The mountains that snake down the centre of the island protect the eastern communities from the storms that brew over the Pacific Ocean, leaving the west to face the relentless rain and wild wind full on.
Luckily, all that wet weather makes the wild things grow, and the rainforests around Tofino and Ucluelet are abundant with wild mushrooms, Nootka roses, spruce tips, and cynamoka berries. For chefs here, foraging often replaces farming as a source of ingredients—and that includes seaweeds, gooseneck barnacles, and sweet, tender Dungeness crab from the local waters.
Quirky, artsy Tofino has long been known for its food scene, thanks to famed hotspots like the Wickaninnish Inn, SoBo, and Wolf in the Fog. But recently, its bluer-collared neighbour Ucluelet has become a dining destination of its own, with Pluvio Restaurant and Rooms and Heartwood Kitchen serving elevated cuisine with a casual approach.
But no matter where you are on Vancouver Island, something delicious is growing nearby, and someone is already planning to make it into something even better. Word to the wise: arrive hungry.
Please note that many of the restaurants listed above are at various stages of opening—some have limited hours, others offer take-out only, and some are open for full service. Call ahead to reserve your seat at the table.