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Best Restaurants in Vancouver

by Pam Williams

The Night Life

Vancouver's current restaurant scene is vital and dynamic. There may be new kids on the block not on this list but sometimes those come and go so quickly it is hard to keep track. I've stuck to the few that deliver good food and service - time and time again. I also tried to highlight restaurants in neighborhoods where the walking before or after dinner is interesting.

 

Downtown including Yaletown and Gastown

 

Bacchus
845 Hornby St
Vancouver
(604) 689-7777

Located in the Wedgewood Hotel, the European inspired space is home to not only a well-respected restaurant but also a great piano bar and lounge. Lunch is always crowded with business folk who have time to linger.

 

Bin 941 Tapas Parlour
941 Davie Street
Vancouver
(604) 683-1246
A tapas bar with a selection of good wines by the glass.   A small unique restaurant featuring extended hours for the late night crowd.

 

Black + Blue

1032 Alberni St.

Vancouver

(604) 637 0777

If you are a steak lover then take yourself to this massive dining room built around a custom-built meat locker to enjoy in-house aged rare cuts of beef and tableside Caesar salads. Part of the Glowbal Group stable of fine restaurants it was also one of the restaurants featured on the finale of Top Chef Texas.

 

Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton Street
(604) 688-8078
Executive Chef Frank Pabst offers an abundance of beautifully prepared seafood and fish as part of a contemporary menu that has brought the crowds out. The raw bar serves sushi and sashimi, fresh shucked oysters.

 

"C" a contemporary fish restaurant
1 - 1600 Howe Street
(604) 681-1164
This wonderful waterfront space overlooking the False Creek inlet and across from Granville Island offers one of the most unique dining experiences in the city featuring the seafood creations of award winning Executive Chef Lee Humphries.  Owner Harry Kambolis insists in sourcing the finest quality fresh seafood available in British Columbia.   Together they have produced one of Vancouver's exceptional dining experiences.

 

Chambar

562 Beatty Street

Vancouver

(604) 879 7119

With 2011 Vancouver Chef of the Year, Nico Schuermans, at the helm you are in for a treat. The food has a North African influence you cannot go wrong trying the moules Congolaise with tomato coconut cream or their lamb Tajine.  Also check out next door Café Medina (556 Beatty) for one of Chef Nico’s award winning breakfasts.

 

 

Cin Cin Woodgrill & Rotisserie
1154 Robson
Vancouver
(604) 688-7338
The focal point of this restaurant's open kitchen is its wood burning oven and grill. You can't go wrong with a pizza hot out of the oven. The kitchen incorporates a combination of French and Mediterranean flavors in his pastas and risottos.   Look around, this seems to be a mecca for the Hollywood stars in town. This restaurant located on Robson Street, Vancouver’s premiere shopping area, has a warm and bustling atmosphere.

 

Coast

1054 Alberni Street  Vancouver

(604) 685 5010

Where fresh British Columbia seafood dazzles!.  The freshest fish, succulent shellfish and the most colossal seafood towers are here, with the rarest, perfectly prepared oysters nestled in beds of ice or try their original crab cakes with fennel salad.  Another of the Glowbal Group of Restaurants and also featured on the finale of Top Chef Texas.od –fresh oysters nestled in beds of ice, waiting for you. This

 

Diva at the Met
645 Howe Street

Vancouver

(604) 602-7788
West Coast ingredients with hints of the Mediterranean, Asia and France.  Excellent food and service coupled with a wine list featuring B.C. wines.

 

Don Francesco
860 Burrard Street
(604) 685-7770
Using the finest and freshest ingredients, the Chef crafts signature Sicilian family dishes. Their seafood selections are what the West Coast is famous for in this well appointed location.  Features include Caesar salads, slow roasted duck and classic risottos.

 

Five Sails, Pan Pacific Hotel
300-999 Canada Place
Vancouver
(604) 662-8111
Quiet, very elegant dining with a view of the Harbour and the mountains that is unrivaled. When you feel like splurging, this is the restaurant.

 

Glowbal Grill and Satay Bar
1079 Mainland Street
Vancouver
(604) 602-0835
This upscale Yaletown restaurant features a menu that is eclectic and tasty and a bit unexpected; perfect for sharing in a tasteful setting featuring designer décor definitely something to experience.  The wine list complements the upscale menu. 

 

Hawksworth Restaurant

801 Georgia Street

Vancouver

(604) 673 7000

Native Vancouverite Chef David Hawksworth’s new restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia has been a big success. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving showcases ingredient led, contemporary cuisine which highlights regional foods.  Check out the Pearl Room, a 4,000-plus bottle wine room or when you reserve ask for Table No. 30 or 31 in the glass cellar.

 

Le Crocodile
100-909 Burrard
Vancouver
(604) 669-4298
Owner/Chef Michel Jacob presides over this upscale bistro where he continues to create Vancouver's best Alsatian onion tarte as well as many other Alsace inspired dishes in this elegant restaurant.  Dress up a little and revel in impeccable service and exquisite cuisine.

 

Market by Jean-Georges Restaurant
1115 Alberni St
Vancouver
(604) 695-1115
The tallest building in Vancouver - 61 stories high - is home to Celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten first foray into Canada. A modern setting showcases regional food in a bistro, outdoor terrace, a fine dining room and the "musical chair" bar.

 

Raincity Grill
1193 Denman
Vancouver
(604) 685-7337
With an emphasis on local ingredients and BC wines, this casual restaurant on English Bay is a must, especially in the summer when Denman Street is alive with folks roaming to and from the beach. Walk, don't take a car as parking is hard to come by. Try the grilled Caesar salad. It's a dish indicative of the innovative use and clear understanding of fine quality ingredients.

 

Lupo
869 Hamilton Street
Vancouver
(604) 688-7436
A small Victorian house is home to one of Vancouver's most intimate and modern Italian restaurants in a relaxed atmosphere. Indicative of the menu are dishes such as: pappardelle with slow cooked rabbit, sage and fontina or lamb shank osso buco with tomato, cinnamon and red wine. Take your appetite with you and enjoy.

 

 

Close to Downtown
Featuring Some of Vancouver’s award winning restaurants

 

Bishops
2183 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver
(604) 738-2025
John Bishop has created an oasis of elegant west coast dining in his tiny restaurant on Vancouver's busy 4th Avenue. To quote an admirer "It is simply the keynote restaurant for those who want impeccability." The menu evolves with the seasons. Each dish is a symphony of the finest quality, fresh ingredients prepared with care and attention to detail including a menu consisting of 100 per cent organic ingredients. The service is intimate and professional without being stuffy or intrusive.

 

Bistro Pastis
2153 W. 4th Ave
Vancouver
604-731-5020
French bistro food at this small space just over the Burrard Street bridge in the middle of the 4th Avenue shopping district. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm after a long day at the shops.

 

 

Gramercy Grill
2685 Arbutus Street
Vancouver
(604) 730-5666
A fixture in the west side dining scene, the room features a horseshoe bar with a curved wall separating the comfortable dining room.  The menu features local mussels & frites and seared duck breast medallion.  Also featured is an abundance of martinis together with a diverse selection of wines.

 

Sophie's Cosmic Cafe
2095 West Fourth Avenue
(604) 732-6810
The first thing you'll notice as you enter this small cafe is something from your past attached to the walls. This is the 50's and 60's basement run amuck. Everything is familiar on the menu -- burgers, pastas without fancy names, a couple of Mexican dishes you grew up with and the best chocolate shake in town. Expect a long wait if you are looking for breakfast, as it has become an institution for the old fashioned big breakfast.

 

Vij's Restaurant
1480 West 11th Avenue
(604) 736-6664
This small restaurant serves fabulous Punjab style cuisine. The owner, Vikram Vij, paid his dues in the best dining rooms of Vancouver and it shows, both in the quality of the food and the friendly but professional service. The curries are fragrant with spices; the basmati rice and the featured garam marsala portobello mushroom are all cooked to perfection.

 

Tojo's
1133 Broadway West
Vancouver
(604) 872-8051
Hidekazu Tojo, owner and master sushi chef, is not only a character but also a true master of a very difficult and demanding cuisine. The Japanese cuisine he presents has been considered the best in the northwest ever since he opened his elegant restaurant.  Be brave, agree on a price and let Tojo decide on the menu.  You will be a very happy and satisfied guest.

 

Fable

1944 West 4th Av e.

Vancouver

(604) 732 1322

Chef Trevor Bird, fresh from his second place finish on Top Chef Canada (Season 2) opened Fable, from farm to table, sourcing local product and delivering great flavors in a fun and non-pretentious setting.  Open for lunch (Mon-Fri) dinner (closed Sunday) and brunch (Sat & Sun).

 

Q4 Ristorante by Quattro
2563 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver
(604) 734-4444
Antonio Corsi and family bring 40 years of restaurant experience to the table and have come up with a winner. The menu provides an array of imaginative dishes including innovative pastas and cannelloni as well as outstanding antipasto.  If you and your friends want to share the experience the chef will prepare an Italian feast, with which you can enjoy a selection from their extensive wine cellar. 

 

West
2881 Granville Street
(604) 738-8938
Executive Chef Quang Dang brings contemporary regional cuisine to this South Granville location. Focusing on fresh local ingredients presented in a relaxing atmosphere this restaurant deserves a star billing. 

 

 

Ice Cream, Etc.
Here are my favorite places to get something cool and refreshing in Vancouver. These are also cafes and shops that are worth the trip for other goodies as well.

 

Venezia Ice Cream
5752 Victoria Drive
(604) 327-8614
Vancouver has a vibrant Italian community and nowhere is that more evident than at this manufacturer and retailer of Italy inspired ice creams, gelatos and sherbets. Summer favorites include Lemon sherbets, Mango and Hazelnut ice creams.

 

Gelarmony
1094 Denman Street
(604) 647-6638
1222 Robson Street
(604) 694-0108
Expect to feel that you are back in Italy. A great selection of classic as well as unusual gelato and granita in a very upscale setting.

 

Bella Gelateria

101 West Cordova Street

(604) 569 0101

Make everything from scratch using the finest ingredients locally or from around the world, manually combining ingredients daily in small batches.  First in North America to use classical Italian equipment for the making and storing of gelato, just like the best do in Italy.

 

Sophies Cosmic Cafe
2095 West Fourth Avenue
(604) 732-6810
You have to see it to believe all the treasures on display. Straightforward food with cool treats on the dinner menu. Enjoy Deluxe Cosmic Sundays in such flavours as fruit & orange liqueur or cream cafe & chocolate with whipped cream. Then dig in to the Cosmic Banana Split with liqueur, an adult take on a childhood favorite.

 

Rain or Shine Homemade Ice Cream

102–1926 West 4th Ave

(604) 428-7246

New kid on the ice cream block - making their ice cream in house using fresh, natural and sustainable whole ingredients sourced locally, seasonally, and organically whenever possible.

 

possible

Chocolate
Chocolate lovers agree -- Vancouver boasts some of the most innovative and luscious chocolate activity on the west coast. Here is a sampling of my favorites.

 

Thomas Haas
2539 West Broadway Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6K 2E9
Unit 128, 998 Harbourside Drive
North Vancouver, BC
604-924-1847

 

CocoaWest
Artisan Square
Bowen Island, BC
604-947-2996

 

Chocolate Arts
1620 West 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC
604-739-0475

 

ChocolaTas
Granville Island Market

(1689 Johnston Street)
Vancouver, BC
604-504-5957

 

Mink Chocolates Inc.
863 West Hastings Street
Vancouver BC
604-633-2451

 

Thierry Chocolates

1059 Alberni Street

Vancouver BC

604-608 6870

 

DC Duby
Available at Edible Canada
Granville Island Market

 

 

Chinese Restaurants
A trip to Vancouver wouldn't be complete without taking advantage of the wonderful cuisine of our burgeoning Chinese population. These are probably the best restaurants. Expect the decor to be typically lowbrow and the tables to be full. Order whatever you usually order or let the waiter lead you to special items.

 

Kirin Seafood Restaurant
20-555 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver
(604) 879-8038
In a city with the second largest Chinatown on the West Coast, you expect fine Chinese restaurants and Kirin doesn't disappoint. Cantonese cuisine with an emphasis on seafood is presented in beautiful surroundings with elegant service.

 

Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant
3888 Main Street
(604) 872-8822
Regularly named the best Chinese restaurant serving such succulent dishes as roast squab and black cod cooked in a soy sauce.  The dim sum is also excellent.

 

Imperial Seafood Chinese Restaurant
355 Burrard Street
(604)688-8191
Located downtown in a historic building adjacent to the Vancouver waterfront this restaurant offers classic Cantonese dishes.  Truly an elegant restaurant.

 

Victoria Chinese Restaurant
1055 West Georgia
(604)669-8383
The dim sum is truly an adventure with items not offered in the usual Chinese restaurants.  The Har gow has the traditional shrimp filling as well as such unique offerings as fishball and watercress as well as ginseng soup.  The evening selections are the traditional Chinese cuisine.


Day Tripping

 

Granville Island is always a good place to start. The market opens at 9:00 am and that's when the locals do their shopping, as it gets to be a "zoo" starting around noon and parking is a problem. My suggestion is to browse the market with a cappuccino or latte (yes -- Vancouver has become a coffee-obsessed city like Seattle) while buying a picnic lunch. Right outside the Market is the False Creek Ferry dock. These little passenger ferries connect the north and south shore of False Creek for fares from $2.00 to $5.00 depending on your destination. Take your picnic basket and board a ferry for the 10 - 15 minute trip to Vanier Park/Maritime Museum's dock. You get a beautiful view of the city from the ferry ride and you can picnic while watching the boats parade by or the kite flyers do their thing.

 

Bowen Island is a day trip that gives you a chance to get out on the ocean for a short ferry ride. Take the Horseshoe Bay bus from downtown Vancouver or if you have a car, take Highway 1 to Horseshoe Bay. Park in one of the public parking lots and then board the ferry for Bowen Island. The ferry trip takes about 20 minutes and leaves about every hour except for a lunch break between the 12:00 pm sailing and the 2:30 pm sailing. If your timing is off and you have a while to wait, Horseshoe Bay is a resort town with restaurants and shops overlooking the harbour and a great First Nations shop called the Spirit Gallery. When you arrive in Snug Cove on Bowen Island you will notice that the "town" is only about 2 blocks long, don't despair, there are a couple of pubs. Order a pint of Bowen Island Ale and sit back on the deck and enjoy. If you are into walking, there are trails out of Snug Cove. If you like to hike or have brought your car, check out Artisan Square - a complex of shops and galleries at the top of the hill above town. Also in Artisan Square don't miss the luxury chocolate shop Cocoa West. For more on Bowen Island - check out their Chamber of Commerce website.

 

Whistler, BC is only a couple of hours away. I usually try to take first time visitors up there, as it is a spectacular drive and destination. Leave Vancouver after 9:00 am to miss the rush hour traffic. Plan two to three hours for the trip to Whistler Village, as you will probably stop along the way to gawk at the scenery. Chateau Whistler Hotel is a great place for a nice lunch. In the Village itself there are lots of restaurants to choose from.

More than a Day Trip - but definitely worth it!!

 

Victoria, BC can be a day trip but a very long one. Try to get the earliest ferry possible as they fill up very fast. Don't even attempt the journey on Friday afternoon or Sunday afternoon as all us locals are on our way out of town as well. In order to travel and leave time to explore Victoria, be ready for an all day adventure. It takes about four hours from the time you leave Vancouver and arrive in Victoria. When I travel on business for just the day, I take the bus. At least then I can work, relax or nap going and coming. I always recommend that the first time visitor to Victoria have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel (604) 389-2727 served in the traditional way with petite sandwiches and pastries including Devon cream for your scones. If for no other reason than telling everyone back home that you did it (they'll all expect you to anyway).

No information on Vancouver Island would be complete without boasting a little about two small luxury Hotels on the Island have numerous allocades and continuously wine awards, such as Travel and Leisure Worlds Best Awards.

Sooke Harbour House is a wonderful inn and restaurant outside of Victoria is a mecca for serious travelers and diners from around the world. If you can handle adding another couple of hours to your trip go for an early dinner (breakfast and lunch are available only for the Inn's guests). They start serving dinner at 5:30. Reservations are a must and should be made well in advance of your trip. The owners, Fredrica and Sinclair Philip, have created a truly unique and beautiful establishment.

In the middle of the rugged West coast of Vancouver Island is The Wickaninnish Inn and Pointe Restaurant. The Inn has received some of the world’s most prestigious designations and awards by distinguished hospitality rating organizations.

 

 




Pam Williams
is founder and lead instructor of Ecole Chocolat Professional Chocolatier School of Chocolate Arts.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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