This food and beverage guide is a short list of excellent places to eat while you are touring the Sunshine Coast. We left many fine restaurants off the list in Gibsons, Sechelt, Pender Harbour and Powell River. Our selections are based on proximity to moorage and of course food quality, atmosphere and uniqueness. We know boaters look sometimes for elegant dining and other times for a pub where they can meet locals and other boaters.
Smitty’s Oyster House (Gibsons) 604 886-4665
This place is so popular in the summer there are line-ups. Boaters from Vancouver and Vancouver Island make Smitty’s Oyster House a reason to get out in the boat. Good times prevail at the long table, where before long it is hard to tell who came with who. People come for some of the best oysters in the world, but the chowders, salads, and fresh fish creations – and the have-a-good-time, we-are attitude that begins with owner Stafford Lumley – offer many additional reasons. Chef Conor Lowe has been in residence since opening in 2009 and his skill with flavours makes every dish a culinary delight. When you come to Smitty’s, don’t forget to see the rest of Gibsons.
Gramma’s Marine Pub (Gibsons) 604 886-8215
Best view of the harbour and breath-taking North Shore Mountains backdrop. Enjoy the usual pub fare on the lower outside deck, or the glass-framed upper deck or inside, out of the heat. Servers are pleasant and attentive, but service can be slow on busy summer days. Most people don’t mind, because the setting and convivial table arrangements take any hurry out of you. The beer list is so-so, but there is always at least one draft selection on special and every day has entrée and drink specials.
Smoke on the Water BBQ Shack (Gibsons) 604.840.0004
At Smoke on the Water, we’re passionate about food and our customers’ dining experience. We use the freshest local ingredients whenever possible. Our meat is slow smoked on-site in a southern style BBQ tradition. We offer the best smoked meat sandwich on the West Coast along with flavourful seafood dishes, and gluten free and vegetarian options. Located on the Government Wharf, you can dine on our patio overlooking the marina. We also have take-out and catering.
Molly’s Reach (Gibsons) 604 886-9710
Famous as TV icon, but still there because of good food and attentive service. There is nothing really extraordinary about this place. It has a varied enough menu to make choosing difficult. The food is consistently tasty and plentiful. The patio secludes you from the activity at the heart of Gibsons Landing, the head of the wharf. Inside you look through wooden-framed windows that remind you of the time of the Beachcombers and the walls are a gallery of photos from the fabled show. I have taken many a guest here and we leave glad that we came. In 15 or more visits, I have always had excellent service. Oh yeah, dear old Persephone sits near-by, if you need one more dose of nostalgia. Licensed and open later than other restaurants in Gibsons Landing.
Black Bean (Gibsons) 604 886-1716
There are several places to get a cup of coffee in a Gibsons Landing. This is the best of them. The Bean is few minutes walk from the government dock and along the way you pass art galleries and some clothing shops that are likely to catch a woman’s attention. The coffee is very good, but it is the baked goods and sandwiches that make the Bean special. Lovely atmosphere within and without and free wi-fi, so you can use ahoybc.com to plan the next leg of your voyage.
Emelle’s Bistro (Gibsons)
Emelle’s is located in the Gibsons Public Market, which opened in April 2017. The Market is a delight to visit and to shop for fine meats, fish, baked goods, fresh produce, chocolates and a bouquet of flowers for your galley. The market is steps from Gibsons Marina. Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner.
Lighthouse Pub (Sechelt) 604 885-9494
Lighthouse Pub is one more good reason they should build a canal from the Salish Sea to Sechelt Inlet (just kidding). To get there by boat, one must cruise to the base of Jervis Inlet, time the Skookumchuk Narrows’ rapids and cross the length of Sechelt Inlet. A trip with many rewards besides dinner at the Pub. Or, you can fly directly to the floats below the pub. The view up Sechelt Inlet from the pub deck is my wife’s favourite view on the Sunshine Coast. And this is one of our favourite places for a couple of cold ones and fish tacos or a burger. Great burgers! Oh, and if you need to replace some gear or tackle, there is a chandlery next door.
Blue Heron Restaurant (Sechelt) 604 885-3847
In my humble opinion, maybe the best dining on the Sunshine Coast. And I have never met the man who prepares these elegant seafood and meat dishes. Meals here are like those at fancy places with huge plates and a tiny portion of something other-worldly in the middle . . . except the plate is full. From a generous selection of appetizers, through a perplexingly delicious set of entrees (with a couple of daily specials), to irresistible desserts, this is no place for weight-watchers. The wine list is adequate, but I usually bring a bottle and pay a corkage fee. Here’s the other thing: you dine in Porpoise Bay with that amazing view up Sechelt Inlet. Unforgettable is the best way to describe an evening here.
Halfmoon Bay Cafe (Halfmoon Bay) 604 885-3600
Tie up at the Halfmoon Bay public dock and stroll over to the tiny village, consisting of an historic general store and the Café. Have the coffee of your choice with baked items made with pride by Aileen and here cheerful helpers. Bet you can’t eat just one of the mini-butter tarts. They also make pizza from scratch with very fresh ingredients. Samosas and sandwiches also available. Halfmoon Bay is a very pleasant place to visit and you are likely to meet local folk (seasonal residents frequently). You will be tempted to ask about real estate.
Upper Deck (Secret Cove) 604 885-3533
Chef Jennifer D’Amour has created a scrumptious, short menu that features things from – you guessed it – the sea. The ling cod was delicious and the duck – yes, we know it is not from the sea – was delightful. There is a hint of Mexican in all she does. The lunch menu has only four mains, but each is uniquely prepared. A decent selection of beer and wines. The restaurant is part of the floating marina headquarters and you can park your boat under your table, if you are lucky. No boat? Come and get on the water in a kayak and build an appetite for this creative cuisine.
Lagoon Restaurant (Madeira Park) 604 883-2456
This is fine dining at its best. And, where you might least expect it. Except, this is Painted Boat Resort, which has turned pleasing its guests into an art. Tie up under the dining room. If its early, stop in for Happy Hour which begins at 15:00. Before your evening meal, why not relax in the spa. Your table over-looks the pretty maze of points and islands that create a haven off the main body of Pender Harbour. The menu is classic with an assortment of seafoods, viands and a tip of the fork to vegetarians. We loved the bouillabaisse with its fresh seafood and zesty fennel mating well. Excellent choice of wines.
Garden Bay Pub (Pender Harbour) 604 883-2674
Kind of a short menu for a pub, but a mix of typical pub fare and the unexpected. Food is reliably good and the portions are huge. We have been there several times and occasionally service is a bit slow. But why be impatient? The view is grand, with the marina and Pender Harbour below. And, there is always a nice, back-country atmosphere at the Garden Bay Pub. That is why we like going there.
Backeddy Pub and Restaurant (Egmont) 800 626-0599
We have a lot of pubs on this list and it’s hard to pick a favourite . . . but. Okay, this one is our favourite. It’s like regular pub fare, but with a creative flourish for every item. I mean, who puts pineapple salsa and guacamole on a fish burger? The view from the deck is unbeatable. Oh wait, it might be even better from the West Coast Wilderness Lodge next door. But its more fun at the Backeddy and you can moor here. Locals and visitors mingle and good times abound late into the night. So if you don’t have a boat to sleep on, you might rent a cabin or a yurt. There is a separate family section for families with minors.
Inlets Restaurant, West Coast Wilderness Lodge (Egmont) 778 280-8610
This is where you want to get married or celebrate your 50th anniversary. The dining and banquet rooms are built and appointed in the grand tradition of rustic opulence. That is not an oxymoron or I’m a moron. That doesn’t mean you need a jacket at dinner. This is west coast casual. But there is nothing casual about the astute service or attention to culinary detail. There is a dock below the restaurant reserved for Fly N’ Dine parties, if that tells you anything about quality. The menu is strong in all departments and you can linger through courses with one of the best views on the Sunshine Coast. Inlets serves breakfast, something you cannot get elsewhere between Madeira Park and Powell River.
The Seasider (Powell River) 604 485-0996
The Seasider resides in Beach Gardens Resort and Marina, a popular staging point for excursions to Harmony Islands, Princess Louisa Inlet and Desolation Sound. It has fabulous ocean views, a varied bistro-style menu, good choice of beers and they source their fresh ingredients locally as much as possible.
Costa del Sol (Powell River) 604-485-2227
This flourishing pantry catches your eye walking down Marine Avenue. Ambitious vines and other greenery enclose a little deck that seems right out of Latin America. On the deck and inside people relax like this is where they are going to sit all day. The food is authentically Latin American, with an array of tacos and a short list of traditional dishes served with cheeses and choice of salad; all quite affordable. They are licensed and feature the local Townsite Brewery beers.
Snickers (Powell River) 604 485-8441
It’s a Greek restaurant. It’s a pub. It’s a pizzeria. Many restaurants that try to appeal to wide culinary tastes wind up doing none of them well. Snickers is an exception. Owner Telis Savvaidis is a perfectionist and it shows in the immaculate care of his rooms and in the quality of what you are served. Snickers is a great place for a pizza-lunch on the vine-covered deck over-looking the harbour or for a romantic dinner. God help you deciding on what to choose from a menu that never ends. Locals rave about the pizza, but if you are into authentic Greek food, come here. Licensed, of course.
Tree Frog Bistro (Powell River) 604 485-0010
Powell River punches above its weight when it comes to funky (original) eateries. The Frog is a fine example. We skipped the appetizers, although there were a couple of tantalizing options. We found no frogs in the Tree Frog Salad. However, it and the Kale Caesar Salad were a delightful, healthy start to a late lunch. Salads were large enough to take the edge off of our appetites, but nothing of the Oyster Poor Boy and Leg of Lamb Sandwich was left on our plates. Very good value for your money, excellent service in comforting décor. Fully licensed, brunch on weekends.
Modern Peasant (Powell River) 604 489-1221
Another little gem along Powell River’s Marine Drive, the Modern Peasant is the closest of our selections to the Westview harbours. When you walk in to the smallish, vividly wall-papered room with mainly tables for two, piano near the entrance, you think bistro, short menu. Wrong! Chef Laurence has devised a menu that goes from peasant poutine to premium Alberta striploin. Along the way you pass through an array of tantalizing, original salads. All at astonishingly affordable prices. Full bar service featuring local Townsite beers and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Breakwater Inn Pub, Lund Hotel (Lund) 877 569-3999
You can tie up at the floats in front of the restaurant. The historic Lund Hotel is worth a visit in its own right. You get a sense of the building’s history inside its appropriately restored interior and on the wrap-around deck with views of the harbour and Savary Island. Speaking of savoury, sample the homemade soups and chowder, creative and varied salads to which you may add various seafood options, and more traditional pub fare. Our recommendations: fish & chips and oyster burger. Fully licensed and open for breakfast, not that you want a drink at 9 AM.
Laughing Oyster (Lund) 604 483-9775
We had heard so many marvelous things about the Laughing Oyster that I feared expectation would exceed reality. Not in the least. First, there is the novelty of a rambling inn set in a garden on the shore of remote Okeover Arm. You may tie up below at the restaurant’s float or at the Okeover Harbour Authority, if there is room. Of course you can get here by car, but that misses the fun of travelling through wilderness seas for days and then lighting upon civilization at its finest. The setting and the view cannot be equalled. Chef David Lowe has created a master piece menu. Entertainment adds liveliness. The wine list is short, but we found a Pinot Noir to our liking.
Boardwalk Restaurant (Lund)
The boardwalk to the Boardwalk Restaurant is a delight. But the delights that await are extraordinary. Dine inside amid a comfortably idiosyncratic décor or on the deck over-looking the active harbour. Chef Roy has gathered inspiration from around the world to create such noelties as Tequila Lime Wild Salmon and Mediterranean Backed Chicken. His seafood chowder is to die for. Service is casual and spot on. There is no gluten here, so if you need grain-sourced amino acids and vitamins, best to bring a piece of bread.