Tofino’s Food Scene Continues to Expand
Eat your way through Vancouver Island’s trendiest spot.
Tofino has exploded as a year-round destination over the past decade, with an influx of new eateries building on the town’s already solid base of excellent restaurants, bakeries and ice cream shops.
The small town of just under 2000 year-round residents has an unusually high number of top-notch chefs and producers—its reputation as a foodie destination was established in the nineties by The Pointe restaurant at the now iconic Wickaninnish Inn, followed by SoBo Tofino and more recently, Wolf in the Fog. They have their own brewery, coffee roastery, charcuterie, chocolatier and craft ice creamery, but there have been several new additions to the food community over the past year worth adding to your must-visit list:
Brendan Foell and Cassidy McCaughan opened Summit Bread Co. this spring, one building up the hill from the new Tofino Brewing Co. location and right next door to Tofino Coffee Roasting Co. The pair met working at the Wick, and have since worked at Wolf in the Fog and Picnic Charcuterie before moving on to do their own thing. Their organic, handcrafted sourdough loaves are sublime, as are their pastries—McCaughan is a master, turning out over a hundred croissants a day.
Downtown, Shed has taken over the space that for decades was Tuff Beans—the orange cafe across the street from Wolf in the Fog. The brainchild of the group behind the uber-popular Shelter (further down Campbell, you pass it coming into town—it’s one of our favourite stops, and they do a late lunch), Shed is open and airy, with large windows that open to the outside, and takeout windows down one side. Every item on the menu is designed to work as well to go as to order in; the chef points out that with such a high volume of visitors, they have affordable family vacations in mind. It’s ridiculously affordable, particularly for Tofino, and the menu is fun and interesting—think burgers and snacks, and interesting bowls loaded with veggies and whole grains, with innovative cocktails, local brews and ice cream. The outdoor patio provides the very best vantage point for people-watching, looking out onto the main drag, right on the first intersection as you come into town. It’s the kind of place I’d make a habit of visiting, and never tire of.
Another Tofino icon, Weigh West at the Tofino Resort and Marina has been completely transformed, with two new eateries, 1909 Kitchen and the Hatch, Tofino’s only pub, overlooking the inner harbour. Named after Tofino’s first post office (which opened in 1909) the sleek 1909 dining room and waterfront patio features amazing share plates, has a great wine list and turns out some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in their 1000 degree wood fired Mugnaini oven. Chef Paul Moran is a fifth-generation forager, and his menu is sourced from Tofino’s oceans, shoreline and forests—you can even bring in your catch, and they’ll cook it for you. The two spaces spill over into each other, the Hatch more relaxed and 1909 more upscale, but both are gorgeous, with tons of natural light, set against spectacular ocean and mountain views.
Tofino now has its own craft distillery, also on Industrial Way—recently opened by local paramedic Adam Warry and his partners, who double as paramedics and firefighters in the area. At the time of my visit, they were up to four varieties of gin, once infused with old growth cedar, giving it a strong sense of place. The tiny tasting room has high ceilings and an open garage door, just like the brewery used to—pop in for a tasting or one of their custom-blended cocktails.
Picnic Charcuterie has also occupied a space on Industrial Way for years, but their space recently expanded; locally owned and specializing in their own cured meats, preserves and local and imported cheeses, it’s a must-visit if you’re planning a picnic or need something to bring along on a hike, and their new cooler of prepared meals is perfect for bringing dinner back to your hotel or rental.
The Tofino Coffee Roasting Co. is not new; Jesse-Ray Laking and Nicole Gervais took over a couple years ago, but they now have their roastery in the space that once was the Tofino Brew Co., who have moved down a level and now have a more upscale, space-limited, no-dogs tasting room. It’s still ridiculously popular, and a silver Airstream parked outside promises interesting food pop-ups.