Now in its 38th year, Granville Island Public Market is still the place to take your food-obsessed out-of-town guests and to find fixings for your family dinners. Pungent cheese and plump olives, raspberries stacked like pink pyramids, wild salmon and live crab, enormous apple fritters and dainty macarons, all sorts of pâté and prosciutto, fresh wasabi and black garlic—that’s just a small taste of the edible goodness that the market offers.
The Vancouver landmark is the kind of local treasure you never get tired of. It’s a model that has inspired other similar spots—markets that support and showcase local artisans, producers, and suppliers and that go on to become a vibrant part of the community. Here are a few.
The official ribbon-cutting on the new 14,000-square-foot waterfront facility takes place on April 29, though it quietly opened in early March. Located near Molly’s Reach restaurant, where so many scenes in the long-running and Gibsons-shot Beachcombers TV series took place, the market occupies the former home of the Gibsons Yacht Club, with views of the marina and Shoal Channel.
Vancouver-based Emelle’s Catering runs a bistro with the same name here, serving items like panini, vegetable and spicy-chorizo hash, and gourmet burgers, while the market itself has seven main vendors: Art Meets Chocolate whips up floats, milkshakes, truffles, and other sweet treats; Bowen Island Roasting Company roasts its own coffee beans and bakes its own pastries; Fromagerie de Baie has more than 50 types of local and European cheese; G.G. Greens carries fresh organic fruits and vegetables; the Gibsons Butcher sells natural meat and game and makes its own sausages, patties, jerky, and dog food; the Fisherman’s Market has freshly caught prawns, scallops, halibut, and salmon in season and more fish and seafood; and the Rain Florist, meanwhile, is where you can find bouquets, orchids, herbs, edible flowers, and other plants.
Opening in June within the market is the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre. The 1,200-square-foot exhibit is named after a GPM cofounder who died in 2015. Along with many small aquariums, the centre will display a large cylindrical tank filled with small species from Howe Sound—plumose anemones, pile perch, red rock crabs, and black rockfish among them—all of which will be part of a catch-and-release program.
The market is a $4-million partnership of the Community Futures Development Corporation, the Town of Gibsons, the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation, and Gibsons Community Building Society, a nonprofit group.
Formerly Westminster Quay, New Westminster’s River Market came to life in 2010. Set right on the mighty Fraser River, it’s close to Pier Park, which has a boardwalk and beach-volleyball courts, and the Fraser River Discovery Centre.
One of the anchor tenants is Donald’s Market, a Vancouver chain with a vast selection of organic goods. Longtail Thai Kitchen—which is headed by Angus An, the celebrated chef from Vancouver’s Maenam Restaurant—serves Thai-style comfort food; right next door is Wild Rice Market Bistro, which left Chinatown for the ’burbs and continues to offer excellent modern Chinese food.
Then there is Re-Up BBQ, which was one of Vancouver’s first food trucks. In 2013, the cart was hit by a bus; because the owners had just opened up at the River Market, they decided to stick with the bricks-and-mortar location. Re-Up serves southern-style barbecue, smoking all of its meat and curing its own bacon on-site daily. The place also makes black-bean-and-corn chili, corn bread, and cola.
Other River Market vendors are Freebird Chicken Shack, Great Wall Tea Co., Tre Galli Gelato Caffe, and Pamola Bakery and Deli, which makes fresh cakes and bread as well as authentic Mexican food.
Reopening for the season on April 20 (by which point winter really should be done), this family-operated market at 12900 Steveston Highway has been in business since 1978, promoting the benefits of local food well before the 100-mile diet was a thing. You’ll find organic strawberries, blueberries, watermelons, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, kale, corn, and more at the Farm Market, along with indoor and outdoor plants. Come fall, you can’t miss the pumpkin patch.
Just 100 metres east of the market is Country Vines Winery, which makes Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Merlot, rosé, icewine, and other varieties. Grab a bottle to go with all those farm-fresh veggies that you’ll be throwing on the grill.