If you read my roundup of Vancouver sightseeing then you’ll know it is no secret: Vancouver is awesome. But man oh man, check out my suggestions for some of the best food in Vancouver. It is virtually impossible to have a bad meal in this town.
Best Ice Cream in Vancouver
La Casa Gelato claims to be the only ice cream store in the world with 508 flavours. No, that isn’t a misprint. You could spend an afternoon in here just looking for the right taste combination for you, so I figured that’d be a great place to start our foodie tour. The right answer might be to eschew the rest of our best food in Vancouver list and just camp out here, sampling your way to the finish line. With freshly made waffle cones and a near carnival-like atmosphere, that might just be what the doctor ordered.
Best Modern/Contemporary Food in Vancouver
The Cactus Club is defined as ‘casual fine dining.’ In otherwords, the upmarket experience without the stiff corporate atmosphere, and that’s what you’ll get at the Cactus Club, a chain of restaurants owned by a local celebrity chef. The place reminds me of having dinner at a night club, complete with skinny, over-friendly waitstaff. (I’m told by locals this was not a random incident but indeed a regular feature of their marketing campaign.) The bar has a great menu of drinks, from local beers to good value for money cocktails, and my meal was superb. My choice was the steak with sweet potato fries, followed by a apple pie. Sounds kind of boring, but when everything is made with fresh ingredients and served in appropriate portions, what’s not to like?
Best Mexican Food in Vancouver
Don Guacamole was where I was tipped for the best Mexican food in Vancouver, and I left quite pleased. As many of you know, Mexican is one of my personal favourites, so I’m pretty particular. The dining experience in general leaves a lot to be desired: our entrees arrived within minutes, which didn’t give us any time to enjoy either our drinks nor the tasty chips provided with a trio of salsas (pictured). Normally I would worry about such rushed preparations, but my traditional choice of enchiladas were very tasty and I could actually see much of the prep work in the open kitchen, which was clean and spotless. However, do not leave here without having dessert: the churros are the best dessert in
Vancouver the world. Healthy sized portions of batter are deep fried to be moist and crunchy, then rolled in lots of cinnamon and sprinkled with sugar. Heaven: these even surpassed the breakfast churros in Madrid, and I’ll be damn sure to update our list of the world’s best desserts.
Best Dim Sum in Vancouver
One of the best things to do in Hong Kong (and actually one of the best things to do in Melbourne too) is to spend Sunday morning brunch having dim sum. YUM! It’s one of my favourite traditions and one I celebrate whenever I’m somewhere that offers the opportunity. So where is the best dim sum in Vancouver? Well, it’s actually a restaurant hidden away in a Chinatown parking garage (yes, really): Floata. Floata offers the authentic Hong Kong dim sum experience. What does that mean? Well, you get those fun roving carts that have an array of tasty dishes, some more foreign than others. But also means a loud, boisterous environment, rude/pushy staff, and if you want something on a cart that doesn’t come by your table, you have to shout. I love it, but you definitely need to know what you’re getting into. Be sure to look at for the beef noodles with a splash of soy sauce – one of the best platters we chose.
Best Pizza in Vancouver
Vancouver reminded me a lot of New York City with its multitude of pizza parlours on nearly every corner – wherever there isn’t a coffeeshop, basically. They all seemed quite similar, but there was one name that came up time and time again (both on social networks as well as amongst friends): 2001 Flavors. I don’t even think the place says 2001 flavors, and let’s be honest: it’s a terrible name for a pizza joint (hell even La Casa Gelato knew better). This place is at Pender and Seymour, and I’ve just included the window signage for some directional assistance. Cheap, simple, and good: best pizza in Vancouver indeed.
Best Cocktails in Vancouver
Hotel Vancouver is the place to be when it comes to celebrity sightseeing in Vancouver – this Fairmont property is an iconic building and a social hotspot. One of the best experiences you can have is to enjoy cocktails in the lobby bar, 900 West.
Side point: If you find yourself at the airport, the Fairmont at the airport also has a popular cocktail bar/restaurant with one of the city’s favourite bartenders: Jetside Johnny.
Best Crepes in Vancouver
You won’t have a hard time finding crepes in Vancouver – there are several chains selling them across the city. But if you want real crepes prepared by proper Frechmen (yes that’s complete with the overarched accents and grandious but brusque service, by Canadian standards anyway) you simply must go to La Bretagne. I felt transported back to the French countryside: first it was listening to the accents and the recommendations. Then it was the tasty wine that was suggested to pair with my meat-filled crepe. And then the flavours: mon dieu! These guys know what they are doing, and if you can’t go to France, go to La Bretagne for the best crepes in Vancouver.
Best Butter Tart in Vancouver
Butter tarts are a stable of Canadian desserts. It is rumoured the oldest known recipe is from 1915, but they are likely an import from Scotland where a similar tart exists. You will find them everywhere in Canada and in Vancouver, but if your butter tart ENORMOUS, JUICY, AND DELICIOUS (upper case intentional, for emphasis) then you must got to Tartine. It’s a little bakery almost underneath the roadway bridge on beach avenue, near the ferry stops for Granville Island. Naturally, they have lovely-looking breads and an assortment of other treats, including berry-filled tarts, but there is something simple yet satisfying about the BIG (did I mention they are larger than normal?) Tartine butter tart.
Wow. I was worried that Granville Island was going to be one big tourist grab, but I was sorely mistaken – the shops, stalls, and vendors here are popular with locals and for good reason: the food is amazing. Fantastic bakeries, soup shops with steaming bowls of good stuff, pie vendors, and everything in between. My personal favourite was Curry2U who has a butter chicken to die for. Go here hungry, walk around bewildered, and leave satisfied. Tip: If you eat outside, watch out for the seagulls – they are fearless.
Best Coffee in Vancouver
Anyone who has been to the Pacific Northwest knows one thing: the entire place is one big long caffeine jag. I think in Vancouver there is even an intersection with two large Starbucks on opposite corners. So I did my best to try everything (am still buzzing as we speak) and the best coffee I found was the lattes at Cafe Artigiano. They have the most lovely latte art as well, and you must try one of their scones – very moist and tasty.
Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Vancouver
Any sentence that involves the words Vegetarian and Vancouver seems to finish with the worlds The Naam. This Kitsilano restaurant is a local icon and the place to go for Vegetarian. It is cheap and cheerful, open 24 hrs a day, and has great breakfast, great desserts, and good stuff in between. It is easy to see why so many locals love it.
Thanks to JoAnna, Jeannie, Ruth, Ian and Judy for all their tips and suggestions for the best food in Vancouver!