Usually when I visit Port Alberni, I spend most of my time exploring nearby mountains and waterfalls, or trying new activities. However, an unexpected but equally rewarding discovery on these trips to the Alberni Valley is the food adventures I have uncovered.
Over the last few years there has been an explosion of craft brewers, artisanal eateries, markets and cafes. I was able to check out a few new food destinations as well as return to a few personal favourites on this latest trip to #ExplorePortAlberni.
A perfect way to start any visit to Port Alberni is with greeting the morning sun as it casts its warm rays down on the Alberni Inlet. The best destination to do this would be with a visit to the Harbour Quay, home to countless shops, art and food establishments along the water. It also happens to be home to the Spirit Square Farmers Market each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Here, I met with Janelle and Brandon as they browsed the vendors and picked up some fresh vegetables. While taking in the market you can also grab a morning java fix at the newly opened Grassroots or sneak over to the locally famous Donut Shop.
From the Harbour Quay we travelled to the Cherry Creek Farmers Market, which runs year round from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. As we walked around we noticed that while this market featured some great food vendors it also had a wonderful selection of local artisans and crafters. Being a mountain enthusiast, I enjoyed how Mt. Arrowsmith dominated the skyline over the market grounds.
With our market finds in hand we hopped into the car for a short drive northwest of the city into the rolling forested farmland that surrounds Port Alberni. When we arrived at Coleman Meadows Farm, home of Water Buffalo Dairy, Janelle and Brandon were immediately drawn into the stunning, curated gardens.
Owners Russell and Jennifer Dyson have dedicated the last 18 years into transforming this farm not only into a beautiful oasis to visit (Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) but home to their herd of healthy and happy water buffalo.
“I think we all find things that we love to do,” Jennifer said. “We are drawn to them and this farm is that love for us.”
We followed Russell over to the barn where he went into the field to round up the herd to come in for milking, his friendly farm dog helped round them up. As each buffalo passed us by, Russell greeted them all by name.
The next discovery of the day would be the Fish & Duck Resort, which has stood here on the shores of Sproat Lake for over 100 years. For most of that time it has been considered a locals-only spot but an ownership change two years ago has seen the destination completely transformed. From the deck of the rebuilt gastro-style pub we had amazing views of the lake and forested ridges above.
The pub has all the local craft brewers on tap – Twin City, Dog Mountain and Alberni Brewing – to complement a fantastic menu. What surprised me was the great vegetarian-based options for those who prefer a little less meat. It should be mentioned that the Fish & Duck Pub has water access for those enjoying Sproat lake by boat.
The last stop of the day brought us full circle with a return to Harbour Quay. With the hot sun setting and the outdoor patio looking so inviting I knew our destination would hit the spot. While they have some of the best authentic tacos on the island, All Mex’d Up offers irresistible churros or deep fried ice cream.
With full bellies, big smiles and memories of a day well spent, we wound down the day with a walk on the quay to close out a fun #food adventure in Port Alberni.