Our top 10 dishes of 2023

Add these to your must-try list for this year

A new year has begun, and as we look back at 2023 we are reflecting on all the truly great food we tasted. So we thought we would share a list of our absolute favourite dishes that we enjoyed this past year.

From classic staples and dishes from recently opened restaurants to limited edition releases—that we hope will return in the new year—these are the foods and drinks that stood out to us in 2023!

Takoyaki from Nubo Japanese Tapas

If we could have just one meal for the rest of our lives, there is no question that Nubo Japanese Tapas’ takoyaki would be included in that dinner. These little ball-shaped puffs filled with octopus and topped with katsuobushi just melt in your mouth. Be forewarned, they are so delicious you might have to order a second serving. 

Address: 739 Pandora Ave., Victoria
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5-9:45pm

The Other Side of Paradise Caribbean stout from Small Gods Brewing Co.

This year, Small Gods Brewing Co. earned a special place in our craft beer loving heart. Its Caribbean stout has been a particular standout. Complete with all-spice, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon, this dark beer has the perfect rounded-out balance of spice without being overpowering. 

Address: 9835 Third St., Sidney
Hours: Sunday and Thursday, 11am-9pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am-10pm

Persian shawarma pita from Yalla

Yalla serves up Middle Eastern street food that is super tasty, with its Persian shawarma being a definite highlight. Made with pickled cucumber, mushrooms, and fried onions and topped with both hot sauce and garlic sauce, this wrap is flavourful and comforting. This is the perfect spot to grab lunch while downtown.   

Address: 1011 Blanshard St., Victoria 
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, noon-7pm

Margherita pizza from Seal Point Pizza

Seal Point Pizza opened its doors—or rather its window—in early November and has since been producing incredible small batch wood fired pizzas. While its menu boasts a selection of delicious options, its Margherita pizza is executed perfectly in the Neapolitan style. The simplicity of this classic pizza allows for the fresh ingredients to shine through. Make sure to place your order early as these pizzas are popular.    

Address: 1275 Fairfield Rd., Victoria 
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, noon-2pm, 4-7:30pm

Sophia pasta from Pagliacci's 

Nestled in the cozy atmosphere of one of Victoria’s most beloved Italian restaurants, our love for Sophia pasta was born. The marriage between the pasta’s creamy crab lemon sauce and its little baby shrimp is elevated even further by a garnishing of smoked salmon. The use of fettuccini means that the perfect sauce to pasta ratio is achieved.   

Address: 1011 Broad St., Victoria 
Hours: Monday, 11am-10pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30am-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:30am-11pm; Sunday, 10am-10pm

Raspberry, lychee, pistachio, and rosewater pastry from Crust Bakery 

These pastries are just as amazing as they sound. It is hard not to love everything from Crust Bakery and these pastries are no exception. Lychees, raspberries, and pistachios sit on a bed of gooey goodness surrounded by flakey pastry that is made to perfection. Every time I walk past the bakery’s glorious window display I am tempted to pick up another one. 

Address: 730 Fort St., Victoria 
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 8am-4:30pm

Tamarind sauce fried rice from Sookjai Thai Restaurant 

This Thai fried rice features house-made tamarind sauce and is complete with chicken and tofu. Topped with ground peanuts and fresh lime, this rice dish is comforting and perfect for sharing—although it is so delicious you might just want to keep it all to yourself.  

Address: 893 Fort St., Victoria 
Hours: Wednesday-Monday, 4-9pm

This dip was enjoyed after a long walk in the blistering cold wind. Hot and cheesy, this dip made with lobster and shrimp was the perfect cure to the shivers. Served with crostini, the dip is meant to be scooped up generously. Just one warning, it will be eaten up quickly because it is just that tasty.

Address: 1001 Wharf St., Victoria
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11:30am-9pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:30am-9:30pm

Plum cider from Salt Spring Wild Cider  

We’re really into plums right now and have been on the hunt for any and every dish or drink that includes them. Salt Spring Wild Cider has not just some of the best cider around but its plum cider is especially spectacular. The cider features both fresh and cooked plums that add a depth and gentle sweetness to the drink that transcends seasons. This cider was so enjoyable that we picked up a backup bottle a few days later just in case it sold out. 

Address: 151 Sharp Rd., Salt Spring Island 
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-9pm

Charred octopus from Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio 

This beautifully plated octopus tasted just as delicious as it looked. Generous portions of octopus were accompanied by mouth-watering chickpeas and a tomato salsa. Topped with crispy coppa, the dish was elevated further by the inclusion of chimichurri and rouille. This dish was a perfect balance of contrasting chewy, crispy, and soft textures. We savoured every last bite to prolong the experience.

Photo: Sarah Madsen / Tasting Victoria

Address: 680 Montreal St., Victoria 
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7-11am, 3-9:30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 7am-1:30pm, 3-9:30pm

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