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5 Reasons Why Diner Food is Underrated

diner food

Diner Food is The Ultimate Comfort Food

I’m not talking about that diner food. I mean the real stuff, greasy and heavy as a brick, served up from a smeared Formica counter by cooks who’ve spent their lives in kitchens.

It’s the diner food of my youth, before we all got so damned healthy and virtuous. The kind where you don’t ask for low-fat or gluten-free on your double order of hash browns. The kind with bacon fat running down the side of your plate.

The kind of diner food that’s bad for you in all the best ways.

Here are five reasons why I think diner food is underrated:

1. It’s comforting.

There’s something about a big plate of diner food that just hits the spot. Maybe it’s because it reminds us of home, or maybe it’s because it’s so damn filling. Either way, there’s nothing quite like a heaping helping of pancakes or eggs to make you feel better after a long night.

2. It’s affordable.

Diner food is the ultimate in cheap eats. You can get a huge plate of food for just a few dollars, which is great when you’re on a budget. And let’s face it, we all need to save our money sometimes.

3. It’s easy to find.

Diners are everywhere, which means you can usually find one no matter where you are. They’re especially convenient when you’re traveling and need a quick, easy meal.

4. It’s familiar.

There’s something about diner food that just feels cozy and familiar. Maybe it’s because they’ve been around forever, or maybe it’s because they always seem to have the same menu items. Either way, diner food is the epitome of comfort food.

5. It’s delicious.

Last but not least, diner food is just plain delicious. There’s something about greasy breakfast foods that makes them irresistible, and I for one can never resist a good plate of pancakes or eggs.

So there you have it, five reasons why I think diner food is underrated. Now get out there and enjoy some greasy, delicious diner food!

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11 Canadian Desserts You Must Try In This Lifetime

Canadian desserts

Canadian Desserts You Might Not Have Heard Of

Desserts have been around for a long time. There has always been a group of people that could not live without having something sweet. New recipes are always emerging; these are either better versions of the old or just some good old classics. Moreover, there are numerous desserts that celebrate different countries and cultures.

Today, we are going to look at some must-try Canadian desserts that are definitely a sweet lover’s dream. Whether you are Canadian or not, these desserts will definitely make their way into your cookbook! Let us delve straight into it!

1. Nanaimo Bar

Nanaimo bars were named after the Nanaimo city in Canada, as they were made there for the first time. The best part about these delicious bars is that they do not need to be baked at all. This is definitely one of our most favourite desserts. This triple layer dessert consists of a base layer of crushed Graham crackers with custard on top. The final and third layer is a coating of ganache on top. The yellow custard is thick and creamy while the base is a delicious mix of Graham crackers, coconut and chocolate.

Photo Credit: Sugared & Spiced Baked Goods Instagram

It is popularly believed that this recipe was first created in 1953. However, some locals claim their grandmothers were already whipping up this delicious dessert long before that. Throughout the years, people improvised and a variety of flavours came into being. These include mocha, red velvet, mint and even peanut butter. Not only this, people also started creating lattes, spring rolls, ice creams and even cupcakes.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake by Red’s Bakery

There is actually an area within the city of Nanaimo known as the Nanaimo Bar Trail. Here you can taste 39 different recipes. These include classics, new versions and even beverages.

Read More: The 10 Best Restaurants in Nanaimo (2022)

2. Butter Tarts

Butter tarts are super popular, especially along the East Coast of Canada. These are usually small enough to fit in the palms of your hands. A good amount of maple syrup is what actually helps sweeten them. Their popularity can be noted by the amount of events dedicated to this dessert. There are numerous festivals, trails, tours and even bake-offs specifically organised each year in honour of butter tarts.

People adore butter tarts because of their reflection of Canada’s history and culture. These tarts have also been further improvised and are now available in various forms. Some of these include ice creams, cupcakes and frosting. It is believed the recipe was initially published in 1900. However, the original creation dates back to the 1700’s.

Photo Credit: Nanaimo Bakery & Cafe

3. Flapper Pie

A flapper pie is yet another tasty Canadian dessert you simply cannot ignore.

Photo Credit: insta_routine.canada Instagram

The base is made of Graham crackers which are baked to achieve a crispy crust. This base, in the shape of a pie crust is then filled up with creamy custard and finished off with fluffed up meringue. This final layer is blowtorch to give a crispy, caramel burn to the meringue.

This dessert’s exact origins are unknown, but lie somewhere in the prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Farms here offered these as sweet treats all year round as the recipe was not based on ingredients that were only available in a particular season. It is believed that the name flapper was given to the pie taking after the flappers women wore in the 1920’s. Some others believe that the pie was so quick to make that the term flapper was awarded to it. Nonetheless, the pie tastes incredible and delicious no matter which story you believe in.

4. Blueberry Grunt

In the past, French settlers had lived in the Atlantic regions of Canada. They lived cooking blueberries which were abundantly present in the region. Therefore, the blueberry grunt is a Maritime classic. 

Photo Credit: thedessertclubca Instagram

The word ‘grunt’ refers to the sound that arises from boiling and bubbling blueberries. The resulting sauce was topped off with biscuits or dumplings to create the dessert.

People tell stories of the Prince of Wales Fort enjoying this delicious treat. This was back in the 1700’s in and around Hudson Bay. Even today, regular people cannot say no to this yummy recipe. It is easily available in numerous cafés and restaurants all across Canada. Some of these might even come with an added scoop of vanilla ice cream!

5. Pouding Chomeur

Do not get thrown off by the odd name of this dessert. This dessert has a French name that simply means ‘unemployed man pudding’. Female factory workers came up with the recipe during the Great Depression. These women worked in Quebec which is why this popular dessert is also sometimes referred to as the ‘poor man’s pudding’.

The recipe is really pretty simple. Cake batter is dashed with hot caramel before baking. This seeps through and ends up at the base. After baking, you are left with an upside-down cake. The texture is gooey and the final result is often topped with maple syrup. This dessert became a part of the French-Canadian traditions due to its  rich flavour and superb taste.

Photo Credit: alaindassylva Instagram

6. Saskatoon Berry Pie

The berries used in this pie are similar to blueberries in terms of look. However, in terms of taste the Saskatoon berries are tinier, sweeter and have a nutty aftertaste. Saskatoon berries are also commonly known as the juneberries or prairie berries.

Recent studies have shown that these berries are actually very good for health. These contain a good amount of antioxidants which can benefit the body in numerous ways. The berries ripen and are ready to eat in June and July. However, the Saskatoon Berry Pie can be indulged in throughout the year!

Photo Credit: A La Mode Pie Cafe

7. Tiger Tail Ice Cream

The Tiger tail ice cream is not as popular as other Canadian desserts and is mainly sought after due to the nostalgia it brings with it. It was actually very popular and loved in the years between 1950 and 1970. Today, it is only mostly sold by huge ice cream parlours like Kawartha Dairy and Loblaws. The ribbons in this ice cream are what give this unique dessert their name. It is actually an orange ice cream with black stripes of liquorice similar to a tiger’s.

Photo Credit: Burnt Honey Dessert Company

8. Tarte au sucre

Tarte au sucre is another dessert that became part of Canadian culture due to French settlers in Quebec. The people back then used maple syrup instead of brown sugar due to its rarity. The main ingredients of this recipe include an egg, flour, butter, heavy cream and maple syrup.

This recipe is a sweet twist to regular sugar-cream pies. These pies are a must have item during the holiday season but you can indulge in them all year round as well.

Photo Credit: iletaitungateau Instagram

9. Beaver Tails

Beavers are one of the national animals of Canada and this dessert is named after the similarity to a beaver’s tail. The dough for this dessert is hand stretched and fried once it looks like a tail. It is eventually topped off with cinnamon sugar which gives it its sweetness.

The dessert has been popular in Canada for nearly 40 years and was first trademarked in 1978. This was done by Grant and Pam Hooker from Ontario. President Obama also made a special visit to get his hands on this treat in 2009 during an official visit. Today, you can get these desserts topped with lemon, cheese, lobster, maple butter and even Nutella!

Photo Credit: cassandras_cucina Instagram

10. Sweet Bannock

Sweet Bannock is considered a revered comfort food among many Canadians. The bread is fried or cooked on a griddle. This griddle was called the Bannock Stone and hence the name of the dish. The main ingredient of this bread is corn flour or other plant flours.

Other ingredients include water, lard, salt and other ingredients of preference. This bread became popular because it was simple to make and could be whipped up in very difficult conditions as well. Once fried, it is sweetened using cinnamon sugar or can be turned into bread pudding. These outings topped off with sweet berries help achieve excellent taste.

Photo Credit: Jennelle Lassard Instagram

11. Figgy Duff

Figgy Duff is actually a pudding. It has a bread texture and it gets its sweet flavour from plump, flavorful raisins. The best part is that the leftovers are further used to create even more wonderful recipes. Many people love to top it up with maple syrup and a variety of fruit to enhance the flavour.

You will be surprised to know that this dessert can further be fried in a pan to achieve crispy toast. This is a very lively recipe and can be indulged in at any time of the year and any part of the day!

Photo Credit: Le Caveau Restaurant Instagram

Craving Canadian desserts yet?

We hope you loved our list! Some of these are so simple to make, you could easily whip them up at home and impress guests coming over. If you plan on a trip to Canada, make sure you try out these local favourites because they certainly are a treat!

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The 10 Best Restaurants in Nanaimo (2022)

best restaurants in Nanaimo

Recipe to Roam’s Top 10 Restaurants in Nanaimo

Located centrally on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is a diverse community that brings flavors of the world to the plate. That said, my favorite places to eat in Nanaimo cover a diverse palate from Paris to Tokyo.

Top 10 Restaurants in Nanaimo

  • Milton Street Public House
  • Bistro Tayio
  • Jalapenos
  • Pho V TA
  • Sealand Pho
  • Trattoria La Stella
  • Astera’s Greek Taverna
  • Mon Petit Choux
  • Burnt Honey

Article last updated on February 4th, 2021 – Minor typos fixed!

1. Milton Street Public House

On Milton Street in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter, this Public House has a charming English feel without being dusty or over-the-top kitsch. Its consistently cool, laid back vibe can make it a bit of a sleeper in the food department. Who doesn’t like surprises? The refined menu is stacked full of classic, thoughtfully composed dishes I crave and keep returning for. They also have prosecco on tap…need I say more?

My Order: Spicy Calamari, Fungi Flatbread(seasonal), cannelloni, a Kir Royal and the posset dessert.

Address: 247 Milton St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2K5

Contact: (250) 591-1090

Hours of Operation: Daily 11:30am-9pm, CLOSED MONDAYS

2. Bistro Tayio

To my knowledge, Bistro Tayio is the only Japanese chef-owned sushi bar and izakaya in the central island region. That’s enough to make Bistro Tayio my go-to whenever I’m craving the real deal and missing Tokyo. While their sushi is hands-down the best in town, fresh and expert level 100, I’ll admit I go for their ramen. At one point, I was ordering 2-3 times a week. Obsessed. Staff are always amazing, perfectly accommodating and they deliver! Arigato arigato gozaimasu, Bistro Tayio!

My Order: Spicy Tantanmen Ramen, add Egg.

Address: 321 Wesley St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2T5

Contact: (250) 716-8861

Hours of Operation: Mon/Fri 10am-10pm, Sat 2pm-10pm, CLOSED SUNDAY

3. Jalapenos

Mexican restaurant in Nanaimo

Located directly across from Vancouver Island University, wedged between a gas station and a laneway. You might miss it. Don’t. This Mexican owned and operated eatery is uncomplicated and about as “authentic Tex-Mex” as it gets without being extra (ie: nacho cheese). Everything from the kitchen is simple, affordable and exactly what you need. Although there are no bells, whistles or liquor licence, Jalapenos satisfies every time. They have 3 house made hot sauces to choose and pre covid-19, they did a taco buffet on Sundays. Damn…

Address: 450-B Wakesiah Ave, Nanaimo, BC V9R 3K9

Contact: (778) 441-4020

Hours of Operation: Daily 11am – 7:30pm CLOSED MONDAYS

4. Pho V TA Vietnamese Restaurant

Pho V Ta, Nanaimo, BC

The first and most authentic of my two favorite Vietnamese restaurants in the Nanaimo. Pho V Ta isn’t fancy. However, its cafeteria style dining room with “eclectic” decor does remind me of  Vietnam. Yes, the Pho broth is the best in Nanaimo but that’s not why I keep going back. It’s always Bun bo hue. Pho’s lemony, richly layered, spicy cousin is a regionally specific bowl of slurpy noodles that can be tricky to find on the island. Pho V Ta’s BBH is perfectly balanced and spiced. This dish is traditionally prepared with a fatter, round noodle, pigs’ blood and a variety of other processed “meat”. If that’s too authentic for you, you can sub Pho noodles and rare beef or brisket as I do.

My Order: Bun Bo Hue sub Pho noodle and rare beef, Vietnamese crepe (only available weekends) or the Mi Xao “chow mein special”

Address: 1-1601 Bowen Rd Nanaimo, BC V9S1G6

Contact: 250-591-1746

Hours of Operation: Mon/Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-7pm  

5. Sealand Pho

SeaLand Pho dining room

New to the scene is the best Vietnamese restaurant in Nanaimo, Sealand Pho. Overlooking Nanaimo Yacht club, Sealand Pho is one of the shockingly few waterfront eateries in Nanaimo. Arguably the best Banh Mi I’ve ever tasted, their Vietnamese sub overshadows any bowl of Pho I’ve had in the western hemisphere. Its perfectly crispy, chewy baguette comes in 5 delicious combinations including a kimchi tofu option for veggies and a pate to die for. With floor to ceiling windows letting natural light flood the dining room, it’s hard to believe this space has seen so many kitchens come and go. In warmer months, Sealand Pho secretly has one of the best patios in the city.

My Order: Lemongrass Grilled Chicken Banh Mi, Special Vermicelli.

Address: 101-1240 Stewart Ave, Nanaimo, BC V9S 4C9

Contact: (250) 591-6688

Hours of Operation: Daily 11:00am – 8:00pm CLOSED MONDAY

6. Manvirros Indian Grill

Mavirro's butter chicken

Alright Manvirros, you straight up owe me two raitas and an order of chutneys. I’ll admit I’ve only ordered Mavirros from SkipTheDishes, minding our social distancing and all. My last three orders have been missing items! I called the restaurant to let them know, they were salty about it and suggested I just come pick up the forgotten items. Is it just me or does that defeat the purpose of paying a delivery fee? Anyway, I’m still happy to have them in the top ten, after all it’s about the food, and Manvirros is killin’ it. The portions are huge, food is always fresh and the curries are deliciously complex. Don’t skip the raita – even if you have to pick it up yourself!

My Order: 2x Raita, 2x Garlic naan, Samosa Chaat, Paneer Pasanda, Lamb Rogan Josh, Jerra Rice. Side Butter Chicken Sauce. Nice. 

Address: 1045B Terminal Avenue, Nanaimo, BC, V9S4K3

Contact: (250) 591-0558

Hours of Operation: Daily 11:00am-2:30pm  4:00pm-10:00pm 

7. La Stella Trattoria

best pizza in Nanaimo

Nanaimo’s first wood fired pizza oven at Trattoria la stella does not disappoint. Neapolitan style crusts, hand stretched in front of you and topped with delicious combinations of locally sourced ingredients. With fresh made pasta and beef carpaccio (if it takes another turn on the menu), you can’t really go wrong here. The experienced service staff make Trattoria perfect for a first date or anniversary. In summer months, I like to take advantage of the take out menu then hit up the waterfront for a sneaky bottle of wine and pizza picnic.

My Order: Brussel Sprouts, Prosciutto, Funghi Pizza.

Address: 321 Wesley St #1, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2T5

Contact: (778) 441-4668

Hours of Operation: Wed/Thurs 5pm-9pm, Fri/Sat/Sun 4pm-9pm

8. Astera’s Greek Taverna 

Astera's Greek Restaurant - wine

A favorite of many locals, Astera’s is a popular choice whenever there is something to be celebrated. There’s always a buzz – whether it’s the music or the free flowing sambuca shots served enthusiastically by the host. You get the best of Greek hospitality. The 100 year old heritage home is nestled in the heart of the Old City quarter and still has many charming features of the era. Pre-pandemic, it could get pretty cozy. My advice: Make a reservation in the sunroom a few days in advance. 

My Order: Roast Lamb, Moussaka, Seafood Mezethes. Wine in high quantities.   

Address:  347 Wesley St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 3A7

Contact: (250) 716-0451

Hours of Operation: 9am to 5pm Daily

9. Mon Petit Choux Bakery

best bakery in Nanaimo, Mon Petit Choux

Mon Petit Choux is the best restaurant downtown Nanaimo. It’s a cafe, but not a paper cup cafe. This cafe offers a breakfast / lunch menu that showcases their bakery’s freshly baked breads and pastries. The casual european feel invites you to stay a little longer and to enjoy the organic, locally-sourced food, read a book, catch up on some emails or order another croissant. 

My Order: Eggs Benedict, Tuna Niçoise. 

Address: 120 Commercial St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G6

Contact: (250) 753-6002

Hours of Operation: Tue/Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 4pm-10pm CLOSED MONDAY

10. Burnt Honey Dessert Company

Burnt Honey, Nanaimo ice cream parlor

Last but certainly not least, we have the best dessert in Nanaimo! Wife and Wife team, Kara and Fiona Shedden opened one of the sweetest artisan ice cream parlours I’ve ever seen. Their commitment to sourcing ingredients from local suppliers has made for some unforgettable, carefully considered and never seen flavor profiles. Caramel Apple, Almond Brittle Salted Ganache, Carrot Cake, Basil Lemonade, Strawberry Rose Sorbet to name a few. They also offer their unique versions of a few classics like TigerTiger, MintChoco and Cookie and Milk. For anyone with dietary preferences or restrictions, they also offer a few brilliant vegan options. Oh, and did I mention Burnt Honey makes all their waffle cones from scratch? If there’s fresh cones when you visit, don’t hesitate to indulge!

My Order: Anything I haven’t tried in one of their fresh waffle cones!

Address: 96-3200 N Island Hwy, Nanaimo, BC V9T 1W1

Contact: (250) 585-1446

Hours of Operation: Daily 12pm-6pm CLOSED MONDAYS

Did we miss one of your favorite restaurants in Nanaimo?

These are our personal picks for the 10 best restaurants Nanaimo has to offer, but if we missed a hidden gem or favourite of yours, let us know in the comments!

Honourable Mentions (Close to Nanaimo)

Just a short drive from the city…and worth it…

  • Roberts Street Pizza – that crust though. 
  • Maya Norte – Spanish/Mexican fusion, Marg or the rocks and empanadas.
  • Crow and Gate Pub – Beautiful English Toudor style pub and gardens.
  • Mahle House – I’m still butthurt they fired me but their food is unmatched in the area.