5 Best Restaurants in Nanaimo, BC

You’ve arrived in Nanaimo, B.C. with a grumbling stomach and now you’re wondering the best place to go to satisfy your hunger? This carefully curated list of restaurants highlights some of the best spots in Nanaimo to grab a bite to eat. Featured below are 5 great restaurants that cover each meal of the day, starting with breakfast and ending with dessert. Speaking of dessert, be sure not to miss the chance to try the sweet treat that is named after the town it was invented in: The Nanaimo Bar!

Nanaimo has a unique and rich history that dates back to the 1850s. Located on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, this old coal-mining town is surrounded by excellent agricultural land and has the second biggest harbour on the island. This means amazing local produce and seafood are in abundance for the many restaurants that have taken up shop here. 

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We will start our restaurant adventure with the most important meal of the day - breakfast!

The Breakfast Nook

366 Selby Street, Nanaimo, B.C.

Phone No. (250) 591-1720

The Breakfast Nook - Breakfast & Brunch Restaurant

If you’re looking for an amazing breakfast spot, The Breakfast Nook is a cozy diner that offers an all-day classic breakfast menu that has something for everyone. This restaurant is a local favourite and is always bustling with people on the weekends. Local patrons of this restaurant love the food and the staff!

Whether you’re looking for a simple 2 egg breakfast with bacon and hash browns or are more interested in the fabulous eggs Benedict that The Breakfast Nook whips up, you’ll be sure to find something delicious that will keep you coming back for more!

Located in a quaint neighbourhood just a few minutes away from the oceanfront, The Breakfast Nook offers indoor dining, as well as a small patio that overlooks the street. This hidden gem may not look like much from the outside, but it will be sure to delight anyone that dines here. 

Gabriel’s Cafe

39 Commercial Street, Nanaimo, B.C.

Phone No. (250) 714-0271

Gabriel's Cafe

When you’re thinking about going out for lunch, whether it be casual or a business meeting, Gabriel’s Cafe is a place you don’t want to miss. This restaurant prides itself in its farm-to-table approach to cooking and serving up food. Not only will you be able to enjoy delectable dishes that will leave your mouth watering, you can feel good about eating here too. Gabriel’s Cafe works with local farms and food producers to create a sustainable approach to restaurant dining, and they are completely 100% against factory farming. Everything offered on their menu, from meat and produce to coffee and honey, is locally sourced and crafted into delicious gourmet meals for their customers to enjoy.

Menu items include breakfast and lunch fare, and feature dishes that will satisfy the inner carnivore in you. They also have dishes that will please even the most dedicated vegan; everyone will find something that they will enjoy while dining at Gabriel’s Café.

 You will find quirky dish names that include “Green Eggs and Ham Yam I Am”, and “When Pigs Fly”, which is something that is sure to put a smile on your face while you browse the menu.

 Every item prepared on this menu is a healthy and sustainable option, so you can be sure your body and the environment will thank you after eating here!

Crow and Gate Pub

2313 Yellowpoint Road, Nanaimo, B.C.

Phone No. (250) 722-3731

Crow and Gate Restaurant

This was the first of its kind in the city of Nanaimo. Back in 1972, when their doors were open, it was the first neighbourhood pub in all of British Columbia. In 1986 it was taken over by the Olsen family, who have been running it ever since. Their unique architecture attracts visitors from all over the world.

This is the perfect spot to take a date, a friend, or even to dine by yourself! This pub is located in the countryside of Nanaimo and is set in an English-style garden. You will find yourself surrounded by an array of green plants and flowers that will make your dining experience other-worldly. The Tudor-style architecture, along with the exceptional selection of food and drinks, makes this restaurant one of the most authentic British pubs you will ever experience in Nanaimo.

Menu options like the steak and wild mushroom pot pie and the smoked salmon chowder offer food lovers a unique spin on the classic experience of British-style food at a reasonable price. More satisfying menu options include a tasty mac and cheese and Oyster stew. If you’re a beer drinker, you won’t be disappointed with the selection of local and imported beers on tap. Beer on tap includes your locals like The Appleton and Dark Matter brewed by Hoyne Brewing Co. You have your choice of imports which include Kilkenny, Guinness and Smithwicks. This unique restaurant also offers their very own house-made Cider that is sure to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.

The locals of Nanaimo love coming to the Crow and Gate Pub for the food, ambience, and fantastic service. It is important to add that is an establishment for the 19+ crowd and minors will not be allowed in.

The View Oceanside Grill

70 Church Street, Nanaimo, B.C.

Phone No. (778) 441-4229

The View Oceanside Grill Restaurant

As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”! An ocean harbour city wouldn’t be complete without an outstanding seafood restaurant.

If you’re craving seafood, The View Oceanside Grill has amazing food and a stunning view. This fine-dining restaurant is located in downtown Nanaimo and the upscale, elegant dining room has massive bay windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If the view alone doesn’t persuade you to eat here, then the menu surely will. A wide assortment of fresh, locally caught seafood and fish options are the main stars here. If you aren’t feeling seafood you will find a great deal of alternatives. Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon, Braised Short Rib and French Onion Soup are some of the delicious alternatives to Seafood found on Menu at The View Oceanside Grill.   

The seafood flambe is a must-try, as it is not only a delicious assortment of clams, prawns, and scallops but also dinner entertainment - the chef prepares and cooks this dish right in front of you at your table! In addition to the food menu, there is an outstanding selection of wine that can be paired with food or consumed alone. It is worth noting that due to the incredible popularity of this restaurant, it is well advised to make a reservation before dining here. All in all, this restaurant is a 5-star selection to add to your list of restaurants to try during your stay.

Waterfront Confections

6-90 Front Street, Nanaimo, B.C.

Phone No. (250) 591-5559

Waterfront Confections

It was crucial to add a spot to grab a delectable dessert. As mentioned earlier, Nanaimo is famous for its creation of the legendary Nanaimo Bar, which is something you will definitely want to indulge in at least once during your stay.

For those of you that have a sweet tooth, it is essential that you stop by Waterfront Confections. Located on the boardwalk right by the marina, this ice cream shop has an adorable little patio that lets you observe the activity out on the harbour while you enjoy your sweet treats. While they may not have the Nanaimo bar in its true form, they do have their own version of this mouth-watering treat. The Nanaimo bar ice cream is a favourite of anyone who has had the pleasure of trying it. If this flavour doesn’t appeal to you, there’s no need to worry - this little ice cream shop has 40 flavours of homemade ice cream for you to try!

Examples of some of these flavours include anything from classic vanilla or tiger tail (orange ice cream with black liquorice swirls) to the more adventurous flavours like bubble gum, toxic blue blast and cotton candy. Every flavour available is made in-store with top-quality ingredients and a lot of creativity. If you’re not sure what you’d like to order, you can sample any of the flavours available for free to your heart’s content. They even have sorbet and vegan ice cream, so everyone will be sure to find something appetizing. Want to try some salted liquorice or saltwater taffy? You don’t need to go any further than Waterfront Confections. In addition to ice cream and gelato, they also carry a wide assortment of candy that will be sure to please the inner child in you. Don’t forget to bring the kids, as they will quite literally act like a kid in a candy store!

Whether you’re looking for a casual spot to grab a bite to eat, a fine-dining experience, or a simple after-dinner treat, this list of fantastic restaurants touches on each one of these options. Remember - we all need to eat, so why not make it an enjoyable experience? Any one of these restaurants is guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds and create memories that will last a lifetime.