By: Paula Wallis
Vancouver is a city that satisfies the senses. From the sight of the snow-capped mountains providing a resplendent backdrop to the city, to the sounds of the diverse live music scene, to the cedar, fir and hemlock trees that scent the breeze as you make your way around the seawall encircling Stanley Park, to the feel of the sand between your toes as you dip your feet in the ocean on Sunset Beach. Nowhere are the senses more satisfied, however, than when it comes to pleasing the palate. Vancouver is a Foodie’s delight. Largely owing to its multicultural population, one can find just about any fare to satisfy their craving. Here are just 10 of the endless list of great restaurants to try out in Vancouver, in no particular order, of course.
10. Salmon House on The Hill
This is a favorite of mine when I have visitors from overseas. Located on the hillside in the high priced real estate area of West Vancouver, it’s the perfect place to take them and show off my beautiful city; particularly on a clear, sunny day. With tiered seating, it just isn’t possible to get a bad table in this restaurant, providing every guest with stunning West End sunset views. The food isn’t something you’ll soon forget either. Specializing in our unique brand of West Coast Cuisine, the menu leans heavily on, you guessed it, salmon. If salmon, or even seafood, isn’t your thing however, there are plenty of other choices to keep you happy; such as the Roasted 7 Bone Rack of Lamb, with pomme puree and raspberry mint jus. Or the Grilled ‘Kettle Ridge’ Beef Tenderloin. If you’re lucky enough to see the Salmon Wellington turn up on the ever-changing menu, take advantage! Salmon House on The Hill also boasts an extensive wine list, and your server will be happy to provide pairing suggestions for you.
9. Le Gavroche
An intimate, elegant atmosphere in a refurbished two-story Victorian home in the West End, this French restaurant is the perfect setting for romantic dates, anniversary dinners, or even as a choice locale to pop the question. Rich, heady menu offerings will win over even the most jaded gourmet. With an award winning wine selection, you’ll find any pairing to suit your budget, from the less expensive Okanagan vintages to Vieux Château Certan 1928, which will run you about $5500.00 a bottle (yikes!). Seated by the dining room fireplace, sampling one of the sumptuous items from their seasonal menus, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason to leave Le Gavroche.
8. Granville Island Market
From very very fine dining to very very casual, that doesn’t mean that Granville Island Market won’t satisfy your desire for sensational dining experiences. GI Market, has, quite literally, everything you need to create the perfect meal. Whether it be a plate of fresh, made from scratch perogies topped with a dollop of sour cream and fried onions, a delicious Indian curry with basmati rice, fresh caught seafood, or a hodge podge of items from the market to put together the perfect picnic, GI Market can definitely accommodate. One of my favorite things to do here is to wander through the market, picking out import cheeses, fresh baked artisan breads, sliced deli meats, pickled olives, and various local fruits or veggies and setting up my own little picnic on one of the benches overhanging the waterfront. Granville Island provides the atmosphere and entertainment, very talented street performers and buskers, I just sit and soak it up, along with the sun and the ocean breeze.
7. L’Altro Buca at The Buchan Hotel
Formerly The Parkside Restaurant, the owners decided to tone down the formal a notch at this West End gem, much to the delight of neighborhood regulars, who found they could only afford a night out at The Parkside once in a great while (although it was worth the price!). Now priced much more affordably, L’Altro Buca provides the same attention to detail and impeccable service as before, with a much more Italian slant on menu items. The food isn’t the only draw to this restaurant however; it’s the location and the ambience. And the Italian piazza style patio in the summer. Hidden away in a residential area of the West End; Haro Street near Stanley Park, tucked underneath The Buchan Hotel (an historic boutique hotel that’s worth taking a wander through while you’re there), the walk here is as pleasing to the eye as the food here is to the palate. They do provide valet parking if you’re coming from out of the area, as parking is at a premium in the West End.
6. Afghan Horseman
Back to more casual dining, Afghan Horseman is located on Granville Island, and has been a favorite among locals since their previous location on Broadway Street. Even if the food or service was mediocre, or even sub-standard, which it most certainly isn’t, I would still love this restaurant for the authentic Afghani atmosphere. Request one of the low tables, where you can dine cross-legged on the floor amongst a scattering of patterned silk pillows, casbah style. Similar to Persian, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern fare, Afghan Horseman has plenty of options for those of you who are a little leery of sampling new ethnic fare. Try the horseman platter for two, and get ready to pack a whole lot of that up to go, it’s just too much to eat all in one go. They also have many excellent vegetarian choices on their menu.
5. Café de Paris
Another West End favorite, this French bistro provides an excellent location for people watching on busy Denman Street. Open for lunch and dinner, the menu here is constantly changing and is worth going back to, often. Try the house made pate de campagne or pommes frites (the best in the city) and enjoy the rich wood décor with brass furnishings while you decide on one of their carefully selected wines. Their desserts alone are worth the journey there. A friend of mine used to go there once a month for lunch and then bring one of their house made desserts, boxed up, to me at my place of work down the street. I looked forward to his lunches there with great anticipation!
Departing from the West End, Yaletown’s Lupo (formerly Villa del Lupo) is housed in another refurbished 1800’s era heritage house. Fireside dining, Italian favorites, and a comfortable atmosphere keep Yaletown locals coming back here again and again. Take a wander through the house while you’re here to look at some of the classic architecture, although some walls have been knocked out to provide a more spacious dining experience since dropping the “Villa del” from their name. Lupo is in the perfect location for an intimate dinner with friends, dates, or significant others before the theatre, a concert, or even a hockey game.
3. The Teahouse in Stanley Park
There are not many restaurants in the city that can compete with The Teahouse’s location, or its view, for that matter. Located Cliffside in Vancouver’s picturesque Stanley Park, The Teahouse offers sweeping sunset views of Vancouver’s English Bay. That being said, staff here has a lot to live up to in this location, which they more than do. Consisting of impeccably prepared West Coast Cuisine, a stop here for brunch, lunch or dinner will not disappoint. Their outdoor garden patio is one of the best in the city, and staff here makes fine-diners and coffee drinkers alike feel equally welcome here. Try some samplings from their small plates menu. The AAA Burger is one of the best I’ve had in a long time.
2. Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House
A longtime Vancouver fixture, Joe Fortes has probably the best roof-top garden patio to be found in the city. Located on Thurlow Street just off Vancouver’s shopping Mecca, Robson Street, it’s not unusual to spot a celebrity or two dining on Joe Fortes famous freshly shucked oysters. Reservations are certainly recommended here as this place never seems to have a “down time”; bustling waiters, lively conversations amongst satisfied diners, and men in suits downing a quick martini or two over business lunches all add to the atmosphere here. A must try here is one of Joe Fortes signature dishes the 3-tiered Seafood Tower.
1. La Bodega Restaurante & Tapa Bar
Spanish cuisine and hospitality at its best in downtown Vancouver. Located on Howe Street, the décor, staff, and cuisine here are so authentic you’ll feel like you’re in Spain. Featuring a varied menu of extremely reasonably priced Spanish tapas, it’s the perfect place to host a birthday, staff, or family gathering. With intimate candle-lit corner tables for two, it’s also a great date restaurant, with perfect share plates for you and your sweetheart to enjoy. Family friendly as well, kids will love trying just a little sample from each plate, ordering more plates of what they like if they wish. This charming little bodega soon becomes a favorite for everyone that stops in for a bite; repeat customers are common here.
Well, that’s just a taste, if you’ll pardon the pun, of what visitors to Vancouver have in store for them, gastronomically. It would take years to sample all that Vancouver has on offer for the hungry traveler, and our selection is ever-changing and grows more diverse by the day. I hope you find this list helpful in your search for the perfect dining experience, I know I certainly enjoyed sampling all that these delightful restaurants had to offer!
About the author:
Paula Wallis makes her home in beautiful British Columbia in the Best City in The World, Vancouver. She spends her spare time seeking out the best beaches in the world and is a huge fan of hammocks. Follow her on fanaticnomadic.blogspot.com