The Victoria Public Market is a sprawling industrial-tinged space located in the beautiful Hudson building. Since opening in September, it’s become the perfect rainy day place to wander and sample some of the best local cuisine and products that British Columbia has to offer.
Before entering the Market, the wonderful Hudson building should be admired. Constructed in 1912 for a Hudson’s Bay department store, the original terra cotta facades have been restored and the upper floors converted into condos. The ground floor is now home to retail such as 2% Jazz, a local coffee shop, a hot yoga studio, and of course, the Victoria Public Market.
Stepping inside, one is greeted with the smells and sounds of a bustling market, featuring a variety of vendors highlighting local food producers at every level. The exposed beams, ducts and soaring concrete ceilings give the market a casual feel, inviting visitors to wander the main thoroughfare before deciding where to eat. The Market is home to fixed food stalls, in addition to a rotating series of tables selling goods ranging from locally grown produce to hand crafted children’s toys to artisan soy sauce, a kitchen for public cooking demonstrations and seminars, and a seasonal outdoors farmers market.
The Market’s aims to be a “permanent hub of values-based, local food and artisan businesses” and current fixed vendors include The French Oven bakery, Silk Road Tea, Salt Spring Island Cheese, La Cocina de Mama Oli, Roast, Victoria Pie Co, Cowichan Bay Seafood, Sutra, and the Rifflanda music festival pop up shop.
At Roast, try sandwiches made with crusty white bread, bulging with naturally raised porchetta and broccoli rabe, served with a side of hearty kale Caesar salad. My personal favourite is the chicken meatball bowl, with tender meatballs slathered in a salsa verde, and there are also whole roast chickens to take home for dinner, with the option of roast potatoes for a side dish.
Vij’s Sutra is Victoria’s chance to sample the much lauded Indian cuisine of Vancouver chef Vikram Vij. Sutra serves fresh curries and also has a selection of Vij’s cookbooks, spices and frozen meals. Recently Chef Vikram put on a free cooking demonstration at the Market’s public kitchen, sharing a few of his secrets for perfect Indian food.
Victoria Pie Co. offers both savoury and sweet pies, perfect for a hot lunch followed by dessert. For even more sweets, the elegantly decorated Damn Fine Cake Company serves an array of treats, a great accompaniment to a specialty latte made on their espresso machine.
Silk Road Tea invites visitors to browse a large selection of tea, lined up enticingly in canisters and surrounded by pretty tea pots and accessories. Across the way is Salt Spring Island Cheese — their counter is always popular, as all of their cheeses can be sampled. It’s easy to quickly discover a favourite cheese (mine is the basil goat cheese) but hard to walk away without buying a few different kinds.
Mexican home cooking is highlighted at La Cocina de Mama Oli, with home made tortillas and breakfast tacos, and for a rainy day, the creamy chowder at Cowichan Bay Seafood can really hit the spot.
The Victoria Public Market is open Tuesday through Sunday. There are entrances on Douglas street and just off Fisgard. Most fixed stalls accept debit and credit cards, but farmers market and artisan tables may be cash only. For upcoming events, seminars, cooking demonstrations and markets, check out the Market’s Facebook page.