After living for many years in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, we have our favourite spots where we like to eat. We moved away a few years ago, but still go to the same places when we return for a visit. In the last few years there have been some new places that have crept their way onto our list.
At the top of our list for delicious fresh food, good size portions and overall value is Aladdin’s Cafe. I’m surprised they don’t start making up our usual order when they see us walk through the door. The food is an influence of Lebanese, Greek and Italian and is bursting with flavor. It’s located in downtown Nanaimo in a cozy space that is decorated with a Middle Easter flair. We especially love that they have several vegetarian options. Don’t worry if you are looking for meat dishes, there are plenty of those too.
My favorite is the Portofino Salmon with rice and greek salad. Jack likes the vegetarian combo plate that’s full of middle eastern delights such as stuffed grape leaves, falafel, babba ganoush and the cafes signature dish of spicy carrots.
During our last visit we ordered up a bunch of appetizers to share and then finished off with baklava.
7 Victoria Crescent, Nanaimo BC V9R 5B9
Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 10pm.
Nori Japanese Restaurant
Our north end go to place is Nori Japanese Restaurant for sushi. They still recognize us as regular customers even though we only get to go a few times a year when we visit the island. They have a very loyal following of local clientele, everyone is greeted when they walk in the door. Be warned it can get extremely busy on weekends. You may have to wait, but it is worth it.
Everything is super fresh and of excellent quality. The menu has a lot of creative dishes to choose from. We usually fill up on several types of different maki rolls, negiri sushi, tempura and salmon terriyaki.
Nori Japanese Restaurant
6750 Island Highway, Nanaimo BC V9V 1S3
Sun 12pm-3pm & 4pm-930pm
Mon to Thurs 1130am-3pm & 430pm-930pm
Fri/Sat 1130am-3pm & 430pm-10pm
The Longwood Brew Pub
A long time favorite with many Nanaimo locals. It’s the perfect spot to head out for great food and drinks. We have eaten here more times than I can count on our own and celebrated many occasions with family and friends. Almost every ingredient on the menu is made in house. We love their creative salads and their burgers are excellent. They have the best fish and chips, the fish is moist and in a light batter that’s not greasy. Let’s not forget about the hand crafted beer made on site. They also do off sales. The building is a beautiful space with large wood beams and always has a great atmosphere. They have a restaurant on the upper level and a bar style restaurant downstairs. It’s a popular spot so both levels fill up on weekends, and the bar gets busy during any special sporting events.
The Brew Pub
5775 Turner Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9T 6L8
This is one of our long time favourites for grabbing lunch. It’s tasty southwestern style food at reasonable prices. The menu ranges from $3.95 to $12.95. They have two locations one in the north end and one in down town Nanaimo. The food is flavorful and filling. We love their burritos and variety of salads. El Grande Burrito topped with southwest pico, salsa, cheese and sunflower sprouts and Coyoto Combo, a burrito, enchilada and a salad are the two dishes we repeatedly order. Chicken, beef and veggie options are available as well as your choice of the spice level, mild, medium, hot or beyond if you like.
358 Wesley Street
Nanaimo BC V9R 2T6
Unit 404, 6581 Aulds Rd
Nanaimo BC V9T 6J6
Power House Living Foods
A new addition to our list is Power House Living Foods. Two locations, one in the north end and one downtown Nanaimo were both recently opened. We were totally impressed, we love eating fresh food that is healthy and alive. They are not just a place that serves vegan and vegetarian food, they serve organic and local when possible with no additives or preservatives. Everything is prepared in a way that preserves the highest amount of nutrient content in the food. The great thing about eating live foods is that they leave you feeling satisfied, but not weighed down. Vegetarians want creative, fresh quality food and this place gets it right.
I had the Sweet Onion Veggie wrap. It was full of fresh veggies and had a very tasty sauce. Jack had the Pad Thai Salad, it came in a huge bowl that was packed with noodles and veggies dressed in fresh and savory coconut milk and almond butter sauce.
They also have a variety of juices and smoothies made to order and a mouth watering display of desserts that are all wheat, dairy, refined flour and peanut free.
Power House Living Foods
200 Commercial Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G7
6560 Metral Drive
Nanaimo, BC V9T 2L8
A blend of a trendy restaurant with a modern menu and decor in a historic building with exposed interior brick walls. The original classic neon street sign still sits out front from what was a previous Chinese restaurant years ago.
The hip atmosphere makes for the perfect spot to meet up with friends before heading out for a night on the town. The food is a bit on the pricier side, but it is excellent quality. They have in interesting drink list, especially if you like martinis. From a mac and cheese for grown ups with wild mushrooms and prosciutto to a burger that is touted as a work of art, everything is done with attention to detail. My favourite is the house made vegetarian ravioli with wild mushrooms and boursin cheese. They have Angus steak, BBQ pork ribs and seared halibut as well as lighter salads and appetizers.
221 Commercial Street
Nanaimo BC V9R 5G8
Leftys is not in Nanaimo, but since we will not be doing a Parksville post at this time we didn’t want to leave it out. Every time we are going through Parksville we stop in for either lunch or dinner. They have a second location in nearby Qualicum. We love their fresh and creative menu. They have great burgers served with their specialty southpawtatoes. There are several unique salads such as my favourite the Mandarin salad with toasted almonds and greens with a tangy, creamy dressing.
They have a few variations of what they call wrapetizers. The one with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, red onions with a mango chutney dip is delicious. Their desserts are just as flavorful and unique. Try their mouth watering home made pies or the creation called Nirvana, that truly lives up to its name. Be sure to read the cute story at the beginning of their menu of how a bunch of left handed people came together to open the restaurant.
280 East Island Highway
During our last visit to Nanaimo we saw a few new places downtown that look very interesting. Hopefully we will have some time to check them out during our next visit. If there is a newer place you think we should try let us know.