Tofino, BC – Wildside Grill (Fish n’ Chips) & The Fish Store

Restaurant: Wildside Grill
Cuisine: Canadian/Seafood/West Coast
Last visited: May 27, 2013
Location: Tofino, BC
Address: 1180 Pacific Rim Hwy
Phone: (250) 725-9453
Transit: n/a
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: n/a didn’t try enough
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • 2 locations
  • Outdoor dining only
  • Quick/casual
  • Family friendly
  • Affordable
  • Emphasis on local BC seafood
  • Local favorite
  • Open daily 10am – 8pm
  • Twitter: @wildsidetofino

**Recommendations: Fish n’ Chips

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (1)It was my last meal in Follow Me Foodie to Tofino so I had to make it good. The decision was made a long time ago too because I’ve been getting requests for a post on this place for a couple years now.

The Wildside Grill has a loyal following and although most of the recommendations for it came from tourists and Vancouverites, it is still a local favourite. Every time I mentioned the name to locals they would agree it was worth a try especially for the fish n’ chips, but it also didn’t seem like a typical culinary destination, unlike SoBo or The Point Restaurant at The Wickaninnash Inn. And why would it be? I mean did you see it? It’s an outdoor hut.

Unfortunately it was raining a bit, but casual settings and outdoor dining never bothered me. I just didn’t expect it to be outdoor only. I was also expecting something a bit more formal after all the hype, but it is perhaps why locals seemed so caught off guard when I was so adamant on trying it. I guess I was extra enthusiastic and I was really looking forward to the Cod Clubhouse and Fish n’ Chips I had heard so much about.

The Wildside Grill is an affordable eatery for all ages offering a wide range of casual beachside favourites. The menu consists of a variety of burgers and fries, sandwiches, tacos, soups and fish n’ chips, but with West Coast flavour and local Tofino ingredients. It is half meat options and half seafood options and although it looks like a concession stand, the menu has thought and effort and the ingredients are fresh.

I only tried a couple things since this was breakfast, and I did enjoy it, but I also think I hyped myself up for it. Considering I’ve had this on my itinerary for 2 years now, I was treating the experience like gold so I wasn’t necessarily floored. My anticipation led me to a good experience, but I might have felt differently if I came with neutral expectations or found it randomly. Regardless, I’d still recommend it, but the visit does not need to be an event. I would consider it more like a Tofino classic than a hot spot, and I could imagine it being a go-to if I lived there.

On the table: 

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (4)Breakfast Tacos (until noon) – 3/6 (Good)

  • Two 100% corn tortillas, two fried eggs, cheese, chipolte mayo, salsa, lettuce, cilantro and green onions $10
  • These were what they were. They were good, but also what you would expect from the description. No surprises.
  • The tortilla shell was a bit thick and dry though, but it was well stuffed and not soggy.
  • The fried eggs were also cooked well and I prefer runny egg yolks, so next time I would suggest putting in a request for how you like your eggs.
  • The cheese seemed like cotija cheese or a grated feta, but it wasn’t melted.
  • I lost the chipotle mayo and I didn’t find it spicy, but next time I would also add avocado.

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (2)Cod Club Burger – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Panko crusted cod fillet, shrimp, bacon, avocado, chili mayo, onion, lettuce and tomato $15
  • This was recommended and I think I set my expectations too high, but it was still good.
  • However even if I had no expectations, I still think this could have been better with some simple changes.
  • The fries were crispy skin on Kennebec potato fries, but they weren’t quite seasoned.
  • I liked that they weren’t greasy and the oil was also new since I was one of the first customers of the day.

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (7)Wow! Look at that! The first bite I had was totally killer. Look at the size of that fish!

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (8)

  • It looks amazing and the fresh cod was no doubt the star of the show, as to why I should have just ordered fish n’ chips. 
  • The cod was crispy and a bit crunchy with a thin panko crumb.
  • It was so tender, flaky and moist, not greasy and fried until golden brown. I loved it.
  • It wasn’t that seasoned so I could have used a sprinkle of salt, but other than that it was a total hit.
  • The bun was a bit dry though and it came across as a standard store bought whole wheat bun, so I would have preferred another bun.
  • I also couldn’t taste the shrimp, bacon or avocado so it kind of defeated the purpose of calling it a Cod Club Burger.
  • I appreciated the thickness of the cod, but I still wanted to taste the other ingredients.
  • The shrimp was peeled baby shrimp lightly coated in mayo and that sat in a single layer on top of the lettuce so it got lost.
  • The rather thin bacon was at the very bottom and there were only a couple strips, so that got lost too.
  • The avocado was mashed and more like a guacamole but there was only a thin spread so it wasn’t detectable.
  • I would have loved wedges of avocado and perhaps the tomato as a salsa.
  • I just feel like the sandwich/burger didn’t live up to its name, but at least the cod was excellent!

Wildside Grill on Urbanspoon
Restaurant: The Fish Store
Cuisine: Seafood/Retail/Grocer
Last visited: May 27, 2013
Location: Tofino, BC
Address:  366 Campbell
Phone: (250) 725-2264
Transit: n/a
Price Range: n/a

The Fish Store Tofino (1)There’s no way I could leave Follow Me Foodie to Tofino without mentioning one of my favourite bites from the whole 48 hour trip. It was actually on my first day at the very first Feast Tofino event I went to. I attended the The Saturday Dockside Festival featuring 10 Tofino restaurants and this booth hit a home run. The Fish Store isn’t even a restaurant, but it killed it.

The Fish Store Tofino (2)I could have gorged on their smoked tuna belly all day. I didn’t want to be *that* person lining up 2, 3, 6 times for another sample, but I totally was.

Being from Vancouver smoked tuna belly was a big deal for me. I love salmon and tuna belly, but often I have it grilled at Japanese restaurants. I’ve had smoked salmon belly before, but not smoked tuna belly.

I prefer tuna belly sashimi, but this smoked tuna belly in particular made me question my sashimi preference. That’s when I know I hit a good one. It made me question a lot of the smoked and candied tuna and salmon I’ve had in Vancouver. In Vancouver there is lots of smoked salmon and smoked albacore tuna, but rarely do I see smoked tuna belly.

I know it is just smoked tuna belly and it might sound boring, but they did a phenomenal job with it. It was smoky sweet, savoury, moist and super buttery (as tuna belly always is) and it just melted in my mouth with so little chew. The flavour of the tuna wasn’t masked and it wasn’t fishy or overly smoky, but just simple and beautiful.

The last time I was so blown away by a piece of smoked fish was at Willows Inn on Lummi Island – see their Smoked Sockeye Salmon.

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (19) Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (20)I liked it so much I was eager to bring some home, so I made plans to pick some up before leaving Tofino.

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (13)And there it was. I admit, the hot smoked tuna belly looked better at the event, but I was still willing to stock up on this one. Unfortunately, and big unfortunately, I didn’t realize that it needed to be kept chilled. I was a bit surprised that fully cooked hot smoked tuna belly would require refrigeration, but I was not recommended to take it (without a cooler) on a road trip longer than an hour.

The difference between hot smoked and cold smoked is hot smoking involves heat and curing the meat, while cold smoking does not. Cold smoked fish is almost like sashimi and it has a smooth and slippery raw fish texture, whereas the hot smoked is cooked by heat. Both meats can be salted and/or brined, but the cold smoked meat is always salted and/or brined since it requires curing which is not involved in the cold smoking process. Hot smoking cures the meat through heat, so it doesn’t require much, if any, salting/brining.

Wildside Grill The Fish Store Fish n' Chips Tofino (16)Everything looked like it was done in small batches and next time I’m coming with a giant cooler.


  • Parham Albadvi says:

    Very neat blog post. The Cod Club Burger really had my taste buds going!

    Love your passion for food – keep it up.

  • Bow says:

    The cod looks good…not over-battered and over cooked. I just take out the bun and eat it as a mains.

  • art nuvo says:

    Other reviews give as good if not better reviews to the food truck behind wild side-tacofino for its fish tacos.

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