As Tan Vinh of the Seattle Times said, “This is Vancouver, where the culinary bar is raised higher and the restaurants are more trendsetting than anywhere in the United States.”
So forget New York. Forget San Francisco and Austin. Vancouver is the new North American foodie capital.
The sheer variety of food options constantly popping up in Vancouver is staggering by itself, but on top of that, the food is good. We mean, really good. The city has been blessed by an explosion in the foodie scene, which has burgeoned in no small part thanks to its open-armed multiculturalism. From Japanese-inspired seafood to Mexican-style tacos, the quality of dining here has never been higher. And given such a glut of fresh, local produce to choose from and a healthy obsession for the celebrity chef, it’s no surprise.
So when it comes to choosing a dining spot, you really can’t go wrong. But to find your perfect fit, you need to understand Vancouver’s neighbourhoods, as each has as its own distinct flavour. Gastown has long been the mecca of the up-and-coming, of the gastro pub. Yaletown is the haunt for brunch – for dark maple syrup and black coffee. Food trucks scattered across the city offer new flavours and experiences to the intrepid.
Whatever your goal, we’ll help you along your foodie pilgrimage to reach it. These are our top places for dining in Vancouver to get you started on your journey:
Best for local
From fresh oysters to wild salmon, grass-reared steak to homegrown wines, Canada has some incredible local produce. Vancouver’s perch on the Pacific means it benefits from the wines of the nearby Okanagan Valley as well as the fresh seafood from the coast. Some of the best dining options in the city make the most of this farm-to-table approach.
Granville Island – For a real introduction to some of the finest food producers in the region, take a guided foodie tour of the Granville Island market. From cheese to charcuterie to chowder, some of the city’s best eats can be found inside.
Best for the views
It’s not just London’s Shard which boasts some fantastic views with your dinner. Vancouver is blessed by its dual vista of ocean and mountains, meaning you can get a fantastic view from multiple spots around the city. The Waterfront offers the glamour of cruise ships and floatplanes, while the North Shore lets you look back towards the city skyscrapers.
Grouse Mountain Observatory Restaurant – An impressive 3,700 feet up at the end of a gondola ride, the Observatory Restaurant on Grouse Mountain has unrivalled views. Not only can you see downtown Vancouver lit up, but the views extend towards the Burrard Inlet and Gulf Islands. With mains including salmon and tenderloin, there is a delicacy to suit every fancy.
Best for a splurge
If you fancy an indulgent meal out at a top-notch restaurant, there are plenty to choose from in Vancouver. Bauhaus is an uber-modern restaurant in Gastown offering European fine dining. Miku is a favourite high-end Japanese restaurant on Granville Street. Don’t forget to try your hotel as it could be hiding one of the best, like the excellent Café Pacifica at the Pan Pacific above.
Hawksworth at Rosewood Hotel Georgia – This stunningly elegant hotel houses what is frequently touted as the best restaurant in Vancouver. The menu celebrates Canada’s diversity while creatively using the best of the Pacific Northwest’s produce and flavours. From ribeye to lobster to steelhead trout, the stars of each dish are all local.
Best for a snip
Not every eatery in Vancouver has an impressive price tag to match its impressive fare. Food trucks offer some cutting-edge dishes at a fraction of the price of top restaurants. Tacofino makes fun and innovative food in its trucks in Vancouver and Tofino, while markets are another great spot to grab a bargain lunch.
The Naam – For a whole new neighbourhood, head over the Burrard Bridge to beachside Kitsilano. Here a hippy vibe meets urban professionals, creating a chilled-out neighbourhood with plenty of cafes and bars. The Naam is one of the city’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, offering tasty and eclectic fare for a knock-down price.
Best for brunch
Brunch and shopping go hand in hand, making Vancouver the perfect place to enjoy the day’s most indulgent meal. Hotel restaurants are another great source of brunch spots – Yew at the Four Seasons is great for pancakes (gluten-free). Café Medina is a favourite for eggs and lavender lattes. If you venture out of downtown, you’ll find Gastown has some of the most interesting brunch options.
Ask for Luigi – Awarded Best Casual Restaurant in the 2016 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. The golden eggs, fluffy homemade bread and expert coffee are spot on in this intimate Italian. For brunch with a twist, try the pappardelle alla bolognese with a fried egg.