Four Elements of Vancouver
It’s hard to really define what Vancouver’s food culture is about in just a few paragraphs. This is a city that loves its food, so you’ll find Vancouverites getting very excited about everything on their plate, whether that’s seasonal spot prawns, late summer tomatoes, a massive prime cut of steak, or a steaming bowl of ramen noodles. But if you’ve just got two days to taste your way through the city, that’s not very helpful. So we’ve come up with four elements that combine to make Vancouver’s food scene unique.
West Coast Seafood
You are out of your mind if you're going to visit Vancouver without treating your taste buds to mussels, oysters, wild salmon, Dungeness crab, spot prawns or any other form of locally-caught seafood. Vancouver's location puts it in prime position to reap the fruits of the sea, and seafood is very much a part of the city's food culture. You’ll find it in our Asian restaurants and our French bistros; in places with what tablecloths and served up at food trucks.
Vancouverites don’t just care what’s in their meal, they care where the ingredients come from as well. Menus routinely list the farm, fisherperson or artisan cheesemaker or butcher responsible for the components on your plate. And this is definitely not something relegated to crunchy-granola hippy cafes – you’ll find our very best restaurants are as much about their ingredients as they are about their interior décor. Seafood is sustainable (look for the Ocean Wise symbol), meat is nose-to-tail, and vegetables are local.
Good Food for Everyone
Vancouver has its fair share of high-end restaurants that are perfect for a big night out or a celebration. But what the city does best is great food with a more relaxed vibe. You’ll find excellent bites at the food trucks that dot the downtown core, the izakayas that are basically Japan’s version of a pub, at neighbourhood bistros, and at the city’s gastropubs. Come as you are, grab a quick bite with a glass of wine, or hit a number of spots in the same evening. In fact, take another look at that upscale restaurants and you’ll notice that they offer seats at the bar for just this purpose.
In such a diverse city, it’s easy to find many different cultures influencing each restaurant. The Indian restaurant has a wild salmon dish, the Peruvian restaurant also has a Japanese raw bar, and the Belgian bistro incorporates flavours of the Middle East. That’s to be expected in a city like Vancouver where local chefs grow up surrounded by different cultures, then go and apprentice in Europe before heading back home to put their own stamp on the city’s culinary scene.