“Stay Local, Support Local” is a collaboration between Castanet and Travel Penticton showcasing what Penticton has to offer all year round. Watch for it every Monday morning.
There are a lot of perks to being a local in the South Okanagan: favourable year-round weather, fresh fruit, world-renowned wine, and of course, the food!
And with spring just around the corner, local eateries that have been closed for the winter are reopening their doors, and locals have first dibs before the anticipated summer wave of tourists.
Hillside Winery and Bistro, which closed its Bistro doors in late December, is raring to go ahead of its March 17 reopening.
“We’re really excited,” said director of sales and marketing Jody Schwindt.
“Knowing not much has changed in way of COVID regulations, it’s sort of a rinse and repeat. We did a fantastic job (last year) of making sure our guests were safe, felt safe [and] I’m anticipating there’s going to be pent up energy … to get out, especially with this incredible weather. We’re ready for that.”
Schwindt said Hillside Winery and Bistro’s priorities remain unchanged: following COVID-19 protocols and ensuring safety for all guests.
“We really want [our guests] to take the opportunity to get out … and enjoy the old days of food and wine,” she said.
New this year is not only a thoughtfully designed menu ready to be paired with a glass of wine, but the restaurant’s chef, Evan Robertson has new options.
“He’s come on board … so we’re super excited to see the draft menus, which look amazing,” said Schwindt. “He has the experience. He’s getting his kitchen crew on board, and we’re super excited to see what he has to offer. We think it’s going to up-level our Bistro.”
And also reopening on March 17 is wine tasting, so be sure to sample some fine wines before or after your meal.
And new this year to the Bistro is a picnic grab-and-go style take-out option.
“We know people are looking for other options, especially because of COVID and because we are limited to capacity … so we want to provide a few more options,” said Schwindt.
Further down the road to Naramata is the Naramata Inn, a quaint spot favoured by locals and tourists alike. With rooms already half-booked up for the year, the team at the Naramata Inn has been busily preparing for its restaurant’s staggered reopening on March 10.
“I really like the way we’re rolling things out, and I know it’s going to be really community-focused,” said managing partner and director of sales and marketing Kate Colley. “We’ll definitely be seven days a week (in the summer), and add a few extra surprises and delight experiences.”
The restaurant will be open for lunch service from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with dinner service kicking off on Mar. 17 from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Brunch will launch Mar. 20 and be available from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
“I think there’s a real hole in brunch and leisurely things, so we’re introducing a brunch/lunch,” explained Colley. “We’ve got a great waffle (dish) with pear compote. I’m excited about the brunch.”
Last week, staff at the Naramata Inn were busy sampling the new menu set to launch, taking photos and getting the restaurant ready to welcome guests.
And the Naramata Inn is continuing with its “At Home” series, with March featuring chowders, bouillabaisse and bisques. Taken home frozen, it’s the perfect meal for a quick dinner or for your night to cook. Be sure to check out Naramata Inn’s social media pages for more information on how to pick up your order, because supplies are limited – and go fast!
“We’re excited about embracing the community, and them embracing us, and getting ready for what Naramata is, at its best, at its peak, this dreamy, sunny, delicious place,” said Colley.
Also popular on the way to the Naramata Bench is Poplar Grove, with sweeping views of Okanagan Lake and beyond. With The Restaurant up and running, be sure to stop by for either lunch on Friday or Saturday from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., dinner on Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., or brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
And just in time for this week’s Taco Tuesday, Tacos del Norte is reopening for the season on Mar. 9.
Owner Nik Dos Santos said staff were hard at work getting the cozy location at 85 Backstreet Blvd. back up and running.
“People wait on us,” he said of the three month closure for winter. “We’re going to do our traditional Taco Tuesday and open up for the season and see how it goes!”
Taco Tuesday at Tacos del Norte includes specials such as four tacos for $8 with the purchase of a drink.
Dos Santos said there will be picnic tables on site for people to eat their meals, but of course COVID-19 guidelines with social distancing do need to be followed.
Dos Santos said local favourites, such as the pork carnitas, and the pineapple salsa, are back on this year’s menu.
“They’re probably one of our stop sellers,” he said, adding he does have some ideas in mind for additions to the menu, but the focus now is reopening to new and old faces.
And don’t forget Elma at 994 Lakeshore Drive West. With sunshine in the forecast, there’s no better place to be than on Okanagan Lake’s beachfront enjoying traditional Turkish food.
And while you’re down near the beach, finish your day off with ice cream from Tickleberry’s, either at their new location at 202 Main St., in Penticton, or take a drive out to Okanagan Falls to enjoy one of the 100-plus flavours the long-time favourite ice cream shop has to offer.
Learn more at www.visitpenticton.com and on social @visitpenticton