The counterculture of Nelson  is evident at
Kootenay Co-op (295 Baker St., 250/354-4077), a grocery store where you can purchase goat’s milk ice cream, organic apple juice, hemp toaster waffles, west coast salmon caught by Nisga’a natives, eco-sweet chocolate, and preservative-free bread. If you’re looking for lunch on the run, pick up healthy snacks such as sweet curry rolls and vegan carrot cake from the deli counter.
Up from the main street, push past the spoiled city kids posing as hippies and duck into Oso Negro (604 Ward St., 250/352-7661, Mon.–Sat. 7 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–4 p.m.) for rich coffee roasted in-house. The bagels and other baked goods are also recommended.
Over the last few years, the Vienna Cafe (411 Kootenay St., 250/354-4646, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.), in Packrat Annie’s bookstore, has lost its counterculture vibe, but the food has gotten better. You can’t go wrong with a chicken—free range, of course—burger, loaded with feta cheese and green peppers ($8.50). A generous serving of vegetarian five-bean chili will set you back $5, or order a bowl butternut squash soup livened up by a dash of maple syrup for $6. Excellent!
Outer Clove (536 Stanley St., 250/354-1667, Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., $13–25) is typical of Nelson ’s better restaurants, appealing to modern tastes but in a relaxed, low-key environment. The emphasis is on garlic (it’s even an ingredient in a couple of the desserts), with tapas from $6 (you’d need three for a filling meal) and dinner mains such as Chicken Garlicious.
Tucked into a back alley behind the main street is All Seasons Café (620 Herridge Lane, 250/352-0101, daily for dinner, $22–32), a small yet stylish place with a delightful tree-shaded patio. Dishes such as proscuitto-wrapped beef tenderloin with a side of maple-roasted yams will have you raving, while deserts like chai crême brûlée will have you wishing you had more room.