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SOBO's Sophisticated Bohemians

Haute cuisine


SOBO's Sophisticated Bohemians

The menu at Sobo Restaurant in Tofino, BC, brims with healthy alternatives and fresh spins on mainstream fare.

For five years, the tale of the little purple truck that dared to serve only the freshest fish tacos took the culinary world by quiet storm. The truck had no name, but the kitchen crew within it, and the business it birthed, most certainly does: SOBO.

SOBO is a sobriquet for Sophisticated Bohemians. The name amply surmises both its creative core and its steadfast clientele who long endured Tofino’s variable weather for a fix of Lisa and Artie Ahier’s canny coastal creations.

For those who made it to SOBO’s prior location in the parking lot of the Tofino Botanical Garden, the new location has undeniable all-weather appeal. Sinking into a bowl of SOBO’s chowder without sinking into the parking lot during the perpetual rainy season is a nice change.

The added space is another boon, as SOBO’s devotees have multiplied exponentially ever since EnRoute magazine dubbed them one of Canada’s top new restaurants in 2003. Rest assured, the ethos of the little truck prevails–albeit from a central location within Tofino with ample indoor seating, slate floors, and a wall of windows with a clear view of Clayoquot Sound.

For the past few years SOBO has served them all: hungry locals fresh from the surf, timid tourists wondering what all the fuss is about, and hordes of food writers who have travelled to the end of the world for a bite of paradoxically haute cuisine. The menu has always brimmed with healthy alternatives and fresh spins on mainstream fare.

Renowned for its fresh-catch fish tacos, piping hot polenta fries, and seasonally inspired ceviches, SOBO brings fine dining with curbside appeal. Better yet, SOBO serves with conscience. Every mouthful of seafood is wild-caught within BC and the poultry is purely a Vancouver Island affair. Nothing if not upwardly mobile, SOBO also dishes out wildly popular vegetarian fare that is good enough to have the most ardent carnivore chewing the fat about lunch long after.

For the Ahiers, food is about family, and family is a word that includes every mouth they feed. With two young children of their own, they see the connection between food, mood, fun, and finance with a clarity made all the more delicious for Lisa’s creative touch in the kitchen. Texan by birth and West Coast at heart, the dishes that pass through Lisa’s kitchen are reflective of SOBO’s spirit: always nice, with a touch of spice.

February is naturally as sodden and grey a month in Tofino as it is snowpacked in so much of Canada, making the family meal all the more reason to celebrate. Getting the family involved in mealtime is part of the Ahier ethos and the recipes they have selected to share with us are designed to get everyone involved in both the preparing and the sharing.

While SOBO might have lost its wheels, it has remained firmly on track with its eclectic charm and impeccable good taste.




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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD