I love visiting Kelowna. Actually, I’m even heading there this weekend. Aside from having more boutique wineries and sexy landscapes than you can shake a stick at, there’s also some pretty damn good food there too. The city is also currently the host city of The Canadian Culinary Championships, a final competition between ‘Gold Medal Plate’ winners from across the country.
The last time I spent some time in this lovely mountain valley city, my friend and I had a whirlwind tour that included stops at a dinner at Waterfront Wines (an absolutely amazing restaurant, I’ll touch on this culinary hotspot at a later time) , Urban Distilleries (the birthplace of my all-time favourite gin), Okanagan Spirits and lunch at a cute, little spot called Okanagan Street Food.
After working for years at a winery in Summerland, owner, Neil Schroeter moved to Kelowna to begin his own venture. The endeavour initially existed as a street food vendor, but after increasing popularity the business shifted to a bricks and mortar restaurant space in the industrial area of interior Kelowna.
Open Tuesday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch, Okanagan Street Food happily dishes out to hungry workers in the area, as well as other residents that know just how good his food can taste. In addition to running the establishment during the day, a large part of Neil’s business is catering, which he does regularly for various city events and wine festivals.
The space is fairly unassuming when you first walk in. Set up casual diner style, with big booths lining up along the windows and some sets of smaller tables. As this was my first time here, the ‘I love duck fat’ neon sign gracing the far wall definitely caught my attention. Spending some time with my chef friends in Calgary, I know that they all have an infinite for duck fat and would probably like to steal this sign for their own use!
Since we were headed there over the lunch hour, we skipped over their breakfast offerings that included the always classic eggs benny and a ‘Market Breakfast Wrap’ that comes loaded with applewood smoked bacon, egg, cheddar and potato. I’ll definitely be ordering that when I’m back in Kelowna this weekend!
Anyway, back to lunch! My friends and I decided to order a few different dishes to share starting with these ‘Candied Salmon Risotto Fritters’. I am a sucker for candied salmon at the best of times. I’ll usually just buy a small pack of the cured fish while grocery shopping and finish it off before I even get home. Needless to say, these were one of my favourites parts of the lunch. They were a nice balance of sweet and savoury; crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and a lemongrass aioli on the side, of which they were delicious with or without.
Moving swiftly along, we dived into the ‘Seared Fish Taco’, which is more like a big fish burrito, stuffed full of snapper, salsa, shredded cabbage, cilantro, finished with a house-made avocado lime mayonnaise. For it’s size, it was fresh-tasting and not too heavy.
When I order fish tacos, which isn’t very often, I do like to load them up with hot sauce. The diner has more than a few selections when it comes to adding some spice, so make sure you peruse the hot sauce shelf and take your pick, there’s at least thirty.
Once the fish had been devoured, we carried on to a pork belly sandwich topped with house pickles with a hearty soup, as well as an order of fries. Fresh cut daily, the fries were close to putting my hunger to rest for the remainder of the day, but they were recommended to us as a ‘must try’ so I couldn’t resist. They were nice and crisp, not too thick, but, like all french fries, they are only half of the equation.
Neil takes a spin on the standard house-made ketchup making his batches with sweet blackberries. To be honest, one thing I generally never like in restaurants is a house-made ketchup – Heinz is number one for a reason in my personal opinion – but the berries add a nice depth and sweetness that was surprising. I don’t think I’m necessarily a house-made ketchup believer yet, but this blackberry ketchup at least has me questioning my extreme adversity to the concept!
As we were walking out, the place had become nearly jam-packed, so I’m assuming it’s best to get there early for lunch! Wrapping up lunch at Okanagan Street Food, I was fairly impressed. It’s one of the those places where you walk in and unsure what to think. But, the menu quickly impresses with simple food with big, sometimes unexpected flavours. To top it all off, the price point was amazing reasonable, which is something all of us should appreciate! I know I certainly do.
A trio of hot sauces I found on the shelf. The title of the second bottle does scare me a little bit! Ha, ha, ha.
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