Penticton has changed a lot in the last five years, with new restaurants popping up providing a much-needed refresh to the culinary scene. Chefs from Vancouver and other areas of Canada have identified this corner of the Okanagan Valley as an up and coming place with untapped potential.
With baby boomers retiring and millennials opting to purchase real estate and lay down roots in a more affordable location, demand for new restaurants is at an all-time high. Penticton’s tried and true local favourites are now complemented by places like Elma, a Turkish tapas-style restaurant with dreamy modern decor and Napoletana style pizza joint Tratto, serving up wood-fired pizzas in a minimalistic cozy atmosphere.
I’ve broken down the best restaurants in Penticton based on cuisine, starting with a few local favourites that are great for groups. The menus are diverse so there is something for everyone.
Best restaurant in Penticton for groups – Crowd Pleasers
Operated by the same group that owns the local Earls, Salty’s is a crowd favourite. With a pirate theme that somehow manages to avoid being tacky, the restaurant offers stunning views from both the lower and upper patios. The menu offers various cuisines, from Indian, Thai, Italian, and American. They also have a full section of plant-based offerings.
Our personal favourites? The Bahama breeze pizza, rasta pasta, pad thai, fish tacos, or the shareable and addicting ahi tuna (or vegan) nachos.
Salty’s is located right on the main beach off Okanagan Lake, so expect a wait in the summer months!
Close Second: The Cellar
The Cellar has been a local favourite for years. It is hard not to walk by without getting a tempting whiff of garlic courtesy of its open-air patio. Located on Main Street, the Cellar is a convenient location to meet friends. Share the mussels and a glass of white on a warm evening before diving into a plate of pasta or burger of choice.
Trendiest Restaurant in Penticton
Elma came on the Penticton restaurant scene in 2019 and elevated the dining options in the area. All of a sudden the cities options of burgers and pizza were now shaken up by a tapas-style restaurant, the first of its kind to the area. The plates are all meant to be shared, so come with friends, try one of their delicious craft cocktails, and order around 2 plates each.
Our favourites include the roasted eggplant, hummus, charred red pepper, zucchini fritters, and the Turkish flatbreads. Our meat-eating friends love the Turkish meatballs and lamb dishes.
Best Lunch spots in Penticton
You can’t have a list of the best places to eat in Penticton without including this little Italian deli, Il Vecchio’s. Located on an unassuming side street, the deli makes fresh sandwiches to order. Choose from sweet or hot mustard, a variety of deli meats and cheese and top the sandwiches with unique toppings like marinated artichokes and eggplant, fresh lettuce, tomato and optional pepperoncinis. These sandwiches are AMAZING. Try to avoid lunchtime to skirt the line-up. The perfect sandwich to take to the beach, on a road trip or on a picnic on the KVR.
Located on Main Street, their rotating menu features delicious soups, flatbreads, sandwiches and salads for lunch. Check out their website for their dinner features that change each week, including fish and chips, burgers, fried chicken and pasta dishes. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients, and I love how they tailor their menu with the seasons.
Healthy Lunch Option: Wild Scallion
If you are looking for healthy vegetarian options, the Wild Scallion has Thai inspired dishes, bowls, and salads. Great place to pop in for lunch or for take out.
Best Greek Restaurant in Penticton
Theo’s is an iconic restaurant in Penticton. They opened their doors in 1976, making them one of the oldest and longest standing restaurants in Penticton. They recently sold the place, but so far have maintained the same level of service and deliciousness locals have come to count on for years. The menu is large, featuring all your greek favourites and specialities inspired by Okanagan ingredients.
I always opt for the taramasalata and spanokapita with greek salad. They have great options for vegans and platters to share with friends. A fun spot to go to for special occasions or on a Saturday night.
Close second: La Casa Ouzeria
Another family-owned institution in Penticton offering both Greek and Italian cuisine. Expect all your greek go-to’s, plus a variety of pastas, black apron steaks, and family platters.
This place has such fun energy, especially on weekend evenings. Expect it to be loud and for the wine to keep pouring.
Best Japanese Restaurant in Penticton
Finally, a sushi restaurant in Penticton with food and service that you’d once only find in a metropolitan city. As Vancouver locals, we know good sushi, and Kojo delivers. Sit inside the restaurant or take out and enjoy at home or on the beach. Order your typical sushi favourites or choose a ramen dish to warm up on a winter evening. The staff are very friendly and the food never disappoints. A welcome addition to Penticton restaurants for quick and easy weeknight meals!
Close second: Lee’s Overseas
Lee’s has been a go-to for locals looking for Japanese for years. You’ll find all your typical appetizers, tempura, soups, sushi rolls, and rice dishes. There are more roll selections to choose from at Lee’s than at Kojo, so order from here if you’re looking for more variety!
Best Coffee Shop in Penticton
Wayne and Freda
Another brand new locale that has people streaming in and out at all hours of the day. This was clearly a much-needed concept in Penticton as it’s always packed. The space is light and airy with tall ceilings and a large patio that gets ample sun in the summer. Their coffee is delicious, and their menu has diverse options, including various toasts, smoothies and some seriously tempting baked goods.
Close second: The Bench (see below)
Best Brunch Restaurant in Penticton
The Bench Market
The Bench market is one of the most popular places to eat in Penticton. We never leave Penticton without a brunch here. Their eggs benny is probably the best I’ve ever had. The coffee and tea are all amazing, and their baked goods give Wayne and Freda’s a run for their money (I love the peach blueberry muffins and scones). Grab a patio seat and send someone in your party inside to order. One of the best places to people watch and socialize while eating a delicious meal. Visit after a walk or bike ride down the KVR as it is located right down the street from the trail entrance.
Close second: The Hooded Merganser
The Hooded Merganser restaurant has one of the nicest views in Penticton. With floor to ceiling windows, the resultant sits on top of Okanagan lake with epic views of the mountains and lake. For such an exceptional view, the food unfortunately disappoints. I’ve been here a handful of times as it’s an easy spot to go with family and friends that live out of town. You can’t beat the view. But the food has never impressed me or the guests we have dined with. However, with a view like that, it’s no wonder it always makes an appearance on the best restaurants in Penticton round-ups. It’s a pretty great place to sip a mimosa or hot cup of coffee and eat brunch with loved ones. It is pricey and the food is just okay, but its worth a visit on a Sunday morning.
Best Pizza Restaurant in Penticton
Another welcome addition to the Penticton restaurant scene! The dreamy new space serves exclusively Napoletana wood fired pizzas. Favourites include the ricotta, salsiccia, and the sacrilegious hawaiian. Start with the burrata, imported from Italy.
Close Second: Skaha Pizza
I love pizza that doesn’t make you feel like you could sink to the bottom of the ocean after eating it. You know the kind that you could place a few napkins on top and the grease would soak through? Skaha pizza is great because it tastes fresh, features a variety of ingredients and is baked on crispy thin crust.
Take out Pizza: Kettle Valley Station Pub
Remember that dirty pub style pizza I mentioned? Sometimes there is a time and a place. If it’s the time, KVR station pub is the place. Indulge in the delicious thick crust and toppings. The perfect hangover comfort food if you hit the wineries a little too hard.
Best Italian Restaurant in Penticton
I’ve been visiting Penticton for 7 years, purchased a home here 2 years ago and am only now discovering Villa Rosa. I don’t know how that is possible because in the last week I’ve had 5 locals tell me it’s one of the best restaurants in Penticton. It was even voted best Italian restaurant in the South Okanagan by Okanagan Life magazine. Get your fix of all the traditional Italian dishes with a menu full of salads, antipasti, meats, signature dishes and plethora of pastas.
Best Thai Food in Penticton
Walking by this place, I would never think to walk in and expect delicious Thai food. It is attached to one of the beach side motels on the strip, an unassuming little building that looks more like a motel office than a restaurant. I’ve also never been known to trust a restaurant that serves up asian AND American food. Ordering a green curry at a place that also cooks burgers and club sandwiches? Usually ends poorly. This is one of those times where you really don’t want to judge a book by its cover. I love the curries, pad thai, and their famous spring rolls. Good, traditional comfort food.
When I originally looked into Thai food in Penticton, Iyara always came up first. I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed by the food. It will get the job done at curbing your Thai craving, but I’d opt for Cambo over Iyara, unless you are looking for a more pleasant dine-in experience.
Penticton Farmer’s Market
Penticton Farmer’s market has quickly become one of the top farmer’s markets in the Okanagan. If you don’t arrive before 10am, except to be rubbing elbows with your neighbours trying to get to the various vendors. I wanted to include this on this list in case you’d like to take some Okanagan ingredients home to cook with. There are a ton of fresh produce stands to grab delicious fruits and veggies from local farms. Create your own charcuterie plate with black sheep vegan cheese and Ogopogo meats and sausages, Okanagan jellies, and pick up some local wines, beer, or ciders. Also, don’t leave without a few bags of frozen perogies from Flavors Kitchen. OMG. So good.
This list of best restaurants in Penticton comes after 7 years of trial and error. All of these restaurants have consistently delivered delicious meals and great service. I hope this gives you a list of restaurants to choose from, whether you’re an Okanagan local or just visiting for the weekend.
Keep an eye out for a post I am working on, outlining the best winery restaurants in the valley. Until then, download my guide to things to do in Penticton!
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