Where to Eat in Vancouver

by Karen Kwan

On a recent trip to Vancouver, I discovered a food scene that rivals my hometown of Toronto (and many locals argued that it surpasses T.O.’s). I don’t think I managed to eat my way through the city sufficiently enough to make that call, but I did discover several gems.

Where to go: West

When to go: On date with your foodie boyfriend

What to expect: Fine dining from this renowned Vancouver mainstay. Order executive chef Quang Dang’s tasting menus—which are inspired by B.C.’s organic and specialty suppliers—and plan for at least a couple of hours for dinner. Have the BF order the land tasting menu while you order the sea testing menu (or vice versa, and throw in the wine pairings, of course) and have fun sampling each other’s dishes. The crispy veal sweetbreads served with torn egg yolk pasta is not to be missed (even if the idea of sweetbreads isn’t your thing, try it; you may find the dish so delectable, it will overcome any squeamishness you have), and be prepared to fight over who gets to have more of the line-caught lingcod.

Where to go: Wildebeest

When to go: After work for cocktails or a late dinner

What to expect: A varied menu of artisanal cocktails that’ll make you want to up your bartending game so you can replicate the depth of flavours at home (but I personally advise leaving the work to the experts at Wildebeest). As for the food, the kitchen stays open late (‘til 10:30 or 11:00) and serves up stunning plates meant for sharing. The meat-heavy menu includes many winners, but I suggest the slow-cooked Angus beef short rib and a side of the feature veggie as two of your orders—the short rib is tender and juicy and the stuff of carnivorous dreams.

Where to go: Market by Jeans-Georges

When to go: For a breakfast meeting

What to expect: The elegant and airy restaurant provides just the right amount of space and volume level you need to discuss business over delicious plates of food. Before getting down to work matters, you will have a big decision to make: whether to go sweet or savoury. Either way you choose, you won’t lose. The waffles with macerated berries and the Dungeness crab benedict will both make your belly very happy.

Where to go: Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

When to go: After a spa treatment

What to expect: It would be silly to go all the way to the spa and not have a spa treatment. Book your appointment so that it finishes around lunch or dinnertime, and order you meal before you go into your treatment. Your meal will be waiting you in the lounge or on the terrace so your blissed-out self (dressed in a robe) can nibble on a bento box of fresh sushi or sip on a fruit smoothie.

Where to go: Medina Cafe

When to go: At brunch time

What to expect: This popular joint gets busy even on weekdays, so anticipate having to wait for a table. But I promise you the wait is worth it. Start with a lavender latte and then select from the unique brunch dishes, many with a Middle Eastern twist, such as the tagine (poached eggs with tomato stew and merguez sausage and olives) or the Libanais, which includes a soft-poached egg with sides such as baba ghanoush. If you have room for dessert, one Belgian waffle is small enough that you won’t feel too guilty about indulging.

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