Don’t overlook the dining options in this Okanagan town: there’s plenty to eat here!
Vernon has been a bustling hub of British Columbia’s Okanagan for centuries and is one of the region’s oldest communities. Although tens of thousands of British Columbians call the city home, for many it remains a pit stop between destinations or a hub while they enjoy activities in the area. While one might assume that Vernon is ripe for the picking when it comes to familiar multinational chains (it is), the other truth is that Vernon is also full of hidden indie gems worth checking out.
With things like contemporary pendant lights for premium coffee, an award-winning Texas-style barbecue, and treats made with fruit straight from the orchards, Vernon has plenty to offer foodies. Don’t blow your mind in town without heading to its charming bakery, cheese shop, and cozy café that doubles as a hotspot for donuts, pizza, and wine.
Here’s your guide to the best things to eat and drink in Vernon, BC
This local independent cafe really puts the focus on food and wine with its diverse range of special menu items and day-to-night options. You can refuel here with craft espresso and tea drinks (their special summer iced latte with oat milk and cinnamon is a stellar choice) and pastries during the day, but some nights the ratio becomes a trendy wine bar serving a dinner menu of salads, sharing plates and pizzas with its impressive “wall of juice”.
In addition to having great grab-and-go (or sit-and-relax) breakfasts and lunches, like wraps and sandwiches, Ratio is known in the area for its “Fridays donuts.” This is exactly what it sounds like: They make donuts on Fridays onlyand you’ll have to pre-order or you risk missing out on their delicious house flavors like Earl Grey, Raspberry Almond or Mango Caramel.
What’s a Dutchman who has spent years traveling the southern United States to rack up awards as a barbecue champion doing in Vernon, BC? It’s a bit of a long story, but what really matters is that Eric Wisse cooks some phenomenal Texas-style smoky barbecues at Station, right downtown. Here you will find tender and juicy brisket, ribs, pulled pork or chicken and all the menu items, available in combos, sandwiches and by the pound. While Texas-style means smoky, not saucy, Wisse’s experience in all of the major barbecue epicenters in the United States means he knows his regional flavors, so Station BBQ has Carolina Apple Cider Sauce. Nord, South Carolina Mustard Sauce, and Kansas City Smoky-Sweet Sauce, plus special extra-spicy options upon request — and they’re all homemade. The family-run place (Eric runs the restaurant with his wife, Tanya) has friendly staff, many of whom have been around for years, creating a warm and welcoming vibe.
It’s only been a while since chef Red Seal Stacy took over the reins of this beloved downtown Vernon cheese shop (the original owners focused on their Kelowna boutique, Grate Cheesery), but without lose a moment, this place is still an absolute must-visit for the lactose tolerant – although they do have some herbal options as well. Chef Stacy is happy to shave the cheese bursts of flavor in the case, and is an expert at explaining what makes cheese special, where it comes from and what it goes with. You could pick up just a small piece to go with your picnic or ask them to make you a sample to take with you. They also have accessories alongside cheese and a selection of frozen baked goods from the popular Shuswap Pie Company also to buy.
As locals, foodie visitors, and savvy city shoppers know, the place to get great bread and goodies in town is the Hot Bread Shoppe. Located around the corner from The Wedge, head here for the perfect baguette for your cheese board or treats to sweeten your day. They use locally ground organic flours and avoid any preservatives, dough enhancers or other synthetic additives. Hot Bread Shoppe’s caring staff can guide you through ways to keep your bread as fresh as possible (or reheat it if you put it in the freezer). Also keep an eye out for specialty items like bagels, pretzels, cornbread or seasonal fruit scones.
Looking for those modern, minimalist cafe vibes with great drinks to match? Head to Triumph in downtown Vernon for their selection of brewed coffees and espresso drinks as well as other options like seasonal raspberry lemonade to freshen up your day. This spot ticks all the boxes with its eye-catching artwork, ample seating, third-wave cafe, and casual breakfast and lunch options (toasts, sandwiches, salads) and pastries. Oh, and PS, they also serve beer.
If you need a break from all the treats you enjoyed in Vernon, you can balance things out at The Fig. This popular local spot offers a menu of hearty bowls, salads and sandwiches showcasing all the colors and flavors you’re likely to crave if you’ve focused on donuts and smoked meats. Sure, you can get scones, cookies, and cinnamon rolls here, but you’ll find the fresh, vibrant veggies and protein in things like the Sesame Orange Bowl with Chicken or Falafel. Plus, they offer reduced meals for lighter appetites, like a half sandwich and soup combo or a kids sandwich for your littlest eaters.
Just minutes from the town’s charming downtown is Davison Orchards, a working farm and family destination that has everything from tire swings to barn animals you can hand-feed. In the main “town” section of the venue are several storefronts, including a gift shop and grocery store where you’ll find their own jams, syrups and pickled vegetables alongside cider from their own orchards, and on-the-go items like pies and sausages. Many items are fresh and frozen, in case you want to keep things cool on the long drive home. You’ll also find other baked goods and sandwiches in the shop, as well as a separate store with farm-fresh produce and a small cafe where you can enjoy fresh fruit, coffees, apple cider granitas and howlers, among other tempting ones. treaty.
Thanks to Tourism Vernon for providing support for parts of this story. All opinions and inclusions are those of the author and have not been guided or influenced in any way. No company or representative received a preview of the story before it was published.