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Public’s Guide to the Best Neighbourhood in Victoria to Discover

Public’s Guide to the Best Neighbourhood in Victoria to Discover

When was the last time you came downtown to our neighbourhood? You know, the one sandwiched between Government and Store St that is just north of Fisgard (hmmm … NoFi? Is that 90s naming convention so old it’s new again? Let’s see if we can make it a thing 😜). 

If you are a longtime local, you may remember this area as being semi-industrial with a few random shops and businesses that were destination-specific (hands up if you were also addicted to beloved Cascadia Bakery). This area on the edge of Chinatown has been quietly gentrifying over the years, and it’s now one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets for shopping, food and services. If you haven’t been down lately, what in the name of pickle boat ballet are you waiting for? 

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SHOP

Public Mercantile: Of course we’re starting off with ourselves 😉! We are here to serve with on-trend clothing, luscious skincare, gorgeous jewellery, fragrances, homewares, books, magazines, and more. We focus on smaller niche brands, often Canadian and women-founded, and ones with a good story and sustainable practices. You’ll find lots of gender-inclusive gems that are perfect for gifting or for yourself. We also love a good chat, so don’t be a stranger — pop in and say hi!
1804 Government St.


Gallery Merrick: Our next door bestie, Joe, has one of the top art galleries in Victoria. He has an incredible eye for Canadian talent; his diverse curation of artists across two floors will have you fantasizing about hanging them all on your own walls. As a bonus, you will not leave without a good laugh and interesting conversation because, as you will discover, Joe is beyond fun to talk with (and a very sharp-dressed man).
1806 Government St.


The White Peony: Live your bridal fantasy at this stunning shop. We love it when brides-to-be stop in at Public to look at our jewellery and then tell us all about the gorgeous dress they have just been fitted for — their excitement is contagious.
1816 Government St.


Tapestry Music: The new kids on the block! If you love creating music (I mean, who wouldn’t if you had the skill and/or desire?), then support this newly-opened family-run musical instrument shop in the old Duchess & Duke space near the corner of Government and Chatham.
1824 Government St.


Smoking Lily: With everything designed, sewn and silkscreened locally, this beloved clothing and homewares brand is quintessentially Victoria. Established in 1996, all products are sustainably-minded and produced. It's so fun when the owner, Trish, brings her eminently chic self by our shop to say hi!
1713 Government St.


Chester Fields: Build your urban nest with modern Canadian furniture from this approachably beautiful showroom boutique.  
532 Herald St.


Circularity Boutique: New to the neighbourhood is this secondhand thrift/vintage store full of upcycled/recycled and gently-used goods, from clothing to furniture to homewares. Definitely a more curated and way more fun alternative to VV across the street. 
1807 Store St.

Moe's Home Victoria: When you're ready experience the joys of modern living through a furniture store, this is the place to do it. The owner, Curtis, has  impeccable taste and it is on display throughout two gorgeous floors of furnishings, home goods, and personal style items made especially for the shop. 
1630 Store St.

VI Plant Shop: Is a house even a home if it doesn’t contain a plant? Add some greenery to your life in this sweet little shop with a large selection of things that grow in pots.
#103-515 Chatham St.


Limey The British Shop: What what? A shop selling nothing but British specialty food? Sounds like a win to us, prawn cocktail crisps and all!
#101-515 Chatham St.


Chintz & Co: Gorgeous furniture and home goods are layered over two floors in this historic brick building. So much to look at, you’ll need to set aside some serious exploration time.
1720 Store St.


Opus: If there's one thing this city doesn't lack, it's artists, and Opus keeps the best of us and the rest of us fuelled with art supplies. It’s like a candy store for the creative brain.
512 Herald St.


Autonomous Furniture: Tucked at the far edge of the neighbourhood is this lovely shop full of contemporary furniture designed and made right here by Kirk Van Ludwig. You’ll find his pieces in many high-end homes around the world, and when you pop into his showroom to witness the exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail, you’ll understand why.
2101 Government St.


EAT & DRINK

End Dive: Our other next door neighbour is one of our fave spots for seasonal fresh eats and top-shelf cocktails. Every day at 4 pm we can hear the chopping and prepping through the brick walls and it makes our mouths water with anticipation. If you can’t make it for the energetic evening scene, absolutely go for Sunday pasta lunch … sooooo good.
1802 Government St.


Torch Song: Brewing beans from its local parent roastery, this cafe a few doors down keeps us caffeinated and well-stocked in books and records. Also we might be slightly addicted to their salty/sweet chocolate chip cookie … possibly the best one we’ve ever had.
1812 Government St.


Brasserie l'Ecole: This French bistro has been around for more than 20 years, but it doesn’t mean the queues are any shorter. No reservations means you will be waiting for a table, and even on the gloomiest, wettest, coldest of Victoria winter eves, we always see a line of gourmands snaking up the block. Be assured, these folks are no fools … the experience is worth it. 
1715 Government St.


Phillips: One of the original Victoria craft brewers, Phillips has grown and innovated in so many ways but still maintains a sense of community and creativity. Music lovers should be sure to grab tickets for Phillips Backyard in the summer, always a good time.  
2000 Government St.


Jam: There is never not a huge line-up for breakfast at this cheery restaurant. We love the bowls and the bennies, but the menu is big enough that there is something for everyone. Jam’s popularity has recently taken them to new outposts in Vancouver, so Mainlanders can now get their Vic fix there.
542 Herald St.


Union Pacific Coffee: This was one of our favourite coffee shops even before we moved to the neighbourhood. The heritage building is very Victoria and the outdoor “backyard” patio that nestles into Dragon Alley is the most charming hidden outdoor space to have a coffee and a chat. Also, we can’t get out of there without ordering a tomato and olive tapenade croissant (if they aren’t already sold out) — snag one if you can. 
537 Herald St.


Herald Street Brew Works: As their website says, some beer guys got together and opened a taphouse, two of them the owners of another beloved local beer house, The Drake in Market Square. The layout is spacious and inviting, with an upstairs mezzanine large enough to host events (we’ve been to a few there — it’s a great space for a party!) and a parklet patio that is perfect for people watching.
506 Herald St.


Grindstone Cafe: This cozy coffee shop has been at the corner of Herald and Store St for more than 30 years. It’s a delightful place to pop in for a quick lunch or snack.
504 Herald St.


Tug Eatery: The waterfront patio gives you a front row seat to all the harbour traffic, including the Johnson St Bridge, kayakers, pickle boats and more. When the sun’s out in Victoria, this is the place to be.
407 Swift St.


CRAFT Beer Market: If you’ve got a bunch of people to party with (or are looking for some), this Canadian chain has multiple spaces to accommodate you, including a fun outdoor area with expansive views across to Vic West.
450 Swift St.

DO

Proper Poke: If you want a body part pierced, this is the place to do it. The owner is an expert piercer with 20 years’ experience and certifications. This welcoming shop also offers custom tattoos.
1810 Government St.


Parlor Hair Boutique: Full of sunlight with bright white brick walls and super friendly staff, this boutique hair salon keeps the block looking beautiful.
1822 Government St.


MĀ Wellness & Yoga: Though we haven’t been (yet!), folks with yoga mats often come into the shop and rave about the class they just attended, so it’s definitely on our to-do list. Housed in a beautiful heritage brick building, they also offer holistic health services and yoga teacher training.
539 Herald St.


Lavish Salon: Freshen up your locks with a new cut or Kevin Murphy products at this chic, sustainably-minded salon.
536 Herald St.


Government Street Tattoo Parlour: With its old school lettering on the windows, flash sheets lining the walls, and 40-year history in its Chinatown space, this tattoo shop is the real deal. Walk in for your next American Traditional.
1710 Government St.


KWENCH: Hands down the most gorgeous co-working and event space in Victoria, KWENCH is brimming with high energy and good vibes. If you need a place to park your laptop and connect with a community of great people, whether for a day, week, month or year, you’ve found it.
2031 Store St.


Victoria Harbour Ferry: What’s not to love about these adorable pickle boats? They give you fantastic views of the city while getting you to your next destination, and the captains and other passengers are fun to talk with. We’ve taken the ferries many times to cross the water when walking just seems a bridge too far. There are several docks, but the one in our neighbourhood is the Chinatown stop at the bottom of Swift St.

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Public Mercantile opened in our current location in 2022 (after a year stint on upper Fort St) and we are beyond thrilled to be a part of this vibrant area that is in the heart of downtown … yet still just enough off the beaten path to stay fresh. You'll see construction and redevelopment signs as it's an area in transition — and we are so excited to have a courtside seat watching it evolve.

Whether you’re a Victoria local or a travelling newcomer to our beautiful city, this neighbourhood north of Fisgard ( ... NoFi? Yes? No? 🤪) will reward you in spades for taking the time to unravel all its charms.

Make it a date and we’ll see you here! 😘