As per tradition, I make an attempt to visit the Okanagan once a year, typically in August to coincide with my birthday. Why leave the country in summer when people all around the world pay to visit BC for its legendary wine country?
This year we spent a day in Kelowna and stumbled on to the best neighbourhood watering hole and hangout. We walked in and the owner/front of house staff/server/bartender was surprised that we even knew about them. She explained that they are not listed on Google and those who have heard of them live in the area. I told her I liked the restaurant’s name and the fact they were open on a holiday Monday sold me. When I travel, I make a point to try and review different restaurants and support local as much as possible.
The restaurant has a modern surf vibe to it, in line with the name Flip Flop and Hops. The menu is splashed across the back wall and decorated with tropical vibes. Sea turtles, tiki totems, palm fronds, and a surfing skeleton. They even had an actual set of bones permanently seated at the end of the bar, dawning his Hawaiian shirt. Behind him a wall of Canadian copper pennies, lined up and glued on one by one.
We would join the skeleton and plant ourselves at the bar to be able to chat up the aforementioned energetic owner/barkeep. Although there is plenty of seating across more traditional tables, a busy patio, and in front of the lounge space. The latter most was mocked up to look like a living room with tv, speakers, and a couch.
They have plenty of beers on tap, familiar names and breweries. The best way to get a feel for most is by way of a flight. Served in a caddy with chalk written names, each glass has their logo printed on. Order 2 to get all of the options, minus the sours I do not prefer.
Their food menu lists plenty of easy eating, comfort classics given a fresher approach. Like the BBQ chicken with a corn and black bean salsa, pesto chicken flatbread with sundried tomato and a basil pesto, and even a curried lentil bowl with coconut basmati and a cilantro lime crema. We were not in on the right day for the weekend tacos, which becomes ramen during winter. But I found it a great way to inject variety into the menu and to have people coming in all throughout the week/year.
The Santa Fe Mac & Cheese was a twist on the classic with plenty of cheese over tender noodles and a slew of vegetables for added zestiness. Macaroni, beer cheese sauce, corn, black beans, bell peppers, jalapeños, and banana peppers. Topped with guacamole and pico de gallo and served with garlic toast. It was a Tex Mex mac and cheese that at like nachos, where you scooped spoonfuls over the toast. Although I did not find that the slice of ciabatta added anything to the mix. As a whole the pasta was comfortingly gooey. It ate clean with a slight tingle at the back of your throat, a subtle burn from surprise bites of jalapeños.
The Dreaming of Maui flatbread was a nice contrast with its sweetness. Smoked pork belly, pineapple, teriyaki sauce, arugula, pickled onions, and chilli threads. It was an easy to eat handheld, that complimented the beer. Overall fresh, fun, and light; much like the restaurant’s vibe.
Sadly, I do not have the option to frequent this neighbourhood favourite, as I don’t live in Kelowna. But if you do, be sure to check them out and/or stop by if you are traveling through the area. Hospitable and helpful owner meets an easy going setting and tasty food to have with beer.
Flip Flops & Hops
1974 Kane Rd #300, Kelowna, BC V1V 2E5