Panacae is the best downtown Bubble Tea Bar. For those of you unfamiliar with Bubble Tea, is is tea with added flavour and then shaken with your choice of bubbles. You can have it hot or cold, creamy (watermelon, chocolate, vanilla, peppermint, etc.) or tangy (mango, strawberry, lychee, passionfruit, etc.). The bubbles are made from either tapioca pearls (my favorite) or coconut or lychee jelly. You've got to have a bubble tea! My favorite is a double (cold) Mekong Sunset! $3.50 for a small bubble tea, $4.00 for a large. The store also has beautiful beads, tea and accessories, and asian-inspired clothing (check out the dragon pants).
Special Tea is located on Fort Street, at the intersection of Fort and Blanshard (just up from the Starbucks on the corner). They sell an amazing variety of loose teas in more exciting flavours than anywhere else in town! I discovered the joys of loose tea about a year ago and have been adding to my collection ever since.
The prices here are very reasonable and there is more to choose from than at other stores (like Murchies). Check out the Organic Bio-Rooibos Vanilla, and Copacabana (a floral black tea blend)- they are my two absolute favorites! Black teas start at about $4 per 100 grams. All prices are online at the site above.
If you need a tea ball or any other tea accessories, this is the place to look!
The first thing a lot of people asked me when I came back from Victoria was "Did you go to Rogers' ?" Perhaps they were hoping for a little treat but unfortunately, even though I did go to Rogers' Chocolates and had every intention of bringing some back home, they were all gone by the end of my trip!! The history of this store goes back to 1885 and today's beautiful Victorian-style chocolaterie gives every customer the feeling of now being part of that oh-so-sweet tradition! Between the creams and squares, the truffles and gourmet chocolates, you're sure to find something that will please even the most refined palates :o)
What to buy: Just make sure you buy enough chocolates to bring some back home!
What to pay: About $1-2/per chocolate
I was intending on bringing some of these chocolates home for my mother in law but it was midday when we stopped in here and I was afraid that they would melt in the afternoon sun so Robert bought us a box to have with our tea at Murchie's and we said we'd stop back and just never had time.
I was so busy perusing the chocolates that I forgot to have a look around at the interior which supposedly has original Tiffany glass and old fashioned counters, I don't get easily distracted when I'm in search of chocolates!!!!
While they certainly weren't the best chocolates I've ever had, they were good and they would make a fine gift provided you budget enough time to go back and get them ;-)
If you're staying in a hotel where you may find yourself cooking, you have a couple of different options as to where you can purchase groceries downtown.
The Market on Yates bills itself as "Your Uptown Dowtown Grocery Store", or something like that. It's a nice, upscale grocery store downtown with quite reasonable prices considering the location. A great bakery and lots of fresh fish, plus a great selection of bulk foods (pick up some trail mix to munch on as you explore Victoria). It is located on Yates Street, at the corner of Quadra Street, about a ten minute walk from the Inner Harbour.
Thrifty Foods is a local success story. They are consisently voted one of the best independent grocers in Canada, and have locations all over Vancouver Island. They are always very helpful and have much nicer produce than the other grocers in town (in my opinion). They also have good bulk food sections and bakeries. Their downtown location is located in James Bay, at 475 Simcoe Street. James Bay is very pedestrian friendly- just ask anyone you see for directions and hope they're not a tourist!
No matter where you shop, pick up bulk foods, a great selection of organic foods, local seafood, fresh produce (corn on the cob season... yummm...), freshly baked breads (check out the breads from Cascadia Bakery at the Market on Yates), etc.
Victoria has an amazing China town! You can browse for quite a few hours and see a Chinese doctor or try some Chinese vegetables. These is an amazing feel to Chinatown in Victoria. It's a great experience.
The cutest store ever on the very fashionable Johnson Street.
Three floors of outstanding goodies from all over the world.
My partner is German and found perhaps too many items to take home.
There was an entire rack of haribo products which are completely my weakness.
This is a small store and we still managed to stay for about half an hour there is so much to see.
The lady at the store said that they carry sweets from over 40 countries
What to buy: imported sweets, pecan brittle, cute small jars of soft fudge
What to pay: too much ;)
This shop sells English candies since 1910. Some of them may be expensive but there's a candy for every budget. It has a very fiendly staff which helped me what to choose among all the candies they had!! Worth going into and discover what you're missing because I'm sure once you try them you'll love them! I felt lilke being in England.
What to buy: Pontefact cakes, sharp's toffee bon bons.
What to pay: As much as you want
Located in the core of the downtown shopping area, you can expect things to be a bit expensive for what you get. However, this is one of Victoria's well known dessert stores. As the name implies, there are quite a number of different flavors of fudge to choose from, as well as ice cream and various candy types.
To quote the slogan of a certain electronics store: it has everything you don't need, and everything you want.
What to buy: I found some of the fudge to be a bit too sweet, with the taste of the sugar completely drowning the flavor of the fudge. However, there happened to be a 60% off sale that day, and I am thinking that the fudge may have been a little old and thus the sale. Also, I didn't have access to refrigerated transport for the fudge for the two days I was on my way back home.
So, it may have been a problem with how I handed the fudge after the purchase.
What to pay: For fudge, expect to pay around $3 or more for one of the fudge squares in the display case. Various other items are on sale at other prices.
Roger's Chocolates is a well known brand of chocolate served in British Columbia and when you visit the Royal BC Museum you will in fact be handed a free sample as part of your admissions.
Their retail store in Victoria is a tiny looking shop, in one of the old store fronts in downtown Victoria. It is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it, but it is fairly attractive preserved building.
There are a few other chocolateers scattered around downtown Victoria, but this one is the one that is best known, and seems to have the best marketing machine.
What to buy: Chocolates of various types - get whatever it is that suits your fancy. Many of their various types are described on their web site.
What to pay: Prices depend quite a lot on what it is that you get. Some boxes range to $50 or more.
Many Victorians - not just those that live downtown - buy their fruit and vegetables in Chinatown. Every day the merchants on Fisgard Street between Government and Store streets put out bins of produce for you to pick from. You may see things here that you have never seen before or have only seen while travelling overseas (dragonfruit, durian, rambutan, guava).
What to buy: On the pavement find fruits and vegetables and inside find a wild assortment of all kinds of interesting and unusual things - savoury snacks with intriguing fishy flavourings, Pocky, different kinds of tea, sauces, seasonings, rice, noodles etc.
You can also buy definitely not run-of-the-mill cold drinks (guava juice, soy drinks) in cans, tofu, Chinese pastries and other oddities.
What to pay: Prices are very reasonable and even exotic things are priced much lower than regular supermarkets.
This is a great tea & coffee store in downtown. They make the tea for the Empress Hotel and have a huge range of teas and coffees, much more variety than they had on my first visit in 1993. The place now has a large area to drink tea and coffee, too.
What to buy: Tea, coffee, and related items.
This is an excellent liquor store in the ground floor of the Strathcona Hotel on Douglas St, downtown.
What to buy: It has a full range of beer, spirits, and wine, with a good selection of high-quality items despite the relatively small size. The beer selection, in particular, is excellent with a great selection of craft brews from Victoria and elsewhere in Canada, as well as good American ones and a great range of British beers.
The window of the local Rocky Mountains Chocolate Factory shop struck my eye.
How could I not turn my head to all those chocolate delights on display?
Inside you find Candy and Caramel Apples, Fudge, Caramel Popcorn, Fudge, Ice Cream, Chcolate dipped strawberries and even frozen chocolate bananas.
Mo-Sa: 10AM - 8PM
Su: 11AM - 6PM
What to buy: Chocolate.
Rogers Chocolates was established in 1885. Expect old-fashioned top quality chocolate from this store.
Mo: 10AM - 10PM
Tu-We: 10AM - 8PM
Th-Su: 10AM - 10PM
What to buy: Chocolates
What to pay: High prices