There are so many delicious things to eat in the Okanagan but what to choose? Where do you go? What’s seasonal and is it worth it? This guide provides an answer to all those questions I get asked with the arrival of new comers to the valley. In truth, there are too many excellent chefs, restaurants, wineries, breweries and distilleries to name. But this guide will get you off the ground! Add your opinion in the comments below!
The Okanagan produces some of Canada’s best fruit from cherries, apples, pears, table grapes, wine grapes, and much more. A visit to our valley wouldn’t be completed without tasting a few of our seasonal items. If you’re visiting in season I’d suggest picking your own fruit. It is not only more affordable when buying in bulk but it also establishes a deeper connection and understanding of where your food comes from. Here in the Okanagan we are big on supporting our local farmers!
Predominantly, the Okanagan is known for its numerous wineries and sub-appellations. From north to the south there are distinct differences in the wines being produced, scenery and terroir. If you’re into white wines and pinot noir then stick to Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton (although there are exceptions). If you enjoy red wines, especially bolder reds then head south to Oliver and Osoyoos where the weather tends to be hotter (bordering Canada’s only desert). If you can’t make it into the surrounding vineyards for tastings some are located within the city (Kelowna and Penticton) or you can head to any of these restaurants to taste local wine with your dinners.
Postcards from the Golden Mile Bench
A guide to all of Kelowna’s wineries and which to choose
A guide to all of West Kelowna’s wineries and which to choose (coming soon!)
24 Hours on the Naramata Wine Bench
Naramata, a re-education
The Okanagan might be known for its wine but the brewing industry is booming throughout the Okanagan! You can’t leave without trying at least one of our craft breweries, all of which do their own take…some even doing hybrid wine and beer brews! In the Okanagan we are all about collaborating in the spirit of camaraderie and creating something uniquely…Okanagan!
The Okanagan’s cocktail culture is alive and well with restaurants putting as much thought into their cocktails as their dinner menus. You can also find mobile bars and bartenders, take home cocktail kits, bitters and so much more!
Bar Travelling Man’s Mobile Bar, Cocktail Kits and More
Born to Shake Bitters and Cocktail Kits
Like Vodka & Gin? Try Wiseacre Distillery & Farm
E-Bike To Forbidden Spirits for Apple Vodka Martinis & Gimlets
Okanagan Spirits Tasting
SIMPS Modern Beverage
Honeydew Margarita at Frankie We Salute You! (bottom left)
Aperol Spritz at Orchard Room (bottom right)
Signature Cocktail at Midtown Station (middle left)
Lemon Drop Martini at The Eldorado (top)
Joy Road Catering Pop Up Dinners
Pop up dinners are one of the best ways to experience Okanagan dinning. Often hosted at local farms, wineries and other surprise locations, menus focus on local ingredients and making the connection to your local farmer.
Pop up and al fresco dinners in the Okanagan were made famous by Joy Road Catering. Partners Dana and Cam hosted these events at various wineries throughout the Okanagan and at God’s Mountain Estate. In 2019 they sold Joy Road Catering to partners Brett and Liv and showed them the ropes. They were met with plenty of pivoting during their first full year of running Joy Road in 2020. You can purchase their baked goods and market bags from a quaint container tucked behind Black Antler on market days. Stay tuned for their Bakeshop which will be the new location for al fresco dinners. However, stay up to date on all bake shop, market bags and dinner offerings on their social media and website!
Paisley Notebook Pop Up Dinners
While Joy Road Catering certainly established the outdoor dinning trend within the Okanagan, Aman Dosanj, of The Paisley Notebook, makes it uniquely her own. Her dinning experiences embrace the outdoors in all its forms and (most) weather conditions. She forages and cooks in the woods. She creates new menus for each service and each dish is accompanied by a travel tale. She has a fascinating story of how she arrived at outdoor pop up dinners and is well travelled which makes for a very entertaining evening. You cannot miss her dinning experiences. They are truly one of kind.
All gelato is created equal. (Insert Dwight emoji) False! Only 2% of the world’s gelaterias make their gelato from scratch! One of these is located right here in the Okanagan ~ QB Gelato in Kelowna. Using local fruits and ingredients at their peak makes their gelato the best in British Columbia if not Canada!
Okanagan cheesemakers make me happy. No matter where you go within the valley there are local cheesemakers in every city of the Okanagan Valley. Check out a few (or more) of my favourites at the links below.
When you have an excellent wine region charcuterie naturally makes an appearance at any self respecting restaurant or winery. Dedicated local chefs are always fine tuning their charcuterie plates ensuring they have the best cheese, meat, bread and preserves the valley can offer. There’s nothing more disappointing than a small charcuterie or a poorly curated cheese or charcuterie. I once paid $18 for 3 small wedges of cheese at a local wine bar that shall remain nameless. I was flabbergasted and furious. I mean, put some effort into it or don’t do it at all. A good charcuterie needs a variation of textures of crunchy/soft/smooth, flavours of hot/sweet/sour/bitter, colour and an element of surprise (house made seasonal preserve for example).
Anyways, my favourite Okanagan locations for charcuterie can be found below:
Chef’s selection tasting board at Terrafina in Oliver ($27)
Chef Ned Bell has taken over the iconic Naramata Inn Charcuterie ($25)
Rustic Reel Brewing has charcuterie with vegan cheese option ($21 for 2) Pro tip here ~ make sure they don’t overload you on dried fruits which happened to me once. Otherwise, excellence.
Friends of Dorothy Lounge makes an excellent charcuterie share plate!
Vice & Virtue Brewing has a in house smoked meat on their charcuterie!
***Table Forty Nine is not a restaurant but a caterer who concocts vibrant boards and can get as weird as you want with them!
Another alternative is Gypsy Chix Picnics which I recommend for a special occasion!
Taste the Okanagan Forests by Foraging with Scott Moran
Scott Moran goes by @KelownaForager on Instagram and he shows us the bounty of the Okanagan forests. If you message him and ask really nicely he can take you on one of his foraging adventures for a fee. I really can’t wait to get out there and find wild asparagus, the incredible mushrooms, berries and more in the woods this spring and summer. I smell a YouTube video brewing! If getting a bit dirty in the forest isn’t your idea of a good time you can find him at the Kelowna’s Farmers’ Market selling whatever wild and delicious things he finds in the surrounding forests. Last I heard he was also making a delicious rose hip syrup!
Waterfront Wines Potted Foie Gras
Ok so maybe this is out of left field or a result of my pregnancy cravings but if you’ve been dinning in and around the Okanagan as long as I have you must know this dish. Waterfront Wines potted foie gras is whipped to a creamy pillowy consistency then topped with a seasonal gelée – sometimes it’s apricot, cheery or even ice wine gelée. Foie gras can be a controversial ingredient but in Canada the production of foie gras is held to a higher standard and humane. Truly a favourite of mine.
Waterfront Wines is also the only Okanagan restaurant that appears in amazing accumulation of chef worthy restaurants found in Where Chefs Eat.
Okanagan First Nations Restaurants & Wineries
There are some very unique dishes, wines and events created by local aboriginal wine makers and chefs. If you’re in the Okanagan, predominantly Osoyoos and West Kelowna, then you need to check out these 3 locations!
Kekuli Cafe as featured on You Gotta Eat Here!
Indigenous World Winery in West Kelowna
Nk’ Mip Cellars in Osoyoos
But as I said there are so many incredible purveyors, chefs, brewers and wine makers in the Okanagan. You simply gotta come and experience it for yourself! Tell me your favourite Okanagan bites in the comments below!