Here at the Flirty Foodie we tend to avoid the two Fs: fast food joints and franchises. In a city chock full of chain restaurants, how does one sort the good from the run-of-the-mill? Downtown Nanaimo contains a treasure trove of culinary delights, many of which can be found along a historic stretch of road on Commercial Street. Hidden in plain sight, you only have to stop and look to discover there is great eating here! We take you through some of our favourite stops along the strip. The best part about our list is that all of our picks are under $10!
2 Chefs Affair: Infamous Eggs Benedict $9
A first rate eggs benedict doesn’t come easily, but if you can get your hands on one, there is nothing better! This benny is topped with house made hollandaise sauce and served with herbed shredded hash browns, a side of fresh tomato sauce. If you are lucky, they sometimes feature a smoked salmon lox version of this classic breakfast dish. They also have plenty of meals available to take home for those who are always on the run. Have a sweet tooth? Talented pastry chef Tammy creates a variety of sweet treats daily: a feast for the eyes as well as the palette!
123B Commercial St. (250) 591-4656
Mon Petit Choux: Smoked Salmon on Scrambled Eggs $9.50
Start your day right in this charming French style cafe. It’s the kind of place to enjoy your coffee while you read the morning paper. Fresh smoked salmon lox on perfectly scrambled eggs. Served with house made crème fraîche, capers, rosti (fried potato pancake), and freshly baked crusty baguette with whipped butter and house-made preserves made from seasonal fruit. Try your best not to purchase the entire case of pastries as you ogle them on your way out. They are popular, so come in early as they do sell out quite often!
101 – 120 Commercial St. (250)753-6002
Danforth Deli and Grill: Hot and Spicy Grilled Cheese $8
The grilled cheese is the epitome of comfort no matter how you slice it and no one does it better than Ben at his speciality cheese shop. Canadian Jalepeno Monterey Jack and gouda cheeses melted with spicy jalepenos in between crispy slices of house baked artisan bread and served with a crisp dill pickle. It’s the sort of sandwich that makes you blackout with pleasure! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, add a soup or salad to your meal for $4. The menu is ever-changing, so check in often so you don’t miss out on specials like poutine with local Natural Pastures cheese curds or wild smoked sockeye salmon swiss cheese quiche…a bordello for the taste buds!
39 Commercial Street. (250) 591-1742
Gabriel’s Cafe: Brown Rice, Corn & Black Bean Burger $7.25
Gabriel has won numerous awards for his wildly creative menu, it’s no wonder vegetarians and carnivores alike have been flocking here for years. Served on a whole wheat kaiser bun with chipolte mayo and cheese, the combination of brown rice, black beans and corn make this veggie burger super moist and packed with flavour. He also does a mean wrap and his rice bowls are famous. Although not officially on the trail, Gabriel’s also makes a fantastic maple Nanaimo Bar available only when asked for. Now open late on Friday and Saturday nights (from 11pm until 3am), night crawlers now have a Mecca to grab a quick bite, even if they are stumbling in!
183 Commercial Street (250) 714-0271
Power House Living Foods Co: Olive Tapenade Pizza $10
Newcomer to the strip, this is your destination for healthy raw, vegan, gluten-free food, prepared from fresh, organic and local ingredients. How does one make a pizza without cooking ingredients above 118 degrees Celcius you ask? Through dehydration which preserves the nutritional benefits in the food. The result is a surprisingly delectable and hearty pizza with a crunchy crust, creamy tangy pesto drizzled over fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and olives. Wash it all down with one of their nutritious smoothies, fresh squeezed juices or a shot of wheat grass…if you dare! Who knew vegan could be so tasty?!
200 Commercial Street (250) 591-7873
The Thirsy Camel Cafe: Falafel with tahini $8.25
Technically they are on Victoria St. but there’s no way could leave this downtown cult favourite out. The Thirsty Camel Café serves a variety of fresh and healthy food from garlicky hummus to Persian chicken, but falafel is what they’re famous for! These little deep fried balls of goodness made of ground chickpeas, garlic, herbs and spices are served in a pita with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and parsley. Try one of their chai spice cookies, baked daily. They are addictive!
14 Victoria Crescent (250) 753-9313
Where is your favourite place to eat in downtown Nanaimo? Post below!