A Guide to the Top Food in Nelson, BC
Updated: May 2
I like food. I've come to like writing about food. I'll eat anything if I have confidence that it was prepared well. Even if there are ingredients that I truly dislike on their own, I know that with a proper chef, who understands balancing of flavours and has the knowledge and skillful precision to bring them together, can make any ingredient truly sing. Through this little hobby of mine, I've become pretty dialed into the food in this town.
Most all of my guests at my hotel were asking me about where to get good meals in Nelson. They asked me so often that I just made it a part of my check-in pitch to each room I checked in. I'd always do the business end first for the check-in, and then I'd ask them if they'd like to know about where to go for food.
The number one thing that all my guests want? They don't want to drive! They just want to walk from the hotel. So, I start with the closest two, and then work my way out from there. (...although I do tell them that Nelson's downtown is like 6 silly-sized blocks, so it doesn't really make a difference.) I know when my guests are on their way out for dinner, and when I see them walking out, I tell them to have fun. When they get back to the hotel, I ask them which place the chose, and how it was. That is what shaped this guide.
I've had very in depth conversations about the food in Nelson with hundreds of people. What is on this summary page is from the feedback from those people...my guests. The rankings I put in for the top five are not my opinion, but rather 100% observation from what my guests say upon returning from dinner. I took all that feedback, and then went to each place to take some current photos, and write about being there. (I write about more than just the food, but also the experience of being there too.)
We are truly spoiled for food quality in our remote little town in the middle of the British Columbia mountains!
**I will have links posted on each of these summaries that take you to in depth articles I have written about each place when I went there.
(Hours and restrictions are always fluctuating due to COVID, so it is best to call or look on their websites for up to date information.)
Busaba Thai Cafe
It's hard to not eat a Pad Thai every day. I'm trying, but I'm not doing very well. I'm pretty sure I've quickly become their number one customer.
It is very exciting to have the Busaba Thai Cafe as our house restaurant here at The Savoy Hotel. They are a well established, and long loved Thai restaurant in Nelson. It was only months ago (June, 2020) that they lost their place to a very unfortunate fire that had destroyed several businesses. It's a big thing for them to be here in our building, and we couldn't be happier about it. Rungnapha & Yasuaki Uehara (Yasu) are the nicest people ever, and they worked really hard to re-open Busaba on August 19.
Busaba Thai Cafe
198 Baker Street
(At the Savoy Hotel)
Hours: 11:30am - 8:30pm (Wed-Sun)
Phone: (250) 352-2185
Nelson's Top 5 Restaurants
#1 - Pitchfork Eatery
Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
It has been crazy watching my guests talk about this place. I'm kinda fascinated by it. I've had in depth conversations with hundreds of people about food in our town, and my guests have made it clear to see that Pitchfork has an absolute stranglehold on the top spot in Nelson. It has about 55% of my guests' vote, which means the entire rest of the town is fighting for the remaining 45%. Those numbers speak for themselves!
Pitchfork definitely has the best patio in town as it is backed onto park space, and is off the main street. They have a brunch that is excellent as well. Their restaurant does not do reservations on the patio though, so there could be a wait as Josh (Mateschitz - executive chef) is crushing it, and Thursday night there is live acoustic music. Dinner service starts at 5:00pm, so if you want a spot on their sweet patio, the earlier the better.
More on the Pitchfork Eatery...
The added bonus to Pitchfork is that it is the four time defending champion of Nelson's annual burger competition that takes place every November. Here is my article about their 2020 entry. Nelson Burger Month Stop 14 - Pitchfork Eatery
Reservations recommended (for inside)
518 Hall Street
Hours: 11:00am - 9:00pm Daily (closed from 3:00pm - 4:30pm most days)
Brunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm Daily
Phone: (250) 352-2744
#2 - Yum Son
Yum Son Noodle Bowl with a Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on
This is the stand alone number 2 spot in town. Yum Son is modern Vietnamese food. Oddly enough, it has the best chicken wings in town. (I think that's the modern part.) They present visually stunning food that hits the spot nicely.
More on Yum Son...
522 Victoria Street
Hours: 11:30am til late (usually 9:00pm) Daily
Phone: (778) 463-2234
#3 (Tie) - Rel-ish
Butternut Squash Ravioli
I have a ton of respect for Trevor (Ditzel - owner and executive chef). He's kind of a visionary for how he looks at and goes about his business. His food is fantastic. When you watch him, it's plate after plate of gorgeous food that he puts out, and he does it in the calmest, most mellow fashion. He has an open kitchen, so I have watched him many times. I came up with the term, "Cooking with courage and confidence," from watching Trevor do what he does. Open kitchens are scrutiny under fire that force accountability. I really admire those who are willing to work in one.
Rel-ish has an all day breakfast. A lotta my guests really perk up when I tell them that. It's my favourite breakfast in town - try The Server's Choice. Holy smokes is it ever good! There are many vegetarian and gluten free options on his menu as well to accommodate all. Modern cuisine.
Trevor also just took over the restaurant at the Balfour Golf Course to bring us his second location: rel-ish at The Osprey.
ABSOLUTELY HAVE THE GOAT CHEESE CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN!!
301 Baker Street (One block away)
Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm Daily
rel-ish at the Osprey
602 Queens Bay Road
#3 (Tie) - Marzano
Spicy Salami Pizza to eat in or take back to our rooftop patio at The Savoy Hotel
Ryan (Martin) did a massive, massive renovation on his restaurant to bring Marzano to Nelson two years ago. He actually went to Italy for proper training and brought staff with him...and he brought back an authenticly bad-ass Italian wood-fired pizza oven. I gained so much respect for him when I saw a video he put up of himself pulling a pizza from the oven while in Italy. (I actually asked him to put it onto youtube for me so I could share the link.) That showed his commitment to going all in to bringing the best food to town that he possibly could. It says something...and so do my guests after they return from there.
When I show my guests this video, I do an animated commentary play-by-play to draw their attention to the expression on Ryan's face. He's so psyched. It's amazing! That has literally sold people on going to Marzano. Fantastic stuff!
153 Baker Street (Right across the street)
Hours: 7:00am - 10:00pm Daily
Breakfast until 11:00am weekdays | 12:00pm on weekends
Pizza starts at 11:00am!
Phone: (250) 352-9205
#5 - Broken Hill
The Broken Clubhouse with House Made Bacon and Sweet Corn Succotash
If chasing down great beer with great food is your thing, then Broken Hill is the place for you! The owner, Chad (Hansen), is a true, true connoisseur of good, quality beer, and he will actively seek it out. It is one of two essential aspects of his restaurant. There are 24 local BC craft beers on tap at all times! He keeps the selection always changing so as to keep fresh everyone's thirst quest. The second crucial aspect of Broken Hill is their smoker! The flavouring they smoke into their food is insanely good. It is balanced. It is not overpowering. Totally dynamite!
479 Baker Street
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:00am to 10:0pm | Fri-Sat 11:00am - 12:00am
Phone: (778) 463-2244
Four Special Locations
Loka Middle Eastern-Mediterranean Bistro
Arabic Meatball Rice Bowl (1/2 Rice 1/2 Salata)
I kind of feel lucky that wee-lil' Nelson has a place like Loka for everyone to enjoy. They grab your senses to make you take notice, first, visually, and then flavour-wise. It's different than many restaurants that are all burger/pasta/pizza/steak/chicken variations on the menu. Loka gives an option outside of the normal realm, but deliver the goods with what they put on your table. Score one for the hidden nuggets of kindness!
More on Loka...
I had Loka taking the top spot in Nelson's annual burger month competition in November 2020. Here is my article on their entry.
Loka Middle Eastern-Mediterranean Bistro
449 Baker St
Hours: Mon - Thurs 12:00pm - 8:00pm | Friday-Saturday 12:00pm to 9:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-0460
The best way to explain this food is through its story. Justine (Langevin) has been with Ruben for 20 years. They are married and have two beautiful children. Every winter, for every one of those 20 years, they go back to Mexico to be with his family. Around 16 years ago, armed with generational family recipes, El Taco was born. It is the only truly authentic Mexican cuisine you will find in the region. It is fantastic, solid food that boasts the lineage of having been passed down through generations worth of time.
(It is great for bringing back to our rooftop patio at The Savoy Hotel.)
More on El Taco...
306 Victoria Street (block and a bit away)
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00am - 8:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-2060
Sage Tapas and Wine Bar
This is like Nelson's little secret weapon! It is definitely the first place to go if you love wine. Sage Tapas is only open for three days a week from 4:00pm onward, but if you are here during those nights, and can get a reservation, you will not be disappointed! It is in an intimate setting with a sprawling view from their deck. One could make a definite case for it being the pound-for-pound king in town when considering its short hours coupled with the punch that it delivers.
Sage Tapas and Wine Bar
(Reservations are highly recommended!)
705 Vernon Street
Hours: Thurs-Sat 4:00pm til Late
Phone: (250) 352-5140
The Dominion Cafe
Raspberry Pecan Muffin with a Chunky Monkey Smoothie in the background
Well, the easy part is that the Dominion Cafe not only has the best muffins in town by far, it also has the best selection in town. Those awesome folk offer 14 different fresh baked varieties each day. Oh man, are they ever good too!
Daylen (Hotte - owner) is very diligent with healthiness, and brings that passion into what she offers at the Dominion. She doesn't stop at just the high quality of ingredients, because she is adamant about sourcing local for everything she uses. There's something about that place that makes you feel an intrinsic comfort of home. It's a special little place, that is for sure!
More on The Dominion Cafe...
The Dominion Cafe
334 Baker Street (one block away)
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-1904
Map of downtown Nelson to help you find your way...
My Top Five Restaurants in Nelson
1: Pitchfork Eatery
2: rel-ish Bistro
3: Loka Middle Eastern-Mediterranean Bistro
4: Sage Tapas & Wine Bar (Thank the Halibut for that!)
5: El Taco
Nelson Brewing Company Tasting Room (Not a food place) 512 Latimer Street Phone: (250) 352-3582 nelsonbrewing.com/tasting-room/ ---- Backroads Brewing Company (Not a food place) 460 Baker St (2 1/2 blocks away) Hours: Mon-Thurs 12:00pm - 10:00pm | Fri-Sat 12:00pm - 11:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 8:00pm Phone: (778) 463-3361 backroadsbrewing.com/ ---- Torchlight Brewing Company (They do have food that goes well with beers) 125 Hall Street Hours: Sun-Wed 12:00pm - 8:00pm | Thurs-Sat 12:00pm - 9:00pm Phone: (250) 352-0094 www.torchlightbrewing.com/
Not restaurants, but handy places my traveling guests ask me about that are within walking distance downtown...
Kootenay Co-Op (a huge natural foods grocery, etc. store) 777 Baker Street Phone: (250) 354-4077 www.kootenay.coop/ ---- Pharmasave Drug Store 685 Baker Street Phone: (250) 352-2316 ---- Wings Variety Convenience Store 371 Baker Street Phone: (250) 352-3848 ---- The Hume Liquor Boutique (at the Hume Hotel) 422 Vernon Street Hours: 9:00am - 11:00pm Daily | Delivery available Phone: (250) 352-5154 www.humehotel.com/our-hotel/hume-liquor-boutique/ ---- Hipperson Hardware Company 395 Baker Street Hours: Mon-Sat 8:30am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm Phone: (250) 352-5517 ---- The Dollar Store 644 Baker Street Phone: (250) 352-4644