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


Inner Harbour

Nautical Nellie's is known for its breathtaking view of the bustling Inner Harbour, and has enough seafaring décor elements to keep even young ones entertained. The roster of appetizers runs from escargot to Cajun clam strips, plus interesting salads with a bevy of slightly unusual ingredients. If there are at least two or three in your party, try the "Colossal Canoe," a heap of mostly Asian inspired tidbits such as crispy calamari with citrus mirin sauce and lobster and fennel spring roll. The entrée menu is truly huge – if you came with 30 of your closest friends, not only would no two people have to order the same thing, but everyone would also get exactly what he or she wanted, with no compromises. There's even a raw bar with a big selection of fresh oysters.

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Located at the Westbay Marine Village, a sort of RV park/marina complex where much of the real estate is actually on the water, Fin and Gill serves great West Coast pub food. The menu has fish and chips, locally caught salmon, and all the shellfish you could want. Some of it's fried, some broiled or baked, some raw. There are also burgers and sandwiches, big bright salads, and a host of microbrews and imports.

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Check out Blue Crab's daily seafood specials – they only use seafood and fish the day it's been caught. Depending on the season, you can expect to find salmon, crab or spotted prawns. A house specialty is pan-roasted Pacific salmon fillet with a hazelnut crust. Non-seafood eaters will have plenty to choose from with choices like smoked chicken sausage in portobello mushroom broth and tenderloin with peanut sauce. Breads and desserts are all prepared in-house, and the wine list favors California and local vintages. Be sure to ask for a table with a view of the harbour. Smart-casual attire.

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High ceilings and wall murals painted by a local artist set the mood at this cozy, upscale seafood stop. For lunch, try crispy crab cakes or luscious seafood bisque. Dinner features all of your fresh favorites, including scallops, trout and salmon. Locals come here to enjoy the oyster bar – one of the best stocked in Victoria. Burgers and steaks will please any non-seafood eaters in your party, and a trio of Belgian chocolate fondues will satisfy dessert lovers. Smart casual. Reservations accepted.

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If you're looking for a casual restaurant with lots of outdoor seating, Wharfside is ideal. Whether the sky is clear or cloudy, guests can enjoy the covered outdoor seating on the multi-level decks and great water views. The restaurant has a diverse menu of seafood from all around the world such as Alaskan crab, New England lobster, wild BC salmon, local shellfish and Hawaiian ahi. Other options include steaks, burgers, pastas, stir fries and pizzas. A great place to go with a large group of picky eaters!

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Stylish and appealing, Fire & Water offers a fine Pacific Northwest meal in particularly comfortable surroundings. Although the specialty of the house is Prime Rib' à la Plaque (tender beef cured with brandy, pan-seared with a unique spice rub and served with cognac demi glace), seafood really shines here. Try the Digby scallops with wilted spinach and caramelized shallots, or a steaming bowl of cioppino brimming with crab, local fresh fish and veggies. The adjacent lounge, a great place to relax by the fireplace with a cocktail, serves more casual fare such as burgers topped with smoked bacon, aged cheddar and house made barbecue sauce, and fish and chips (salmon or halibut with hand cut smoked paprika fries).

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Opened in 1991, Ferris' had exposed brick and fun local artwork long before they really hit the big time. It's cool and trendy, not a bit stuffy, and more than reasonably priced. Shellfish in all its forms is the house specialty – oysters come in a variety of styles, from Texas to Thai; the cioppino is as good as any Nonna's; and the prawns are tender little morsels that defy the doggie bag. There are also a wide selection of fish dishes and pastas, and amazingly good (and huge) burgers.

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An upscale yet entirely accessible restaurant owned by internationally-trained chef Markus Weiland, this is one place where the views almost outdo the food. But not quite. His menu is Mediterranean influenced and features mostly seafood. If you like firm fish opt for the tapenade-crusted swordfish on ratatouille – what a wonderful burst of flavor! There's always a creative risotto of the day, a wonderful Tuscan style seafood soup, and a couple of inventive shellfish options. Weiland's partner, Tatum is the sommelier, in charge of the short but interesting and ever-expanding wine list. Since the restaurant is very small, with only nine tables, it's best to make a reservation.

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