Ever wonder where the no-bake wondrous creation that is the Nanaimo bar originated? The insta-cavity dessert was named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia and Canadians take great pride in the chocolatey, custard flavoured butter squares that almost always need to be washed down with a cup of milk almond mylk. What? It's BC!
Nanaimo is just north of Victoia, British Columbia's capital, and your first pee break on your way to Tofino or Parksville. Don't be a jerk. Stop and buy something from the local dessert shop you just pit stopped at and discover that Nanaimo is not just a pass through city, it is actually home to some insanely mouthwatering desserts!
You all definitely have that one friend who is the chocoholic of the group. Maybe that friend is you. Regardless, you've probably never thought to check out the goods that are scattered among The Harbour City but this list should get your salivary glands going and your sweet tooth aching!
Is it just me or does everything taste better when you’re on a date? I’m not entirely sure if I actually liked the dinner this guy made me last week or if it was just the butterflies that made everything taste like ambrosia. But what happens when there are no butterflies? What happens when the sparks don’t fly? You ought to play it safe and eat something you know will sweeten the deal so that at least if you don’t get a second date out of it, you’ve at least gotten your sweet fix!
From cupcakes to cinnamon rolls and everything in between, Nanaimo has something for every cavity craving individual. Read on to discover the little pockets of sugary bliss on Vancouver Island.
8. A Wee Cupcakery // 407 Fitzwilliam St
Artisan cupcakes at their finest! Everyone loves a cupcake, they're baby cakes after all! A Wee Cupcakery gets you the goods for only $3.25 a cupcake with vegan and gluten-free options as well!
Recommended: Mexican chocolate
7. Columbia Bakery LTD // 2151 Bowen Rd
With two locations in the city, Columbia Bakery LTD is a household name in Nanaimo. Known for their European bread and pastries, they also offer lunch if you're feeling like you need to eat before dessert.
Recommended: Baked German cheesecake
6. Rogers' Chocolates // 680 Trans-Canada Hwy
Chocolate lovers, unite! Rogers' chocolates is a well-known chocolatier in BC and THE place for west coasters to get their chocolate fix. Forget you, Purdy's! Using fair-trade cacao only makes us love going to Rogers' more.
Recommended: Sea salt caramel sleeve
5. Nanaimo Bakery & Confectionery // 2025 Bowen Rd
This family-run business has been operating for 20 years and if there's anyone who I want to have a wealth of experience, it's my baker. Their mission statement is "where people with good taste gather" and nothing gets me going more than a compliment.
Recommended: Fruit & custard pastry
4. Hearthstone Artisan Bakery // 50 Tenth St
Just look at those macarons! Hearthstone Artisan Bakery believes in supporting island business. Keeping things local also means less environmental impact and we are on board with their mission! Everything is made in house and everything is made with love!
Recommended: The macarons!
3. Bodhi's Artisan Bakery // 5299 Rutherford Rd
Small batch natural ingredients made to order! This cute cafe tucked away on Rutherford Road includes pastries and baked goods as well as artisan bread and savory options as well.
Recommended: Pumpkin spice muffin
2. The Bees Knees Cafe // 208 Wallace St
Arguably the cutest cafe in Nanaimo. Their mission statement is, "making great coffee and food for people we love" aww! Hospitality is of the most importance to the Bees and Knees staff and the baked goods are so mouth-wateringly delicious you keep coming back.
Recommended: Cinnamon bun
1. Bocca Cafe // 427 Fitzwilliam St
When you first think of Bocca Cafe you don't think desserts, but that's where you're going to miss out on some of the most interesting sweet things you've ever tried. Scarf down a burger then try one of the many desserts Bocca has to offer including (of course) the Nanaimo bars!
Bite Me Bakery // 2302 Fawcett Ave
For your sweet tooth pal's birthday! Bite Me Bakery makes some of the most beautiful and interesting cakes that are (almost) too good to take down. Think of them for your favourite person's special day next time around. Custom cakes are made to order!