Certain restaurants are known for their expertise at turning out signature foods really well. They've pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Victoria has had much success creating a substantial market for Dessert. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at popular Pure Vanilla Bakery or at QV Bakery & Café, a major player in the field. Make sure you see what all the fuss is about!


Having a midnight snack attack? QV is one of Victoria's best spots for a quick bite. Along with your coffee, try a muffin or cookie made fresh in the bakery. Heartier fare includes eggs, quiches and salads.

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If you're downtown and need a break from sightseeing, you'll want to head over to Paradiso di Stelle to see "Momma." She makes superb gelato, some of the best in the city. Even if you're not a big ice cream fan, you can sit out on the patio amidst the bustle of Bastion Square and sip a cup of freshly brewed Illy coffee or slurp up a steaming bowl of minestrone – you won't be disappointed!

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Sister enterprise to Rebar, Cascadia makes rustic breads like rosemary garlic focaccia and stone ground whole wheat. Their cinnamon-raisin swirl is great for toast. They also make healthier, but no less tempting, versions of sweets such as a vegan velvet fudge cake, carrot cake and fresh fruit pies. You can get their baked goods here in the bakery, or at Rebar.

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Rockland / Fairfield

You can always tell when the baker is passionate about what he or she does, and it's more than obvious at Bubby Rose's. The variety alone is impressive and ever-changing, and they are always trying new combinations and coming up with great flavors. If you're lucky, they'll have baked French toast when you visit. Their cinnamon buns are legendary, but if you're a fan of bleu cheese don't miss the bleu cheese and apple croissant. Other yummy things to try include rugelach filled with raspberry jam and white chocolate, apricots and almonds, or walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar. The daily quiche is reliably good, as are the breads and the coffee comes from Discovery Coffee.

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Opened in 1976, Fat Phege's has been providing Victorians with the creamiest hand-rolled fudge in town, and a whole lot more. The little shop also offers dandy ice cream, hot dogs, burgers and fries. But that fudge – it comes in indulgent flavors like rocky road, chocolate amaretto, chocolate Grand Marnier, chocolate chip cookie dough (amazingly, it really does taste like cookie dough!), and peanut butter. And for purists, there's "plain" unadulterated chocolate fudge that will make you swoon. Alternatively, try out an Opera Roll, smooth French nougat wrapped in caramel and chopped nuts.

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Helene Pappas has earned a devoted following among Vancouver Island chocolate connoisseurs, with good reason. Not only do her creations look notably more attractive than many of the competitors', they also taste absolutely incredible. There's a small café where you can enjoy a cup of coffee with your treat of choice, which might be a few chocolates or even a slice of cake. If you're an adventurous sort, be sure to try the chili chocolate, an amazing little nugget that's simultaneously spicy, sweet and creamy.

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Fernwood / Hillside

Hailing from a long line of family run bakeries, La Collina should be on every foodie's list. It's a bakery offering wonderful artisanal breads; pastries like profiteroles, eclairs, tarts and cannoli; scratch-made croissants, Danish and brioche; adorable 4" and 6" cakes that taste as wonderful as they look; and delectable cookies and bars. It's a market with all the gastronomic indulgences you could ever want or need. It's a café, serving Illy coffee, hand-churned gelato, wonderful gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads. Bottom line? This place is the real deal – don't miss it!

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Pure Vanilla is a fantastic bakery in all respects, but it gets the most press for its muffins. If you're hungry and in a hurry, grab a cup of Torrefazione coffe and a "Good Morning" muffin to go – the coffee will perk you up, and the muffin, packed with good things like dried fruit, carrots, coconut and pumpkin seeds, will keep you going. There's also an impressive banana-chocolate chunk-walnut muffin that rivals the ice cream with which it shares a name. But you could also opt for a more traditional flavor such as blueberry or lemon poppy seed. The bakery also serves interesting Italian-inspired lunch specials.

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Moziro is owned and operated by husband and wife team Jakob Zaiss and Jennifer de Valk , who have combined two of life's finer things – coffee and chocolate – under one roof, with incredible results. The ambience is cool and classy, but super friendly and relaxed, too. Coffee is roasted on the premises and expertly brewed; it ranks among the best few cups in town. Small batches of different chocolates are hand-made each and every day, ensuring that the customer gets the best flavor and texture. A must!

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What started as a family bakery in Torino, Italy nearly a century ago is now a family bakery, deli and café in Victoria. The bakery shelves are lined with handmade artisan breads and scrumptious pastries. The deli boasts a selection of over 200 cheeses, estate olive oils, and imported Italian and European delicacies. The café serves absolutely fantastic homemade food from soups and salads to pastas and gelato. During the summer, Ottavio shows old black and white movies out in their courtyard, and throughout the year they hold fun special events like tastings and cooking demonstrations. Plus their amiable staff is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. If you're a foodie, this is another don't-miss-it stop.

Read more about Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen →