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