Salt Spring Island is known for its laid back lifestyle and misfit bunch of artisans and off-the-griders. You can barely drive two kilometres without seeing a farmstand with local produce, fresh flowers, or baked goods, so it’s no surprise the Island, only a short ferry ride away, is also a foodie mecca. If you head out to Salt Spring and are looking for something to eat or drink, you can’t go wrong with any of the following 10 businesses.
Barbs Bakery and Bistro
An absolute must when on the island is the legendary Barb’s Buns. You will definitely want to order the fully loaded breakfast bun—this sandwich has a giant serving of folded egg and comes with bacon, tomato, onion, lettuce, avocado, and cheese. It is our guarantee that you won’t leave hungry after this stop. Their fun market-style setup can help you with local groceries, snack items, specialty goods, and ready-to-make meals. The smoothie bar is a hit with kids and adults alike, and you wouldn’t dare leave without a few baked goodies in tow. We recommend the sourdough cheese twist and cinnamon twist to name a couple. And while you’re there, grab a coffee to taste another local favourite: Mount Maxwell Coffee Roasters. The only caveat is that they are not open weekends, so make sure to tack on a weekday to your trip to get your fill.
This beautifully landscaped waterfront villa is part of the acclaimed Relais & Châteaux hotel and restaurant association. You will not find a better setting to enjoy your fine dining or special occasion experience on Salt Spring Island. With an in-house sommelier to help with your dinner pairing, a serene landscaped setting, and a dazzling new summer cocktail lineup, this spot will have you longing for an endless holiday. Hasting House’s floral SS Saffron Sunglow cocktail comprises gin, saffron, dehydrated calendula shrub, rice vinegar, and dry cider. We recommend pairing it with one of their seaside snacks for a winning combo.
True Love Pizza
The newest spot on this list, which opened in March, is True Love Pizza. LLocated in the open air Food Garden on the corner of Rainbow Road and Lower Ganges, this pizza trailer, complete with a brick oven, was lovingly built from the ground up over eight months. Self proclaimed “pizza slanger,” JP has 20 years experience as a professional chef, which is evidenced in his incredible fermented sourdough. This family-run business has skyrocketed on the Salt Spring Island food scene so you better call in your order early if you don’t want to miss out on the experience.
We recommend the Wise Guy with an olive oil base, house-made sausage, aged mozzarella, roasted onion, basil, and grana padano, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their pies; they bring drool-worthy to the next level.
Salt Spring Wild Cider
What started off as a desire to tap into unused Salt Spring apples, quickly turned into a business that has locals and tourists alike going wild for this cider. It is wild because some apples are hand harvested from wild apple trees that you may find along roadsides on the island. Fast forward six years later and on a sunny day you will find this place packed to the brim with locals and tourists alike. A must try is their full flight with 10 ciders all served in funky mismatched glasses that is reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland-esque experience. If you want to go for a straight glass, we recommend the semi-dry or their apple-free pear cider for something a bit different. This spot is not just for cider, make sure to try out their restaurant offerings like their charcuterie, tempura vegetables, or warm wild cider figs.
Daily 11am – 8:30pm
151 Sharp Rd., Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island Ales
Nestled in a forested area backing on to the impressive Mount Maxwell, this rustic spot located halfway between the Fulford ferry and downtown Ganges, is definitely a highlight. If you are both a nature lover and a food & beverage connoisseur, this is the place where your worlds collide. Head upstairs, grab a tasting flight and pull up a repurposed picnic keg stool to unwind after a long hike or a day in the sun. If you want a straight pint we recommend the Earl Grey India Pale Ale for something a bit out of the ordinary or their crushable Mt Maxwell lager. After you follow their motto and drink beer with nature, have a look at their favourite list of local things to see and do.
Salt Spring Island Vineyard
For a real winery experience, you can’t beat Salt Spring Vineyard’s serene setting with their sloping vines, willow covered pond and patio tables that get sun all day long. After your tasting in the open air style barn, you will want to grab your friends, your favourite bottle, and a few of their snack offerings to set up on a serene patio table next to the pond. Their fun and cheeky wine styles aren’t intimidating and you don’t need to know a thing about wine to feel comfortable sipping on some of these easy drinking blends. Primarily known for their whites, we recommend their peachy Aromata.
Salt Spring Island Cheese
An easy stop right off the ferry, Salt Spring Island Cheese is the perfect place to stock up your fridge with some flavourful cheeses and pantry staples. You may have already tried their popular goat cheeses available at many retailers throughout Vancouver Island, but the experience of visiting the farm is second to none. Not only can you purchase your favourite selections from the farm shop, but you can also tour the goat barn to meet some of the farm locals, and see the back-end production of the cheese being made right before your eyes! We recommend the popular Ruckles for an easy pre-portioned entertaining option, or the Blue Juliette for a more unique take on brie with a blue hue.
The Treehouse Cafe
This local spot right in the heart of downtown Ganges is a must see, if for nothing other than the tree sprouting through the centre of the restaurant. This popular spot in the heart of the Ganges harbour is quite well known for their breakfasts, but they also offer live music every evening in the summer which is when we recommend going. Regardless of sitting inside next to the local talent, or outside with a harbour view, you will feel immersed in the true Salt Spring culture. We recommend taking it to the next level with their house made veggie burger that is perfectly crispy and soft served on a ciabatta bun.
Where art, hunger, and the desire for a picnic are all satisfied. For a place that is only open 12 hours a week you need to plan in advance for this spot. Luckily, you can order up to a week in advance through their online ordering system for their baked goods and treats. If you decide to visit them directly, bring a picnic blanket and graze on their daily offerings for a beautiful brunch. To be safe, also place your online order and make sure to include an almond croissant and a giant chocolate chip cookie amongst your selection.
The Saturday Market
If you do nothing else on the Island and are there on a Saturday, you MUST visit the Saturday Market. It is one of their most notable experiences with people often coming over for day trips just to visit the market and head back to whatever place they hailed from. The market is the perfect place to grab some essentials for a perfect night in, or to pick-up some beautiful handcrafted gifts for the next special occasion coming up. Pick up some popular items from some of our favourite vendors: Foxglove Farm, Laughing Daughters Bakery, Bite Me! Treats,Kutatás Wines, or hit up Brigitte’s French Patisserie to snack on some cannelés.
Whether you’re there for a day, or a week, you will want to bring along an appetite because the tasty treats will not disappoint. Take this as your invitation to tour close to home for your next culinary travel adventure and tag @tastingvictoria along the way to be featured.