Victoria has a tremendous number and variety of restaurants for such a small city; this fact, and the glorious pantry that is Vancouver Island—think local fish, seafood, cheese, and organic fruits and veggies—keeps prices down (at least compared to Vancouver) and standards up. As an island, there's a self-sufficiency vibe, and the collaborative foodie ethos between chefs, producers and suppliers is palpable. Restaurants in the region are generally casual. Smoking is banned in all public places, including restaurant patios, in Greater Victoria and on the Southern Gulf Islands. Victorians tend to dine early—restaurants get busy at 6 and many kitchens close by 9. Pubs, lounges, and the few open-late places mentioned here are your best options for an after-hours nosh.
Wild salmon, locally made cheeses, Pacific oysters, organic vegetables, local microbrews, and wines from the island's farm-gate wineries (really small wineries are allowed to sell their wines "at the farm gate") are tastes to watch for. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered to in this health-conscious town, and seafood choices go well beyond traditional fish-and-chips. You may notice an "Ocean Wise" symbol on a growing number of menus: this indicates that the restaurant is committed to serving only sustainably harvested fish and seafood.
Some of the city's best casual (and sometimes not-so-casual) fare is served in pubs—particularly in brewpubs; most have an all-ages restaurant as well as an adults-only bar area.
Afternoon tea is a Victoria tradition, as is good coffee—despite the Starbucks invasion, there are plenty of fun and funky local caffeine purveyors around town.