by Michelle Winner | Photo © Salted Brick
Kelowna—which began life as a fur trade settlement, then graduated to a gold rush boomtown, and, when that petered out, became a cattle and fruit growing hub—is, today, a centerpiece of B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, complete with a revitalized business district and framed by vineyards and mountains.
Most think of the Okanagan Valley as a wine producing region. And, where there is world-class wine, there are restaurants. In Kelowna, they run the gamut from casual cafes to inspired fine dining. Here are some of the oldest and newest eateries to try on your next visit to Kelowna.
A local favorite for a breakfast is Okanagan Street Food. It began humbly as a food truck at the Kelowna Farmer’s Market, and, because of its popularity, it has morphed into a brick and mortar located in an industrial area of Kelowna’s North End. Chef Neil Schroeter is the owner and you’ll still find him cooking up some incredible fare. His Market Breakfast Wrap comes with house-cured bacon, aged cheddar, and fresh salsa baked in a flour tortilla. Try his specials and the fresh cut fries with homemade blueberry ketchup or truffle mayonnaise. Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday to Saturday, it’s best to come after the tradesmen’s rush. You can even enjoy a glass of local Okanagan wine. okanaganstreetfood.com
Wandering Kelowna’s main street of Bernard Avenue and popping into shops builds an appetite. Lunchtime looms and it’s off to Salted Brick, Chef Jason Leizert’s concept charcuterie shop and restaurant. His house-made cured meats with inventive combinations, like the cranberry-venison sausage, all use wild or locally sourced, free-range meat, without antibiotics or hormones. You can enjoy lunch or dinner in the small shop or have your meal and beverage wrapped up to go and take it down to the nearby Downtown Marina and watch the boats go by on the lake. saltedbrick.com
When dinnertime rolls around you’ve got some decisions to make. Fancy a lovely dinner on the lake? Then it should be at the Hotel Eldorado’s lakeside restaurant with its rowing club décor. This historic place has served as a rowing club and center of lake activity since 1926. A Wine Spectator award-winning wine list complements the local ingredients, fresh seafood and beef. Start with everyone’s favorite, the Prawns Cocktail, served chilled with lemon aioli and truffled micro greens and perhaps a glass of bubbly to start your memorable evening off right. If you are around on Sunday, the brunch here is stupendous. hoteleldoradokelowna.com
Perhaps you’re feeling more like an old-school Italian meal? No other place will do but La Bussola run by the Coccaro family. Opened by the parents Lauretta and Francesco who migrated from Valle dell’Angello in Salerno, Italy, the food is authentic and cooked by family with love. At this long-time landmark, you are treated as honored guests, and, from antipasti to dolce courses, you’ll enjoy every moment in this upscale and comfortable place. Fantastic wine list. labussolarestaurant.com
Luigi Coccaro has the entrepreneurial spirit and certainly a restaurateur’s keen acumen running through him. Growing up at La Bussola, he learned his profession well. His creation, The Curious Artistry & Alchemy Café in the Cultural District, is a relaxed and spacious industrial chic restaurant but with special features like the specially built forno wood-fired oven for artisan pizzas, the Italian coffee machine and the rotation of craft beers on tap. They serve a fabulous breakfast and lunch, with dinner until late. No reservations needed unless you are a group. Another unique thing about this place is that if you want to go to their speakeasy, which is great for a nightcap, you have to ask directions at the bar. thecurious.ca
If some bubbly, or a biodynamic wine aged in a four-story pyramid built to 1:16 scale of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, intrigues you, go to Sunset Organic Bistro at the Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Take a table on the covered patio overlooking the vineyard, the lake and the mountains and feast on organic produce, meat or fish, or something grown right from the chef’s raised-bed garden. Sip something sublime from the winery, and, as the fiery sunset fades, think to yourself, what could be finer than Kelowna? summerhill.bc.ca
To plan your Kelowna adventure, visit tourismkelowna.com.