When it comes to dining in Vancouver, BC, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
The good news is: Vancouver is a foodie heaven.
And the bad? Vancouver is a foodie heaven.
With an abundance of talented chefs, international cuisines and top-quality locally sourced ingredients, Vancouver offers so many great places to fill your face that a time-strapped tourist never has to spend time wondering what to eat—only where to eat it.
And for that you need a strategy.
- Hungry in Vancouver? There’s an app for that! Before you even hit the ground, load up your smart phone with a bunch of helpful apps specific to the Vancouver dining scene. Whether you’re looking for the nearest street food vendor or the swankiest sushi joint, you’ll narrow your search quickly with these top apps for Vancouver visitors. Two to try: Yelp and Urban Spoon.
- Feast on food blogs. Vancouver foodies are passionate and vocal—trust them to steer you right. For news (and candid reviews) about current “it” restaurants, dip into Vancouver’s best food blogs and online guides. Two to try: Vancouver Foodster and Follow Me Foodie.
- Pick a country. Or a neighbourhood. What do you feel like for dinner? Japanese? Malaysian? Greek? French? The beauty of a culturally diverse city like Vancouver is that you never need settle for the same-old-same-old when it’s time to eat. Start with the type of food you’re hungry for and then try to find a restaurant in your neighbourhood—or have a look at your neighbourhood to see which ethnicities dominate the food scene. Two to try: Chinatown for Chinese food; Little India (around 49th and Main) for South-Asian.
When it comes to the best dining experiences in Vancouver, do as the locals do.
When time and money are tight, you can still eat well in Vancouver. The best of Vancouver’s budget eats include Vietnamese meatball sandwiches, poutine, sushi, pizza, pho, and Japanese noodles. The best budget eateries are clustered around the ESL schools: especially at lunch-time, just follow the hordes into hole-in-the-wall restos along West Pender Street near Seymour, and the west end of Robson Street near Denman. Two to try: Domo Sushi on Melville at Bute, and Goldies wood-oven pizza on West Pender near Waterfront Station.
Suck back an ice cream on the seawall
It’s one of the first signs of summer in Vancouver—people of all ages strolling Vancouver’s ubiquitous seawalls with a home-made ice cream or artisanal gelato cone in hand. Two to try: Marble Slab Creamery on Denman near English Bay beach, and Bella Gelateria on West Cordova near the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Choose sustainable seafood
Of course you expect good seafood in a seaside town like Vancouver—but make sure your choices are good for the oceans as well as your appetite. Wild salmon and spot prawns are always safe bets; look for the Ocean Wise symbol on restaurant menus. Two to try: Raincity Grill on Denman Street and Coast on Alberni.
With so many parks and beaches and a relatively mild year-round climate, Vancouver offers plenty of opportunities for informal al fresco dining. Pick up excellent meals-to-go from street food vendors, markets and delis all around the city, and head for a spectacular viewpoint. Two to try for the food: Granville Island Market and Urban Fare grocery stores throughout the city. And two to try for the view: Shannon Falls on the Sea-to-Sky highway, and Lost Lagoon (or anywhere else) in Stanley Park.
Fill your eyes as well as your belly
When Vancouverites want to impress visiting friends, they treat them to a meal-with-a-view. The scenery is often better than the food, but no matter: the wow factor is worth it. Two to try: Salmon House on the Hill in West Vancouver, and Lift in Coal Harbour.
Learn to eat with chopsticks
If you only eat two meals in Vancouver, one should be seafood (see #2 above) and the other should be Chinese. And don’t take my word for it: no less than Conde Nast Traveler says Vancouver has some of the best Chinese food in the world—no surprise given the city’s considerable Asian population. Two to try: Jade Seafood in suburban Richmond and Sun Sui Wah in Vancouver are solid recommendations, but really, there are too many excellent choices to limit it to just two. Spend a bit of time reviewing the winners of the annual Chinese Restaurant Awards to narrow your search by specialty and location.
Headed to Vancouver?
- Search for cheap flights to Vancouver
- Find out where to stay in Vancouver
- Read about free and cheap things to do in Vancouver
- Get tips for your first visit to Vancouver
The host of WhyGoCanada.com, Julie Ovenell-Carter always eats what’s put in front of her—especially if it’s a Vietnamese meatball sandwich.