After a long day of cruising, sometimes you just want to sit down to a great meal without having to go far from the harbor. When you arrive in Nanaimo, it is hard to beat Penny’s Palapa, conveniently located on a float amongst the moored boats. It is a popular place and rather than wait out front, they offer to give you a pager to let you know when your table is ready. You can wait aboard your boat, perhaps and enjoying appetizers and drinks. When the pager buzzes, the fun begins.


The outdoor seating area at Penny’s Palapa.

Mexican food many varieties and levels of quality. Penny’s food is carefully prepared and quite good, with a selection of seafood and traditional Mexican specialties. Beer and wine are available, and the wine based margarita is very good.

I had a tough time deciding what to order. I like to order things I can’t usually get elsewhere. The ceviche called out to me and it was full of scallops, fish, and baby shrimp, all in lemon juice with plenty of cilantro. Very refreshing and just the right amount for two of us to share.

Next, seared ahi tuna steak with a cilantro-lime aioli. Perfectly prepared, and it came with a plate full of chipotle red potato salad and plenty of healthy greens.

Or, how about red snapper pescadillos with a fiery cilantro-mint aioli? This was a soft tortilla filled with red snapper and served with re-fried black beans and greens. The presentation for both entrees was enticing.



What I wanted to order, but will have to wait for my next visit to Nanaimo is the Mexican gazpacho, or the salpicon de pescado – a mix of fresh poached sockeye or spring salmon in a tomatilo-avacado-cilantro cream served cold on lettuce with corn-chip triangles on the starter menu. On the entree menu, there is a good selection of Penny’s fish tacos, special burritos and enchiladas. All a refreshing twist on Mexican favorites. But how about Fanny Bay oysters with tequila-lime vinaigrette? Next time.

Penny’s Palapa’s is a local favorite for boaters in the Nanaimo Harbour, along with Trollers for halibut and fish and chips, also on a float two docks over. Best of all, both are just a short walk away from your boat when moored at the Harbour Authority docks.

– Mark

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