As a family new to Kamloops and staying in an Airbnb at TRU, it was a welcome surprise how the area around us was dotted with some of the best eateries in town. The uncharacteristic thaw in mid-February, and the sense of occasion in the air, from Valentine’s Day through the Family Day weekend, offered us the perfect window to try some of them out. Not only were these places family-friendly — their menu and food quality managed to charm our nine-year-old who is the biggest gastronome in our family — they also offered us a bang for our buck. The fact that the Luv’n the Loops Pass got us dining discounts sweetened the spot. This free, digital pass is a must-have for those wishing to experience the many attractions, eateries, and shopping Kamloops has to offer.

5Bean Brew Bar & Café located on Summit Drive is not just a breakfast place, but a vibe. Cafés are as much about great coffee and quick bites, as they are about a wholehearted mood that nurtures relaxation and free-flowing conversations. We find 5Bean abuzz with lots of those, every time. Our absolute favorite is the Tuscan Veggie Sandwich, with the perfect pep of sun-dried tomatoes. Although I am equally inclined towards their Cranberry Scones.Their Oatmeal Lattes and London Fog have quite a loyal fan base. 

For a quick and healthy lunch, one couldn’t do any better than Eat Clean Express; literally, a hop away from campus. The owner Roberta, and the lovely staff — Hayley and Nadi — are forever ready to help customers navigate through the plethora of healthy, organic, and vegan choices on offer. One would be tempted to order just about everything, but I would recommend giving their Cauliflower Crust Pizza, it’s a hit with our 9-year-old! They have a lot of grab-and-go options for a quick lunch break between classes, or smoothies for those odd-hour cravings.

Dinner shouldn’t just be about what is on the table, and The Columbia Diner gets it. Their booths are positioned to give their patrons the best views of the valley and the river; while enjoying their delectable fare. Our son loves their Silver Dollar Pancakes and we let him have it for dinner; because a world where pancakes are only meant for breakfast is not the world we want, right? Our meal isn’t complete, though, until we’ve all shared a Banana Foster Split. Their portions are generous, and we always walk away stuffed. Columbia Diner merges it all well — the plush yet relaxing decor and the freshly-prepared food expected of a diner.

This round-up, however, would be incomplete without the mention of Fresh Is Best Salsa; Their products — a comprehensive array of salsas, dips, chips, hot sauces, and taco shells — are available at many stores, but I prefer to visit their factory outlet in Cariboo Place. Colourful line-ups of all sorts of dips and sauces wherever you look. Don’t forget to check out the Wall of Sauce price list to see their exciting range or maybe only to be amused by names such as ‘Xtreme Regret’ and ‘Bad Karma’. You can buy my soul with their Sriracha Revolver — a tangy lime and coriander delight that I eat with just about anything. Don’t forget to grab some gorgeous pottery, yummy pickles, or home decor items from local artists while you’re there.