Eating our way around Tofino and Ucluelet

There is no denying that we always manage to eat like kings in Tofino. For such a small town, its food game is strong. I have a long list of places I want to visit in the area – this list features some, but definitely not all! I will continue to update this list whenever I go back to Tofino or Ucluelet, so check back here for delicious recommendations.

Wolf in the Fog: We had been warned that visiting Wolf in the Fog is basically impossible without a reservation, but we thought we would try our luck anyway. As a group of just 2, we got lucky and were seated after only about 20 minutes. Our experience was unique: due to social distancing measures, we were actually on a little table on the far end of the upper patio, overlooking the main street and water of Tofino. It was super romantic, but for certain would result in an entirely different experience if we went back, because we were pretty secluded from the vibe of the restaurant itself.

The menu looked delicious and we had a tough time deciding how best to order. In the end we threw our budgets to the wind and opted for the set menu – one vegetarian and one seafood. The food was all delightful: from oysters to tuna to soup and halibut, we were definitely happy campers. Bizarrely (and most out of character) the highlight of the meal was my FRUITY dessert. It would not have been surprising if the dessert had been chocolate, but instead it was fruity and it was so light, refreshing and well executed that both Andy and I could not deny that this was the best course of the night.

We also enjoyed some classy wine, good service and beautiful views – it was definitely a strong start to our stay in Tofino. Cool name too!

Tofino Brewing Company: Andy and I have a thing where we rank each of the beers we try in Vancouver and for months the Cosmic Double IPA (from Tofino Brewing Company) has sat in our top 5. We were pretty excited to drink it straight from the source and we were not to be disappointed. We had to wait a seriously long time before we could enter the brewery (unfortunately we arrived at basically the same time as quite a large group) but once we did we had such an enjoyable afternoon, sipping on cold beer and sheltering from the rain.

We ordered flights (so we could branch out from our Cosmic) and low and behold, we found a new favourite beer! The Spruce Tree Ale (which Andy insists smells like lollies, but is supposed to be reminiscent of pine tree) now sits proudly as the number 1 on our lists. The brewery is a fab spot and has some stylish merch available for purchase. On my most recent visit I bought myself a super stylish hat, which I’m loving! The brewery has limited food options, but they encourage you to bring your own.

Rhinos Donuts: This girl sure loves a donut, and what better way to cap off a very early morning spent bear watching than with a hot brew and a donut to go?! We had to join the queue and my panic that the donuts would be sold out proved unnecessary as we entered the shop and saw the cabinet absolutely crammed with different flavours of donuts. There were so many different flavours including the delicious maple bacon and just ya stock standard custard (the two flavours we got) and they were so incredibly delicious and moreish that we had to remove ourselves before we gave into temptation!

The coffee was nice, but I made the frustrating mistake of forgetting to order a small (essential for us long black drinkers, otherwise it ends up just a hugely dilute feeling Americano!). A must visit for a morning treat when in Tofino!

Tacofino: I was living in Vancouver for about 8 months and somehow (unintentionally, until the last month) avoided visiting Tacofino. Well that’s okay, because we were going to Tofino which meant I could visit the OG. We arrived at Tacofino probably at peak time (aka lunch time) and joined the masses in one long (socially distanced) queue. Fortunately we had a black lab puppy in the line behind us, so that kept us well entertained. We had to wait about 25 minutes to order and then a further 25 for food, so it took us about an hour from when we arrived to be leaving with our meal. 

We took our goods to the beach, because why not!? It was close and a great setting to eat our lunch. We had ordered multiple fish tacos (the Tacofino speciality), a chicken burrito and the potentially famous, diablo cookie (I’m not sure if it is actually famous, but I saw it in a recipe book recently as one of Tacofino’s most popular dishes). It was well worth the wait, particularly the fish tacos (which of course we ate first). They reminded me why fish tacos remain my favourite food of all time! The chicken burrito was good too: definitely the best value item on the menu (this would apply to any burrito) as it was crammed full of Mexican goodness. We ate the cookie last: a decadent balance of chocolate, salt and chili – a delightful way to finish up!

Since the post above, I have been to a few of the Tacofino restaurants around Vancouver, but nothing really meets the authenticity of the food truck. I have come to the conclusion that the burritos are the best value; they are SO filling and crammed full of deliciousness, and the diablo cookie is a must for a meal finisher.

1909 Kitchen: located at the Tofino Resort and Marina, Andy and I have twice now saved this sweet spot for our final evening in Tofino. Early on in 2020 we watched Paul Moran take out the title of Top Chef Canada, and we knew all too well that his baby is the 1909 Kitchen. To our delight, we weren’t to be disappointed. The menu is extremely accessible to all tastes, ages and all budgets. Everything sounded delicious – I was very familiar with the menu before we even arrived.

We scored ourselves an incredible seat – located waterside, it was hard not to in this particular setting. The views were beautiful: literally 180° spanning the entire waterfront and all the nearby buildings. There are so many little islands, so many boats and the whole evening possessed a  majestic moodiness that I just could not get enough of. It was a little chilly, so fortunately there were outdoor heaters that we could use. 

We ended up ordering a really nice beer (which came in a really big jug!) and some yummy pizza, cauliflower and truffle fries. It may sound simple but it was executed to perfection. The whole thing was absolutely delicious and we ended up actually being so full (probably more from the beer) that we couldn’t even fit in dessert. We stayed here until night fell; we were more than enchanted by a big basset hound who insisted on howling at everyone who walked past. 1909 Kitchen would make a good spot to visit literally any time of day. 

Funnily enough, the second time we visited we were seated at the exact same table and on the whole had a very deja vu experience. We had delicious beer again, pizza and one of the main differences was we branched out from the truffle fries and cauliflower, and ordered calamari and broccolini instead. The experience again was positive divine; I think it’s one of the best recommendations I could make for a meal.

Jiggers Fish and ChipsWe were pumped to try some of the local fresh fish and chips as we had heard really good things. When we stayed in Ucluelet, Jiggers was just around the corner from our house. Our plan on our first night had been to grab some fish and chips and take them back to our Air BnB (on the beach) but when we arrived at the food truck at approximately 7.05pm, it was already closed. This was a swift reminder we were in a small town!

The second night, we made sure to get there well in time. We joined the queue and waited our turn to order a huge stack of fresh battered fish and some fries to boot. The fish was delightful – perfectly crispy, not too oily or flavoursome, which really enabled the flavour of the fish to shine through. The herbs in the batter were a nice touch too.

Fish and chips these days tend to be far more expensive than what I remember growing up, but I think that is partly because the standard has become so much more gourmet. This place was no exception – although I think the price to quality ratio was particularly good here. There were also burgers on the menu, as well as poutine and prawns.

Note, the whole place is seated outdoors on picnic tables, so probably a better choice on a warm day!

Heartwood Kitchen: This is one of the few places that I wanted to go but had not heard of until we walked past it one morning and it caught my attention. There was a long queue, a huge seated garden area, and it was in just the cutest little building. The reviews and menu were both super positive, so it instantly become a priority of mine to somehow squeeze it into our trip to Ucluelet.

On our last morning before we drove back to Nanaimo we managed to find the time to get to Heartwood Kitchen. Reservations aren’t possible, so we had to wait for about 15 minutes before we could get seated. We were originally seated right next to the kitchen (which would have been an interesting spot) but to our server’s initial annoyance, when a cute little window seat opened up we requested to switch. Thankfully she didn’t seem to hold a grudge!

The brunch menu was refined; not too much to choose from but it all sounded delicious. We could see the chefs hard at work and it was immediately obvious that a lot of pride was given to the presentation of the food. We were intrigued to see if the quality was going to match.

I ordered the french toast and fried chicken and Andy ordered the eggs benedict. Both plates of food were intricate, not over-sized, and looked SO good. My french toast was made with a baguette and it was two huge pieces – interesting plating decision, but it totally worked (see my photo to understand what I mean). The chicken was super aromatic, moist and definitely not oily. It was one of those meals where we both enjoyed savouring each mouthful as the different elements on the plate really complemented each other.

Ucluelet Brewing:  Breweries are somewhere that both Andy and I immensely enjoy visiting. There was a bit of a wait when we showed up here, but I was prepared to wait even longer if it meant we could sit outside. As it happened, we didn’t need to wait any longer; we were shown outside and moments later we were seated at what I could only describe as the best table in the entire place. We had outstanding views of the nearby inlet and were treated to a show from bald eagles, ducking and diving over the water. The quality of the beer was an added bonus; we hadn’t expected to like it as quite as much as we did.

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