One of our favorite things to do when we visit any new place is to try out the local restaurants and food trucks that serve the regional dishes and ingredients that make each part of BC unique. This fall, we took a road trip through Northern BC and tried out locally-owned Prince Rupert eateries to experience the port town like a local. Join us on our culinary adventure below!
Nature Inspired Nibbles at Yaga Cafe Garden Co.
Opening their doors to their outdoor patio cafe in May 2022, Yaga Cafe Garden Co, formally Prince Rupert Lawn & Garden, has been delighting customers with 100% organic certified and fair trade coffee, homegrown hydroponic salads, inhouse prepared fresh snacks, made-to-order sandwiches, and other healthy nibbles!
Yaga Cafe Garden Co. is owned and operated by Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society, a Prince Rupert-based non-profit organization that invests in language and culture revitalization initiatives for the 1600 Nisga’a citizens living in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, away from their traditional territory in the Nass Valley.
The cafe, attached to the garden center, is located beside the newly opened Seal Cove Salt Marsh and is the perfect place to grab a snack after walking the marsh or taking fido for their morning walkies.
We tried their classic ham and cheese sandwich and a couple of big cups of coffee! The sandwich had the perfect crunch with swiss chard, and the coffee was beyond smooth, to the point you almost didn’t need any cream. As it was raining on and off when we visited, the coffee was perfect for warming our hands as we walked the marsh reading the interpretive signs and watched the seaplanes take off.
This area of town seems popular with young professionals and, of course, dog owners. We talked with many 4-legged locals and their owners about why they moved to Prince Rupert and got the inside scoop on other local places to check out. While a port town with many industries revolving around that, we were excited to hear about the rise in tech and remote workers choosing to live here.
Home-style Authentic Japanese Food and a Good Cup of Coffee
Located inside a beautiful 100-year-old historic building downtown, Javadotcup has been serving home-style food from around the world and drool-worthy coffee drinks to the Prince Rupert community since 2009.
The owner, Yoriko Yamaguchi, was at the cafe when we visited and helped us choose from their extensive menu that spans the globe. Between the hearty soups, giant sandwiches, authentic Japanese food, curries, baked goods, desserts, cocktails, wine, and beer selection, it was hard to narrow down what we wanted to a single meal’s worth.
Our picks included the Peking Javadog, a grilled 100% beef hotdog on a steamed bun with hoisin sauce, Japanese-style mayo, and green onion, which was beautifully balanced between sweet and savory. We also opted for the steamed pork bun, soft and squishy, stuffed with pork, egg, green onion, and other seasonings. You can see in the photo that this thing was FRESH and perfectly steamed.
To wash it all down, we tried their classic drip coffee (which was perfectly brewed) and, as the sun was starting to come out as we sat in the window, a refreshing lime Italian soda that went perfectly with both the pork bun and Peking Javadog.
Authentic Japanese Food With a Side of Smiles
If the inventive sushi combos and delicious homemade ramen don’t keep bringing you back, the friendly smiles of the people who work at Sukoshi Kitchen will!
Located in the heart of downtown Prince Rupert, Sukoshi Kitchen’s neon-colored walls welcome locals and visitors from afar to taste their authentic Japanese dishes made with a whole lot of love.
Sukoshi Kitchen is known for its seasonal and specialty rolls each week. The special we visited was Sockeye Fusion rolls filled with raw sockeye salmon, sweet potato, cream cheese, and cucumber, topped with avocado, spicy mayo, and a drizzle of honey. Not only were these rolls gorgeous—they were also beyond fresh.
We also had to try the chicken ramen soup, full of freshly made noodles, heaps of fried garlic and green onions, and huge chunks of chicken. The bowl was overflowing with toppings, and the soup base was a treat in itself.
We sampled a few of their other rolls (and they were all amazing) and chatted with some guests who were from Japan and the Sukoshi staff. Everyone was intoxicatingly friendly, and one of our favorite lunch experiences while in Prince Rupert.
Go Back in Time at a 104-Year-Old Chinese Restaurant.
With long rows of maroon leatherette booths, a 50’s style milkshake counter, and a laminated 20-page menu filled with chow meins, chop suey, egg foo yong, and some Canadian classics for good measure, West End Restaurant has been serving the city of Prince Rupert since 1918.
Even at 4pm on a Thursday, this place was a hive of activity filled with couples and families chowing down and enjoying the atmosphere of this unique restaurant. 20 pages might be an understatement on the size of this menu; it felt like 40 with how many items were on it. This also means we ordered way too much with no regrets!
Our table was filled with Chinese classics like wonton soup, pineapple sweet & sour spareribs, and chicken chow mein with honey garlic boneless chicken perfectly sauced and seasoned. Legitimately these were all amazing and so tasty.
From the Canadian section, I took a chance on a dish called pan-fried fresh mushrooms and bacon, which was a wild ride of deliciousness. What came out was beautifully fried mushrooms on a piece of toast covered in thick, crispy pieces of bacon, a side of fries, fresh iceberg lettuce, classic frozen veg bits, and a hunk of tomato for good measure. Although odd, this dish was very tasty and a great example of a dish that probably has a great story behind it somewhere in the restaurant’s long history.
The table in front of us ordered a round of West End’s famous milkshakes and a banana split… and I have never regretted not leaving room for dessert more in my life.
Homemade East Indian Food with Flashy Cocktails
Take a hip downtown bar with funky lighting and a stage area with tinsel curtains, add homemade authentic Indian food, and get the Sunset Lounge + Grill.
Sunset Lounge + Grill has served Prince Rupert since 2000. Sunset Lounge offers customers the neighborhood bar experience while upping the game with locally-inspired cocktails paired with homemade Indian food that brings the house down with perfectly balanced sweet, spicy, and savory dishes.
On the drinks side, we tried the Sunset-Sunset, which was fruity and bright (perfect with the food’s spice), and a couple perky lemon Moscow mules with layers of citrus flavors. Sunset Lounge has an impressive drink menu that’s sure to have something for everyone!
For food, we did a tour of their most popular dishes suggested by our server. Giant sizzling samosas, fried paneer pakora fingers, crispy chicken wings with chili sauce, and a bowl of spicy chickpea curry. Everything was beyond tasty and complex, and the paneer pakora was an outstanding take on one of our favorite Indian dishes.
The combination of cocktails and Indian food made for such a unique dining experience that made for a truly remarkable evening in Prince Rupert.
Let’s All Go to the Drive-In—and Eat Classic Italian Dishes and Classic American Fare
Looking out the window in our 6th-floor room at the Prestige Hotel, we watched car after car drive up to La Gondola Cafè across the street and get bowls of towering onion rings and trays of pasta brought to their car.
So, of course, we had to check it out!
The restaurant, built in 1952, is split into 2 parts—a cute sit-down restaurant in their Venetian-style dining room overlooking the port and a traditional drive-in with designated stalls complete with a kindly carhop in a little blue vest.
Pulling up to the restaurant, “Please turn on lights for service.” is written at the bottom of giant menus posted along the carhop stand with everything from burgers (with various patty counts) to pasta, milkshakes, and everything in between.
Within a few minutes, we ordered, and our lovely carhop brought our food. In true drive-in fashion, everything was presented on a window tray (our Ford’s tilted windows were exactly not made for this, but it worked!), and we were happily munching away on righteous burgers to our tunes and admiring the drool-worthy pile of onion rings. The whole meal was beyond memorable and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience Prince Rupert’s history.
Every restaurant we visited in Prince Rupert offered us a unique and unforgettable experience in this charming port town. We were met with so much kindness and hospitality at every place we visited, and the willingness of people to share their Prince Rupert experiences and the places that make it special to them was beautiful.
If you live in Northern BC and have never been to Prince Rupert, or it’s been a while since you explored their local restaurants—take a page from our adventure and dig in!