More than wineries, Kelowna is a food and beverage paradise
For a city of just over 100,000 people, the vast number of appetite-satisfying restaurants in Kelowna is unparalleled. Where many of us know about the phenomenal restaurants that adjoin some of the area’s wineries, there’s no shortage of delicious food morning, noon and night in this lakeside city. As one of Calgarians’ favourite places to vacation, Kelowna always delivers on sun, sand and of course, wine.
Start your day with a trip to the consistently top-rated coffee shop Giobean Espresso. Its location on Water Street makes it easy to grab a cup of Joe and head out for an early morning stroll along the boardwalk before the temperature rises. Breakfast lovers should also indulge in a pastry from Okanagan Grocery. The bakery is known for its hand-shaped breads but on Saturday mornings, crates full of warm pain au chocolat and croissants arrive. (Order ahead of time if you like to sleep in!) While you’re at the Okanagan Grocery, pick up a baguette for dinner and browse its fridge and shelves full of local cheeses and jams.
Located next to the Okanagan Grocery, is Codfathers Seafood Market. Codfathers’ was the first full-service fish market to become part of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. Its wide-range of sustainable seafood is the perfect accompaniment to your loaf of bread from the Okanagan Grocery. If you’re planning ahead for your meal, visit the Codfather’s website for a full list of seafood in stock, where it’s from, if it’s Ocean Wise or not, and how it was caught.
April will see the return of the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market to its summer location at the corner of Springfield Road and Dilworth Drive. Operating on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, you can find fresh Okanagan produce including crates of juicy cherries and peaches that Calgarians love to buy. Visit the Simply Delish Soup and Salad Company’s booth for a gift that travels easier than wine. Its homemade packages of soups and salads contain the base ingredients needed for chillis, breakfast cereals and more. All you need to do is add water and stir!
If you’re looking to partake in water sports during your stay, head over to the Hotel Eldorado on the banks of Okanagan Lake. This boutique hotel has everything you’ll need for a stay in Kelowna, including a marina, restaurant and liquor store (wine, anyone?). After playing in the water, grab a lakeside table at the restaurant and feed your appetite with the fish n’ chips or shrimp and smoked salmon pizza. By this time, you’ll also need to quench your thirst, so work your way through the restaurant’s “Slush Fund” (Try the Broken Down Sailboat), or grab a pint of the Okanagan Spring Brewery’s 1516.
Stroll a bit further down the boardwalk and you’ll find Smack Dab at the Manteo Resort. Opened in 2013, Smack Dab has one of Kelowna’s best patios with seats for up to 150 sun-searchers. Its simple food along with 12 craft beers on tap makes this the place to spend an afternoon with friends. Settle into one of the comfy couches for a flight of craft beer or wine and watch the sun set over the lake for a perfectly romantic evening.
No trip to Kelowna is complete without a visit to Carmelis goat farm. After oohing and awing at the baby goats, or laughing at some of the older goats’ beards, head inside to taste amazing cheeses and gelatos. Try the Misty soft-ripened cheese with a root-vegetable ash or the Goatgonzola. Don’t leave without a cup of the goat gelato though! The salted caramel is to die for. Not a goat milk fan but craving ice cream? Head back downtown to Bernard Avenue and choose from classic ice cream shop Moo-Lix’s dozens of flavours.
For take-out or a quick bite, visit Jimmy Ho’s and Okanagan Street Food. At Jimmy Ho’s get fresh and flavourful Asian cuisine like the Buddha’s Coconut Curry served in a traditional Chinese food takeout box, perfect for a stay-at-home dinner on your balcony. Chef Neil Schroeter of Okanagan Street Food, who trained at Calgary’s SAIT, prepares the best fish tacos in the city. Buy stocks, soups, entrees and sauces to take home too. Okanagan Street Food is only open until 3 pm though, so grab your fix early in the day.
Once you’re done parlaying in the sun, tidy up and prepare to hit Kelowna’s late-night dining scene. A Kelowna staple, RauDZ Regional Table is led by Chef Rod Butters and local wine expert Audrey Surrao, and serves deliciously simple local food, including fish from Codfathers. Always lined up, RauDZ’s is known for its 21 ft. communal table and liquid chefs who use local ingredients in their cocktails. Next door to RauDZ, you’ll find the newly opened micro bar.bites. A sister restaurant, to RauDZ, micro focuses on a menu of 10 beers, 10 wines 10 premium well highballs and 10 small plates that changes monthly. Chef Evelyn Takoff of micro (and formerly RauDZ) is competing in the fourth season of Top Chef Canada leaving no question that the food at RauDZ and micro is some of the best in B.C.
Also high on the list of best fine dining eats in Kelowna, is the award-winning Waterfront Wines. Using Okanagan ingredients, chef and sommelier Mark Filatow serves unique versions of comfort foods along with carefully selected wines and handcrafted cocktails.
For a departure from classic Okanagan flavours, reserve a table at Kelowna’s best Indian restaurant, Poppadom’s. Run by the Dosanj family from Southhampton, England, Poppadom’s opened in 2009 and has been a Kelowna hot spot since. Mom, Jas Dosanj leads the kitchen while brother Harry Dosanj has created Indian-inspired cocktails to complement the food. Poppadom’s infuses local ingredients into its family recipes for unparalleled freshness.
So, next time you hop on the one-hour flight to Kelowna or take your time driving through the Rockies to this bit of paradise, bring your appetite. Kelowna is, most definitely, a food and drink lover’s dream come true.
Salty’s Beach House is a local favourite in Penticton. Its great location along Okanagan Beach, and fun patio have Salty’s very busy on sunny days. Try the crab cakes to start and then the Fisherman’s Pot, a curried seafood bowl with a spicy kick.
Situated between Kelowna and Penticton, Peachland is the perfect place to search out the Okanagan’s infamous lake dragon, Ogopogo. After your Ogopogo expedition, grab a table in the Gasthaus on the Lake’s outdoor garden. It’s pub and fine dining menus offer food with a European touch.
Located 19 kilometres South of Penticton, Okanagan Falls is a small town that happens to be home to the Okanagan’s best ice cream shop – Tickleberry’s. With over 50 flavours of ice cream featuring fresh Okanagan fruits, it’s easy to take a day trip down to Okanagan Falls and explore the tail end of Skaha Lake.
Further South, you’ll find the desert town of Oliver. Close the U.S. border, Oliver calls itself the Wine Capital of Canada. But, if you’re not in the mood for wine, try the Firehall Brewery. Led by Brew Chief Sid Ruhland, the Firehall Brewery produces unfiltered and unpasteurized ales using Oliver’s groundwater.