Diners in the Okanagan Valley have it all: lush fruit filled valleys, top-notch chefs and plenty of wine to throw down the hatch. The region is ideal for chow-hounds no matter what time of year you visit. Here’s a look at the top 10 places to eat (and drink) in the Okanagan.
Credit RauDZ for setting the bar for restaurants in Kelowna. For whatever reason I went with a salad the last time I was here, but with pancetta, shrimp and roast veg tossed in a homemade thousand island dressing, it was like no other chef salad I’ve ever had. They also serve stand out cocktails and have the most incredible fries that you must dip in duck fat mayo. Divine!
1560 Water St Kelowna; www.raudz.com
Executive Chef Mark Filatow is also a trained sommelier, making him one of the few chefs in Canada to be as equally well versed in wine as food. Though this funky wine bar looks like a major hipster hangout, it’s totally unpretentious. I’ve yet to find a disappointing item on the menu, so have at ‘er.
104, 1180 Sunset Drive, Kelowna; www.waterfrontrestaurant.ca
One of few places where you can have a demonstration cooking lesson and dinner at a vineyard in the Okanagan, Chef Roger Gillespie whips up his favourite classic dishes, while you sit around the U-shaped granite counter sipping the vineyard’s fine wines. Ideal for couples and girlfriend getaways, this is one of the best ways to spend an evening in the Osoyoos region.
Housed in a tiny, old tire shop, you select your fixings from a menu attached to a clipboard, before handing it over the counter to the burger barons. These custom made burgers are massive and messy, and worth the calories with every sloppy bite.
85 Westminster Ave E., Penticton; www.burger55.com
This well loved Greek restaurant has stood the test of time (in restaurant years), and is the perfect spot for a hearty family meal. You can’t go wrong with the platter for two, which gives you a little taste of everything, and likely lots of leftovers.
687 Main Street, Penticton; www.eatsquid.com
The Kitchen at Misconduct Wine Co.
The kitchen here is as bad ass as this relatively new winery. Head here for an eclectic mix of hearty peasant food and tapas. They do a good job of their seafood, and you’ll want to try their signature paella and sangria.
375 Upper Bench Road North, Penticton; www.misconductwineco.com
The Vanilla Pod at Poplar Grove Winery
You wouldn’t think kids would be welcome at this swish restaurant with its floor to ceiling windows that afford dramatic views of Lake Okanagan, but the presence of high chairs and colouring book confirms that they are. There’s no official kids menu, but they’re happy to customize meals for the young ‘ens. Be sure to indulge in seared scallops on a bed of artichoke and bacon, and sample their 2009 Cabernet Franc that won a gold medal at the 2013 Pacific Rim Wine Competition. With hints of wood, old leather and tobacco, it’s like a gentlemen’s club in a glass – and who doesn’t want a taste of that?
425 Middle Bench Road, North Penticton; www.thevanillapod.ca
Picking up Provisions
True Grain Bread Mill
This artisanal bakery in Summerland gives Franken-flour the snub, milling heritage grains like red fife, kamut and spelt for their baked goods. Head here for a coffee and cinnamon bun, or do like I did and cram your suitcase with as many loaves as you possibly can.
10108 Main Street, Summerland; www.truegrain.ca
Upper Bench Creamery
Everyone knows wine and cheese pair perfectly together – even more so when they’re produced by an award-winning husband and wife team. British stilton lovers will want to nab some Old King Cole to pair with their Merlot, or try the Pinot Blanc, selected by the Vancouver Four Seasons for their menu.
170 Upper Bench Road South, Penticton; www.upperbench.ca
The best place to score picnic provisions in Penticton, you can also pick up imported condiments, fancy pastas and gourmet frozen meals. Stumble here for lovely lattes, healthy breakfasts and fancy sandwiches.
368 Vancouver Ave., Penticton; www.thebenchmarket.com
What are your favourite restaurants in Kelowna?