Our city’s culinary scene has had another exceptional year of restaurant openings, and we’re not complaining.
One of the biggest food trends last year was poké (a Hawaiian dish comprised of raw fish cubes), leading to a handful of poké restaurants opening up around Vancouver.
Healthy restaurants such as salad bars, vegetarian and vegan spots also made its way around town. But there was a good balance between healthy eateries and the craving-oriented spots: we got our share of fried chicken, Mexican grub, and good old diner food as well.
If you’re ever worried about the amount of dining choices in Metro Vancouver being limited, just take a look at this compilation of eateries that opened in 2016.
1. ANH + CHI (3388 Main Street)
This warm and contemporary Vietnamese Restaurant is the brainchild of a pair of siblings who are continuing their family’s culinary lineage. Guests will find a menu inspired by Vietnamese street food and home-style cooking, including vermicelli bowls, grilled lemongrass chicken rice plates, and of course—pho.
2. BREAKFAST TABLE (1481 West Broadway)
As blunt as its name may seem, this restaurant is a Fairview joint that offers West Coast fare with Asian-influenced brunch dishes. Prepare to taste beef bulgogi hash with two eggs, kimchi, and Korean sweet chili sauce; or its signature coffee-crusted pork belly hash with sunny-side-up eggs.
3. CACAO (1898 West 1st Avenue)
A relatively new addition to the Kitsilano neighbourhood, Cacao offers progressive Latin cuisine in a space that was previously Epicurean Caffe Bistro. Its menu combines a mixture of South American flavours, such as Brazilian spices, Peruvian ingredients, and traditional Venezuelan dishes.
4. CHI MODERN VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT (1935 West 4th Avenue)
Opened by MasterChef Vietnam star Chi Le, this 2,000-square-foot eatery boasts of historical tribute to the Vietnamese heritage as well as an authentic menu. It offers everything from Atlantic sea scallop to chargrilled eggplant salad, and tamarind soup to a chicken clay pot.
5. CROWBAR (646 Kingsway)
This 32 seat space is the baby of L’Abattoir and Wildebeest veterans, offering share plates and elevated bar food such as popcorn sweet breads, curly fries, and foie gras. The casual eatery has a rotating selection of beers and craft ales, as well as original cocktails named after ‘90s film characters—pretty unique if you ask us.
6. FABLE DINER (151 East Broadway)
If you’re looking for a casual diner with Ocean wise seafood and vegan dessert that is still delicious, then this is the spot for you. Chef Trevor Bird’s second restaurant venture offers tasty and sustainable grub, but also traditional diner options—think calorie-loaded milkshakes with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Consider it a Vancouver healthy-eating compromise.
7. FANNY BAY OYSTERS (762 Cambie Street)
Fanny Bay Oysters is known for being the first company to make B.C. oysters available worldwide, and it opened up its first Vancouver oyster bar and seafood restaurant back in May. Its menu offers a variety of fresh oysters, fried ones, crab cakes, and other tasty dishes. The restaurant also sells live seafood, including oysters, mussels, clams, crabs, prawns, and more.
8. FIELD + SOCIAL (415 Dunsmuir Street)
If you’re looking for a quick and healthy bite that’s also delicious, check out this bright and airy downtown spot. Field + Social uses local and sustainable ingredients to create tasty salads, which you can pair with kombucha or some fresh lemonade. Our favourite pick is rustic orzo—made with roasted chicken breast, kale, romaine, bacon, and more.
9. FIRECRUST PIZZERIA (808 Davie Street)
Neapolitan pizzerias are still very much a hit in the city, and this casual spot combines this particular food trend with a build-it-yourself model. The 75 seat restaurant offers a counter-service for guests to customize their pizza. In addition to this Italian meal, it also offers soup, salads, and dessert.
10. HERITAGE ASIAN EATERY (1108 West Pender Street)
A small spot in the heart of downtown, Heritage serves Far East-inspired food made with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Some of its most popular items include its pork belly breakfast bowl, Heritage duck crepe (a twist on the traditional Peking duck wraps), pork belly bao, and its infamous five spice chicken wings (which are to-die-for and gluten-free).
11. HOUSE SPECIAL (1269 Hamilton Street)
Nestled in the heart of Yaletown is this upscale Vietnamese restaurant that focuses on traditional and authentic flavours. It offers sophisticated dishes such as Saigon steak with caramelized potato in a nuoc cham sauce, or casual options like seasame-seed-covered fry bread with different protein fillings.
12. JAM CAFÉ (556 Beatty Street)
Victoria’s popular brunch spot made its way to Vancouver, and even though it has been a couple of months since its April opening, the wait for a table still goes out the door. The 50 seat eatery is decorated with vintage knick knacks, and serves up hearty dishes such as pulled pork pancakes, green-eggs-and-ham, and chicken-n-waffles.
13. JUKE FRIED CHICKEN (182 Keefer Street)
If Chinatown is anything, it’s a place that offers some good food. 2016 was a great year for the historic neighbourhood in terms of culinary expansion, and this fried chicken joint definitely caused a stir when it opened in the summer. Besides it’s mouth-watering specialty, Juke’s menu also features sticky pork ribs, corn bread mac n cheese, and seasonal seafood.
14. KAMEI ROYALE (1066 West Hastings)
This longtime establishment (part of the Kamei Restaurant Group) relocated to a new Coal Harbour location in June. Its new home boasts of a modern and sleek interior with plenty of seats, and celebrated its grand re-opening with a bang—Japanese lion dancing, a sake-barrel breaking ceremony and plenty of sushi.
15. KISSA TANTO (263 East Pender Street)
The owners of Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie opened their second restaurant venture in Chinatown, this time serving Japanese and Italian flavours on its menu. The 80 seat eatery pays homage to Tokyo’s jazz cafés in the 1960s, donning an interior with moody jewel tones and delicate textiles. As for the food? Kissa Tanto was voted Canada’s Best New Restaurant by Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine, so that should give you a hint.
16. KUMA IZAKAYA (1233 Hamilton Street)
Don’t think for one second that izakaya foods can’t be beautifully plated. This restaurant serves up Asian dishes influenced by French presentations, so you can expect your sushi rolls and tapas to be quite photogenic. The owner is from South Korea, so guests will also be able to find some Korean-inspired dishes on the menu.
17. LA MEZCALERIA (68 East Cordova Street)
It’s a known fact that Vancouverites love their Mexican fare, so the opening of this mezcal joint’s second location was immediately a big hit. Its menu offers everything from guacamole and chips to gourmet tacos, and high quality tequilas to the finest mezcals.
18. MAK N MING (1629 Yew Street)
Just steps from Kitsilano beach is Mak N Ming, the brainchild of chefs Makoto Ono and Amanda Cheng. This simple yet sophisticated restaurant quietly opened its doors in December, serving tasting menus in a relaxed and intimate space. Its menus will be constantly changing, but will focus on serving Japanese and French fare.
19. MEET IN GASTOWN (12 Water Street)
A popular vegetarian spot in Gastown opened up early in the year, with a name that most would find witty or cheeky. MeeT on Main’s sister restaurant offers veggie-friendly comfort food, which range from cheese burgers (without meat), Thai rice bowls, and over-the-top nacho fries. Word of mouth tells us that its house made fries are delicious and addicting.
20. NABEBUGYO (3190 Cambie Street)
It’s always been a popular cuisine in Asia, but this Japanese restaurant brought personal hot pot with an international twist to Vancouver—a concept that is lacking around town. Guests are able to cook their own meals in a pot with a chosen broth on top of a hot plate, with different ingredients that range from meats to noodles, rice cakes to veggies, and more.
21. NIGHTINGALE (1017 West Hastings Street)
Chef David Hawksworth’s second restaurant venture finally opened its doors in May, delighting Vancouver food-lovers and the like with a new space and menu to gawk over. Its slightly more affordable culinary creations focus on shared-plate items, including oysters, pizza, seafood dishes, and delicious desserts. What people can’t get over is its beautiful interior, furnished with remodeled library furniture and marble counters.
22. NOURISH VANCOUVER (3742 West 10th Avenue)
With the health craze in Vancouver still going strong, this organic, plant-based, vegan-oriented establishment opened up its second location in Point Grey. The warm and bright 1,500-square-foot space features a café, cooking school, and a kids’ play area. Its menu is famous for Asian-inspired creations, as well as soups and sandwiches that are both nutritious and tasty.
23. O-BOWL RUSTIC KITCHEN (3132 West Broadway)
Its name translates to Chinese as a happy or fulfilling meal, and that’s probably what the owners here are striving to serve. Owners John Wu and Eva Kong opened up this eatery to offer different Asian-inspired dishes, including Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese flavours. Menu items include curry chicken pasta, vegetarian seaweed fried rice, and wasabi beef bowl, among others.
24. PACIFIC POKE (625 Main Street)
A stylish and modern poké shop in the heart of Chinatown—its menu is similar to other poké joints in Vancouver. Guests can build customizable poké bowls with different proteins, toppings, and sauces. What’s a different item that you can’t find anywhere else? Poké paninis.
25. PEPPER LUNCH (2323 Cambie Street)
Japan’s wildly popular hot plate casual eatery opened up its second Metro Vancouver location, which is still dwarfed by over 200 locations across Asia. Its menu consists of options such as sizzling meat, seafood, vegetables, and rice on a hot iron plate. Don’t be alarmed when you see line-ups out the door during the lunch rush—Pepper Lunch is a popular destination for many.
26. POKÉRRITO (558 Dunsmuir Street)
If you haven’t realized by now, poké was a major food trend in 2016. To keep up with the demand for this Hawaiian snack in the city, this counter-service eatery opened in Downtown Vancouver. Its signature product? Poké sushi burritos—a combination of seafood, greens, toppings, and white rice wrapped in a sheet of nori (seaweed).
27. POKE TIME (1258 Robson Street)
This is one of the first spots that kicked-off the major poké trend in Vancouver, with customizable build-your-own-bowl options and various proteins (salmon, tuna, etc). Its tropical interior décor with pineapples on the walls definitely gives Vancouverites an escape from the rain.
28. RAILTOWN CAFÉ (968 Howe Street)
Railtown finally opened up its highly-anticipated counter-service café in the downtown Vancouver core inside a LEED gold-certified building. Its menu offers its signature gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, coffee, and more. In addition to serving tasty grub, the space likely draws in a crowd with its beautiful interior—Italian marble walls, metal seating, and ample lighting.
29. RAISU (2340 West 4th Avenue)
Kistilano welcomed a tapas-style Japanese eatery back in June, the same team that gave Vancouver Kingyo, Suika, and Rajio. The second floor spot specializes in bento, teishoku (pre-set meals), and many other Japanese-inspired snacks. Sake-lovers will adore its drink menu, which includes many high-quality sakes among wines, cocktails, beers, and teas.
30. TACOFINO YALETOWN (1025 Mainland Street)
Tofino’s most well-known taco joint opened up Vancouver’s third Tacofino location in trendy Yaletown. It features a Southern Californian vibe and focuses on offering burritos—options range from lemon grass chicken to cauliflower to smoked tuna. Of course, guests will also be able to find its tasty tacos, tater tots, and churros on the menu.
31. TERROIR KITCHEN (2232 Marine Drive, West Vancouver)
Chef Faizal Kassam debuted his Southern European restaurant across the Lions Gate Bridge back in May, creating unique dishes using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Some of its most popular items include crispy pork belly with slow-cooked lentils, grilled skirt steak, and pot au crème.
32. THE ARBOR (3941 Main Street)
Award-winning vegetarian and vegan spot the Acorn opened up a new sister restaurant that offers a “fast casual” plant-based menu. The relaxed and no-fuss 1,100-square-foot space serves up dishes like Southern fried-artichoke nuggets and sandwiches, broccoli popcorn and homemade meat-free burgers. Local beers, cocktails, and a natural wine program are also available to guests.
33. THE EASTWOOD (4245 Fraser Street)
Fraserhood is the new up-and-coming foodie hub, and the opening of this casual comfort food restaurant merely adds to the attractiveness of this neighbourhood. Besides serving menu items like moules frites and housemade ice-cream sandwiches, it also offers a variety of drinks—including craft beers, wines, and cocktails.
34. THE POKE SHOP (306 Water Street)
Can you tell that there’s no shortage of raw fish cube offerings around town? The Poke Shop’s Gastown location transports guests to Hawaii, with a mural of waves and wooden counters. It offers customers the option of choosing from pre-made creations or building their own bowls by selecting from an array of base, protein, and topping choices.
35. TWG TEA (1070 West Georgia Street)
Luxury Singapore-based tea company TWG Tea made its North American debut in December with a red carpet grand opening and hundreds of guests. Tea aficionados will find high-quality tea blends, tea accessories, breakfast and dinner menus, as well as afternoon tea sets inside this eye-catching and immaculately decorated tea salon and boutique.