Part 3: Food and Drink
Read Part One: The Great Outdoors
Read Part Two: The Urban Delights
Read Part Four: Local's Favourites
Read Part Five: Multicultural Experiences
In celebration of the city’s 125th birthday in 2011, we’re counting the top 125 reasons to love Vancouver — whether you’re a local or visitor. In part three of our five-part series, we’re counting out Vancouver’s most delicious attributes. Here are 25 ways to taste the city’s diverse menus, freshest fare and Vancouver-made adult beverages.
51. Assemble your own picnic at Granville Island Public Market
It can be hard to choose where to eat on Granville Island, since the culinary options are endlessly wide ranging, but undoubtedly, the first stop on the list should be the Grandville Island Public Market. This gastronomic centre touts fresh produce, locally made dishes, handmade pastries and specialty cheeses. Sample a little bit of everything by filling up a picnic basket, and head outdoors to enjoy an alfresco meal overlooking the marina.
52. Eat adventurously with an omakase dinner
It could be the city’s cultural diversity or its abundance of seafood, but Japanese eateries are prevalent throughout Vancouver, from upscale sushi restaurants to small-plate izakayas. Taste the best these restaurants have to offer by ordering omakase: an innovative, multicourse meal that allows the chef to create a series of dishes using the freshest ingredients available that day.
53. Attend a food or wine festival
Vancouver has an impressive lineup of annual events, and several of them have foodies marking their calendars with anticipation. Attend seminars and wine tastings at the weeklong International Wine Festival, try affordable prix-fixe menus during Dine Out Vancouver or sample dishes from local restaurants at the EAT! Vancouver food festival in June.
54. Drink a pint of beer made by Yaletown Brewing Company
From maple cream ale to honey lager, Vancouver microbreweries are serving up unique flavours and styles that are sure to please even the most discerning beer lover. Don’t miss Cask Night every Thursday at Yaletown Brewing Company, when the in-house brewer will tap a special cask on the bar for suds-savvy patrons.
55. Choose from more than 200 flavours of gelato at La Casa Gelato
If Willy Wonka had an ice cream shop, this would be it. Step into this wonderland of frozen treats, where a rainbow of colourful sorbettos, gelatos and yogurts will boggle your mind. Opt for a traditional flavour, or dare yourself (or a friend) to try something adventurous, such as the earthy wild chanterelle mushroom or tropical pineapple poppy seed gelato.
56. Dine at a historic restaurant
Although contemporary restaurants are great for trying trendy ingredients, sometimes it’s nice to revel in a little nostalgia and local heritage. Pull up a chair at Vancouver institutions like the fast-food restaurant White Spot, which first opened shop in 1928, or Il Giardino, which was one of the first restaurants to serve authentic Italian cuisine in the city. Get some more ideas for classic Vancouver dining on our blog.
57. Sip a rich icewine at Lulu Island Winery
With its long summer days and cool autumns, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is ideal for late-harvesting grapes that result in the world-renowned icewine that is produced throughout the region. This sweet, viscous wine touts honey and fruit flavours and can be paired with dessert or enjoyed on its own. Make the 30-minute drive down to Richmond, where Lulu Island Winery offers two kinds of icewine.
58. Tip back freshly shucked B.C. oysters
Looking for an unadulterated dose of the freshest seafood possible? It doesn’t get more straightforward than shooting down a raw oyster, delivered directly from the cold Pacific waters to your table. Dab on a little horseradish and lemon juice for a touch of flavour, or just go for it without accoutrements to taste the mild brininess of these fleshy bivalves. For B.C.’s best, try creamy Chef’s Creek oysters, delicate Kusshi oysters or the widely coveted, buttery Kumamoto oysters.
59. Enjoy dinner and panoramic views of the city at Cloud 9
Securing a table with a view at many restaurants can be tricky, but at Cloud 9, it comes the reservation. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that diners can enjoy the perfect vantage point atop the Empire Landmark Hotel — not to mention that the entire restaurant revolves to give guests a 360-degree perspective of the city, mountains and waterways.
60. Start the day with brunch at Café Pacifica
You’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a lazy Sunday morning than at Café Pacifica’s Sunday Market Brunch. Located in the waterfront Pan Pacific Hotel, this sunny restaurant features a spread of fresh seafood, ripe fruits, carved roasts, authentic dim sum and rich desserts. Fill up your plate while enjoying live music and views of Vancouver’s bustling harbour.
61. Take time out for high tea
From exotic teashops in Chinatown to lavish teahouses downtown, Vancouver is rife with places to enjoy a dainty cup of steeped leaves. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon tea session, complete with delicate pastries, petit sandwiches and fresh fruits at upscale places like The Fairmont Hotel and Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge.
62. Order a meal on the go from a street food cart
While the idea of food carts may conjure up mental images of cheap hot dogs and stale pretzels, Vancouver’s street-food scene is of an entirely different calibre. A fleet of trucks and carts offer everything from Korean-style tacos to Southern barbecue to freshly caught seafood. See the full lineup of food carts and get ready for a mobile meal that actually satisfies.
63. Imbibe an innovative cocktail at West Restaurant + Bar
If you’re looking to drink some of Vancouver’s best cocktails, it’s just common sense to start with one of Vancouver’s best bartenders. Make a visit to the upscale West Restaurant + Bar, where award-winning mixologist David Wolowidnyk serves an array of carefully crafted classic cocktails alongside creative concoctions of his own.
64. Go on a walking food tour
With its density of notable destinations and readily available public transit, Vancouver is a pedestrian-friendly city that’s perfect for exploring on foot. Sign up for a walking tour with Edible British Columbia to experience a number of culinary features, like the half-day Chinatown tour or the guided trip through Granville Island. It’s a great way to taste some of Vancouver’s best dishes — and get a little exercise at the same time.
65. Buy locally made produce and foods at a farmers’ market
During the warm weather months, Vancouver transforms into a city of open-air markets where local farmers, bakers, fishermen and crafters present their goods to shoppers. Stock up on handmade sausages, artisanal cheeses, flavoured honeys and much more at these bustling farmers markets.
66. See the river of chocolate at Charlie’s Chocolate Factory
Boutique chocolatiers have popped up all over the city, but few sweet shops can compare to this factory and candy shop, where visitors can see a flowing river of real chocolate. While you’re there, purchase a computer, cell phone, car or bouquet of flowers — all made out of chocolate, naturally. These tasty treats make for delightful gifts and souvenirs.
67. Enroll in a cooking class
Foodies looking to take a more hands-on approach to Vancouver’s culinary scene should sign up at a nearby cooking school to learn new kitchen tricks, as well as to try unusual ingredients. Dive into an intensive class at The Dirty Apron Cooking School, which teaches students knife skills and butchering basics, as well as how to prepare regional dishes. For a more leisurely cooking class, head to Quince, a cafe and cooking school, where many of the classes also include wine or sake tastings.
68. Venture to Punjabi Market for authentic Indian specialties
You only need to travel to Main and East 49th for an authentic Indian meal. Here, Vancouver’s Indo-Canadian population is concentrated within a five-block area known as Punjabi Market. Buy exotic spices and ingredients at a nearby grocery store or wander into a small eatery for Indian staples like pakoras and tandoor.
69. Linger at a coffee shop with a good book and a foamy cappuccino
For caffeine hounds, there are few things as inviting as the aroma of freshly ground coffee bean and the unmistakable sound of an espresso machine first thing in the morning. Peruse the daily newspaper or bring a novel to one of Vancouver’s many coffee shops, such as Italian coffee house Caffeè Artigiano, where baristas masterfully create coffee art atop each latte and cappuccino.
70. Splurge at an upscale restaurant on Burrard Street
If you’re looking for a lavish dining experience with premium ingredients, handcrafted cocktails and an opulent atmosphere, Vancouver has no shortage of restaurants worth the splurge. To experience some of Vancouver’s most expensive meals, head to Burrard Street, a main thoroughfare in the Financial District, where you’ll find elegant French restaurant Le Crocodile and legendary Italian eatery Don Francesco Ristorante.
71. Chow down on a Japa Dog
We thought we had heard it all when it came to hot-dog toppings, but clearly, we were mistaken. This multicultural hot dog stand touts kurobuta pork and Kobe beef hot dogs topped with Asian ingredients like bonito flakes, okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed and grated daikon radish. If only they served sake bombs, too.
72. Enjoy alfresco dining on the veranda of Stanley’s Park Bar & Grill
Sit on the 200-person veranda of this rustic, seasonal restaurant in Stanley Park, where surrounding rose gardens, forests and mountains provide a serene atmosphere for outdoor dining. Try local favourites like the wild salmon burger and Montreal poutine, and make sure to pair them with a Vancouver-brewed beer like the Granville Island Lager.
73. Drive through wine country for vineyard tours and wine tastings
Although British Columbia is known for its sweet, dessert-like icewine, a number of grape varietals grow throughout the region, including chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot noir. A few notable wineries are near Vancouver, but most of the vineyards are located about five hours east in the Okanagan Valley. Take a day trip — or even better, plan an overnight getaway so you can tour and taste wines from several vineyards.
74. Satisfy your sweet tooth with maple syrup treats at Canadian Maple Delights
Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or just want to satisfy a craving, head over to this gourmet bistro and shop for a broad spectrum of interesting maple products. Choose from condiments such as maple mustard and organic maple butter to irresistible treats like maple gelato and hard candies.
75. Try dim sum in Chinatown
For an authentic cultural dining experience, meander over to Vancouver’s extensive Chinatown district, where you can indulge in this traditional Chinese feast. Dim sum consists of a series of intricate, handmade dumplings that are steamed and served in small bamboo baskets. Try the sui mai, a flavourful pork dumpling, or har gau, shrimp dumplings that are easily recognized by their carefully folded pleats.