Ayo Eat Indonesian Food (@miei381 via Instagram)

You’ve been to Earl’s and Milestones and Cactus Club more times than you can count. Irish Times and Sticky Wicket have become regular haunts for you and the squad.

But while these tried and true staples provide delicious and hearty fare, Victoria has so many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered and it’s officially time for you to branch out!

We’re the VicFoodGuys and in our debut article with Victoria Buzz, we’d like to share with you these 5 hole-in-the-wall eateries that you simply must try:

1. Ayo Eat

This one-man show is located on the 2nd floor of Market Square (at the Pandora/Wharf corner). Owner Bana, originally from Medan, Indonesia has been serving amazing Indonesian cuisine for the past several years.  

If you’re looking for an authentic, unique, Southeast Asian experience here in Victoria look no further than Ayo Eat.

Address: 560 Johnson St, Victoria

2. Harvest Road

Winners of the EcoStar Award for the “Greenest Restaurant 1-25 Employees” last year, this hidden gem at Michell’s Farm is doing amazing things. They go the extra mile not because they have to but because it’s the right thing to do.

Their burgers and fries are something to behold and the atmosphere is unparalleled; eating outside amongst the fields where a lot of the ingredients come from is a fantastic experience. You will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant operating more ethically than they are.

Address: 2451 Island View Rd, Saanichton

3. Blue Nile African Restaurant

How often are you welcome to eat with your hands at a restaurant? Located on Head St. in Esquimalt you’ll find this Ethiopian restaurant that features an incredible dinner buffet.

They’ve been enticing patrons for nearly 15 years with their bold and varied flavours and the aroma when you walk in is intoxicating.  If you have never had the pleasure of trying the fermented, spongy bread called injura, that alone is worth the trip (and yes it can replace utensils!)  Keep an eye out for one of their rare coffee ceremonies as they’re quite an event to be a part of.

Address:3-612 Head St, Esquimalt

4. Paul and Albert’s Little Kitchen

Named after the brothers who own the restaurant, this little kitchen really packs a punch with the food they produce.  

Dishes originate from family recipes that are authentic to Taiwan but have other Asian influences mixed in as well. Between their personalities, handwritten menus and palette cleanser, which will make “you a completely different person,” they have an undeniable charm. Their signature dessert is unexpectedly unique and is in and of itself is worth visiting for (hint, you should probably like yam fries!)

Address: 3218 Jacklin Rd, Langford

5. Cafe Zanzibar

Hidden behind some trees and bushes on Stelly’s X Road you’ll find Cafe Zanzibar. Co-owner Mohamed Dehairi has merged his training in French, Italian and Indian cooking into a west coast style; not so much fusion as it is an integration of similar techniques across cultures.

Featuring a year-round indoor patio and staff that is essentially one big family they have an atmosphere that you’ll want to be a part of. Stop by and find out why their slogan is “Global Flavour, Local Tastes.”

Address: 1164 Stelly’s X Road, Brentwood Bay