I ate well in Tofino. Really well. Being on the Pacific Ocean, our goal was to eat all the seafood we could. With the exception of one dish (which in hindsight was a bad decision), that’s exactly what we did. In the time since I was last in Tofino, the food scene has completely changed. I remember the town being full of mediocre restaurants serving the typical fish and chips, burger, and pasta dishes. Typical family style places. Decent food, but nothing too spectacular.
Now, the town is full of trendy restaurants, pushing the food scene. For such a small place I was pleasantly surprised by every meal I had:
The Fish Store and Oyster Bar
C really enjoys oysters so I was determined to find us some fresh oysters. I had read that this place did buck a shuck so it was where we headed first. Turns out, they no longer offered that deal, but no problem. We still picked up a couple oysters to taste. Aptly named the Clayoquot Climax, it definitely was a foodgasm worthy bite.
At the time, the waitress told us that the oysters were harvested not 10 minutes from where we were sitting. I thought it was a slight exaggeration, but some research later, she really wasn’t kidding. The oysters came from nearby Lemmens Inlet off of Meares Island. This oyster was so fresh and clean tasting that I had no trouble believing her after I tasted it. I’ve only recently started eating raw oysters and even I could tell the difference. If only they were more affordable. Each one set us back $2.
We also got a platter of their smoked fish. It came absolutely overflowing with a large variety of hot and cold smoked fish served with a tasty spread and crackers. My favourite was the hot smoked salmon belly. It was really tender (aka fatty – yum!) and it just melted in your mouth.
Tue – Sat 12 PM – 10 PM
368 Main St. Tofino, BC
Wolf in the Fog
A friend of mine had high praises about Wolf in the Fog from her time in Tofino earlier this year so I made it a priority to check it out. Before eating here, I had no idea how famous this place was. Turns out, Wolf in the Fog had recently been named one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants according to Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine.
For a restaurant that had been opened for less than 10 months, they sure ran a tight ship! And boy, were they popular. When we arrived at their door shortly after 8pm, we were told that they wouldn’t have a table available until 10 or 10:30. Undeterred we inquired about the bar and was told even for that, it would be a 30 – 45 minute wait. Leaving our names with the host, we headed out the door in search of food elsewhere. It wasn’t even 15 minutes later when I got a call saying they had a spot available for us.
I’m so glad we decided wait it out because the meal was amazing. Building on the fresh and local ideology, Wolf in the Fog takes inspiration from the sea and land surrounding Tofino. The seasonal menu, served family style, is constantly evolving. It changes so quickly that now 3 weeks later as I write this, one of the dishes I had, isn’t even on the menu anymore.
We ordered two half-sized shared plates to share: the French Bombshell (scallops, shellfish ‘bourguignon’, black cod, baguette, endive salad) and the dish that no longer appears on their menu (I forgot it’s name!) made from lamb shanks, pomegranate glaze, merguez, bulgur, and Meyer lemon yogurt.
The French dish was absolutely amazing. It came with a baguette to help you soak up all the liquid. I could have just stuffed myself silly with the broth and bread. The seafood in it was pretty good too. The lamb was okay, but it was definitely overshadowed by the other dish.
The restaurant is split into an upper and lower floor and we were seated at the bar on the lower floor so I didn’t get a chance to see the whole restaurant. Tip for future visitors: make a reservation! It’s so worth it!
Upstairs: Dinner 4pm-12am
150 Fourth St, Tofino, BC
Big Daddy’s Fish Fry
You can’t go to an ocean side town and not have fish and chips. I didn’t want to get the full thing, so I opted for a fish burger which was so good. Fish fried perfectly – crunchy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside. The fries were really good too. For a random shack that we drove by and decided to eat at, it was a tasty and quick meal.
411 Campbell Street
Tofino Brewing Company
Microbreweries have taken North America by storm and I always like to check out local microbreweries as I travel (really the trend started in Oregon last year and now I just can’t stop. Who can say no to beer?). The Tofino Brewing Company came highly recommended. You can easily pick up a pint or two of their beer at most restaurants in town, but we headed to their tasting room to give everything a try.
Opened in 2011, the brewery sourcing ingredients as locally as possible and uses a water recovery system that allows them to reuse it for subsequent brews. Beer and being sustainable? Yes please! C and I each got a flight and between the two of us tried every beer they had. Before I left, I couldn’t resist picking up a few bottles for home. I’m looking forward to taking a trip back to Tofino via those beers!
Daily 11 AM – 8 PM
681 Industrial Way Tofino, BC
Another new restaurant to Tofino, Kuma (bear in Japanese) brings with it modern Japanese comfort food in the form of ramen, rice bowls and shared plates. Following the trend in Tofino, all the dishes at Kuma are made with local seasonal ingredients. However, unlike other places, you can’t get a reservation in the 28 seat restaurant. We thankfully didn’t have to wait too long for a table.
We opted to skip ramen in favour of all seafood based dishes. There are so many delicious ramen places in Vancouver so it seemed silly to eat it here when there was so much fresh seafood. Especially since our failed ordering of the lamb the night before, we wanted to stick with the sea. In the end, we picked up a spicy salmon bowl, tako (octopus) tataki and the “bear” tuna which is local caught tuna in a tamari and truffle vinaigrette served with toast – essentially a fusion version of a tuna tartare.
My favourite of the three was the last one. Everything just melded so well together.
I’ve never really been a big fan of octopus as I find it to be really chewy and have a strange texture. This version was sous-vide (cooked at a low temperature for a long time under water), so it came out really tender and I didn’t mind it.
The spicy salmon bowl was typical of what you would find in most places. However, in all three dishes you could definitely taste the freshness of the seafood. So good!
Wed – Sun: 4 PM – Close
KUMA (Happy) Hour: 4 – 5pm
100-120 4 St Tofino, BC
Tofino was the place for me to recharge, but it was just as an amazing place to go if you love to eat! Throughout the town, there are so many amazing restaurants and such variety to chose from. There are a lot more delicious places to discover that we weren’t able to try, but if they are anything like the places we did go to, then you’ll definitely be in good hands.
Has a town surprisingly completely blown you away in terms of food? What is the best unsuspecting meal you’ve had?