Road-tripping through B.C. yields all kinds of terrific food finds, from Okanagan salmon to authentic Mexican botanas

A journey from Vancouver to the edge of the Rockies and back by car will keep even the hungriest and pickiest foodies full--and fulfilled

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      Road trips offer more than the chance to crank your favourite mix tapes while you watch an ever-shifting landscape roll by—which, in B.C., is like having a Nat Geo special play outside your window. They also provide an opportunity to make brand new (to you) food discoveries.

      Here are a few foodie highlights from a route that also happens to be mind-blowingly beautiful—from Vancouver to Osoyoos and then Nelson before reaching the edge of the Rockies in Invermere, just south of Banff, and back. (By no means is it meant to be a comprehensive guide to each area listed! This summertime road trip can be done in a week.) Other highlights if you happen to be in any of these areas: Blue Moose cafe in Hope, for freshly baked goods and equally great coffee; West Village Urban Market in Sicamous (healthy fare); and any produce stand in Keremeos and Cawston. 

      The Restaurant at Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos

      Situated right on Lake Osoyoos, the restaurant features Okanagan salmon and other Ocean Wise seafood on its menu, as well as fresh goods from regional producers such as Medley Organics, Harker's Organics, and Rosebank Farms. Summertime sees chef Adair Scott cooking on the outdoor barbecue and picking herbs right from the hotel's lakeside garden.

      Fresh pasta stuffed with Pacific lingcod at the lakeside Restaurant at Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos.
      Gail Johnson

      Dolci SocialHaus, Osoyoos

      Headed by Swiss-born Annina Hoffmeister with Alberta native Jace Oster leading the kitchen, Dolci offers understated excellence. With European influences (house-made spaetzle and schnitzel are available, as are meats that are cured in-house), the menu is unfussily diverse.

      Beet and warm-lentil salad at Dolci Socialhaus in Osoyoos.
      Gail Johnson

      Roberto's Gelato, Osoyoos

      Everyone needs gelato, and it's all made in-house here, with flavours ranging from green-tea matcha and rose petal to spekulaas and carrot cake. The winner is kulfi, a blend of pistachio and cardamom.  

      Flavours on offer at Roberto's Gelato in Osoyoss include kulfi, a blend of cardamom and pistachio.
      Gail Johnson

      Yum Son, Nelson

      This is Nelson's first modern Vietnamese restaurant, with items like steamed buns with caramel-tamarind roasted duck, glass-noodle salad, plant-based and beef/oxtail pho, shaking beef and more. (It offers other Asian dishes as well, such as Korean-style short ribs.) Even the cocktails are infused with Asian flair.

      Green-papaya salad at Yum Son in Nelson.
      Gail Johnson
      The Saigon Sour at Nelson's Yum Son consists of Broker's Gin, lillet, lime juice, lemongrass, peppercorn, egg white, and origami.
      Gail Johnson

      Cantina del Centro, Nelson

      ¡Hola y aleluya! Outstanding Mexican street-style tacos, frijoles, mole, ceviche, and more, plus potent margaritas, make this a must-hit in the Kootenays. 

      The tacos at Cantina del Centro in Nelson are authentically street-style, served on corn tortillas.
      Gail Johnson.
      Nelson's Cantina del Centro serves up a dynamite ceviche.
      Gail Johnson

      Hot Shots Cafe, Cranbrook

      Well, well, well.  Who would have thought that an unassuming place in Cranbrook would offer up such a diverse menu, with an emphasis on Thai food? It's made in-house by Lemon Grass Thai and includes nourishing curry bowls, noodle bowls, and satays--delicious. You'll also find wholesome dishes like quinoa-and-chickpea salad and several types of wraps and sammies. The beer and wine list is strictly B.C.

      A Buddha bowl with fried halloumi at Cranbrook's Hot Shots Cafe.
      Gail Johnson.
      Yellow-curry bowl with the cutest little carrot ever at Hot Shots Cafe in Cranbrook.
      Gail johnson

      Kicking Horse Cafe, Invermere

      If you love coffee, you know Kicking Horse, the organic, fairtrade, whole-bean stuff found everywhere. The company started out in Invermere, which is nestled between the Rockies and the Purcell mountains, and even though it recenlty sold a majority stake to Italian giant Lavazza, valuing the outfit at a cool $215 million, it retains its headquarters here. Expect lineups but enjoy your java and food (Mason-jar salads, yummy muffins) on the cafe's boardwalk seating area that's surrounding by leafy trees and Prairie grasses. 

      Freshly baked goodies at Kicking Horse Coffee's headquarters cafe in Invermere, B.C., near Panorama Mountain Resort.
      Gail Johnson
      Healthy food-to-go at Invermere's Kicking Horse Coffee Cafe.
      Gail Johnson