cones to 1180 Pacific Rim Highway for a taste of the owner’s handiwork.
Tofino is a surf side town but has a rugged West Coast appeal. It is a mecca for current and sophisticated food choices, so have fun finding your favorite. I’m still working through it.
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