Victoria’s Breakfast Spots of Champions
By Jessica Woollard
For all those lazy, hazy, crazy holidays in the capital city, breakfast is the meal of choice for late-night revelers and late-morning loungers alike. Lucky for all, downtown Victoria offers several top-drawer eateries for your favourite meal of the day. Enjoy eggs made every way imaginable, French toast dipped in scrumptious secret ingredients, taters fried to golden perfection, and waffles with tantalizing toppings—mounds of fresh fruit dribbled with heavenly syrups and homemade jams.
Each of the top five breakfast eateries below serves amazing, mouthwatering breakfasts. No, the menu alone might not help you choose which place to try; instead, the key to your choice might lie in the décor, the history, the vibe, or the approach to cooking. Here’s an overview to help you choose the best spot at which to start your day:
Shine Café, 1320 Blanshard Street (downtown location); 1548 Fort Street (Oak Bay Junction location)
“Shine has the best breakfast in Victoria hands down,” says the Urban Spoon. You know it’s true when a local, family-owned restaurant opens a second location down the road from its first because of demand! If the downtown restaurant is packed (like it usually is), the Fort Street location is an enjoyable 20-minute walk.
As soon as you walk in, the bright orange and yellow décor coos “rise and shine.” There is an irresistible feel of family comfort in the space, a feeling, which the menu supports. Classic breakfast options are highlighted by local hot drinks: coffee from Fernwood Coffee and teas from Silk Road Teas—the French toast even comes with a tea-based batter. Shine Café offers a comfortable setting and hearty food for an overall satisfying start to your day.
The Blue Fox Café, 919 Fort Street
The Blue Fox’s claim to fame, other than its food of course, is its line up. Every weekend, people cue outside the restaurant on Fort Street, waiting without complaint for a table. It’s basically expected that if you go to the Fox you’re going to have to wait, but as one online reviewer wrote, it’s “worth waiting in line for.”
The all-day breakfast features imaginative variations on eggs benedict, and the highly praised “fat” French toast is an all-round favourite. Delicious homemade soups, dressings, and jams are crowd pleasers; throw in large portions, good service, and funky ambiance from the authentic red brick walls and huge windows overlooking Fort Street, and you can see why folks line up for a chance to dine at Victoria’s legendary Blue Fox.
John’s Place Restaurant, 723 Pandora Avenue
“Real food at real prices” is John’s Place’s motto, but it could also be “Victoria’s culinary diner.” Seem like an oxymoron? Chef John Cantin won a gold medal at the Culinary Olympics in his early years as a chef, but “diner food has always been my favourite,” he writes on the website.
Since 1984, John has been going strong in the same location on Pandora Street, cooking everything from scratch, including breads, pies, and salad dressings. The restaurant was recently featured on Food Network Canada, on which they showed John’s Place’s bestseller, eggs benedict with real butter hollandaise sauce, as well as Belgian Waffles with home-made cream cheese syrup. Mmm. An early review of the restaurant from 1985 by Suzanna Miers says it best: “Breakfast or brunch is my favourite time at John’s Place. My eyes grew large as saucers the first time I saw the huge Belgium waffles go by (peach, banana-rum with yoghurt or blueberry)” (Monday Magazine). The review goes on to note that breakfast back in ’85 only cost $3.25 to $5.50! While unfortunately inflation has raised prices by a few bucks here and there, you can rest assured that the food is just as delectable—if not better—than it was in the ’80s.
Floyd’s Diner, 866 Yates Street
You can’t miss Floyd’s on the corner of Quadra and Yates in its bright magenta glory; indeed, let the peripheral paint portend what’s to come. Inside, hip hostesses and tattooed waiters walk you past the huge exotic fish tank, past the Santa Clause statue, and past the old motorbike to your table.
The all-day breakfast and lunch menu is vamped up with a unique nomenclature. “The Donald Trump” brings you poached eggs on an English muffin with chicken and apple chutney; “The Roy McFarlin,” named after one of Floyd’s regulars, combines two eggs, fries, and toast; and you can always try your luck with the “Mahoney,” meaning whatever the kitchen feels like bringing you! There’s an added comedy to this dish: pay full price or flip for it, double or nothing.
Whatever your breakfast pleasure, Floyd’s has definitely got it, and will gladly serve it up with a bonus side of pizzazz.
Willie’s Bakery, 537 Johnson Street
Come to Willie’s for a taste of old Victoria. Founded in 1887, Willie’s is British Columbia’s oldest bakery. Impressive, right? Located in one of Johnson Street’s history-ridden character buildings, the bakery still features original granite as well as panels of glass cubes in the sidewalk, which allowed light to pour into the basement for early-morning baking. At its peak, the bakery made 32 types of bread and baked over 500 loaves daily. Now, Willie’s has an expanded menu beyond just bread and serves full breakfasts and lunches. The restaurant is committed to using local and organic ingredients.
Summer or winter, enjoy the restaurant’s courtyard. Bask in the sunshine or stay toasty by the fireplace, surrounded by beautiful rose bushes and flowers. The fountain’s running water creates the ambiance of a zen garden. At Willie’s, enjoy harmony for all senses, including your taste buds.