Nestled amongst soaring mountains and still ocean water, it’s hard not to love Vancouver. Thanks to its deep multicultural roots, the thriving, west coast city attracts residents and visitors from around the world, who, quickly upon arrival, will discover a culinary scene unlike no other. Vancouver is home to some of the top restaurants in the country, and it’s easy to see why. Vancouver’s restaurant-scene prides itself on highlighting fresh, seasonal local ingredients, ethically harvested meats, and sustainable seafood — spoiling Vancouverites and visitors alike when it comes to dining options. Whether you live in Vancouver or you’re planning on visiting someday soon, you can start your culinary journey by checking out our top picks for where to eat in Vancouver.
This cozy, little joint at the corner of Alexander and Gore whips up Italian-inspired dishes with a focus on fresh, in-house made pasta. What we love is the menu is concise and to the point, with only a handful of antipasti, handmade pastas, and desserts to choose from. While family-style sharing is encouraged, we recommend starting with the meatballs and fried cauliflower and chickpeas, followed by the pappardelle wild boar ragout and rigatoni alla bolognese. For dessert? The chocolate budino is always a great choice.
Located in Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, Botanist has been the place to see and be seen since opening in 2017. Not only is the restaurant easy on the eyes, but it also has stellar wine, cocktail, and food items to boot. The menu items from chef Hector Laguna (formerly of Hawksworth), are inspired by the Pacific Northwest and are made with locally sourced ingredients. From the charred king salmon to the dry-aged duck breast, the options are inventive and the kind of offerings that would make any foodie weak in the knees.
Commercial Drive is home to The Downlow Chicken Shack, which serves mean fried chicken sandwiches that are arguably the best in the city. Each menu item is made fresh to order and you can choose by-the-piece, sandwiches, or combo plates as well as your heat level. Since opening, the Downlow has quickly become a staple in the city’s foodie scene, and for good reason. The menu options are plentiful, with sides like sweet and sour slaw, bread and butter pickles, and signature bacon baked beans, while the mouthwatering sandwiches feature properly prepared Nashville-style ‘hot chicken’.
Savio Volpe takes a modern approach to traditional Italian osteria dining in a warm and welcoming setting. Every menu item is prepared in the simplest yet most flavourful way, with pasta made handmade fresh every day, while the meat, poultry, and seafood are cooked on the wood fire grill and rotisserie. The rustic cuisine is served family-style and is complemented by the Italian wine and old-world coffee selections.
The Acorn is a small, quaint joint in the heart of South Main, or SOMA, that serves unique vegan food that even the most dedicated meat-eaters will enjoy. Here you’ll find dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients that can be paired with creative and well-balanced cocktails or a nice glass of wine. The best part is the vibe is relaxed, the servers are friendly, and the food is damn good. What more could you want?
No trip to Vancouver is complete without paying the famed Granville Island Public Market a visit. Sure, it’s touristy and will likely be crowded, but it’s definitely worth a trip — especially when you’re hungry. The market is home to more than 50 independent food purveyors and contributes to the Island’s appeal as a renowned culinary destination. Hungry patrons can pursue the aisles and discover local delights like delicious mortadella and salami from Oyama Sausage Co., Salt Spring Island cheeses from Benton Brothers, and delectable fresh doughnuts from Lee’s.
With mesmerizing views of Coal Harbour and the North Shore mountains, Miku serves mouth-watering, Aburi-style, flame-seared sushi. While you can’t go wrong with the salmon aburi, we recommend treating yourself to the beautifully presented kaiseki tasting selection, which is executed brilliantly. Miku’s chefs have created two special menus featuring its signature Aburi-style cuisine, served on beautiful handmade Arita plate ware from Kyushu, Japan. No dinner at Miku is complete without the green tea opera cake, which combines green tea génoise, matcha buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, azuki bean cream, hazelnut wafer, and matcha ice cream. It’s a dream.
Tucked away in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, you’ll find Bao Bei, a Chinese brasserie that serves tasty small plates that are meant to be shared. With a menu boasting Taiwan and Shanghai influences, as well as other global flavours, this eatery takes a more modern approach to Chinese cooking and the results are nothing short of incredible. We recommend ordering the crispy tofu with garlic sweet soy and freshwater chestnut to start, followed by either the beef tartare with burnt scallion oil and taro chips or the Shao Bing, an Asian sandwich with cumin-flavoured lamb sirloin on sesame flatbread. Conclude your meal with the fried bananas and ice cream, you won’t be disappointed.
Hidden from the hustle of the city in a faded building in Chinatown, Kissa Tanto serves Japanese-Italian fusion in full force. As soon as you step inside, you’ll feel like you’re in an intimate jazz club with all the pink leather booths and vintage light fixtures. While the menu is small, it boasts bold flavours that will have you coming back for more. Dishes range from fresh, made in-house pasta, like seafood spaghettini and udon carbonara, to the show-stopping whole fried fish served daikon soy dipping sauce.